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Global Warming

  • Date Submitted: 01/28/2012 12:40 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 66 
  • Words: 1091
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Margaret Warner reports from South Korea.
         
MARGARET WARNER: Just outside Seoul, high school freshman Yoo Jae Won gets ready to study, his mom and dad, both doctors, already out the door, big sister away at school.
So that means all the more time to spend with the l Ms. Lee (virtual teach on his PC ).
Jae Won's virtual teacher leaves this 16-year-old with virtually no time off, and that's the way he wants it.
YOO JAE WON, high school freshman: I think I need to study and work harder for my future.

MARGARET WARNER: That's a widespread belief in South Korea, where extraordinary passion for education is the norm.

Have we mentioned Jae Won is on his two-month winter holiday? No matter. He began his day by walking in the biting cold past a billboard touting perfect-scoring students to a 90-minute math tutoring session and study hall.

The tutoring was at a private cram school, or hagwon. From early morning until late at night, six days a week, nearly 60 percent of South Korean youngsters look for a leg up by adding hagwons on top of their public school load.

That kind of dedication -- some say obsession -- has catapulted South Koreans into the top tier of educational achievement. In world rankings of 15 year-olds released last November, South Korean students scored second in reading. American kids were 17th. And they scored fourth in math. Americans came in at 31st.

KATHLEEN STEPHENS, U.S. ambassador to South Korea: Koreans have something they call (SPEAKING KOREAN) which means education fever.

MARGARET WARNER: U.S. Ambassador Kathleen Stephens first came to South Korea in the '70s as a Peace Corps volunteer, teaching some 70 young boys in an unheated classroom.

KATHLEEN STEPHENS: The passion for education here is part of the Korean passion for excellence. And that is what has given this country such dynamism, such vibrancy, such success, even in the face of -- of very daunting circumstances. ( South Koreans are in state of war for...

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