Every year, a significant number of Korean students migrate to the United States. Many people in the Western world argue that we are quickly falling behind in education while the Eastern world—countries like China, South Korea, and India—are pulling further and further ahead. Regardless, countless South Koreans flee the rigid academic atmosphere of their country.
The American stereotype of the math and science-centric Asian student does not apply to the hundreds of South Korean families who send their children to the United States for an education that will have a more nurturing, creative environment—an appealing alternative to the competitive, selective atmosphere of Korean schools and universities.
In NPR’s “Korean Families Chase Their Dreams In The U.S.”, Diana Park, a Korean-American, describes schooling in South Korea. “There’s no creative mind there,” she says. For this very reason, the United States provides a perfect alternative—it is a place where academics are highly valued alongside more creative outlets such as the arts and music.
With the opportunity for a better, more balanced lifestyle, many South Koreans must say goodbye to most of their families—including at least one member of their immediate family, most commonly the father, who will stay in Korea and work to help the support his family from across the world. This common occurrence is referred to as a “goose family”—“a family that migrates in search of English-language schooling.”
Jaemin, 19, migrated to Boston, Massachusetts in 2004 from Seoul. He arrived in July that year with his mother and sister, leaving his father behind in their home country. Struggling to assimilate into the American culture, he questioned why his whole life had to change. “When I left Korea, I didn’t understand why I had to move to the States,” he says. “It’s for your mi-rae, future, and kyo-yook, education, my mother always told me.”
This mentality is common for Korean parents bringing their student-aged children to the US. They leave behind everything they’ve ever known to search for an education that will not only provide their children with the necessary assets to achieve success but one that will also offer balance and happiness.