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[Opinion] Hwang Woo-suk Ranked 400th out of 480 in High School

[Opinion] Hwang Woo-suk Ranked 400th out of 480 in High School

Posted May. 25, 2005 03:38,   


There is much talk about the academic performance of star scientist Hwang Woo-suk, a Seoul National University professor, during his high school years. It was revealed that Professor Hwang ranked 400th among 480 students in his first mid-term in high school. Netizens say that he would not have made it to a college that he wanted to attend had he taken a college entrance examination in 2008 with such a school grade. Therefore, he could not have become such a world-class bio scientist. They are being skeptical about a college admission system that heavily focuses on high school grades, and in which students have a slim chance to enter a prestigious university unless they get good grades from the beginning of their high school years.

It is fair to call Hwang a success story of elite education. An excellent student from a poor family, he went on to a prestigious high school. He would have been shocked at his poor showing in the school. That served as a stimulant for him to focus on study. He was among the top 10 percent as a senior and entered the university he chose. His classmates with the same level of academic ability as his were good rivals to him. In short, “land of opportunity” was granted to him, where a poor but bright talent realizes his dream without being frustrated.

What is striking about Hwang’s school years was his unique conviction. He chose to go to a veterinary school, although people around him encouraged him to attend a medical school. Howard Gardner, a Harvard University professor, emphasizes the "multiple intelligence of humans." He says that multiple intelligence is divided into eight kinds of intelligence, including interpersonal intelligence, naturalist intelligence and logical-mathematical intelligence. Without a doubt, Hwang is a man of superb naturalist intelligence. His success was predetermined by the fact that he chose his way.

The fruit of his conviction will produce an astronomical addition to the national interest. The combination of Korea’s advanced information technology (IT) and biotechnology (BT) sectors, led by Hwang, is expected to create an even bigger synergy. The government values egalitarian education and implements regimented educational policy focusing on restrictions. But looking at Hwang’s remarkable achievements, it should seriously consider whether or not it is destroying, rather than creating, an environment which could give birth to a second Hwang.

Hong Chan-sik, Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com