As we all know, South Korea has one of the toughest education systems in the world. We see this by watching KDramas that feature many young Korean teenagers spending entire days at school and their nights studying endlessly at private academies in an attempt to get to the top, and often, to satisfy the wishes of their parents. As KPop fans, often we also get insights about how harsh this way of learning is through our favourite Korean artists who release music about being disgruntled by the way education is viewed in their society.

Education is a very big deal in South Korea, the country is widely known for having one of the best systems in place for achieving very high scores on education tables and due to this Korean teenagers are statistically some of the best test takers in the entire world.  In 2015, 15 year old South Korean students were ranked as being 3rd best in the world at maths and science whilst the UK landed much further down the board at 20th place. In a new BBC documentary, three bright Welsh teenagers are sent on a once in a lifetime opportunity to attend prestigious high schools in Gangnam, South Korea to find out what makes Korean students rank so much higher than their British counterparts.

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For three days Sarah, Tommy and Ewan attend these competitive schools and live with their Korean classmates as an attempt to learn in depth about the Korean education system. While they are there  however, they also learn a lot about Korean society and culture as a whole and soon realize just how tough and demanding it can be on young people and what they have to sacrifice to be the best.

The full two episodes of ‘School Swap: Korea Style’ are available now on the BBC iPlayer.




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I love writing, cherry blossoms and Kim Namjoon