This was one of the toughest years of my life as I repeatedly failed to get into a good university. After 12th grade, I applied for admission into university but failed. There was a lot of competition and the education system where I came from was crap. I about wasted 12 years of my life after still failing to enter into a reputable university.
In the South Korean system, you cannot apply to multiple universities --- just one. If students fail to gain admission in their senior year, they have to study again to gain admission into university. This is called 13th grade, and I felt totally lost at a young age of 19. My life at that time was in mere shackles as the only goal in my mind was to get into university.
I woke up at 6:00 am and attended school till 4:00 pm. Then, I had to go through two academies in order to prepare for the entrance test. I endured academies and was freed only until late into the night. I was hardly getting 4 hours of sleep, but the worst fact was that I felt like a loser in those academies since it seemed only the best brains showed up every day to discuss SATs.
The university entrance test was based on 30% of school results, 30% of our own SAT results and 40% of essays. My parents invested a lot of money into me that year so I could make it to university. From the start of my schooling, I had a dispute with the teachers and their teaching methods. I had my own opinions about the economic crisis but was told to shut up by the teachers.
We were told to sit quietly and memorize everything without using our heads. This was never accepted by me as I always wanted to be a free thinker. Not allowing me ask questions in the class killed me slowly over the period of 12 years. I hated this jail in which we were kept. However, I stayed in school because I am the sort of person who wants to make people happy. I wanted to please my mother as she was already distressed from the hard time my father and society gave her.
This was the darkest and most gloomy period of my life. I still have nightmares about 1996. It still gives me chills along my spine. I wanted to end my life as I was not willing to go further only to be tormented by my school and teachers. The pressure from my family and society was mounting every day, and any more of it, I would have cracked under the pressure quickly.
Each and everything was a competition gauged in a numerical value. I hated the system but couldn’t do much about it. Naturally, it only seems to make sense when I failed to get admission into university again. This just made my life bad to worse, and I considered killing myself again.
Photos from 1996 in South Korea