What South Korean Students Really Think About Their Education System

Michelle Woo
Jul 21,2014
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by MICHELLE WOO

Korean Students Speak is a Tumblr project that was started a few years ago by a group of Fulbright English Teaching Assistants working in South Korea.

“English is not just a test subject,” the description reads. “It is a language, a means to express and to engage. Many South Korean classrooms ignore this aspect in their singleminded focus on preparing for national tests. 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.”

Students, from elementary- to high school-aged, hold up signs displaying their thoughts. These musings range from frivolous (“I hate Rachel in Glee!!”) to political (“Dokdo is ours”) to aspirational (“I want to play basketball in NBA”) to personal (“I’m looking for boyfriend.”)

Many, however, use the opportunity to vent about the toil and pressures of school. Korean students have some of the highest test scores in the world and a higher rate of acceptance into American ivy leagues than any other foreign country. But such “success” comes at a cost. It’s not uncommon to see children cramming in study halls to end a 15-hour school day.

Here’s a glimpse into their minds.

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See more at Korean Students Speak.

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