My Hagwon is better than your hagwon

If you are looking for an english teaching job in Korea…no worries… Hagwons (private academies) are on the rise. The Korea Herald (you can read the full article here) said that since the 1970’s the number of Hagwons have increased dramatically. There are now over 70,000 of them within this small country. Surprisingly (to me) there are 20% more artistic type Hagwon’s than foreign language ones. But I guess when I talk with the kids they all go to a piano academy, a flute academy, art academy or tae kwan do academy along with their Science, Chinese, Math and English academies.
The tests and demands on the students are more and more every year, I know I have written about them and that is just the way it is…you must be the smartest in the bunch in order to truly excel in the Korean Business world. It’s crazy, more than 4 million students attend Hagwons and not just one of them. I know the majority of my students attend between 3-5 Hagwons a week specializing in different subjects. I also know that they are not cheap, I believe they can range anywhere from 150-400 dollars a month per Hagwon. As a whole, the country spends 18.5 billion dollars a year on private education.


  1. That's pretty crazy. I can't imagine what that does for the psyche of a nation's youth. That's a lot of pressure to put on children. I know in Japan there has been a corresponding rise in the suicide rates of teens and young adults. Is the same true in Korea also?


  2. For the last 4 years, my hagwon has offered daily 2-hour classes for less than $100 (110,000 won) a month; however, a couple of years ago the won was trading at 900 to the $1, so the rate then would have been about $122 and this past year when it was 1,500 won to the dollar the rate would have been about $73. Our school even discounts the rate for additional siblings or for joining both the English and mathematics hagwons that the owners run. We are in a poorer part of the city, and while about half the kids are sent here to improve their English, the others are sent as a form of child-care as it isn't too expensive for their working parents. It took me a couple of months to realize that while we do try and teach, the our business model (for the most part) is to keep the kids occupied and out of the local PC bangs and away for the temptations that come from being a kid in the urban jungle of Daejeon. Any English that sticks is a bit of a bonus.Sometimes, I think it really sort of sucks to be a kid nowadays, but then I think about the kids who used to work 100-hour plus work weeks in New York City with no schooling back a little over 100 years ago, or at even worse times in our recent history as homo sapiens, or in other areas of this planet that are engulfed in turmoil no child should have to endure. The reality is that today's modern conveniences do make a quite a bit easier for those fortunate enough to be living in places where they are available for those willing to put in the “effort” to obtain them.


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