“Never Give Up!” An anthem for Korean students~

Oh.Em.GEE! I love this song! Bang Yong Guk & ZELO from TS Entertainment, have truly made an anthem for Korean students!

As an English teacher in South Korea, I saw how hard my students worked and when my 6th graders moved on to middle school, I felt a pang of pain for them. Pain because I knew these bright and happy students were about to enter a world where school was jammed down their throats and discipline was tough. Knowing that the carefree smiles were about to be wiped off their faces really made me wish I could change the school system in Korea. All the way until high school, they are drilled with information and fed the fear that they may not be good enough.

Korean education: then and now

HOWEVER, Korea has a lot to be proud about:

Yet, at what cost does Korea achieve this?

South Koreans attend school 220 days per year, almost two months more than the 180 days of Americans. (The Japanese enroll an astonishing 243 days per annum; South Korea abdicated first place in 2005 when its students ceased going to school half days on Saturday.) What distinguishes South Koreans from everyone else, however, is the immense number of hours they study outside the classroom. High schoolers, and even middle schoolers, in South Korea are often engaged in scholastics until midnight or 2 a.m. After taking classes in up to 11 subjects, they attend private academies called “hagwons” where they obtain supplemental learning. The bottom line? Most South Korean children spend 13 hours a day or more with their bottoms glued to a chair.

(Source: http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/2427-South-Korean-schools.gs)

My students were rambunctious, yet willing to learn and in my short time teaching, I tried my best to make English the most exciting subject for them: a break from the litany and a buffer to what was yet to come. But it’s not just the long hours of a dreary existence that had me the most preoccupied about my students; because while Korea is on top in regards to intelligence, they also hold the number one place for suicide.

This is NOT how I want my students to feel ;(

In Korea, suicide is the most common death for those under 40. In fact, they rank number 1 in the world for overall rate of suicide.

According to the article, High test scores, higher expectations, and presidential hype, “17 out of 100,000 students kill themselves — sometimes after a poor performance on entrance exams or because children cannot endure their parent’s disappointment. One 2008 poll indicated that 58.8% of students contemplate suicide.” This is why I worry so much about my students.

So how does this relate to KPOP? Bang Yong Guk & ZELO’s song describes perfectly the tedium of school and how they just want to do what they love. I hope every one of my former students listen to this song because it encourages them to break free and discover who they are apart from school.

Now the fun part :) Did anyone else feel like this looked a lot like High School Musical?

(The girl featured is Secret member, Hyosung.)

As far as the singing/rapping goes, I think were very good! It was cool and the English fit really well and matched the content. What really surprised me was Bang Yong Guk’s really deep voice! Wow 0.o It’s really sexy though :D

Here are the translated lyrics: {I bolded my reactions :)}

We run to our prep schools (hakgwons!)
As we leave our schools behind
I already know it but why do you keep teaching it again, uh (this almost makes me feel guilty for going to teach English in a hakgwon :/)
Only yawns from teacher’s words
Only scribbles from the drawing paper called, blackboard
Taking thousand dollars private lessons (guilty again :/)
This system that emphasizes grades over friendships (wow! so deep!)
This pressure called exams (final year of high school is called “year of hell)
This burden called, college
The stress that are building up
Would my parents know?

I like walking loosely
But why do you only want straight posture
My dream is to hold a mic and rap
But again, I grab a pen and write down math formulas today
Yeah, things that we learn at school
Are losing dreams and always giving up
Do what you like (Yes!)
Love what you do (Yes!)
Ask yourself, what you wanna do (Yes!)

Never give up
Cheer up, toward your dreams
Never give up
Get up, get up, you can do it
Wake up, wake up
Don’t worry, everything will be fine (Yes!)
Never give up
Because it’s you, it’s you
Believe in yourself
Never give up

I’m back in da school back
back in da school, loosely
I’m back in da school
I’m back in da school back
back in da school, loosely
I’m back in da school

Boring stories STOP, my love story
Will I be able to express my feelings?
Endless worries
Today, I went to the store again to buy a loaf of bread
Cuase this is all I can do
Will you like this when you receive it?
Or will you not receive it and turn around?
I’m a dwarf wandering around Snow White
I’m nothing special but
I can protect you, my baby
I act all tough when I run into you
I have no interest in my guyfriends’ talks
I only look at you, ma baby
I wanna draw you during Art class
And I wanna make a song for you during Music class
I’m attracted, you’re N, I’m S (You’re North, I’m South??)
This butterfly has no end like a rational number
You’re ma last luv

Clap your hands everybody
Everybody clap your hands
Left, left to right right, right to left
Everybody just clap your hands

Clap your hands everybody
Everybody clap your hands
Left, left to right right, right to left
Put your hands up in the sky

Read more: Bang Yong Guk & Zelo Never Give Up (Feat. Heritage) English Translation Lyrics | InfoTaip
via infotaip.blogspot.com

So what do you think? Do you think the time is nigh for school reform in Korea?

Just for fun, here are the lovely students I taught:

I miss these kids so much :)

[UPDATE]:

More Than Half of Korean Students Unhappy at School

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/12/07/2011120700522.html

Korea Awash with the Under-Skilled and Overeducated

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/12/08/2011120800579.html

Students Paint Bleak Picture of Korean Schools

http://english.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2011/12/12/2011121200591.html

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About Seoulody

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