Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Culture: Where have their childhood gone?

Was hanging out at Elvis with Ferby last night. On the way home, I spotted this crowd of students on the streets.

Managed to put 1 + 1 together? Basically, whats wrong with this scenario is that:

  1. It is midnight...
  2. These are students ~ they are in uniform with their back-packs.
  3. They are on their way home AT THIS MOMENT.
As I have gathered over the past year or so, it is a normal sight, even to see kids as young as 12 walking home at that hour from school and tutoring institutions ~ hagwons (학원). Pressure is on, especially when kids have to take the entrance exam to fight for spots at top universities in Seoul and Pusan cities.

At one end of the extreme, there is an actual real estate industry in the Gangnam district of Seoul, whereby some parents would temporarily relocate to that area during the school year/exam semester, so that their child can have access to some of the top hagwons in the city. Here's an article from today's JoongAng Daily.

I was reading a post at a Korean blog @ Joel's site, where he translated a local article into English. It explored the cultural and social aspects of why children might be forced to study so hard. Have a read 'here'.

Now tell me that isn't something to ponder about? It just made me think back, of how fortunate my childhood was. Call me a nerd, but I genuinely had the interest to learn stuff and do well! Apart from that, I had time to myself too, and really enjoyed myself. We always had time for mud-fights, bicycles, and the occasional sleep under a tree...

God bless these children.


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