‘Entrance into kindergarten is harder than getting into college’ in Korea

November 19, 2014
(Yonhap)

Kindergartens in Korea have taken to holding public number drawings to accept students into their classrooms in increasingly competitive odds. (Yonhap)

In South Korea, a war over seats has broken out in the unlikeliest of places: kindergartens.

Schools have taken to holding public number drawings to accept students into their classrooms in increasingly competitive odds, Yonhap reported.

At one public kindergarten drawing in Suwon Tuesday, 43 parents gathered to try their luck for a classroom for three-year-olds.

Each took off their outerwear and put on a transparent plastic glove before ascending the platform, where they drew either a “win” or “lose” ping pong ball.

The first parent to draw was surrounded by cheers and applause after she picked a winning orange ball. As they each took a turn, some sighed in disappointment.

One of them was Kim Sung-ho, a parent who took a vacation day to attend the drawing.

“We were thinking about moving if we didn’t get into this kindergarten,” Kim said. “Entrance into kindergarten is harder than getting into college. Something needs to be done.”

Of the 43 parents at the drawing, 16 won.

The drawings for four-year-old and five-year-old student classrooms had odds of one to nine and one to six, respectively.

Another public kindergarten, this one in Gwanggyo, saw more than 500 applicants upon opening its classrooms — as of the second day, it was looking at 816 hopefuls, meaning only one out of 10 will be able to attend the school.

kinder

Parents gather to try their luck for a classroom for their three-year-olds. (Yonhap)

Difficult kindergarten entrance has become so notorious that some parents hire others to go to the drawings.

“I called someone and paid them $10 to go to the drawing for me because something came up at home,” a parent said. “I had no other choice, because they void the application if you don’t go to the drawing in person.”

Private kindergartens are seeing heavy competition as well — at a school in Suwon’s Youngtong-gu, parents face long waiting lists for institutions that do not permit re-applying.

“There are a lot of parents who move to kindergartens because of talk that daycare centers do not receive childcare subsidies,” a source at a kindergarten said. “We want to accept kids and are also regrettable that there are a fixed number of seats.”

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