“Mum told me that my dream is transferring to Harvard”

I’ve been telling as many times as possible that there is a huge educational fever in SK and it already crossed the line where Obama can praise it (though it seems that his comments on the SK education were exaggerated) somewhat 10 years ago. As I told you before, kids are killing themselves: definitely no good.

I always wanted to tell you how bad it is, but I am not a mom or a dad and there is few of them around me so I had to wait until this piece from Pressian came up:

Daechi-dong, the very heart of the private education. About 500 private preparatory schools are concentrated in this area.

A (14 years old) is taking classes for English, math, science and violin to get into an art high school while the [public] school is on vacation.

“It is much busier when I’m on vacation. Have to go bed at 3AM and get up at 8AM but still my assignments cram.”

When asked if he [in fact the sex is not mentioned and I guess you would know that there is no male/female pronouns in Korean. 그녀 is a later-made-up word from translation.] want to play around, “No,” A said, shyly smiling, “everyone’s doing in this way so I can’t be just left behind.”

Tiger mom? Helicopter mom? That is so yesterday in SK—here comes the drone mom, manipulating her children over everything, including their plan of life:

C is going to be a 6th grader. He [same is here, too] said he couldn’t spare much time because he has got to go to another school soon. He was looking a watch repeatedly while talking…

C is taking English, math, piano and an aggregational [which means providing lessons over complete subjects in the education course] school… When things are done early he sleeps at 12AM but usually after 2AM.

C’s dream is becoming a doctor. He is planning to transfer to Harvard after an entrance to the dental college of Seoul National University. His mother told him that he can transfer while he’s attending Korean university.

“Mum plans my schedule. After she brings me to first school, I move on around.”

“This is tough indeed but I don’t want to be one who reapply to university later. All my friends are taking classes [from private schools].”

A run-to-the-mill explanation on this phenomenon:

Lee Bum, the policy advisor of Seoul Education Office explains why Daechi-dong is on the boom:

“Almost all households move into Daechi-dong while their children are in the elementary school. Parents, of course, agree with the Kangnamian [Kangnam is the south-east section of Seoul, where rich residences are concentrated.] view of education. They are well-educated middle class people. They don’t have much to leave for their children so they want their children to succeed, by study, as they did. That wishes are suffocating children.”

To succeed by higher education was possible. Until the 486 generation, those who are currently at their 40s, started their higher education (university, I mean) at 80s, are born in 60s. But by now it seems that the door is closing and there is not much space left in the chink.

And the parents are well aware of this. So what exactly drives them into this minus-sum game?

Mr. Lee continues: “There are extraordinarily numerous tea parties along the Kangnam mothers. Once you join in one of the parties, you can’t get over the anxiety from the amplified sense of rivalry among the mothers. Thus you have to force their children to make themselves into a better university.”

Mrs. Park, 39, who quit her job to focus on her children’s education says, “I had made up my mind not to raise my kids like them but soon I realized that I was pushing my kids to school before I notice myself doing so. Many things are mentioned in the meetings of moms. It’s impossible to let my kids just be after I joined the meeting. You are being left behind if you just stand still.”

Distinction, the late Bourdieu’s buzzword would fit in very well. Until the 90s, there was no strict distinction between the classes, no, there was no such thing the class until then, it seems to me. In other words, the hierarchy of the social status was soft, allowing those who are enthusiastic to step up.

Even though the gate is almost closed, they still believe that it is possible to step up. At least they want to leave a distinction by how much they have got to waste invest on it, not by a cultural taste on arts or something. I see their desire to distinction is fierce and why is that?

(Same goes on with the stupid North Face fad. Now the kids are moving away from North Face. Would the next be Patagonia, or Moncler?)

There is something missing definitely during the compressed development and the extrinsic social transition of the past half a century. And finding this was one of my all-time interests.


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