South Korea, once one of the poorest countries in the world, is now one of the world’s wealthiest and most advanced. However, this astronomical rise has come at a price – the country is also known for its strict hierarchical culture and cutthroat education system. From a young age, Koreans learn what it’s like to live and compete in a dog-eat-dog world. The competition never stops.

Last year, people around Korea joined in on a unique project to portray these hardships through parody form. It began when the South Korean air force personnel released their parody video “Les Militaribles,” based off of the popular musical film, Les Misérables, to portray the difficulties of life in the Korean military. Soon after, students at Sunhwa Arts High School created their own parody called “Les Schoolzeribles” to portray the tough lives of high school students in Korea.

These videos became instant hits and went viral all over the internet, encouraging many others to take on similar projects of their own. This trend spread quickly all over Korea and soon the internet started seeing tons of parodies portraying the hardships of surviving in Korea’s strict and competitive environment.

If you haven’t seen some of these videos, check them out below and let us know what you think!

1. ROK Air Force Parody “Les Militaribles”

Men over the age of twenty are required by law to serve at least two years in the army and put their lives on hold. Once they return, they have to start learning how to readjust to an even more advanced society outside of the one they’ve grown accustomed to (during the past two years)  and prepare to settle down.

2. Daall Media Parody “Les Schoolzeribles”

In Korea, a typical high school student spends at least fifteen hours a day studying at school. Their days begin at 7:50am and end at around 10pm-10:30pm. Their weekends are even busier. Over time, students unconsciously begin to base their self-worth on academic performances and test scores and learn to compete against their peers to win a spot in the nation’s top universities.

“We were motivated to make the video out of the hope that people could see students having a tough time and give some thought to the university entrance exam,” said Kim Dong-hyeon(18), the director of video, in a past interview.

3. Les Collegerables

While it may get a lot easier for some people once they graduate high school, a majority of others struggle with the difficulties of having to find a stable position in Korea’s competitive society.

4. Les KAISTroubles : Story of a Typical Engineering Student

5. Police Parody “Les Policebles”

6. FROZEN “겨울왕국”

Disney Frozen poster

Right when we thought we were starting to see an end to this video trend, parodies of Disney’s latest hit film, Frozen, started appearing on the web. These videos remind us there are more to Korean students than just studying. Despite all that strict education and discipline, we’re glad to see that there are still many young and bright creative minds out there.

Jeongok High School parody “입시왕국”

YC Production parody “STUDENt”/”수능왕국”

Although Frozen wasn’t able to raise as much success as Les Misérables, parodies in South Korea have become a new trend to those wishing to voice their concerns and opinions on everyday hardships. Let’s hope we see some more of these creative videos in the future!

Photo Cred: lissamabcd | cambridgeblog

About The Author

Annie Lee

Born in Korea but raised in California, Annie is currently a senior at Daewon Foreign Language High School with a strong love for writing and music. Residing in Seoul, South Korea, she hopes to get deep into the world of media and make something of herself.