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Seoul National University President: “Korea Is Tottering”

Seoul National University President: “Korea Is Tottering”

Posted March. 23, 2005 22:42,   


“With the transformation into a developed country right before our eyes, Korea is tottering.”

President of Seoul National University, Chung Un-chan, spoke bitter words concerning the economy and the reality of education in Korea.

On March 23 at the headquarters of Samsung located at Taepyoungno, Jung-gu, Seoul, Chung participated in the Samsung group presidential board meeting as a guest speaker and warned, “We are currently in a dual dilemma with the ‘red light’ in the economy and with university education in jeopardy.”

Instead of a Powerful Prescription, We Need to Build-up Basic Strength –

Chung diagnosed, “Economic growth is produced by only a few large enterprises, while the livelihood of the middle-class and masses are threatened.”

He also expressed his worry, saying, “Due to credit card debt, students of prominent universities are turning into burglars and, on account of unemployment, 40 people a day, from young people to the elderly, are committing suicide not to trouble their children.”

Additionally, he explained, “Bizarre occurrences such as elementary school students joining violent gangs and people hiring assassins to murder other family members are happening” and that “due to parents who believe that it is impossible to raise children in such a deteriorating environment, Korea has become the country with the world’s lowest birth rate.”

Chung emphasized, “In such a state, no matter how plausible a system we implement, we cannot establish a healthy society,” and that “rather than conducting heavy surgery on and prescribing powerful medicine to a weak body, we need to build-up our fundamental strength.”

University Restructuring –

Chung said, “The strength to execute policies, even in the turnover of political power, comes from exceptional human resources,” indicating that education is the variable that will determine Korea’s future.

He also added, “During the foreign exchange crisis, Korea’s economy recovered corporate competitiveness through restructuring, but in the matter of university education, not even a hint of a crisis was perceived, and restructuring wasn’t attempted.”

Chung emphasized that “the so called ‘SKY Universities’ (Seoul National University, Korea University, Yonsei University) admit 15,000 students a year, and these students almost exclusively occupy key positions in society.” He added “Those universities have to reduce the number of students drastically for equal opportunity and better education.”

Over 50 presidents of the Samsung Group’s major subsidiaries, including the head of Samsung’s restructuring division, Lee Hak-soo, attended this lecture.

Young-Hae Choi yhchoi65@donga.com