Why do Koreans want to live/study in the US?
If you have visited or lived in Korea, this is a pretty straightforward question. A lot of foreigners admire Koreans for their outstanding academic achievements. As much as I am proud to know that people look up to us, many don’t know what it takes to get on that level. Kids from a very young age, usually kindergarten age, will begin to work their way up toward success.
Most of you might be surprised by this, but being smart does not come naturally to us. Korean parents push their kids beyond what is expected of an average kid and have such high standards that they are willing to dedicate thousands of dollars just toward academics.
Back when I lived in Korea, I had to go take courses at academies, but it was nothing compared to how it is now. Kids these days are so competitive in their learning–and I’m talking about elementary school kids! A lot of times, the elementary school students will be taught courses through the 5-9 grade levels. This means that a 1st grader can learn all the materials up to those for an average student’s freshman year of high school. Of course, some kids even go beyond that.
The reason they are able to do this is because, right after school gets out, they rush to academies where they take courses to help them succeed further in school. An average elementary school student takes about 3-5 courses at academies, and the most popular classes are math, English, writing, and science. When I took courses in Korea, which was 10 years ago, I only took 4 classes, and I actually had a lot of fun during those classes, because not everything was about education when I lived there. Kids between the ages of 8 and 13 don’t even get home until 9pm, or sometimes past midnight, because they are “forced” to take so many classes.
As you go up in grade levels, it gets more intense. In middle school and high school, those who don’t do so well bully students who get good grades. The stress level is so high once you reach middle school that many students commit suicide, which is one of the reasons why Korea has one of the highest suicide rates in the world.
Living in the United States, on the other hand, you have much more freedom in your feelings and expressions; basically, you’re opened to variety of options, whereas in Korea you are trapped in between your parents trying to make you successful and the academics. You never have any free time to hang out with your friends, regardless of age, except for very little kids, 7 and under.
So pretty much, anyone between 8 years old and adulthood is specified as a young adult. Crazy right? More than half of these kids aren’t even mature enough to handle things they are going through right now, and yet it seems to get stricter as the years go by.
I hear people talk about how smart Korean people are and how they wish they were smart just like them, but, in reality, none of them really knows what has been going on. Honestly, if you really knew all the things these poor students go through, you would not “admire” them; you would feel very ashamed for just assuming everything was going great.
Here’s a little ‘fun fact’: you know how everyone in Korea has pale, white skin? Well it wasn’t like that from the start. Although having pale skin is now known for beauty purposes, it first started to appear in students because they were always inside a building studying and never got the chance to stay out in the sun. They were not getting enough vitamin D, and it’s still one of the problems occurring today.