The question of education often revolves around 2 things; Costs and Results, most of the time people are not too worried about the cost of an individual students as long as that individual student has a marginal (but significant) advantage.  On a national scale though, the relative R/C does become important when looking at competitive edge towards other countries.


With Korea there is the added social pressure of their relative status towards other countries.  Koreans are very sensitive in how others perceive them.  A B- is considered to be insufficient in Korea.

The above article completely ignores the economic factors that come along with education.  A country has to be able to carry the burden of educating their children, and the education needs to add value to society, in such that the total wealth of a country is improved.  South Korea is a very good example in how a country can increase their level of wealth by investing heavily in education.  But the law of Marginal returns also dictates that, simply said, too much is too much.  Is that one extra dollar spent on education adding at least 1 dollar to the value of an economy?

I found this information.  Three important variables are thus presented; Cost per student, GDP per capita and proficiency.  You might make the claim that the distribution of the cost in the different fields of education makes a difference, but I am going to assume that in regards to languages, it doesn’t matter.

According to the first website, Korean fluency lies around 24th in the OECD, Korean GDP per capita is 23rd and cost per student they are ranked 20th.  Just looking at the ranks, one cannot consider Korea to be an ineffective, albeit slightly.  Let us not forget that Korea is still catching up with the rest of the OECD.

The problem is, I cannot see if hagwons are added to the mix of expenses in South Korea. The private education system is unique to Asia.  The burden of paying for the younger generation falls mostly on the parents, where in Europe, the burden is carried by mostly taxpayers.  This is my pet peeve.  Are parents spending their hard earned won effectively.  If we look at the aggregate numbers, we cannot come to that conclusion, but by simply realizing that the cost of education falls upon the individual, rather than the general public, the ailments of Korea become understandable.

This is a choice every country has to make for themselves, do we let parents pay for the future of their offspring, or does the whole nation take the responsibility of paying for the future of the next generation?  Either solution has it’s problems,and each country (culture) has to figure out what is best for them.

In regards to English proficiency, looking at the generalized statistics, Korea is exactly where it should be.