A South Korean test-cramming company, Megastudy, wants South Korean children to realize, that for a fee Megastudy really does care more about each and every one of them, and that their friends are bad influences.
Two girls dressed in their school uniforms laughed as they walked along a cherry blossom-strewn road. They looked to be the best of friends. To their left was an eleven-line message printed on a stationery background. “Now that the new semester has started,” it read, “you’ll have a lot more time to hang out with people. It seems reasonable to want to build your friendships. But every time you do that, the studying you planned to do gets put off another day. What are you going to do? The college entrance exam date isn‘t going anywhere.” This ad from the 2013 campaign for Megastudy, a major test prep institute, concludes with the warning, “Don’t let yourself be pulled astray. Friends don’t study for you.”
Honestly, South Koreans are hyper-competitive. So competitive, that is, that playing on children’s fears works for overworked – and under-educated in any academic subject related to creativity or morality – recent graduates only too relieved to be exploited. A professor I tutor told me, he had to give members of his team small envelopes full of cash and buy dinner for another rival team in another office. Why? Because his team had successfully completed its project. His team members needed to know he didn’t think he was taking all the credit for what was a team effort, and the other team was miffed they hadn’t won. So, people are evil, I guess.
One can be forgiven for thinking South Koreans are sociable.