The ‘battle’ of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: Having to quit work at home, being considered inferior if their children do not pass the top school

After more than two decades of career advancement, a mother surnamed Park (48 years old, surname has been changed) has decided to give up her job as an executive at a company to stay at home as a housewife.

It is known that the reason she gave up her successful career was simple: to manage the education of her 2 daughters, who are in middle school and 10th grade in the harsh educational context of Daechi-dong ward.

For those who don’t know, Daechi-dong is a neighborhood in Gangnam District, Seoul, South Korea. This place is considered an area representing the passion and expectation in educating children of parents in the land of Kimchi. Daechi-dong is home to thousands of “hagwon” – a popular form of private school in Korea with the business of educating through tutoring. Here, all mothers want after 12 years of school, their children will enter a prestigious university.

The battle of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: Having to quit work at home, being considered inferior if their children do not pass the top school - Photo 1.

The college entrance exam in Korea is considered the toughest exam in the world

“That’s where the real ‘Sky Castle’ takes place. Mothers give up time and money in the hope that their children can get into famous universities right from the start of elementary school. Some families even transfer. come to Daechi-dong ward just to find a good educational environment for their children. That’s how mothers obsess about getting into college.”Ms. Park said.

In his share, the parent surnamed Park mentioned the phrase “Sky Castle”. Actually, Sky Castle is a family-themed movie, but it is exploited in a very new light – that is, the contradictions in parenting with the battle to get into the top Korean universities. The parents in the movie have run a “noble” but equally “crazy” academic race: From hiring famous tutors to teach at home for their children to organizing clubs. reading books or even trying to get a study path to get straight into Seoul National University of Medicine…

Ms. Park confided that she herself decided to quit her job because she felt guilty because she was too busy with work and lacked interest in her children’s education. Although, she thought she would never be a “Daechi mother”, giving up her career for her children many years ago. However, as her daughters grew up and began to face the reality of fierce college competition, she felt her pride as an executive in the business world. dominated by men has faded.

The battle of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: Having to quit work at home, being considered inferior if their children do not pass the top school - Photo 3.

Many parents decide to quit their jobs to stay at home to take care of their children

And now, as a full-time mother, her schedule is tied to her children’s. Specifically, this mother will wake up at 6:30 am to take her children to school and then do housework. In the afternoon, Ms. Park prepares meals for the children when they return home, takes them to hagwon around 4 or 5 pm and picks them up again at 10 pm. During summer and winter breaks, she drives her 2 daughters to another hagwon where they take special courses and also prepare 3 meals a day. This “full-time” mom’s day ends only after her baby goes to bed and goes to sleep.

In her spare time, Ms. Park often talks about her child’s education with other mothers and attends educational seminars – something she was never able to do while working. Ms. Park said that now she has a much busier life than before and she is doing what a mother can do for her child: “Before it’s too late, I want to help my daughters finish high school to get into a good university.”

According to Mr. Park In-yeon – lecturer at EBS and head of a local educational institute, the chances of young people getting into top universities are very low without their mothers by their side. But, besides educating their children, mothers must also create a good college admissions profile.

“Since many mothers in Daechi-dong are helicopter mothers who are too focused on their children’s education, mothers tend to choose their children over their jobs,” he said. Mr. Park said.

The battle of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: They have to quit their jobs and stay at home, they are considered inferior if their children do not pass the top school - Photo 4.

After retiring from work, mothers’ lives revolve around their children

Similarly, Ms. Oh Myeong-jin also chose to quit her job to take care of her children last year. Putting aside her work as a glass craftsman, this 42-year-old woman chose to build a “luxury – fine – smooth” academic profile so that her daughter would have more chances of being admitted directly to university. According to the sharing, Ms. Oh plans to send her daughter to university through early enrollment.

“I was a student before, so I know how difficult it is to prepare for college. It’s something children can’t do alone. If a mother doesn’t stand by her children, who will. It is a harsh truth that a university degree determines a social status in Korea. Therefore, I have to work very hard to give my children the opportunity to enter the elite and get jobs. stable office”Ms. Oh shared.

She even likens being a Daechi mom to being a warrior in a war – the battle to get her child into top universities:

“It’s a win-lose game. You win if your kid gets in get3 SKY schools: Seoul National University (Seoul National University), Korea University (Korea University) and University (Yonsei University) – the country’s top universities. You will lose and be considered incompetent if your child doesn’t do the same.

At least in Daechi-dong, parenting can be considered the most stressful job, which is why parents are willing to give up their jobs to stay at home to take care of their children. People won’t care where you live, what school you graduate from or what job you have, but a child’s academic record does.”she expressed.

The battle of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: Having to quit work at home, being considered inferior if their children do not pass the top school - Photo 5.

Korean parents will go to sacred places to pray for their children’s education

While some mothers look for opportunities to enroll their children in top universities in the country, other parents keep an eye on universities abroad. Kim Eun-hye, a mother of three, sent her eldest child to an international school on Jeju Island to prepare her for a promising future.

Of course, that desire cost Ms. Kim quite literally. The monthly tuition fee for each subject at this hagwon is about 1 million won (more than 19 million dong) for high school students and about 3 million won (more than 57 million dong) for students with poor learning ability.

Lim Myung-ho, a psychology professor at Dankook University, said that children are the ones who bring life satisfaction to mothers. It can be said that the academic success of a child – the goal of many mothers is a factor that can make mothers feel successful in what they have done. It is also the compensation they want from their children for sacrificing their careers.

After all, satisfaction peaks when their children get into university, but Professor Lim also points out that “empty nest syndrome” can be latent with expectant mothers. expect me too much. According to the Cambridge dictionary, “empty nest syndrome” is the sad feelings of parents when their children grow up and away from home. The same is especially true for “Daechi mothers”, when their children go to college, they will stay at home and experience extreme loneliness when there is nothing to do.

The battle of Korean mothers whose children take the university entrance exam: They have to quit their jobs and stay at home, they are considered inferior if their children don't get into the top schools - Photo 6.

Children are the ones who bring satisfaction in life to Korean mothers

Similarly, Huh Chang-deog, a sociology professor at Yeungnam University, considers it a social loss for women to leave the workplace to support their children’s education.

“Before being called someone’s mother, mothers all have their own lives as women and career women. It’s work sacrifices for mothers to quit and label it as sacrificing work. for children is a wise decision?I don’t think so.

Children have their lives, and so do mothers. Those are two different things, but parents often forget that. Quitting is their choice, but I advise them not to make that decision and sacrifice everything for their children because in the end, they lost their own lives.”Professor Huh Chang-deog shared.

Theo The Korea Herald

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