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The Reason Why I Had to Leave Korea

I love my country, and I'm really proud of being Korean. However, there are certain things that I can't stand in this country. Maybe that's why I decided to leave this country and spent my high school days in Canada. Living in Korea as a student is such a difficult thing. People always tell us which way to go. Everybody has to follow that way no matter what they think. Of course, I was one of them, doing good at school. I was the president of the school and got good grades. Everybody thought I was satisfied with my life, but it wasn't true at all. I hated my life at that time even though I didn't look like it. I couldn't stand the fact that I had to do what people wanted me to do, and there was nothing I could do by myself. The school wasn't for the students; it was totally for teachers and parents because they made all the decisions and told us what to do. I just wanted to get out of this situation. I really wanted to go somewhere I could express myself. Unfortunately, the only way I could do that was by getting out of this country. So I asked my parents about it and they said "Yes" easier than I thought.
   I went to Vancouver, Canada, when I graduated from  my middle school. I can say that the time I spent in Canada were the best moments in my entire life. It was really students' school that I was looking for. When I was on the students' council, we discussed many things about the school and we also made decisions. The teachers just helped us, but nothing more. Nobody told us what to do as long as we didn't do something totally wrong. Another thing was that students didn't have to study all the subjects like we do in Korea. They can choose the subjects they like and are good at, just like universities in Korea. They also have as many subjects as Korean universities have, maybe more. It was a real shock to me.
   At the beginning of 1997 I had to come back to Korea because of the IMF crisis. I had to leave everything I had there behind me but I learned lots of things. So I have no regrets. I just want to mention a couple of differences between Canada and Korea. It is a well-known fact that Koreans are smarter than other peoples. However, we have not won any Nobel Prizes yet. The reason for that is we don't support talented people who could win a Nobel Prize. We forced them to do what everybody else does and limited their unmeasurable possibilities. I think Korea has ruined many of its geniuses because of this illogical education. It is a big loss for all of us. Teachers and parents always say: "You can do anything when you go to university." But it's a dangerous thought and I think it keeps lowering the status of Korean university students. Middle schools and high schools are supposed to be the places for new experience and it should be. If this kind of education doesn't change, Korea never win a Novel Prize.

The writer is a freshman in the Faculty of Social Science at DU.

Kim Seung-eon  serendipity@dongguk.edu

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