Seoul National University held a series of offsite prep programs for new students from Feb. 2 in Pyeongchang, Gangwon Province.
Among numerous programs, freshmen put on a play satirizing the realities facing new entrants into the tough job market, which places a premium on diplomas from prestigious universities, grades, standardized English test scores, experience studying English abroad, volunteer activities, internships and various certificates.
The 600 SNU freshmen who watched the performance generally agreed with its message. But none denied that good looks appear to be the most valuable asset for a jobseeker. One freshman in the College of Social Sciences at SNU said, “It may sound ridiculous to consider cosmetic surgery to get ahead in the race to find a good job, but you can't ignore the fact that good looks go a long way." Another freshman at the same college agreed, saying, "Appearance doesn't matter in university entrance exams, but this may not be the case in the job market."
One freshman in the College of Humanities said, "They say graduating from SNU no longer guarantees a good job so I have to accept the reality that even SNU students have to pay attention to their looks."
SNU sociology professor Jung Kun-sik said these attitudes reflect the intense competition in the job market. "Not only have good looks become a key asset, but we are seeing our entire social values change, placing top priority on outward appearances."