[WaPo] In education-crazy South Korea, top teachers become multimillionaires

January 8, 2015
Cha Kil-yong made $8 million last year as an online math teacher in South Korea. (YouTube screen capture)

Cha Kil-yong made $8 million last year as an online math teacher in South Korea. (YouTube screen capture)

[THE WASHINGTON POST]

SEOUL — Clasping his headphones and closing his eyes as he sang into the studio microphone while performing a peppy duet with one of South Korea’s hottest actresses, spiky-haired Cha Kil-yong looked every bit the K-pop star.

But Cha is not a singer or actor. No, he’s a unique kind of South Korean celebrity: a teaching star.

And the song he was singing with Clara, a Korean mega celebrity, in a music video that wouldn’t be out of place on MTV? It was called “SAT jackpot!”

In this education-obsessed country, Cha is a top-ranked math teacher. But he doesn’t teach in a school. He runs an online “hagwon” — or cram school — called SevenEdu that focuses entirely on preparing students to take the college entrance exam in mathematics.

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