High School in Korea runs on routines

Dana Rim, contributing writer

I’m sure most of you know what a day as a Hawaii high school student is like but do you know what a day as a high school student in Korea is like? You probably don’t! As a former high school student in Korea, I will tell you everything about it!

When I wake up in the morning, I change into my school uniform. I always have to wear my school uniform to school as many people have seen in K-dramas and anime. I also always have to have my name tag along with me. The teachers usually look at our name tags and can recognize us, especially during the pandemic when we are wearing masks. I meet up with my friend and walk to school, which only takes about 20 minutes.

In front of the main gate of the school, teachers stand lined up and check our outfits to see if we have violated the school rules. If we do, we’ll get in trouble or get penalty points. If you get lots of penalty points you have to consult with the school principal and do extra service work to make up for it. The school rules are pretty strict. We are not allowed to wear make-up, accessories, dye our hair, and so on. As we pass through the main gate, we change into our indoor shoes before going inside the school building as wearing outdoor shoes is not allowed inside the building. Once we go inside we go to our assigned classes. My class was 1-9. The 1 represents the grade I’m in, which is 10th grade, and 9 represents the class number. We have the same homeroom teacher and classmates for a year, so it’s important to get along with the people in the class. I was the class president and my job was to announce important things like information about finals and show respect to the teacher at the beginning of the class by bowing and saying hello. In the morning the homeroom teacher will make a morning announcement and do the same thing before school ends.

We have 7 periods each day, which makes the school hours long, but we have a 10-minute break after each period for us to get some rest. We usually stay inside the homeroom, unless it’s PE or lab, and the teachers come to the homeroom to start class. We have a textbook for each subject, so it’s really heavy to carry those around. Lunchtime is longer compared to here, it is about an hour long. It gives us time to relax and enjoy our meal and we also have time to brush our teeth if we want to. At the end of the school day, which is around 4 p.m., we clean the school building. Everyone has an assigned place to clean. If you are unlucky, you might have to clean the bathroom! Even when school is over, a lot of students have an after-school academy which is for extra studies, as Korea is a country that values education. Some schools even offer students the opportunity to study at school until late at night. But for me, I would just go home because I would get so tired after school. Even I, who was a Korean student, wonder how my Korean friends can handle all the extra studying after school.

Sophomore Dana Rim gives a presentation at her former school in Korea. Photo courtesy Dana Rim.

So, this is everything about a day as a high school student in Korea. If you have read this far you can tell that high school in Korea is very different compared to Hawaii. I wouldn’t say which one I prefer as each one has its pros and cons but what do you think? Would you like to go to high school in Korea?