In South Korea, people take education very seriously. Education taught in Korea is known for a variety of reasons including very high results of major roles that helps develop the economy, but it has also, brought about a high rate of suicide among some students. So, it’s good and bad. It’s very common to see students from a very young age (elementary) to high school students walking around the neighborhood late at night. When you see them at night, it can either mean that they’ve finished their tutoring lessons at academies and are returning home, or they still have more lessons to go to. Usually elementary students return home no later than 10pm, and for middle school and high school, some stay out until 3 or 4am and get only 3 hours of sleep or may be not even that much, because when they return home, it will be time for them to go to school. And, their schedule will be like this until they graduate high school.
Like here in the US, Korean students have to take a test similar to the SAT to get into college. Most parents prepare their kids from 1st grade to build up their skills, so that when they get to a higher level, they won’t struggle as much. This test is a big deal, because if you don’t get a good score on it, then you probably won’t be able to go to college that year, because they will not get accepted into schools without a good result. Also, they have a limited number of schools they can apply to, so if you’re not accepted, that means you will have to go back to high school and complete another year and take the test again. Because, it’s so complicated, it’s very common for students to go back to school for an additional year, and retake the test.
The reason why education is so important in Korea is, because it has been one of the deciding factors in economic advancement since the Korean War, which ruined the economy. It took several years to gain it back. And, South Korea used to be one of the poorest countries, but is now richer than the average of the European Union.
The after school education, tutoring academies, are worth about 12.5 billion a year and South Korea is the 2nd best country in the ‘Pisa global test of academic excellence.’
Education has always been a top priority in South Korea. Parents will do anything for their children to get the best education even when they can’t afford it. Every parent wants their children to get into top universities in Korea and the students will do their best to make their parents proud. In Korea, school hours are very long. It starts early in the morning and it usually goes until night. There are mandatory classes after school that end in the evening or sometimes at night, if they choose to stay later to study.
After that, students go to academies for tutoring lessons and it goes on for a few hours. Things went a little too far that the government decided to introduce a law that you can’t stay at the school after 10pm. Even with a law, many avoided this rule and it’s very common for students to return home later than midnight. It’s not only that, but these students don’t even get a normal vacation. During winter/spring/summer breaks, they are told to come to school to study and they have to pay a fee to take classes during breaks. Not everyone goes during the breaks, but many do.
This may be way too much for students to handle and it can sometimes lead to depression, or some will commit suicide from all the stress they couldn’t handle.
These pictures below, kind of gives you an idea of what it feels like to be a student in South Korea.
Things are so different here in the U.S., and we should be thankful that the school doesn’t control our lives. But, even though the U.S. is different, we want to encourage the Korean students to continue to do their best, and do not become discouraged with their educational process. Work through it. Things get tough, but you be tough, too!!!!