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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Wasting away in Hagwon-ville

Koreans are mad about education. It’s obvious. Take a quick drive through Okdong, and you’ll see more than 400 registered English Hagwons (if my sources are correct…which they aren’t usually). Koreans spend an incredible amount of their income on their children’s education.

Despite the economic downturn, South Korea’s Hagwon industry shows little sign of decrease.  The Korea Times reports that in 2008 the private education spending increased 7%.  The average house hold spends roughly 1.12 million won on private education; considering the average household income is approximately 3.3 million won (2007 stats), more than one third of each families income goes towards private education.”

The proportion of education costs to household spending in Korea is three to nine times higher than in advanced nations, a report released by the Bank of Korea on Sunday shows.”

All of this spending has one true goal, that little Taeho gets into SKY (Seoul National, Koryeo and Yonsei, the top 3 universities). The ultimate hope of most parents is that little Taeho become a hagwon superstar and study his way right into Seoul National, the Gspot of the Korean Dream.

Children from the middle of elementary school sacrifice their childhoods to attain the highest possible scores at any financial cost to the parents. High school students will study till 2 or 3 am, and wake up at 6 to begin again…all in hope of arriving at the gates of SNU…

But what are Taeho’s chances?

Well, the first question is…Where does he live?

According to Korea Beat

little Taeho needs to live in Seoul, not just in Seoul, but in one of 3 -gu’s. 41% of all SNU students this year live in Gangnam, Songpa and Seocho-gus of Seoul. Though the government did change the rules and force the universities to accept more provincials in the last few years, this year, only a total of 50 students from Ulsan managed to make the grade.

How many thousands of kids study themselves to collapse to attain the unobtainable?

How many parents bankrupt themselves and destroy their relationships with their children in hope of the unhopeable?

Education is important…really important. Every time I go home and see high school kids doing everything but studying, I wonder, how much longer can the West keep ahead? But somewhere, between Korea and North America is a balance where Education and recreation meet.

I just hope Korea can find that balance before many more children discover that Seoul is beyond their reach, and they hurt themselves….