Few elementary schoolchildren are able to sing the national anthem, a random survey by the Chosun Ilbo of five taekwondo schools in finds.
The children were asked to sing the national anthem and write down the lyrics. None were able to remember all four verses, and only 36 out of 100 wrote at least the first verse with minor spelling errors. Forty-six did not even know the first verse properly, and 18 wrote nothing.
Their ignorance was more or less the same across all six years of elementary school. Only seven out of 100 children knew that the composer was Ahn Eak-tai, and the rest gave either the wrong or no answer.
Schools teach the national anthem to first graders, but from second grade onwards there is no special guideline. The results suggest that first-grade instruction is at best cursory. A spokesman for the Seoul Office of Education said, "There isn't really a set policy about the national anthem. It's more of each school doing it in their own way."
He said the results are probably due to a "lack of opportunity to sing the anthem" and pledged to address the issue.
Hong Hoo-jo, a professor at Korea University, said, "One of the most important goals of public education is to enhance a sense of community and establish national and social identity. It is shocking to find that the future of this country don't even know the national anthem."