Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

South Korean ‘Spec’ Craze

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Interesting article from Hankyoreh.  Very true in my opinion and a big (perhaps the only?) reason that there are so many foreigners in Korea teaching English.  It’s a vicious rat-race but how many of the tens of millions can actually claim success?

Seems like the only ones that can get ahead are the ones with money.  Regardless, it truly sucks to be a kid in this country.

» A graphic illustration of what the spec craze in South Korea requires in terms of excessive competition on examination scores, language acquisition and internship experience.

South Korea is in 2009 a “Republic of Specs.” The word “spec,” used to refer to an individual’s academic and career background, has infected everyone. Everyone is perceived through these specs. Teens for universities they are attempting to get into, those in their 20s job seeking, those in their 30s and 40s seeking marriage and promotion, and even those who are older for retirement. Since the atmosphere in which these specs matter has been forced upon us, being able to reflect and live a beautiful life have taken a back seat. The names below are pseudonyms.

The brutal life of elementary school students

It is 7:00 a.m. Mom wakes me up. My name is Kang Saet-byeol. I am 11-years-old and a fifth grader attending an elementary school in Seoul’s Gangseo neighborhood. As soon as I wake up, I have to finish my homework since I have no time in the afternoons. At 2:00 p.m., I attend piano lessons. When that is over, I attend an English language academy to study for the TOEIC since it is required in order to get into an international middle school. Afterwards, I study math. At 5:00 p.m., I go home where a tutor is waiting for me. When vacation comes, my friend and I will go to an English camp in Canada. What am I to do? I want to play, however, I have to go an academy. Only there can I meet my friends.

High school teens with no time to rest
Elementary school kids are crybabies. You, too, will have to go to a multi-subject academy during your middle school years, and Korean, English and Math academies in high school. My name is Kim Yu-na. I am a senior at a high school in Anyang located in the Gyeonggi region. Yesterday, my university entrance exam scores came in. Getting into college during the regular admissions period looks like it will be tough, so I will have to look into other ways to get into school. I found a school though that does not require an essay test, but it still requires aptitude tests. Nowadays, my friends are studying for the TOEFL, TEPS, the SAT and even U.S. AP exams.

The wonderful ‘Lee Taebaek’ Years

After you graduate, you are considered a “Lee Taebaek,” a pun suggesting half of the population in their 20s are unemployed. I will be 29-years-old next year, and I am still looking for a job. I have specs coming out of my ears. I majored in Vietnamese at a decent university in Seoul and my minor was journalism. I scored an 860 on the TOEIC and earned a grade point average of 3.47. I also spent a year in Vietnam. After graduating in 2006, I worked as an intern at a computer gaming company, but when I was not rehired, I took work as an interpreter and translator for a year. I also participated in an overseas internship sponsored by KOTRA. Still, those wicked big companies just look at my documents and dismiss me.

Why is South Korea’s society so strangled by specs? Experts diagnose that the insecurity produced by excessive competition and the struggle to survive is producing this “spec craze.” Accordingly, it easily leads to the indiscriminate accumulation of specs, and it has even lead to the problem of accumulating “false specs” in order to secure college admission. Instances of high schools forging volunteer work certificates or over-issuing testimonials have been discovered. Lee Cheol-ho, chairman of’s policy committee, says the Lee administration’s new educational policy that promotes an admission officer system and foreign language high school reforms is responsible for increasing the numbers of high school students engaged in collecting specs. Lee says as students get caught up in building up specs, they are unable to look at the world more broadly and may get lost in their own vanity.

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Written by recruiterinkorea

December 22, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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