Friday, October 3, 2008

Today's Korea Times

A doctoral dissertation delivered at Columbia University by Samuel S. Kim and reported on at Korea Times today posits that 44% of Korean students studying at Ivy League universities in America drop out by the end of the second year.

The article provides familiar statistics about the high rate of acceptance to the Ivy League for Korean students, and posits the following reason for the drop-out:
Kim said in the thesis that such a high dropout rate is largely attributable to Korean parents forcing their children to study rather than participate in extracurricular activities, an essential part of overseas education for foreign students to acclimate themselves to American society and get a good job in the long run.
According to the thesis, Korean students consume 75 percent of their time available for studying, while they allocate only 25 percent to extracurricular activities such as community service.
In contrast, American students and those from other countries tend to equally share their time for both study and other activities.

Another story, oddly related, is the suicide of "Korea's actress" Choi Jin-sil, who has been a "national heartthrob for two decades". While her death appears related to her depression over Internet rumors about money she was owed by actor Ahn Jae-hwan, who committed suicide in September, it serves to point up Korea's high suicide rate.

How is it related? Suicide is frighteningly common in Korea, among the highest in the OECD, especially among young students--apparently unable to deal with the stress of getting in to the top schools (SKY: Seoul National, Korea, and Yonsei). China Daily weighs in.

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