A Message To Korea From A Student

In light of my recent post on exam stress, I thought it was quite fitting to share a video I saw on YouTube today. The video was made by a Korean middle-school student called Jason, and it shows his message to Korea: a depressing discussion of the Korean education system. 

The video pretty much speaks for itself, but a few phrases particularly stand out for me. Firstly, when Jason sarcastically (but fairly accurately) describes a student’s academic life: “You will study for 10 hours a day until your college entrance exam. You will go to college and study more. But if you are not going to a good college, do not expect your parents to love you.”

Ok, perhaps the last sentence is exaggerated, but it isn’t entirely untrue. As is his comparison between Korean education and ‘child abuse’.

Jason continues to give an example of an 11-year-old student who has to attend 12 after-school  programmes, and has so much work that she stays up until 3 am to finish it. Oh, and she has to get up at 7.15 for school the next morning. Healthy balance? I think not. 

The most disturbing part for me is Jason’s closing remark, which compares the Korean education system to the Sewol Ferry Disaster: like the ferry, “it’s holding a lot of great people […] but all of a sudden it’s going to go down.” It’s a bold statement, but the mere fact that Jason compares education to such a horrific tragedy speaks for itself; if Jason, with his negative feelings, represent the average Korean student, then surely, something needs to change.

Education is important, success is important, but at what price? I predict that Jason’s video will have an impact on those who see it, but whether it will have any effect on a larger level is questionable. All I know is that it’s pretty horrible to watch such an obviously intelligent student with so much anger. And I hope for his sake, that things improve in the (very) near future.

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