A Statist Political Economy and High Demand for Education in South Korea


  • Ki Su Kim Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada




Academic Aspiration, Economic Factors, Educational Demand, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Political Influences, Student Attitudes


In the 1998 academic year, 84 percent of South Korea's high school "leavers" entered a university or college while almost all children went up to high schools. This is to say, South Korea is now moving into a new age of universal higher education. Even so, competition for university entrance remains intense. What is here interesting is South Koreans' unusually high demand for education. In this article, I criticize the existing cultural and socio-economic interpretations of the phenomenon. Instead, I explore a new interpretation by critically referring to the recent political economy debate on South Korea's state-society/market relationship. In my interpretation, the unusually high demand for education is largely due to the powerful South Korean state's losing flexibility in the management of its "developmental" policies. For this, I blame the traditional "personalist ethic" which still prevails as the


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Author Biography

Ki Su Kim, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Canada

Ki Su Kim is Associate Professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He has published about seventy scholarly papers, two books and several commissioned research reports, all on philosophical and policy issues in education. He has recently completed a policy-developing project addressing South Korea's question of university entrance competition. The project was commissioned by the Ministry of Education, the Republic of Korea, and its recommendations are now being implemented. He is a graduate of Seoul National University.




How to Cite

Kim, K. S. (1999). A Statist Political Economy and High Demand for Education in South Korea. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 7, 19. https://doi.org/10.14507/epaa.v7n19.1999