How would they compare with pupils who take the GCSE in England, Wales and Northern Ireland?
As a quick test, a group of six teenagers – 15 and 16 year olds – from Ga-rak High School,
Hye-Min’s school, tried several questions from one of this year’s GCSE maths papers.
All of them finished the questions in half the expected time, four scored 100%, the other two dropped just one mark. They then went on to do some more questions just for fun.
It’s the sort of performance that makes education ministers in the UK and beyond look on with envy, and has them actively remodelling the curriculum and exams to try to emulate them.
The huge investment in education has also resulted in an economy that’s grown at an astonishing rate since the end of the war with North Korea 60 years ago.
South Korea has in two generations gone from mass illiteracy to being an economic powerhouse. Brands like Samsung and Hyundai, Daewoo and LG are internationally known. The country has built itself up through the sheer hard graft of its people.
But it’s come at a big cost. The relentless pressure means Korea holds another much less enviable record, that of having the highest suicide rate of industrialised OECD countries.