Let me give you a deep, unseen glimpse into Korean academic culture.
Last week I went to the girl’s high school that I used to teach at to visit some of my old students who are now seniors – less than 7 months away from taking the big college entrance exam (called the Suneung).
Before we left the campus to eat, they brought me to see where they spend their evening and night time hours everyday. – This room.
Many/most Korean high schools have something called “yaja” – translated, it means “nighttime self-study.”
Nighttime self-study takes place from roughly 6:30-11:30 pm (depending on the school) and is mandatory for all 1st – 3rd year students (high school). They have it every day except Wednesdays on which many of them, motivated by competition between each other, study voluntarily anyway. This room (I call it the yaja room) is where they study. As you can see, the desks look pretty lived-in. They do everything from eating, to studying, to sleeping here.
This particular ‘yaja room’ is in the top floor of a beautiful brick building on the school campus. Aside from the fact that it’s a really cool-looking room made with lots of beautiful wood, the students say it gets pretty hot in the summer and pretty cold in the winter.