[Letters] Unfair attitudes toward ‘special’ Korean students

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[Letters] Unfair attitudes toward ‘special’ Korean students

I may just be a normal student with simple dreams. I have no extreme wealth, amazing beauty nor a naturally venerable heart. But I am a student who is true to my own perspective and my situation.

I am a student who lived in various countries throughout my childhood. My first language is Korean, but my English is currently better than my mother tongue. This may sound outrageous to some people and they may blame me for not being a true citizen of a one nation.

But I can’t blame them. I feel more nostalgic toward the foreign countries I’ve lived in and I love the culture of those countries.

Since my return to Korea due to personal issues, I am currently in a sticky situation. Although I adapted to Korea at a relatively fast pace, I can’t hide my discomfort and anger toward some irresponsible people’s behavior toward students like me.

Yes, I am one of the “special” students who have some advantage compared to normal Korean high school students. We don’t need to study over 10 subjects to be accepted to a decent university in Seoul. We do have stronger English skills compared to local people. But this shouldn’t be a reason for people to discourage and debase us. We simply have a different method for university admissions.

First of all, I would like to humbly to ask the teachers across the country to understand us. Please don’t say we don’t need to care about our Korean GPA. Please don’t place us in a different academic division because we can don’t have to care about our Korean test scores. Please don’t say out loud in front of the class that we are special students because we lived in foreign countries.

We do care about our status within the school and we do want to truly learn from each and every one of you. Although we may not take the typical Korean CSAT, we are obliged to truly engage with you in the classroom. We do want to study.

Secondly, I want the education ministry of Korea to make stronger regulations and policies for us. Currently, our parents are running around to every single Korean high school to find one that will admit us.

If one school can’t accept us, our parents need to travel at least half of Gangnam to find open spots at other high schools. Although we are language arts department students, schools have no other choice but place us in the math and science division due to a lack of students.

In the end students are in an uncomfortable situation. We’re studying subjects we aren’t interested in. I believe this situation will be alleviated when the education ministry truly takes a deep interest in us.

Lastly, I would like to stress that we worked hard when we lived overseas. We also spent hours and hours to create presentations, study various subjects and attend different international conferences for our own university applications.

Although people may believe we will go through an easy college application process, I protest this common belief.

We are not stupid. We are the same as typical Korean students. We had to spend years trying to join typical cliques, to understand different cultures and languages and to forget the feeling of being an alien in our own home country.

We have the same emotional traumas as other students. Plus, more special students are applying to Korean universities. Universities are receiving applications from 200 students for only two to hree spots. College admissions are getting more rigorous every single year.

I can’t stress enough that we are going through hardships, too. My message is simple: Please understand us.

I believe this situation will be alleviated when people truly recognize our own personal challenges.

For my fellow “special” students: Be proud that we lived abroad. But please don’t be arrogant.

Kwon Su-yeon, Jin-seon Girls' High School student
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