While South Korea’s education system produces some impressive results, it’s become conventional wisdom to note the system’s staggering problems – punishingly long study hours, little sleep, rote memorization of facts, the stifling of adolescent creativity, and a narrow, test-obsessed teaching method that cares more about scores than real knowledge.

But it’s very, very rare to actually hear the opinion of someone experiencing this system firsthand. On December 13, a Korean teenager, a first year in middle school, uploaded his first video to YouTube under the account JasonIsKorean. The video, entitled “Dear Korea…” is a brutally honest, harsh, and very funny takedown of the Korean education system. Jason, who has recently returned to Korea after spending several years at school in America, speaks excellent English, and knows how to make a good video.

Shot entirely in his bedroom with nothing more than a cream wallpaper backdrop, Jason manages to wring a lot of humor out of his subject. Early on in the video he stages a mock dialogue between himself as a young returnee, and a robotic voice embodying Korea – “Hello human, are you good at studying?” He then goes on to list his problems with the Korean education system and the damaging effects it has on students. Funny as the video is, it is also a heartfelt plea urging Korea to care more about students’ wellbeing and less about “success” narrowly defined as a prestigious university and a respected job.

Precocious and eloquent, it’s clear that this teenager finds Korean middle school stifling. Hopefully Jason will survive the six grueling years of middle and high school with all his enthusiasm and creativity intact. And hopefully his video might encourage other students to speak out, in Korean and English, and make their opinions known.

The video currently has over 30,000 views on YouTube.

Photo by Samuel Orchard

 

 

About The Author

Richard Whitten

Richard was born in Sydney, Australia, and lived there his whole life until moving to Seoul. Though he's lived here for four years now and is happily married, he hasn't quite lost that 'Wow I'm in Korea!' enthusiasm.