Bullet train makes Daechi education accessibleEvery Saturday, an 11th-grade student surnamed Yun leaves his home around noon and commutes from Jije Station in Gyeonggi to Gangnam’s Suseo Station in southern Seoul so that he can study at a math hagwon, or cram school.
“I came because I heard the Daechi-dong hagwon was famous,” Yun says. Thanks to the Suseo-Pyeongtaek High Speed Railway (SRT), he can get from Jije to Suseo in no more than 20 minutes or so. “I go to school every day, but the time it takes is similar and not too taxing.”
Yun is not alone - students from across Seoul and beyond are increasingly commuting to the now-accessible Daechi-dong “Hagwon Street.”
Compared to buses, express trains and the KTX (the country’s high-speed rail system), travel time on the SRT is much less.
The KTX, for instance, requires one to disembark at Seoul or Yongsan Station and then take a bus or train to Daechi-dong, which takes an additional hour.
But Suseo Station is just a stone’s throw away when riding the SRT, and is connected by subway. One can arrive within an hour from Cheonan or Pyeongtaek, and it reaches as far as Daegu and Daejeon.
In fact, after one Daechi hagwon recently began an interview preparation class for science school admissions, parents from Daejeon and Daegu inquired about weekend classes, and one parent from Daegu, surnamed Jeong, has begun sending her 9th-grade child to a math hagwon in the area.
“Parents who wish to send their children to a special subject or charter school have a lot of interest in Daechi-dong hagwon,” Jeong says.
“It’s more comfortable going from Suseo Station to Daechi-dong over Seoul Station,” says one 8th grader surnamed Lee, who commutes from Daegu to Daechi-dong on the SRT every Saturday. “And I can save at least 20 to 30 minutes.”
As a result, student traffic to Daechi has increased.
“We’re seeing more middle schoolers getting off at Suseo Station on the weekends,” says Bang Jong-hun, public relations manager at SR, the SRT’s operator.
“Before the opening of the SRT, parents from Pyeongtaek or Cheonan would bring their children two to three hours by car,” says one hagwon owner, “but now, almost all of them take the SRT by themselves.”
Still, riding the SRT to Daechi-dong isn’t an ideal solution for all, as it can be prohibitively expensive.
“There are those who attend Daechi-dong hagwon during weekends,” says Park Sang-yong, the vice principal of Junghwa Girls’ High School, “but considering the cost and time, it can be more effective to study at home or attend a hagwon nearby.”
BY JEON MIN-HEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]