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A look at Hagwons in South Korea

In South Korea the private schools were so heavily regulated that they didn’t really look much different from the public schools. Parents decided to opt outside the regular school sector entirely, hiring private tutoring services called “hagwons.” Hagwons in South Korea are big business and provide educators incentive to continuously better their techniques with the highest paid teachers.

AIRED: 4/03/2017 | 00:04:13
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Ninety-five percent of students have taken hagwon lessons by the time they leave high school.

It's typical to attend after school, several days a week... sometimes well past midnight.

And, according to one study, three-quarters of students prefer those hagwon lessons to their regular school classes.

Actually, I think the aim of hagwon is helping us to get better grades from the school.

And, for me, actually, hagwon helped me a lot.

I've seen many students asleep at school- like, all subjects, from morning- eight- to afternoon- to five pm... and they just sleep.

And then, when they go to hagwon, their eyes are so sparkly, and they're ready to study, and they study 'til two o'clock.

Of course it's that way; it's because hagwons are customer-oriented.

When students enroll in hagwons, they are matched with classes based on their performance level.

So it's possible to tailor the lessons to those specific students.

But that's not the case for regular public schools, which means the highly-advanced students and those who are far behind are in the same classes- classes that aren't really suited to them.

Public schools are divided by age in classes.

I think that makes a big difference.

And it's not the only difference... Schools are places students are required to attend, but they choose to come to hagwons so they have more affection toward them.

That means they tend to pay closer attention in class and, because of that, it is so fun to teach these kids.

Mr. Choi is a national star.

A lot of students have fallen in love with his lectures.

In the past, students from outside Seoul had to come take these classes during vacation.

But as internet technology improved, kids got the opportunity to listen to great lectures from the comfort of their own homes.

Actually, I'm not from Seoul, I'm from Daejeon which...there aren't really many celebrity teachers, so we have to take online courses.

So, me and my friends, and we'd be all watching the same teacher's education.

I actually met one of them at Seoul train station and me and my friends from back home are, like, excited and we wanted to take pictures.

He was like a celebrity to us and he actually helped me with the subjects that I did not really do well on.

I teach around a thousand students a year in person.

As for online, it's around ten or fifteen thousand students a year.

Every online lecture has a demonstration lecture.

Almost all students should see that first and then they are free to choose.

Online and in-person lectures, on average over 100,000 students taking my lessons.

It is a market...it is an entire market, and the consumer, a student, likes the product that is better than any others.

So teachers compete within the market to become, like, entertaining and educative at the same time, you know?

I must study hard- even harder than my students- so the lecture is very enlivened, and interesting, and exciting.

For online hagwon teachers, if they deliver passionate lectures and give good service, many students will subscribe to their classes...and their earnings reflect that.

For the last ten years, my whole lecture revenue is over 100-million dollars, and my share is 25 million dollars.

But, at this point, the regular schools' teachers, if they worked harder, there would be nothing; there could be nothing for the more efforts.