November 08, 2012 11:57
On Thursday high school seniors across the country take their crucial university entrance exams, and teenage members of manufactured bands are no exception. But a growing number of these starlets are either delaying university or deciding not to go at all.
Su-zy of the dance group miss A said recently that she does not intend to take the university entrance exam and concentrate on her show business career instead. Kong Min-ji of 2NE1 also decided to skip the test to focus on her group's world tour. Sulli of f(x) and 4minute's Kwon So-hyun made the same decisions.
Last year, singer IU, Tae-min of the dance group SHINee and actor Yoo Seung-ho also announced they would not go to university but focus on their professional careers. Their decisions were widely praised. Korean society usually places huge importance on education, but many celebrity students have been criticized for gaining special entrance to prestigious universities and then failing to attend class due to their busy schedules.
Entertainment industry insiders say most young entertainers wanted to go to university even until the mid-2000s, but not anymore. "In the past, manufactured bands released about an album a year, but competition has intensified now there are so many of them, and they work all year round, releasing digital singles and giving concerts overseas," said a staffer with a big talent agency. "They can't study even if they do go on to university."
Another agency staffer said teen starlets are too busy to study even in high school and are simply not qualified for university unless they get special admission for their performing skills. Increasing public criticism of that option means many starlets decide not to go to college.
"We live in times when it's no longer a special advantage to have a university degree," said pop critic Jung Duk-hyun. "Teenage starlets look at rapper Seo Tae-ji, Yang Hyun-suk, BoA and others who didn't go to university but ended up being huge successes and decide to focus on their professional talents rather than go to university."
But others said a university education does have its uses. "Starlets who don't get proper education could lack in civic responsibility and intellectual polish, and this can become problematic," said Kim Seok-ho at Sungkyunkwan University. "As ordinary members of society, they also need some education to develop their character."
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