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Selling a house also requires cram school: how terrible is Korean involution education?

How to become the world's first developed country whose fertility rate fell below 1%? The answer is involution education. This, is South Korea.

Education has always been a topic of concern to everyone. When it comes to education involution, South Korea is the most serious.

Cruel competition has made Koreans more obsessed with extracurricular tutoring and getting into good universities.

Lecturers in cram school pay high prices, and some parents even sell their houses for tutoring.

1)The road to tutoring made with money

Although South Korea has a population of just over 50 million, the huge pressure to go to higher education has made Korean tutoring culture very popular.

In Korea, in Daechi-dong, Gangnam District, Seoul, there is a street known as "the most high-end cram school in Korea". There are more than a thousand cram schools of various names on this street alone.

On Daechi-dong, parents lined up all night to grab a seat for the cram school for their kids

But this number only accounts for nearly half of all cram schools in Gangnam District, and the number of cram schools in Korea is even more astonishing.

According to the "Annual Report of Education Statistics" of the Korea Education Development Institute, the number of private educational institutions in South Korea reached nearly 70,000 in 2014, the number of tutoring students exceeded 7 million, and the number of teachers reached 280,000, reaching the highest level in history at that time.

Eight years have passed, and this number is still being refreshed, and this huge tutoring market is behind huge profits.

How much does it cost a student to attend cram school in South Korea?

Previously, in the hit drama "Sky Castle", a child in it spent about 2.8 billion won on tutoring fees alone.

When many people watch it, they think it is just an exaggeration of the TV series, but it really exists in reality.

In South Korea's 2017 documentary "The Paradox of Extracurricular Education", most families spend more than 1 million won on cram schools every month, and some families even exceed 3 million won.

This is only the price of an ordinary teacher. Some famous teachers under the package of cram schools charge high tuition fees.

Such a huge tuition fee puts Korean parents under enormous financial pressure.

According to the "National Tax Statistical Annual Report 2017" released by the Korean Statistics Office, the per capita annual income of South Korea is 35.19 million won, and Ulsan, the city with the highest average annual income, is 42.16 million won, followed by Sejong City (41.08 million won) and Seoul (39.92 million won).

Korea Forum Discussing about the Tuition Fees

In other words, one child’s annual tutoring fee will cost at least one-eighth of the annual income of a dual-career family. If there are two children, the tuition fee will account for at least one-quarter of the annual income.

Including the deducted taxes, etc., not to mention ordinary families, the economic pressure on middle-class families is also very huge.

Korean Educational Documentaries

However, this has not stopped Koreans from taking tutoring. For families with a monthly income of less than 1 million won, the proportion of their children participating in private tutoring can reach 36%. For families with a monthly income of more than 6 million won, nearly 90% of them are willing to spend money and send their children to cram school.

According to relevant statistics, Korean parents spend at least 14.5 billion euros on their children's off-campus education every year, accounting for 0.8% of South Korea's economic output.

A mother who was interviewed by SBS radio said that her children spent more than 2 million won on cram school for one class.

But for this huge expenditure, she was not only under great pressure, but also felt very confused, "Wouldn't it be better if this money was used to start a business for my child?"

2)On-campus learning becomes not important

It is said that children should not lose at the starting line, and South Korea is definitely the country that implements it most thoroughly.

In South Korea, children have already embarked on the road to cram schools since kindergarten.

After entering school age, because South Korea does not allow advanced learning in schools, in order to achieve good grades, extracurricular cram schools are almost the only way for children to improve.

Every Korean student have full of homework from the beginning of elementary school

As early as 2010, more than three-quarters of students in South Korea were taking extracurricular tutoring, and this proportion has been increasing every year.

According to relevant data in 2019, the proportion of students attending cram schools in South Korea is as high as 74.8%, among elementary school students as high as 83.5%, compared with 71.4% for junior high schools, and 61% for high schools.

Among these students, if you ask anyone at random, you must make up at least four or five courses during the semester, and more during the winter and summer vacations.

In Korea, a student is much busier than an ordinary office worker.

During the day, Korean elementary and middle school students go to public schools, and go directly to various private educational institutions after school.

Most of the students didn’t finish all the classes in the cram school until 10 o’clock in the evening. Parents and private cars waiting outside the cram school to pick up their children crowded the road, but Koreans are used to this.

Going to bed at 12 am is considered an early bedtime

But after taking cram school, it does not mean that you can go home to rest, and some people will go to the study room to continue studying.

Some students, after a day of high-intensity school and cram school, will go to the self-study room to continue reviewing, and they will not go home exhausted until the dead of night.

And the "non sleeping study room" in the drama "Reply 1988" is also exist. It is also common to go to school the next day after studying for the whole night.

Korean students studying in the study room

The New York Times reported that South Korean students study an average of 13 hours a day, and the average high school student can only sleep 5.5 hours a night just to make sure they have enough time to study.

After leaving campus, they stay in private tutoring classes, usually until midnight, or even one or two in the morning.

Under such strong pressure, the illiteracy rate in South Korea has dropped significantly, and the literacy rate is as high as 98%.

Relevant survey data show that some elementary school students in South Korea have completed their junior high school knowledge as early as the fifth and sixth grades. For every 100 junior high school students, 8 have learned high school content ahead of time.

It can be said that extracurricular tutoring has made on-campus learning more and more not important.

3)Frequent tragedies

Long-term over-negative pressure study has made Korean students miserable and full of complaints.

Korean parents are very serious about comprising grades, and they will do everything for their children to get good grades.

In the drama "Sky Castle", Park Young-Jae worked hard to get admitted to a medical university, but because of the huge educational pressure during his studies, he ran away from home in retaliation after completing his "mother's dream". As a result, his mother was distraught and committed suicide.

"Sky Castle" Park Young-Jae's mind is depressed

The tragedies caused by this kind of education are sad. In reality, the tragedies of killing mothers in South Korea are also frequent.

In 2011, a senior high school student in South Korea brutally killed his mother and hid the body.

The reason is that his mother forced him to take the first place in the exam, and sometimes even did not allow him to eat or sleep.

He ranked 4,000th out of 700,000 candidates in the mock exam for the college entrance examination.

For fear of being scolded, he altered his report card.

As a result, the mother was still dissatisfied and planned to go to the school to find a teacher.

Fearing that the tampering with the report card would be exposed, he killed his mother.

In fact, most Korean students are dissatisfied, even resentful, towards their parents.

Because of high-pressure education, most Korean students are under great mental pressure, which leads to a sharp increase in the juvenile crime rate, and murder, theft, rape and other cases also occur frequently.

Students are under enormous pressure and tragedies frequently occur. It is not that the South Korean government has not issued documents to change the phenomenon of flooding cram schools.

The Korean Ministry of Education once ordered that cram schools and self-study rooms be closed at 10 o'clock, but the parents strongly protested, and finally had to let it go.

Korean students cheer for the seniors in the college entrance examination

Even at the height of the pandemic, South Korea's crazy cram schools did not slow down in the slightest.

In March 2020, 850 million students around the world were in a state of suspension, while cram schools in South Korea were already open.

On March 5, 2020, South Korea's KBS radio station reported that 81 cram schools in Seocho District, Seoul were starting classes at that time.

During the same period, a total of 650 cram schools in Gwangju City were closed, which is only 13.7% of the total number of cram schools in the area.

Yonhap TV station also stated that more than 70% of cram schools in South Korea have officially started classes.

At that time, the South Korean government promised to provide low-interest loans to cram school companies in order to allow cram schools to suspend classes.

However, the Korean Cram School Association hopes that the government will help return half of the tuition fee scale, citing operational difficulties.

As a result, the two sides failed to reach an agreement in the end.

Although Korean cram schools have the shortest suspension period, Korean parents are very anxious.

"Many parents called us and asked to reopen classes," said one of the director of a large tutoring institution.

4)Social pressure is the source

Parents of Korean students fight so hard, in the final analysis, because of serious involution in education.

For the sake of education fairness, South Korea canceled the division of key and non-key high schools as early as 1974, and decided schools entirely by lottery.

As a result, there is no difference in the source of public high school students, and the enrollment rate is not much different.

But private high schools are different.

For students, private high schools have more opportunities and better educational resources, and the enrollment rate of prestigious universities is much higher than that of ordinary high schools.

In Korea, going to a different high school means a different future

No matter how hard a top ordinary high school student works, he may not be able to get into Seoul National University.

However, students of private high schools may go to SKY even if they rank lower. SKY refers to Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, which are the three top universities in Korea.

Korean high school students once created a song, singing how important it is for Korean high school students to be admitted to SKY:

"The first class is SKY, the second class is in Seoul, the third class is national universities, the fourth class is regional universities, and the fifth class is junior colleges."

According to OECD statistics, 98% of young Koreans have completed high school education, of which 75% will go to university, but only 2% can enter SKY University.

Professor of Education at Seoul National University's views on the current situation of Korean education

In recent years, although the cultural level of Koreans has been continuously improved, the gold content of education has been continuously declining, which has made SKY education more and more precious.

At the same time, the promotion of key universities by the media and society has also made the status of the three major universities rise step by step.

For example, if a person wants to run for the presidency, whether he has a good school degree as an endorsement becomes a strong indicator of his competitiveness.

In ordinary life, if you want to enter a good company or a position with good benefits, you also value your school background.

There is a common phenomenon in South Korea nowadays. If they cannot work in famous companies, they are not willing to do some low-skilled jobs.

Quoted from the South Korean documentary "The Betrayal of Learning"

In December 2019, the Bank of Korea released a report stating that "the proportion of Koreans whose education exceeds the requirements of their current job is as high as 30%."

In the absence of high-quality jobs, they can only choose "high education and low employment".

The cruel competition has made Koreans more obsessed with extracurricular tutoring in order to enter a good university.

But only a few were hired by Seoul. No matter how hard they worked, most of them were destined to be just participated in.

To be honest, Koreans who are overwhelmed by education have not changed much in recent years except for spending a lot of money on Korean cram schools and using them to stimulate the economy.

This is the sad part of involution.

Then why do Koreans have to go to SKY? That's because South Korea has a "city in the sky", where the upper class of South Korea live. They control the political and economic lifeline of South Korea. They are the real masters, and people outside the city are working for them.

There are only 3 paths to enter Sky City:

- The first path is Seoul National University;

- The second path is Korea University;

- The third path is Yonsei University;

Together, their initials form the word SKY.

Most of the high class politicians graduated from SKY, such as

According to Wikipedia data, among the 300 members of the 19th National Assembly whose term began in 2012, 90% are SKY alumni, of which 132 are from Seoul National University, accounting for 44%.

In addition to the political circles, business circles are also involved. Ceoscore, a Korean business evaluation agency, once surveyed 624 CEOs of the top 500 Korean companies, and the results showed that 50.5% (296 people) graduated from SKY.

Among them, Seoul National University has the largest number of students, reaching 154 (26.3%), Korea University 88 (15%), and Yonsei University 54 (9.2%).

Due to the culture where seniors and juniors help each other and the relative class solidification in Korea, the students from SKY background have higher-level contacts, so they gradually gather into a group.

5)Big Corporations Monopolize All

According to the data of Ceoscore, a Korean research organization, the sales of the top 10 Korean companies in 2017 were 677.8 billion US dollars, accounting for 44.2% of South Korea's overall GDP. This figure is 24.6% in Japan and 11.8% in the United States.

The sales of Samsung alone accounted for 14.6% of GDP.

Samsung's tentacles extend to almost all industries. For a Seoul resident, he may be born in Samsung Medical Centre. (Samsung Medical Centre is the top hospital in Korea)

Live in an apartment built by Samsung Engineering. (Samsung Engineering is the largest construction company)

His crib was imported to South Korea on an ocean freighter built by Samsung Heavy Industries. (Samsung Heavy Industries is the largest shipyard in South Korea)

As he gets older, he might see an advertise for Samsung Life Insurance. (Samsung Life Insurance is the largest insurance company in South Korea)

The advertise was produced by Cheil Worldwide, an advertising agency owned by Samsung. (Cheil worldwide is the largest advertising company in Korea)

The clothes he wears are from Bean Pole, a subsidiary of Samsung Textiles. His mobile phone is a Samsung mobile phone, and he uses a Samsung laptop. The news he reads every day comes from the Korea JoongAng Daily owned by Samsung. (Korea JoongAng Daily is the largest media organization in South Korea)

When relatives and friends come to Seoul to play, they stay at the Shilla Hotel and shop at the Shilla Duty Free Shop, all of which are owned by Samsung.

When they get sick, they take medicine produced by Samsung Biologics. (Samsung Biologics is the largest pharmaceutical company in South Korea)

All walks of life are dominated by the top 10 large companies, and there is basically no room for small companies to survive, so Koreans rarely start their own businesses.

According to the "Young Entrepreneurs in South Korea, China and Japan..." report released by the Korea International Trade Association, the proportion of students who want to start a business after graduation is only 6.1% in South Korea. This reflects the downturn in South Korean entrepreneurship.

There is no hope of starting a business, and small companies cannot afford salaries. But if you want to enter the top 10 large companies, you were required to graduate from a prestigious university.

6)Path of SKY

According to the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) data, in 2017, the undergraduate rate of the 25-34-year-old population in South Korea was as high as 70%, ranking first in the world.

This data means that it is basically difficult to find a job in South Korea if you do not pass the undergraduate exam.

Only about 2% of candidates can enter SKY.

In order to go to the "city in the sky", Korean students started a purgatory learning mode.

According to the description in the Korean documentary "The Betrayal of Learning", the get out of class time for most Korean high school students is 9 pm.

Even if there is no class at night, many students will study by themselves until 9:00, but the destination is not to go home, but to go to cram school.

According to data from the Korea Development Institute (KDI), the scale of extracurricular education in South Korea in 2015 was 33 trillion won. You must know that the population of South Korea in 2017 was only 51.47 million.

The daily life of most Korean students is to get up and go to school between 6:00 and 7:00, and leave school until 9:00 pm, and then go to cram school until 11:00 pm. (11 p.m. is the curfew time for tutoring in South Korea)

Not only is the coursework intensive, but South Korea's exams are even more intensive.

The following is the timetable for the 2017 college entrance examination in South Korea

There are 5 subjects a day, and there is less than 1 hour for lunch at noon.

7)South Korea will disappear from the earth

In 2018, South Korea's total fertility rate fell to 0.9, the first country in the world to drop below 1, which is very rare in now days.

As early as 2006, Oxford University professor David Coleman wrote an article, listing South Korea as the first country to disappear from the earth due to population decline.

High academic and employment pressures are the main reasons why Koreans do not want to have children.

8)About involution

The concept of "involution" first appeared in a book on Indonesian agriculture published by American cultural anthropologist Geertz in 1963, "The Involution of Agriculture: The Process of Ecological Change in Indonesia".

The book compares the conditions of Java Island and Outer Islands in Indonesia, and finds that the Outer Islands, due to the entry of colonists, produced highly efficient and large-scale industries that can be used for export, which greatly improved the living standards of the local people.

However, due to the lack of capital, limited land, and administrative obstacles in Java Island, it was impossible to transform from agriculture to industry, which led to the continuous influx of local labor force into the limited rice production, but could not further improve efficiency. This process was summarized by Geertz as " Agricultural Involution”.

Later, "involution" was gradually referenced to other fields, describing

When a certain final form is reached, there is no way to stabilize and no way to transform into a new form, instead it is constantly becoming more complex internally.

South Korea is currently in a state of "involution".

There are US troops stationed in politics, so it cannot be completely independent, and there are many administrative obstacles.

The economy is kidnapped by the tycoon, the monopoly interests cannot be broken, and the society lacks entrepreneurial vitality.

The population is "declining birthrates", the labor force is unsustainable, and the future will face a great burden of pensions.

Young people are following the SKY-big company's path of study and employment, with high competitive pressure and unable to change their destiny on their own.

Similar to South Korea is Hong Kong, which is also monopolized economically by the tycoon. Li Ka-Shing's Cheung Kong Holdings is South Korea's Samsung.

Hong Kong people live in houses built by the Cheung Kong Holdings. Their homes use electricity supplied by the Hong Kong Electric Lighting Company under the Cheung Kong Holdings. They work in buildings under the Cheung Kong Holdings. They buy their groceries at Watsons which was under the Cheung Kong Holdings.

9)Reasons that South Korea will be Involution

The first viewpoint comes from a speech given by Nobel Laureate Shuji Nakamura at a press conference in Tokyo in January 2015.

He believes that one of the reasons for involution is that the entire East Asian education system is too deeply influenced by the Prussian model and the traditional Confucian imperial examination system.

The standard education model in East Asian countries is to enter the classroom at 7 or 8 o'clock in the morning, and listen to the teacher's lecture in a class that lasts for 40-60 minutes. The teacher speaks, and the students are only responsible for listening.

Under the confinement of a standardized curriculum, the originally intersecting and well-integrated human thoughts are cut into pieces of "disciplines" that are easy to manage.

This model was first implemented by the Prussians in the 18th century. Their original intention was not to educate students who can think independently, but to educate citizens who are easy to manage.

This system can produce a middle class of thousands and provide the driving force for industrial power, but it also hinders independent thinking and stifles creativity.

The Confucian imperial examination system uses examinations as a tool to limit students' interests, ambitions, imagination, and hands-on ability.

This kind of education system will make students over-intensify review and invest too much energy in repeating knowledge, just to make fewer mistakes when competing with others.

In contrast to the dual-insurance education system in the United States, SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test) test scores are only one of the factors considered for university admissions, and SAT has 6 opportunities to apply for the exam every year.

The reason why East Asian countries have strengthened this kind of education system probably stems from the mentality brought about by their industrialization catch-up.

The origin of modern industrialization was in Western Europe, so no matter whether they were economic or educational, they all had a relatively slow natural development period.

East Asian countries were coerced into the modern society. In order to catch up with Western Europe, they can only adopt national-level planned development.

As for education, in order to adapt to industrialized talents, this kind of mode similar to the factory assembly line and the crazy pursuit of efficiency is adopted.

Another point of view is that after the Korean War, South Korea basically became a colony of the United States.

The United States gave South Korea tens of billions of dollars in aid in the 1950s and 1960s, and invested heavily in nurturing South Korea. The price was that large Korean companies had to accept Wall Street capital’s shareholding or even control.

The following is the shareholding structure of Samsung Electronics in 2014

The proportion of foreign capital is as high as 55%, and foreign capital even reaches 80% in the proportion of preferred shares. Most of these foreign capitals come from Citibank and Morgan Stanley in the United States.

That is to say, most of the money earned by large Korean companies is distributed to the United States.

Not only that, these large companies are also forced to participate in the global manufacturing division led by the United States. This division of labor is that the United States is responsible for the high-end, Japan and South Korea are responsible for the low-end, and you are restricted from climbing up.

For example, in high-profit industries such as military industry, pharmaceuticals, and aviation, Japan and South Korea are basically invisible. Even in semiconductors, Samsung is praised for its thinnest profit memory and panel business. The most profitable business is tightly held by Intel and Qualcomm. , ARM in the hands of these European and American companies.

There are only so many industries, and the money earned is still plundered, so South Korea can only have involution.


~Article by Poh Chi Yi (9 Exodus)

CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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