Reflection upon ‘SKY Castle’
Reflection upon ‘SKY Castle’
  • Pepsineken (Anonymous)
  • 승인 2019.02.28 02:40
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▲Poster of the drama 'SKY Castle' / JTBC
▲Poster of the drama 'SKY Castle' / JTBC

There are several characters in the drama SKY Castle. Each character’s perspective towards child education can be observed throughout the episodes and through these various perspectives, the audience can reevaluate Korean education in many different facets. As a person who has experienced Korea’s university application, I was able to empathize to the drama’s content and ponder about the various corruptions occurring during university application these days. Overall, I want to organize my personal thoughts regarding Korean education through this article.  

Below is a conversation from the drama SKY Castle:  

“Why did you become a doctor”? 
“My mom told me to.” 

Every typical student in Korea lives with expectations of their parents. These expectations sometimes originate from parents’ desires to fulfill dreams that they couldn’t live up to, to elevate their social status, or to maintain their current social status. Kant once said “Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to our ends.” However, if parents use their children as a means to fulfill their dreams, what are their purposes? If the children complete their parent’s dream, then are their purposes fulfilled as well? 
Of course, every parent ‘means well’ for their child, wishing for their child to succeed in life. They take interest in their child’s life and try to set then an ideal path in life. But parents actually do not know as much as they think they do about their children. Just because they gave birth to them and spent the most time with them, parents cannot be objective towards their children. They tend to overestimate the child’s ability and scold them to do better. And when the child faces mistakes and failures, parents tend to feel more empathy and stop being objective.  
In the past, there was such law in Chosun: “Do not let father and son interact with each other.” Plus, there are stories of families switching their children during education. Why would such laws or traditions exist? Parents cannot help but become absorbed with their child’s life, and due to this natural tendency, parents easily become overly reactive towards their children. If parents treat their children as their duplicates and endeavor to complete their dreams through children, the relationship between parents and children cannot make peace.  
Now let’s get back to Korea’s education. The government strongly claims to regulate public education and decrease the percentage of private education. However, this is only idealistic. When the government claims to reinforce creativity education, academies that propose to stimulate and cultivate creativity started to appear. Already, private education has grown to become as massive as public education itself. In some cases actually, private education was more emphasized than public education, and sadly it is no longer possible to stop such trend.  There used to be a policy that forbids private education during the Chun Doo-hwan reign. But despite the enforcement, a black market for it kept on growing. The idea that “my child cannot fall behind the neighbor’s child” is omnipresent within our society and due to this, when the neighbor’s child attends a private academy, parents become restless and helplessly conclude that they should do the same.  
Korea’s economic system is bizarre. Those on the highest status are able to maintain their wealth and pass it on to their children. However, most of the middle-class endeavors to elevate their children’s hierarchy or to maintain their own status by forcing certain occupations to their children. Approximately 70 percent of Korean students advance up to university education. This is the highest percentage among the OECD countries. This can be viewed as a favorable aspect of Korea, but these students ultimately all enter the job market as individuals who received high-level education. Due to this, universities are ranked and ‘top universities’ are formed. Parents try to send their children to these ‘top universities’ and hope for them to find ‘good occupations.’ Of course, nowadays companies try to diminish this particular culture of Korea through blind recruitments and etc. but such trend still is prevalent in our society.  
As a Korean citizen who has experienced college application, I believe that our education is formed particularly like this due to the competitive nature of Korean society and economic crisis such as IMF which led to employment crisis. As everyone struggles to obtain a stable job, people tend to overcrowd in certain pathways.  
I want to assert to all readers of The Postech Times. If you are a student, you probably will be busy competing to survive in the university applicant pool. If you succeed in matriculating in your dream school, congratulations on your survival. However, I hope that you remember how much I hate using the word ‘survive’ in the field of education. Why do we have to ‘survive?’ Is getting into a good university actually ‘surviving’? If so, does failing to do so really mean defeat in life?  
This is just a personal thought from an individual who dreams of reforming this deformed formation of Korean education. I believe that to make a change, we need the efforts of a group- we must alter the thoughts of the whole society- and I hope we can all try to make this change. There will be mistakes, and those who are afraid of mistakes will criticize. But I believe that Korean education is something that must be fixed and therefore we must advance through these mistakes. I end this column with hope towards better education.