Many people see South Korea as a country with very intelligent people in a competitive environment who strive to succeed in order to reach their dreams. However, some Korean students contend that while the Korean education system is very competitive, the students aren’t studying for their own happiness.
Many students don’t arrive at home until late at night because of the many academies they attend. Even some kindergarten students in Korea go to sleep around 10 or 11 o’clock at night after studying, whereas most kindergarten students in America sleep earlier.
“Right after school, students don’t go home and go straight to cram schools or academies for their studies and don’t go home until late at night around 11 pm,” says Bethany Jeon, a freshman at Cypress High School who previously attended school in Korea.
“Korean students are almost like robots now. We need to have programs in order to tell us what we should pursue in the future and how we are supposed to plan our academics in order to reach that goal,” said Clare Ha, a student at Korea’s CheongShim International Academy, in an interview with JSR.
“Students in Korea don’t actually have dreams, but when they do, they are disapproved by their parents,” Ha added. “Because of parents, students follow a cliché notion that it is mandatory for us to go to prestigious universities to be successful and happy. But after they get into the top colleges, the students wander around not knowing what they want to pursue for their future.”
Although there is no evidence that this system will change anytime soon, a group of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants in Korea have coordinated a Tumblr site since 2011 to give Korean students an opportunity to express themselves. According to koreanstudentsspeak.tumblr.com, “the goal of this project is to encourage students to creatively voice their opinion. On blank paper, in bold letters, these students speak to the world.”