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Numbers, Numbers, Numbers…

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers…

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Numbers, Numbers, Numbers…

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  1. Numbers, Numbers, Numbers… On Over-Education and Pressure to Learn/Perform in South Korea

  2. Between 1999 and 2005, South Korea ranked #1 among 30 OECD member nations in expenditure on all education. Spending on private education (I.e. lessons outside of normal school hours) increased by 7.1% to US $14 billion between 2007 and 2008 (The Chosun Ilbo, March 2009, "Education Spending Tops W40 Trillion")… Compare that with 6.0% increase between 2007 and 2008 in the monthly average income of urban households (Bank of Korea Economic Statistics System, 2009).

  3. According to South Korea's Ministry of Health, Welfare and Family Affairs, suicide was the 2nd biggest cause of teenage deaths in the country in 2006 (The Korea Times, July 2008, "Suicide Is 2nd Most Cause of S. Korean Teenage Deaths").

  4. In 2008, about three out of four students in South Korea took some form of private education after school hours (Herskovitz & Kim, May 2009, "South Korea Cancels Plan for Cram School Curfew", Reuters India). As a result, many teenagers do not come home on weeknights until 11pm or later.

  5. Top 4 traits that Korean corporations look for in senior management according to Korn/Ferry International: • Leadership • Thinking style • Career motivation • Emotional factors. Korn/Ferry found that Korean candidates scored low on the scales of complexity and flexibility. (Cho & Cho, September 2006, "The Search for the Ultimate Job", JoongAng Daily.) Apparently, cram schools and tutoring don't exactly emphasize developing in these areas…

  6. June 2009 marks the release of the 5thinstallment in the "High School Horror Stories" film series. Each film portrays a teenage girl who becomes jealous enough of her best friend's academic achievements to commit murder, and the supernatural consequences in the aftermath. Anyone else getting the sense that extreme competition is a theme that resonates with youth in South Korea?

  7. The top six high schools in South Korea are all "special purpose" high schools such as the Daewon Foreign Language High School (Brian Lee, November 2008, "Market-Oriented Reforms Split Education Circles", JoongAng Daily). How was the ranking decided? Based on the schools' number of the students accepted by Seoul National University, the top university in the nation.

  8. "Suicidal elementary students account for more than 30% of psychiatric patients in the affluent southern Seoul areas of Gangnam and Bundang and more than 70% of those children suffer from depression caused by stress." (The ChosunIlbo, January 2007, "When Children Turn Frustration Against Themselves")

  9. High-end English kindergartens in the notorious Gangnam area in southern Seoul charge tuition of up to US$18,000 a year. That’s approximately equal to the average starting salary of a new university graduate. (Ji-Eun Seo, April 2009, "English Fever Takes Hold of Pre-School Education", JoongAng Daily).

  10. Roh, Moo-Hyun, the ninthpresident of South Korea, became the first president in the country's history to have committed suicide on May 23, 2009. Suspected reason: Roh was extremely exhausted by investigations on the bribes he allegedly accepted (Nicolai Hartvig, May 2009, "Roh's Death Still Tops 'Most Read' Lists in South Korea", CNN.com/asia). Failure to live up to his promise of a transparent and down-to-earth administration may have been too much for the former Korean president. I don’t think the same problem would have plagued an American president to the same extent…

  11. According to the OECD Factbook 2009, South Korea ranks #1 in average number of hours actually worked per employed person in a year. Meanwhile, Korea ranked 102nd out of 178 countries on the Happy Planet Index in 2006, conducted by the New Economics Foundation.