The KEDI (Korean Educational Development Institute) released a survey of 660 "experts"--which turns out to be college students and professors--who are worried that what seems like a positive about Korea is in fact a negative: something called academic inflation. What that is is that an excess of highly-educated individuals end up incompetition with each other, leading to an inflation of minimum job requirements, as positions which do not require degree-level skills are filled with degree-holders.
When asked in which circumstances the country’s academic inflation is most serious, 38.4 percent [of the KEDI survey respondents] answered “when I see many unemployed people who possess a master’s or doctoral degree,” while 29.18 percent said that it is when they see people with academic degrees who apply for jobs that don’t match their educational backgrounds.
A majority of respondents agreed that academic inflation is causing harm to society. The most commonly cited negative social implications caused by academic inflation was wasting money on education, with 48.8 percent of responses, while 22.7 percent answered, “depletion of the labor force due to the prolonged length of time spent before settling on a job.”
But the band marches on. Over at the Korea Times, a counterpoint is provided by a story about Korean students overseas who come home during the summer--to study at hagwons!
These hagwon are cheaper, compared to their U.S. counterpart. For example, Kaplan, a U.S.-based test preparation institution, charges $1,300 for 14 lectures in Los Angeles, while it costs $1,200 for 32 lectures at a hagwon in Seoul, making an economic sense for these students to return to Korea for the summer.
Leaving aside the expense of airfare, the article makes the assumption that 32 lectures in a Korean hagwon is equal to 14 lectures from Kaplan. This is an unsupported assertion, and is questionable at best, since Korea spends far more on test prep than any other country, with worse results.
There are several reasons for this, including historical affinity (the relatedness of the language to English), word order differences, incentive, and the like. But educational quality is certainly right up there. Which, after all, is why I'm here.