The education system in South Korea’s Education Success Is Faltering in Evolving Economy, a major factor in the country’s economic success, is coming under more and more fire for failing to prepare students for the demands of a contemporary labour market and hurting young people’s mental health.

President Joe Biden of the United States has commended the educational zeal of Korean residents. Who has the highest percentage of college graduates in the industrialized world? The country’s transition from a post-war wasteland to a manufacturing powerhouse in the early 1950s was made possible by the current structure.

But a closer look at the education system reveals a fixation on “glamour” universities at the expense of practical skills, a lack of continual learning to stay competitive, and a cramming industry that is held responsible for an increase in teen suicides.

In the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Korea has the lowest labour productivity return on investment (OECD). In comparison to Ireland, it spends 40% more on a typical teenager in school yet generates 60% less GDP per worker.

The majority of the money spent on education in Korea goes to hagwons, institutions that provide rigorous coaching to kids to help them prepare for tests and exams. By promising improved exam scores, these tutoring companies have grown into a 23.4 trillion won (S$24 billion) business.

College admission hagwons typically charge several hundred dollars each month. One English-teaching hagwon for kindergarten-aged children costs US$25,000 (S$34,000) a year. According to lawmaker Min Hyung-bae, which is five times the typical tuition for a college. Enrollment begins early.

Korea consistently has some of the brightest students in the world, but as soon as they enter the workforce. Their cognitive abilities start to deteriorate at the quickest rate in the OECD.

South Korea’s Education Success Is Faltering in Evolving Economy. Researchers list a lack of autonomy and competition as two more factors contributing to workers’ inability to keep up with the competition.

South Korea’s Education Success Is Faltering in Evolving Economy

In the industrialized world, Korea has the worst mismatch between job requirements and skill sets, with half of its university graduates finding employment in fields unrelated to their fields of study.

According to an OECD assessment, part of the reason is due to Koreans’ “golden ticket syndrome,” which prioritizes admission to a famous university over attending a school that would allow them to pursue their lifelong interest and vocation.

According to Day1Company, an online school operator, over two-thirds of Korean businesses claim that the talents they are looking for actually have little to do with whether an applicant has a college degree. The association between postsecondary education courses taken and employment is virtually negligible in Korea, the sole OECD member.

However, an increasing percentage of vocational students think that rather than entering the workforce, their next step must be attending college. By doing so, the training-job mismatch probably gets worse and productivity declines. The same students accuse society of favouring college graduates unjustly in terms of both promotion and pay.

According to labour economist Kim Tai-gi, the proportion of vocational students is already low, at 18% from the previous year, compared to a 44% average across the OECD.

However, a college education does not ensure socioeconomic mobility. According to surveys, the likelihood of climbing the social ladder has decreased as the proportion of college graduates has increased.


Since of the high cost of cram schools and private tutoring due to the obsession with college, many couples are hesitant to have children because they won’t be able to give their offspring the greatest opportunity.

The population of Korea is expected to have decreased by half by the end of the century despite breaking its own record for the lowest fertility rate in the world last year.

Teenage suicide is frequently caused by stress before entering college, and the number of hours kids spend at hagwons is often correlated with this. Teenagers saw the largest increase in suicide rates among all generations last year, rising by 10.1%.

Although changes have made little headway, policymakers are becoming more and more conscious of the issues with the educational system.

At the Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training, economist Ban Ga-Woon declared, “Korea is ensnared in a trap of its own prosperity.” “Education has been essential to the country’s progress, but it may now be destroying its economic future.”