If you are a long time visitor, you may have seen me mention this from time to time.
Allow me to dig in deep on the issue.
First, the past
From the ancient times, Korea has traditionally valued officers more than generals. They’ve always valued desk workers more than laborers. The reason being was that, no matter how good a general was, Korea simply could not conjure up the amount of men compared to China.
Therefore, diplomacy had always triumphed over might.
Over thousands of years, this has had a profound effect on Koreans where studying is seen far more important than any other careers requiring physical labor.
Now, the present
It was probably around 1980s where the trend started to become strong. Before that, South Korea was simply too busy to care about anything else. They had to build new infrastructure, new buildings, and restore order after a war. During this time, laborers had values because the country needed them dearly.
Once dust began to settle down, those who are born around 80s began to face fierce demands from their parents to study hard and get into good university.
The reasoning is simple. Those who study, get into good universities, and get a good wage from while working from a desk is superior than those who earn their livings via physical labor.
Strictly, it does make sense. At least, it makes sense to me. It probably has something to do with our (Koreans) past. I did write that part up there.
Perhaps that itself is fine. The issue is when virtually everyone is trying to get into good universities. There are only limited seats. Let’s say there are only 100 seats but there are 1,000,000 people trying to get those seats.
The end result is 999,900 people with amazingly good degrees being unemployed. And those unemployed people simply refuse to change their career because they’ve spent nearly 20 years of their lives into their education. They are nearly 30.
Too many people have Ph.D in Korea, and most of them are unemployed currently. They have too much pride to change careers and they certainly will not do any jobs requiring manual labor. After all, they’ve studied so hard specifically to avoid such jobs.
Korea being too small is another factor for this.
Education system, fucked up.
If you live in Western societies, be glad that you are born there. If you think your high school years were rough, think again after reading this.
A typical Korean high school student gets up at around 7AM. Goes to school 8AM. And go home at 10PM.
Yes, you read it right. 8AM to 10PM.
I repeat, 8AM to 10PM. When you get home, you take a shower and you go to bed petty much because you are fucking beat. This schedule is in place between Monday to Friday. You go home early on Saturday. Thank God.
So, you may ask what they do during 13 hours of school. Well, you study. If you are a senior, P.E. classes are completely omitted because there is no time.
For all Korean students, their crossroad of life hangs on a single exam at the end of their high school years. You take that one exam, and it will define your future.
I repeat. You spend around 18 years of life, and everything depends on one single fucking exam.
There is no second chance. Well, there is. Once you graduate from high school, you are entitled to take the exam every year if you want. If you fail on that exam, you will be one year later than everyone else. So, it is paramount that you get the exam right on the first attempt and get into a university you desire.
Well, perhaps even second attempt is fine. Once you are on your third attempt though, your life becomes miserable compared to others.
Too much competition, flawed grading.
Because there are so many people trying to get into limited seats at universities, there is a matter of being neglected simply because your score is less than others by a single point.
Let’s say you got 97 points out of 100. But you are denied of admission because everyone else around you got 100s, 99s, and 98s.
You have an A+ score. Yet you are fucked. This grading method is wrong. Western grading is much better where everyone would have A+, and admission would depend on other factors such as interviews and entry essay.
Above really happens in Korea. Few points of difference is what one’d call a margin of error. However, since the competition is so fierce, it works like that. This grading system is flawed. You cannot punish a student for having A+ grade. That’s sheer madness but that’s what happens in Korea.
Some of younger generations are starting to see the flaw within Korean education system. But they still try hard to do well with Korean SAT. Only if they fail, they bring up their backup plan.
Few of them have gone to county side and become farmers. Few of them have gone to become crafters. But I feel overall number isn’t enough to alter the current trend.
The media is predicting that the competition will be eased once children of the baby boomer era retire. But then there are new issues with lack of babies. But that issue is for another article.
If you want a youtube video explaining the issue very briefly you can watch this one.