2017.6.6 KIP International Program "Issues of Korean Education System:Is this the best for Korean children?"
Ms.Hye June Seo:3rd year undergraduate student in University of Tokyo department of Humanities and Sociology. KIP overseas member

Ms. Hye June Seo: KIP overseas member from Korea. Lived in Canada for several years in primary school but spent her Middle and High school years in Seoul, which has renown for severe academical competition. Currently studying social psychology in the University of Tokyo.

This event consisted of two parts; the former being the lecture by Ms. Seo and a Q&A session, and the latter, a group discussion time on the topic “Should high-stakes testings like Suneung be abolished?”.

The lecture by Ms. Seo goes as the following. Nowadays in Korea, due to the impeachment of the former president Park Geun Hye, and the election of President Moon, the country is facing a rapid and significant political and socioeconomic changes, including the never before high interest amongst the citizen on political and social issues. South Korea’s birthrate marks at 1.2%, the lowest amongst OECD countries, and is heading towards an aging society just like Japan. Moreover, it is facing come unique problems like the military issues, the problem of “Chaebeol”, significantly high unemployment rate amongst its young people, and gender issues. These socioeconomic problems have influenced the education system and created the severe college entrance environment in Korea.

The irrational boom of English education, not to mention sending children to study abroad from an early age, and the flourishment of “hakwons” ,or cram schools, implies us the current situation in which Korean students have to give there everything in to enter a famous university. Especially in Korea, the best universities are centered in Seoul, and the ones in other regions seems to be suffering from shortages of students. Hearing these stories from Ms. Seo, who has been thorugh it all, was very moving and meaningful and 30 minutes flew by in a blink of an eye.

In the following Q&A session, Ms. Seo replied us with answers from her own experience about questions regarding the extracurricular activities of Korean students or Korea’s unique types of highschool.

In the second session of the June event, a group discussion session was held about the topic: “Should high-stakes testings like Suneung be abolished?” Most of the groups agreed about the need to abolish high-stake testings and came up with ways to change the current situation in Korea with insights from their own countries education systems. Some groups even came up with more specific solutions like increasing the quota of the universities in Seoul, or adjusting the test so that the students can take Suneung several times thorough out the academic year and submitting the best results.

KIP June English Event was a very fulfilling and meaningful opportunity to learn about the education system in Korea in comparison to that of Japan and other countries and think over the way a nation’s education system should be like to be truly for the benefit of its young students.

And for the last, we would like to express our special thanks to Ms. Seo for her amazing and insightful lecture. Thank you.

Jisu Kim