College education has become commonplace in Korea, and now four in 10 adults are either college graduates or have had at least some years of college or higher education. That is much higher than the OECD average of 30 percent in 2009.
Back in the 1970s, college education was rare -- the ratio of adults with a college education was not quite one in every 10 people and 30 percent of the adult population was without an elementary school education.
The rapid increase in the number of college graduates in the past 40 years has come in tandem with rapid industrialization and the country's need for a highly educated work force.
But there simply are not enough jobs for all of these highly educated people, and more and more young people are being forced to take jobs they are overqualified for.
Yet although a higher education is no longer a guarantee of a high-quality, high-paying job, the frenzy for education among parents shows no signs of abating. New data shows that Korean parents spent nearly US$19 billion (US$1=W1,106) on private education last year alone.