Academic Stress Takes Two Lives In South Korea, Public Heartbroken

Netizens expressed frustration over the country’s toxic educational environment.

Content Warning

This article includes descriptions of suicide or self harm that may disturb some readers.

Two teenage girls were found dead on the rooftop of an Incheon officetel building on December 26, KST. The two students were classmates at the same school.

Representative image | The Korea Times

According to Incheon Nonhyeon Police Station, the two high school students were discovered on the roof of a 20-story building in Nonhyeon-dong, Namdong-gu, Incheon, at 1:10 a.m. Residents called the emergency line 119 after noticing the two girls. When the paramedics arrived, the two were unconscious. They were rushed to a nearby hospital and pronounced dead.

According to reports by JTBC, the two classmates, who were sophomores in high school, left suicide notes, mentioning academic stress as the reason for their fatal decision. The two went up to the roof together, and their cellphone and bags were discovered on the rooftop, along with the letters.

Screen capture from JTBC’s broadcast | JTBC

The police also confirmed that the letters had no mention of problems in the family or discord with friends. Even though the police are not yet suspecting any criminal charges involved in the case, they are still investigating for more details.

Meanwhile, this news has broken the hearts of the general public. South Korea’s highly competitive education system is known to push students too far. According to Statistics Korea, 25.2 percent of middle and high school students aged between 13 and 18 experience depression and anxiety. The student suicide rate is also alarmingly high in the country.

While most people agree that the education system needs a full redo, some also feel that parents need to take better care of their kids and pay attention to their mental health to avoid such atrocities.

| Naver

| Naver

  • “Parents and teachers need to come together to put an end to driving kids into competition against one another. Kids… school is not everything. There are so many things more precious, more incomparable to your education.”
  • “You can tell just by the college entrance exam just what type of hell these kids are being put through. The math problems on these tests horrify even mathematicians, same with the English problems horrifying native English teachers. I heard that those who score decently on the exam are good enough to even get into colleges in the US… We need to stop with all the bias surrounding colleges, about how it’s in Seoul or bust, making a mockery out of kids who choose schools in outer cities. Forcing every student to make a Seoul school their goal basically creates more and more repeat test-takers year after year, which is just a waste of time and money for everyone involved. This then continues to fund the private education industry, with repeat test-takers paying 3 million won a month for academics… it’s never-ending. Who is placing such a burden on our children?”
  • “We need to allow children to freely apply themselves to their personal interests and get into the colleges that are the best fit for them.”
  • “Our country, like Japan, needs to encourage students to apply themselves to the area that they excel or want to be in instead of being too restrictive. It’ll improve happiness and employment. We need to learn to be happy and satisfied with our own places in life… and this is coming from someone who dreamed of becoming a manhwa artist but had to live up to my parents’ expectations and am now in my thirties still studying towards something I don’t want. We need to allow children to choose their own lives… not have them be chosen by others. Happiness is something that we can only make for ourselves.”
  • “Can a life lived by only beating others be truly happy?…please let’s just allow our kids to have fun in sports, eat delicious foods, chat away with good friends, and sometimes study hard for school… it’s about time.”
  • “This is so sad. Right now, I live a life where I have realized studying is not the be-all and end-all…but at their age, it can feel like studying is everything in life. How heavy the expectations surrounding them must have been that they felt there was no other way but to make this choice at such a young age…It’s too sad. May the deceased rest in peace.”
Source: E Daily