My Response: Gender in Modern Korea

I must start this post by saying that it is written in response to a very good post from The Grand Narrative by James Turnbull. It’s basic framework is taken directly from a far too lengthy comment I posted there, but I’ve since tried to make it a bit more substantial and post-worthy. I strongly recommend reading this post, and spending some time reading the rest of the blog, as it really is the best place to get information and discussion about sexuality, gender, feminism and other issues in Korea. Also, I won’t try and rehash anything that’s been said over there here, because I could never do it as well! Like I said, this is a response to a post.

A statue from Love Land in Jeju-do

A statue from Love Land in Jeju-do

My first remark is unfortunately about something James said that I disagree with. The main reference point for James’s article is a piece by So-hee Lee entitled ‘The Concept of Female Sexuality in Korean Popular Culture,’ taken from the book Under Construction: The Gendering of Modernity, Class and Consumption in the Republic of Korea. In discussing this essay, James remarks that

“in this section of the chapter I think Lee disproportionately blames Korean husbands seeing their wives as asexual, unattractive ajumma (아주마) for their sexless marriages.”

In reality, my personal view is that Lee’s comments are certainly accurate, and this definitely has been very important in shaping the sexual identity (or non-identity) of Korean women. I think the point James was trying to make is that women hold just as many stereotypes and preconceptions about themselves and their marriage, and so this is equally to blame as how their husbands view them. This is by no means inaccurate, but we should not discard just how different the attitudes of Korean husbands (particularly from the older generations) towards their wives are compared with the ones someone might be familiar with if they had never been to Korea. I’m not saying that, by dint of being Korean, these attitudes are wrong, just that there are differences. Of course, in these discussions it can be all too easy to make generalisations, so I must point out that I’m not referring to all Koreans (or even the majority), just an observable and noteworthy number.

I’ve brought this up with many Koreans, male and female, and the general consensus seems to be that husbands, especially of that older generation, would feel in some way guilty if they thought of their wives as sexual beings. The reason for that is that they view it somewhat like incest. The wife is a part of the family, no different to any other member. I’m sure some people would be very quick to ascribe this to Confucianism, but I’m not sure I can, largely because there is nothing prescribed within the Confucian canon about this. Although certainly in the Confucian tradition the husband is supposed to take the “higher” position in the hierarchy, he is also responsible for ensuring that those “lower” than him are well provided for and content. Now, that could be argued to mean that a husband should view his wife as a sexual being if only to ensure her needs are met. Also, my own opinion is that many husbands who are guilty of viewing their wives as sexless ajummas actually do this because they are a mother figure to them as well. The wife bears their children, and then raises them, becoming a mother, but in many ways she does the same for her husband within the home, almost as if she was mothering him, and this is perhaps why a husband would consider it incestuous. On the other hand, in defense of James’s point of view, it can be said that in a male-dominated society, where a woman’s prospects were limited (still mostly referring to older generations – the “traditionals”), her sense of achievement came from performing her “womanly” roles well, and this often meant forgoing self-grooming, manners and a sexually desirable “delicate” image. In effect, she turned herself into an ajumma (아줌마).

Fierce Ajumma

If you study a chart of Confucian familial relationships, there is one very interesting feature that is markedly different from what a similar familial chart would look like in non-Confucian societies (think family tree with titles instead of names). Unfortunately I won’t be able to draw one here, but basically, your parents are called your parents, but their siblings are also referred to as parents – 큰 아버지 (Big father) instead of older uncle etc etc., and the same pattern follows for every generation, a cousin is a brother/sister 4 “measures” distant (4 촌). Therefore, to a married woman, her husbands parents fit into the hierarchy at the same level as her own parents and their generation, and she would even call her husbands parents “mother” and “father” – this is still standard practice for speaking to parents-in-law in Korea, and I’m sure many people will have witnessed it. In effect, this system forces her to fit into the hierarchy on a generational level with her husband, a connection almost equivalent to being his sibling. So it is a bit complicated but still possible to actually explain why sex within a marriage after the kids have been born is considered by some to be incestuous and doesn’t really happen. This explanation, unlike the first one I gave, is clearly a result of a Confucian influence.

But my basic point remains as: I do think it has been very relevant that husbands see their wives as asexual/sexless ajummas, although the wives do see themselves as this as well. They may not feel happy about it in the end, or very fulfilled, but it’s self-perpetuating to some extent, and down to their husbands for the rest.

Gender Equality Minister Byun Do-yoon

Gender Equality Minister Byun Do-yoon - Ironically, definite Ajumma

I was also very interested to see this description of the “missy” term by Lee that James picked up on in his post: “a married woman who still looks like a single woman.” I’m not sure in “western” countries whether you would find people who thought that married and single women look noticeably different. It’s also curious that she said they look different, not that they dress differently, as of course, the married ajumma does look different typically as a person – change in haircut, gait, behaviour are all well-known (and often ridiculed) features of ajummas. I think it’s a signal of so many things that women effectively turn themselves into ajummas at a certain age or after marriage. The biggest issue of course is that the younger generations are fiercely against becoming ajummas, and perhaps the generations before them were as well – if you’re feeling really brave maybe you could ask one, but I’m not going to try! The deciding factor to me seems to be the men – and of course the level of gender inequality/equality. If the men are not open to accepting the sexuality of women in full, both before and after marriage, and before and after having children, then the women stand very little chance of casting off the shackles of sexlessness. Anything towards this end that is to be achieved would have to be achieved solely by the individual women, but to read more about that see James’s post as well as a post by Gord Sellar about Korean women in a consumer society here.


There is also a quote from Lee briefly discussing the “weakening of Korean familism.” I don’t want to stick too closely here to what Lee actually says about this, because James has analysed that in full anyway, but the phrasing does interest me. This idea that Korea has a strong and highly developed sense of familism is, while surely true, drummed into every Korean. Many talk about it proudly, saying things like “In Korean culture family is very important.” But the issue I want to raise is this; in what culture is family not important? Certainly in Korea there are very set actions that family members are expected to perform and so on, and they are important and highly conspicuous, to be sure. These actions are explicit and sometimes representative of hierarchical responsibilities and sentiments. Taking your parents to go shopping on a Saturday morning when you have other things you should be doing means you’re filial and love/respect your parents. Cooking for your husband’s parents means you’re a good wife to him and a filial daughter-in-law. When Koreans talk about “weakening of Korean familism” I don’t think the issue is really that family is becoming less important to Koreans – they just have to express their “familism” (is that really a word??) in different ways, eg. small gestures replacing large ones, saying how you feel instead of performing a set action that is supposed to prove it, acknowledging that you feel what you actually feel, rather than displaying that you feel what you think you should be feeling. I think that young Koreans have adapted in this way the best, but that perhaps leads to a larger generation gap in people’s perceptions of things like “family.”  A son from younger generations may find it hard living with his parents, harder still for his wife. He will naturally try and display his affection for his parents, but the affection they expect is demonstrated by him living with them. It is in individual cases like this where we will be able to really register the change in Korean “familism.” Does the family find a way to adapt to the new pressures and concerns of modern life and find new ways of expressing how they feel that can coexist with that, or will the older values remain unchanged through the will of the parents? And, if change does occur, has that weakened Korean familism or has it just changed, adapted, developed?

Korean Family

That’s about all I have to say in response to James’s post, and it roughly deals with gender issues post-marriage, and how female sexuality in Korea has and continues to change. I do, however, want to add something about female sexuality in Korea pre-marriage, specifically the sexuality of teenagers.

There is another excellent post about this subject by Matt at Gusts of Popular Feeling that has all the background research you could possibly want to get a better understanding of the topic and the situation. He also has good posts about teenage prostitution in Korea here and here. What I have to say is short, and a brief internet search will reveal far more detailed statistics and analysis. South Korea has an incredibly high number of teenage girls selling sex, and not just 18 and 19 year olds, rather the concentration seems to be around 14/15, with girls as young as 12 taking part in what are known as “compensated dates” (원조교제, wonjo kyoje/gyoje in Korean). What is perhaps more troubling is that the majority of customers or clients for these young girls are not hormonal pubescent young boys who don’t have the self-confidence to try the “regular way,” rather they are older adult men in their 20s and 30s, sometimes older. It seems that men from all walks of life are “compensating” young girls for sexual services. Once again, don’t be fooled into thinking this represents all or even a majority, but it is still a considerable number. The posts at Gusts of Popular Feeling that I linked to, among other sources, have all the relevant statistics.

So why do men seek out young girls in this manner? My personal view is that in an indirect way these girls are victims, even if they enter into these activities willingly, so I’m not pleased about tarnishing them with this brush, but in essence they are prostitutes. It is also worth pointing out, however, that this is entirely illegal, and not condoned by the Korean government or by society in general, and you only need to search Korean portal/news sites to find evidence of this.

The reason I’ve included this in this post is because many men, once they view their wives as sexless ajummas, for reasons mentioned above or otherwise, some will inevitably seek out other women for sex. Korea has a huge prostitution and sex industry as a whole, and anyone who has the experience of living in Korea will be able to tell you that adultery, especially by men, is quite common. We’re familiar in the “west” with the idea of men seeking out a “younger model,” and this seems to be similar to that on the part of the men. Also, young women – and virgins, or women with virginal qualities – have been held in higher esteem in many East Asian cultures up to a later date than in “western” ones, as evidenced by the greater amounts of what westerners would probably consider to be child pornography. In considering this, we must not make the mistake of trying to impose decidedly western morals or concepts on a different culture or society. Don’t forget, there was a time when, even in the most advanced “western” countries, girls were considered to be of marriageable age from their first period, and youthful features were most highly prized. Also, in societies were women are freer to express their sexuality, and where men are more accepting of this, sexual experience becomes a more desirable characteristic – just think about the term “MILF.” I don’t personally think there’s enough of an attraction towards this sexual experience among Korean men for an equivalent term referring to Ajummas to come into common vernacular. Besides, it would be too hard to pronounce… In Korea, features associated with youth are definitely the most highly prized – although this in itself does not lead directly to seeking out minors, and by no means excuses it.

For me, the real issue is sex education. Anyone who has worked in a Korean school will know that Koreans receive the absolute minimum of sex education, and what they do receive is of a very low standard. It was even worse for the older generations. And, again especially the older generations, what they lacked from their school in terms of sex education was not made up for by their parents. I’ve heard stories even today where grandmothers would be too embarrassed to talk about pregnancy. This means that the offending men likely had very little moral or scientific/factual education about sex. They would know it was required to produce children, and within marriage. But when there’s so much prostitution around them, and they’re disinclined to have sex with their wives after having children, how are they going to satisfy desires and curiosity.

Sex Ed

On top of this, women of a similar age to these men are not presented in a sexual way in Korea. Very few “dress to impress,” and there is certainly little to no sexualisation of Korean women over their early 30s. In fact, the most sexualised women in the media are teenage girls and very young women. The Wondergirls were even used in an advertising campaign against teenage prostitution. How they failed to see that this would cause more harm than good is beyond me. All it could have done was link the idea of a sexualised (albeit artificially) schoolgirl with the idea of paying for sex. In a country where it’s illegal to view pornography on the internet, but there are pictures of the Wondergirls seemingly everywhere you look, it seems to me as though this must create a desire among some older men.

SoHee of the Wonder Girls, born June 1992

SoHee of the Wonder Girls, born June 1992

As for the young girls involved, I think their reasons are similar, foremost among them again being lack of decent sex education, either at school or at home. Firstly, in a matter as important as this, impressionable young people need guidance as to what is and isn’t morally, legally and socially acceptable and why. Also, if young people have boundaries, even though they may overstep them, it will generally not be by too far, but knowing where the boundaries are remains important. If nobody discusses it with them, they have no fixed idea of where the boundaries are. Also, they are quite simply hormonal adolescents, and they are naturally curious. Their education should also fulfill a larger part of their curiosity. The cases of gang rape by schoolchildren when they later said they were emulating pornography shows that if their education doesn’t satisfy some of their curiosity, they will find other ways to do so – it’s natural. It would be much better for their curiosity to be satisfied by proper education than by pornography.

Lastly, the societal expectation of young girls (and really older unmarried women as well) is that they are “pure” and devoid of sexuality. However, as mentioned before, their role models in the media are highly sexualised. They aren’t shown as having no time for anything but studying, their spots are hidden, and they can aspire to be with rich, doting men. They are also symbols of consumerism, where status is apparently granted by what you own. Compensated dating makes the girls richer than they could ever be doing legitimate work, and enables them to keep up with the latest fashion trends. In fact, the statistics from Gusts of Popular Feeling show that the majority of girls who take part in these dates do so for the money. On top of that, there’s the factor of curiosity, the sense of being wanted, feeling pretty and being doted upon. It would also have a sense of the risque. Also, in the same way as the rate of suicide, I wonder if perhaps this phenomenon has a snowballing effect – these young people, and older ones too – see it around them and it becomes subconsciously more acceptable to them.

This post has grown greatly from what it started off as, but I’m very keen to read what anyone else has to add or comment on. I know there’s a variety of topics, but it seems like there could be so much for further discussion contained within all this, so please do comment.


The Contemporary Korean Education System and Confucianism

Before I begin this post proper, I’d just like to give a quick bit of background information as to its genesis. I wrote the original form of this piece as an essay, trying to explain how much the contemporary education system in Korea is still influenced by traditional Confucian concepts and values, and how much is now derived from ‘modern’ ‘western’ theory and practice. I’ve obviously modified the essay from its original form to what you see here, but I apologise for its length, and if I haven’t edited it very well; it’s the first time I’ve attempted to do this! I can’t provide links for every point I make as one would do with citations in an academic piece, but I will provide a shortened list of references at the end for anyone who wants to do some further reading on the topic.


I have to start with briefly mentioning Korea’s long and deep history of Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism and Confucian values. For half a millennium, the entire country was structured according to the fundamental Confucian principles for government, society and family as well as the role of the individual within these units during the Chosŏn dynasty, from 1392 until 1910. The effect of this on the subconscious of the Korean people was profound, and even today Korea is considered to be the most Confucian nation of the world, more so even than China.


The Dosan Seowon traditional Confucian academy founded by Toegye Yi Hwang (W5000 note)

The Dosan Seowon traditional Confucian academy founded by Toegye Yi Hwang (W5000 note)



When one understands this, it becomes clear that even today, many facets of Korean society and government – and of course family life – are in line with Confucian principles and methods, simply in a more updated form to function in the Twenty-first Century. The educational system is no different. Education was a vital and fundamental part of the Confucian ideal for a state. In fact, in a Confucian state scholars were the most highly respected class of people. To achieve success in the civil service examinations in these countries, one had to first spend a great amount of time in rigorous study and ‘self-cultivation,’ a popular theme in Confucian thought. As this was the path to a bright future, one can see how a culture of respect for education, and admiration for the educated came about in Korea. This was the subconscious attitude that was present – and in many respects still is – when South Korea’s present educational system was formed.

However, it is naturally a difficult task to ask whether the influence of a man who lived around two and a half millennia ago can be conclusively proven to exist in the educational system of Korea today. Bearing this in mind, then, what I will now try to investigate is whether any concepts or principles introduced or attributed to Confucian philosophy can be seen and identified within this educational system today.

Structurally, the Korean educational system is very rigid and closed. It takes the form of a vertical hierarchy, as any institution would in a Confucian-influenced setting. This said, in name and very superficially the Korean system is actually modelled on the American system. The similarity is, however, very superficial, with the American system being much more decentralised and open. Furthermore, the interpersonal relationships within the two systems are very different, as well as methods of teaching and studying, although this will be discussed in more detail below. At the head of the Korean system is the Ministry of Education, whose main function is policy making and evaluation. Therefore this body governs the behaviour of all institutions in the country. This type of vertical structuring is very reminiscent of Confucian ministries, and the effect is thereby echoed within the educational institutions themselves.

A typical school or higher education institution in South Korea will have a similar vertical hierarchy, usually with a single male at the very top. Typical educators in Korea consider that this role requires an authoritarian leader, according to J. Lee (2001). Such authoritarian leadership means that there is little discourse between the staff of the institutions regarding policies or important matters. The figurehead will typically only require his staff to obey and respect him for the perceived smooth running of the institution. These administrators also, as I’m sure any English teachers in Korea will testify, encourage their subordinates to “devote” themselves to their institution, and by extension its head.

Lee also explains the hierarchy in more detail, saying

… sitting positions are usually based on rank determined by status, age, and gender.”

Such a system is clearly not derived from ‘modern’ or ‘western’ concepts, and just as clearly demonstrates a Confucian style hierarchical body.

As mentioned above, the highest level administrators of Korean schools and educational institutes are typically authoritarian men. This again reflects the feeling of male superiority found in Confucian texts and traditions. But it is not just in the case of the highest administrators where this is seen within the educational system in South Korea. In fact, it appears that it is prevalent on all levels.

The OECD reveals that in 1999 in South Korea from a total of 354 higher education institutes employing 55718 teaching staff, 8505 were women, and 47213 were men. Moreover, J. Lee states

female faculty members are generally discriminated or disadvantaged in personnel or school administration by the majority of male administrators.”

As Confucianism has always been favourable towards men, it can be assumed that it is more likely that men will transmit Confucian sentiments onto others. Thus, this analysis clearly leads one to consider that most Koreans, whilst perhaps not openly indoctrinated in Confucian philosophy any more, are surrounded by a system run entirely according to a Confucian modus operandi, and so it is highly likely that such attitudes will be transmitted at the very least in part.



Another fundamental concept of Confucian thought is that of filial piety and respect for elders. Sung explains that;

In the traditional Confucian notion, the aged are people who must be respected. Filial piety inherently entails a ‘respect-the-old’ ideology.”

Typically, the concept of filial piety in Confucian thinking refers most specifically to the respect a child has for their parents, and the care they show for them. Accompanying this, however, is the idea that similar respect and displays of respect must be shown to all who are elder. Thus we begin to see the reason behind the aforementioned complex seating arrangements in a school staff room, for example. Younger members of staff will demonstrate the required respect by referring to elder members of staff using honourific titles. This pattern is also carried over into the relationships between teachers and pupils. The teachers also expect unquestioning obedience from their students. Within the classroom, the teacher takes on the role of the parent in a two-layer hierarchy, and the students are effectively in the role of children. Pupils are expected to show gratitude to their teachers. Independent discussion and thought around the topic are discouraged, with almost all lessons being conducted by rote learning in Korea (Again, some of you will surely know most this already). This is a distinct contrast to the western approach, and also further amplifies the effects of a Confucian hierarchy within the classroom, whereby the students do only as instructed, viewing the teacher as an infallible figure.

Evidently, the contemporary Korean education system does indeed reflect many traditional Confucian concepts. Of course, Korea has undergone many drastic upheavals and changes since it was officially run as a Confucian state, such as the colonization by Japan, the Korean War, military authoritarian rule, the switch to full democracy and the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997. Events such as these have had a marked effect on the culture of Korea and on its people. One thing some scholars refer to is that in South Korea now there is a sweeping trend towards materialism and cornucopian trends (OECD, 2000, 48; Chua, 2000, 15).

This is naturally far-removed from the Confucian ideals traditionally held. On the other hand, fashion and other materialistic pursuits are typically followed en masse by young Koreans, perhaps even more so than in some Western nations. This example of the many acting as one within the country is a feature of a Confucian state. It is my view, therefore, that such following of trends en masse is in reality a development of a Confucian element as a result of some of the events in Korea’s modern history, and is not a complete deviation from Confucian traditions.  The OECD states that

higher education merely becomes a tool for socio-economic enhancement.”

That is to say, in contemporary South Korea, the clear love of and desire for education is not always out of respect for education itself, but rather because education is seen as the easiest path to material gain.

There are other examples of traditional Confucian concepts that have also been distorted as a result of the rapid developments in Korean history. In the same way that the aforementioned factor does not fall squarely into the traditional Confucian respect for education, but is rather a distortion of this feature, the authoritarian style of leader within educational institutes also does not always converge precisely with the traditional Confucian ideal leader. J. Lee explains that the traditional Confucian-influenced ruler is one who shows benevolence towards those lower in the hierarchy than themselves, and commands respect by dint of being morally righteous and virtuous.


The Confucian leader must be the most suitable to lead, and do so with compassion, and according to a strict moral code. In this way, it is natural that a leader earns their authority. Leaders within the Korean educational system also command great authority, demand respect, and operate in a highly authoritarian way, whilst also refraining from opening channels of discourse with other staff or students regarding important issues and policy.

The issue here is that contemporary leaders of South Korean educational institutions maintain a Confucian style strict top-down hierarchy and operate in a very authoritarian manner, yet do not always show the benevolence or reciprocated morality that should be required in a traditional Confucian archetypal structure. Clearly this, too, is an example of not a reflection of traditional Confucian concepts, but rather a refraction of them. Moreover, the absolute dominance of rote learning within Korean education now means that there is less time than ever for teachers to encourage positive moral values, something that was traditionally of fundamental importance within Confucian philosophy.

In answer to the titular question, then, it is evident that certain traditional Confucian concepts and values are reflected in the contemporary educational system of South Korea. Prominent among these are a strict hierarchy, seen both in the structuring of the educational system itself and also within each educational institute. As has been seen, this hierarchy is based on the traditional Confucian concepts of the superiority of age and the dominance of men. Devotion to the group to which one belongs is also stressed, as is a certain “educational adoration.” The students do not look to question the actions of their teachers or the subject matter of their classes, compounded by rote learning that submerges more ‘western’ trends towards individual thought and opinion.

These Confucian elements are not only reflected in the contemporary educational system but are in actual fact enforced and encouraged. On the other hand, others are being eroded, replaced or augmented by what may be referred to as ‘western’ or ‘modern’ concepts. It could be said that using education for material gain falls into this category, as the rise in materialistic views in South Korea is often attributed to Westernization (Chua, 2000). The South Korean government also operates a policy whereby all are supposed to have equal and fair access to education. While in practice this has been proven not to be the case – with students studying in certain locations or certain subjects being discriminated when they want to advance into higher education and employment – it is a concept that was not held by the traditional Confucian thinker (Kwak, 2004, 15). In fact, the hagwon, or private tutoring institute, rose to popularity as the general population viewed the traditional Confucian schools as too elitist. So while this is not necessarily an imported western concept, it is also historically not aligned with the traditional Confucian system.

In structural terms, the South Korean education system is based on the American one, although in practice it is more centralized and in correspondence with the traditional Confucian model for any such public ministry or system. The value and role of universities in Korea is also outwardly similar, but in reality somewhat different.

In South Korea, being a university graduate is considered a requisite for a successful life, whereas a more western view would be that anyone can achieve success, despite not attaining at the highest level in all areas – such as standard education. However, study and teaching methods at university in Korea show little difference with those prior to higher education, and this is one of the contributing factors to the relatively low international opinion of Korean universities (Jambor, 2009). Rote learning remains abundant, and little prestige is placed on developing as an individual – both a Confucian and ‘western’ ideal – or on what the student actually does while at university. In the case of South Korea, the achievement is all in attending the ‘right university,’ something which is decided by a single exam at the end of high school. In contrast, western nations tend to place the highest amount of significance on a person’s most recent and highest level qualification – such as a degree. In Korea the examination at the end of high school fulfills this role, with the function of the universities being in name and to more clearly mark out class distinctions.

Looking at this issue as a whole it is incontrovertible that the contemporary Korean educational system reflects some Confucian concepts, but this is to be expected considering that the society as a whole is similarly influenced by Confucianism. What is more useful from an analytical point of view is that other Confucian concepts seem to have been altered slightly in arriving at the modern South Korean system, despite outwardly appearing to be quintessential Confucianism in practice.

An example of this would be the role of leaders of schools, and teachers, whose authority is to be taken unquestioningly, regardless of their moral aptitude for their roles, which was something originally stressed within Confucianism. Another would be a prevailing respect and profound desire for education, yet no longer for education’s sake, but rather for material gain. Finally, some few traditional Confucian concepts, like the cultivation of the self in regards to the student, seem to have disappeared from the Korean educational system entirely, replaced by rote learning and studying to the exclusion of all else until one has completed the university entrance examination. It is my view that certain ‘western’ concepts, such as universal education – primarily a concept of Comenius, often regarded as the founder of modern education – are of great benefit to the Korean educational system, whereas the effect of an increasingly materialistic society on the perceived function of education and the monetary outlay of parents to provide it for their children despite a lack of benefits aside from examination success have a distinctly negative impact.



This list contains all references made in the text. Also, all facts and figures and the like came from these sources below. I know there’s a lot, but it’s really only for anyone wanting to get to the very bottom of this issue.

Bray, Mark (2007), The Shadow Education System: Private Tutoring and its Implications for Planners, UNESCO: International Institute for Educational Planning.

 Chua, Beng Huat (2000), Consumption in Asia: Lifestyles and Identities, Routledge

 Deuchler, Martina (1992), The Confucian transformation of Korea: a study of society and ideology, Harvard University Asia Center.

 Jambor, Paul (2009), “Why South Korean Universities Have Low International Rankings”, Journal of Academic Leadership: The Online Journal 7(1): available at:

 Kwak, Byong-Sun (2004), “Struggle against Private Lessons in Korean Education Context”, available at:

 Lee, Jeong-Kyu (2000), “The Administrative Structure and Systems of Korean Higher Education”, OECD Journal of the Programme on Institutional Management in Higher Education 12(1): 43-51. – I would recommend this as the best source for anyone wanting to get a grasp of the basics of the the Korean education system in practice.

 Lee, Jeong-Kyu (2001), “Confucian Thought Affecting Leadership And Organizational Culture Of Korean Higher Education”, Radical Pedagogy 3(1).

 Lee, Sunhwa & Brinton, Mary C. (1996), “Elite Education and Social Capital: The Case of South Korea”, Sociology of Education 69(3): 177-192.

 Li, Defeng (1998), “”It’s Always More Difficult Than You Plan and Imagine”: Teachers’ Perceived Difficulties in Introducing the Communicative Approach in South Korea”, TESOL Quarterly 32(4): 677-703.

 Park, Insook Han & Cho, Lee-Jay (1995), “Confucianism and the Korean Family”, Journal of Comparative Family Studies 26: available at:

 Republic of Korea Ministry of Education Science and Technology website, available at:

 Robertson, Paul (2002), “The Pervading Influence of Neo- Confucianism on the Korean Education System”, Asian EFL Journal 4(2): available at:

 Rozman, Gilbert (2002), “Can Confucianism Survive in an Age of Universalism and Globalization?”, Pacific Affairs 75(1): 11-37.

 Sorensen, Clark W. (1994), “Success and Education in South Korea”, Comparative Education Review 38(1): 10-35.

Sung, Kyu-taik (1995), “Measures and Dimensions of Filial Piety in Korea”, The Gentologist 35(2): 240-247.