With just a month to go before university entrance examinations (November 11th if you’ve never experienced it), the South Korean internet is currently awash with stories about university campus life for those facing the examination this year.
For successful candidates, life on campus is an orgasmic culmination of the Korean education system, usually celebrated by catching up on sex, alcohol, overseas travel, alba, and military service.
However, in a society strictly stratified by the hierarchy of university where admission to the SKY universities (i.e Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University) virtually guarantees a lifetime of prestige, influence and affluence, university students are often brutally classified into two categories: In-Seoul and Jijab-dae.
Translation of above: The guy my friend introduced me to… I’m sorry to say but he’s a bit of a twat. He’s not tall, he’s not good looking, but he’s from the US? What’s the big deal? And what’s up with that MIT thing? He’s so full of himself, I’ve never even heard of MIT. Isn’t it just a jijab-dae?
And that’s just the beginning. A myriad of further sub-categorisation of who-goes-to-which-university-and-why is a subject to endless debates and modifications. Having said that, SKY universities have undoubtedly dominated the top ranks. Reflective of this is the constant chatter surrounding the famed Yonsei-Korea University annual clash (videos here and here). And to this, we could probably also add the KAIST-Postech Science War, both of which thrill and intimidate in equal amount those facing the exams to get in to each university.
Not surprisingly the so-called ‘winners’ of this extremely arduous process often let their journey to the top boastfully be known to the entire Korean internet.
A tower of a year’s worth of textbooks above and, below, a medical student boasts about his books:
Translation of above: The proud pile of cram books I read during my first year of high school.
Then there are issues with some students failing to focus on life’s more natural pursuits: (from TodayHumor):
Translation of above: “When I walk into his room, he suddenly hides what he’s reading from me. Typically, I should expect him to be reading a porn or comic book, right? But, in my son’s case, I catch him doing engineering maths.”
And the tear-inducing joke from a Seoul National University student pondering what it would be like to ‘downgrade’.
Translation of above: A friend of mine goes to Seoul National University. Now they’re doing those Yonsei-Korean University rival matches, right? Well, that must’ve looked like a lot of fun to him for some reason. So, he was watching those matches, when suddenly he said ‘Ah, I should’ve gone to Yonsei or Korea University – – ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke ke An SNU joke if you ever heard one…
Of course, for the ‘losers’ of the so-called Jijab-dae [glossory] students, makes an awkward, if unwelcome, presence at Chusoek.
However, a virtual tour of the pearly campus gates for those who will never (have to) walk through is always available and constantly updated on the South Korean internet.
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