There will certainly be a Korean word for “free time”, but the children and young people in South Korea do not have much free time. That is why it is all the more valuable. When they are allowed to go out, they are enthusiastic about a very special hobby: They sing karaoke. Karaoke is great fun for many young people. There are bars where you can sing karaoke almost on every corner and all South Koreans, young and old, love singing karaoke.
Korean children also enjoy shopping and dining together. There is now also a special Korean pop music, Korean pop, which young people like to hear. But the Koreans prefer to sing karaoke!
Live to learn
Learning is children’s life. By the way, teachers are allowed to punish students. In some provinces of the country there is even corporal punishment, which means that the teacher can hit the students with a stick. But that doesn’t apply everywhere. In Seoul, for example, it is forbidden to hit children, after all.
The pressure often also comes from the children themselves, who are worried about their future. Piano, mathematics, calligraphy (calligraphy), literature: many parents spend a large part of their income on the education of their children. 80 percent of children go to university later; nowhere else in the world is the proportion of students as high. For a career, in order to pursue a successful profession, one needs a university education in South Korea.
There are 3.5 million students at 400 universities in South Korea, but very few of them are foreign students. The pressure is probably way too high for many overseas students. Seventy years ago seven out of ten Koreans could not read or write. Today almost everyone can, namely 98 percent.
The Korean school system is considered to be one of the most successful in the world. Poorer children don’t have a bad education, it’s just not as good as those who go to school practically twice a day. But almost all children graduate from high school. In no country in the world is the number so high. It is also said that the good school education is one of the reasons why the country is doing so well economically. But the price is high.
Sick of performance pressure
But many children get sick because of the pressure to perform. You can no longer sleep, no longer eat, and feel bad. For many children, this school system is terrible. Many families hardly speak to each other anymore, there is simply no time. And free time is something very rare for children. Some children are only allowed to go out once a month.
High suicide rate
Due to the high pressure to perform, many people, both children and adults, collapse. Some even choose to take their own lives. Nowhere in the world is the rate of suicides as high as in South Korea.
And where is the time to play?
No other country in the world learns as much as South Korea. The children don’t even know summer vacation because they have to repeat the material. But only four out of 100 students come to the elite universities, i.e. the best universities in the country. But attending one of these universities is the goal of many children and especially their parents.
Street children in the Republic of Korea
In South Korea, too, which, like Germany, is a rich country, there are children who live on the streets. They have lost contact with their families and can often be found near major shopping centers or train stations. They have to look where they get their food from, where they can get warm and where they can sleep. Most of the time they don’t go to school either. Then they cannot learn a profession and continue to be poor. Most of these children cannot read or write. They beg and steal. They often use drugs too. Of course, not only rich people live in South Korea, but also many poor people. There is poverty especially in the countryside and in the big cities too. Nevertheless, these poorer people also try – as far as possible – to improve the situation for their children.
Kindergarten in the Republic of Korea
Korean children attend kindergarten from the age of three. But while here in Germany the children are still allowed to play a lot, in South Korea they start learning straight away. Of course you can also learn something while playing, but in Korea there is a real learning program in kindergarten as you know it from school lessons. For three to six-year-olds, for example, English is usually the first foreign language on the timetable alongside writing, arithmetic and reading. In many kindergartens there is even homework. Those who can afford it let their child learn their first musical instruments in kindergarten. Three-year-old children who are already starting to take violin lessons are not uncommon in South Korea.
The school system in South Korea
At the age of six, the children switch from kindergarten to school. The classes are usually larger than here in Germany. There are often between 36 and 38 students in a class.
South Korean children go to primary school for six years, followed by middle school. The obligation to go to school ends after nine years, but many children then attend secondary school, which corresponds to our grammar school.
Education all day
Most schools require children to wear a uniform. Koreans study from early in the morning until late at night. She is characterized by iron discipline, which is also important later in the job. English programs and songs are played on the radio to educate the population. South Korea’s students are among the best in the world, but success is hard earned. The children are brought up very strictly. They have to work and perform at their best. Many children go to school until late at night. For more information about South Korea and Asia, please visit ethnicityology.
Everyday school life in South Korea
Everyday school life of 14 to 19 hours is not uncommon. Ten-year-olds work until 10 p.m. You go to normal school in the morning until around 3 or 4 p.m. They then continue learning in private learning institutes, where they receive tutoring. In contrast to us, however, it is mainly the good students who go there in Korea to become even better. Here the lessons go on until 10 p.m. or even 11 p.m. So the children go to school twice. The teachers at these schools are often more committed and can devote more time to the individual students.
These private institutes are called Hakwon. Then the homework is done. Every minute is used and there may be an English lesson to help you fall asleep. After 11 p.m. the children may take further private study lessons, then with a private tutor. There is also that. Everyone wants the children to get good grades, so they work late at night. But the parents often work that long too. Parents and children hardly see each other like this at all.
Then when do you sleep?
Some children cannot sleep more than five hours. Korean students spend 50 to 70 hours studying. Good grades are not enough for most, you want the best.
Expensive extra hours
500 euros per child is paid per month for extra courses. For many parents they are a second compulsory school.