A highly competitive, regimented education system focusing on exam grades means Korean youngsters fail to acquire proper social skills, a study suggests. The National Youth Policy Institute on Sunday said Korea ranks 35th out of 36 countries when it comes to youngsters' capacity for social interaction.
Korea scored just 0.31 on a scale of 0 to 1 in an assessment of social skills taken from a comprehensive study by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, which covered some 140,000 eighth grade students around the world.
The score is an average of ratings in relationship orientation, social cooperation and conflict management. Korean students scored 0 in terms of relationship orientation and social cooperation, which measures how much they get involved in civic organizations and student unions. But they scored 0.94 in conflict management, which gauges how well they handle democratic processes, right after Denmark's perfect score of 1.
"Korean students performed well only in areas that involved written exams but very poorly in areas that involved extracurricular activities," said one researcher.
Thailand scored highest overall with 0.69 points, followed by Indonesia (0.64), Ireland (0.6), Guatemala (0.59), the U.K. (0.53) and Chile (0.52).
In other findings, only 20 percent of Korean students said they trust their government, just one-third of the average of 62 percent among participating countries. Indonesians had the most trust in their government with 96 percent, followed by Finland and Lichtenstein with 82 percent each and Austria with 77 percent. Only 45 percent of Korean students said they trust their own schools, far below the overall average of 75 percent.