By Ju-min Park BUCHEON, South Korea (Reuters) - Living in a country obsessed with academic success, Jang Dong-hae did what every South Korean parent dreads when he dropped out of university a year into a finance degree, doubting whether it would get him a job with a top firm. Five years on, and midway through a nursing course at a community college, Jang's parents are happy and his employment prospects are good. "First when I told my parents, they asked me: "why would you quit the university that you are in now and restart?"", Jang said at the campus in Bucheon, on the outskirts of Seoul. "Since the employment rate is much higher than other majors, my parents support me and really like it." Their priorities will have been influenced by South Korea's unemployment rate. In February more than 11 percent of those aged between 15 and 29 years were jobless - the highest level since the late 1990s. By October it had come down to 7.4 percent but was still more than double the overall unemployment rate. Jang, who pays his nursing tuition with money earned from part-time jobs, has joined a growing number of young South Koreans who are foregoing a more prestigious university education in favor of either vocational training or seeking work straight from school. On Thursday, South Korea won't shut down but it will be running late, as final year high school students sit annual entrance exams for universities and colleges. Families will pray for their children's success. The stock market will open an hour late, to help reduce traffic congestion so that students reach examination halls on time. And for 35 minutes, there will no commercial airline flights landing or taking-off, so that noise is reduced during the English aural section of the exam. These are all demonstrate South Korea's single-minded approach to education, and the stress that goes with it. Yet, somewhat surprisingly for a nation where parents have something of a "Tiger Mom" reputation, the number of high school graduates that go on to tertiary education has fallen from 77 percent in 2008 to 70.8 percent this year. That is still higher than the average for the developed nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). But, with a sluggish economy and a rigid job market that makes it hard to get on a career track, high entrance exam scores don't carry the same promise of future success that they once did. "Parents' ambition to send their kids to good universities has peaked and is slowly declining," said Son Jong-chil, economics professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies in Seoul. "Little by little people are now thinking that not everyone should go to universities." LESS CRAMMING, MORE CARING The “Youth Hope Fund” recently launched by President Park Geun-hye is a sign of the hard times faced by young South Koreans. The fund aims to help create jobs for them with support from the private sector, and last month Samsung Group and Hyundai Motor Group executives donated a combined 45 billion Korean won ($39 million). Unable to find jobs, an increasing number of university graduates and dropouts, like Jang, are entering mostly two- and three-year vocational schools to gain qualifications in nursing, physical therapy, social welfare and early childhood education. "Employment conditions are pretty tough and young people are seeking a job that is connected to their major, not irrelevant, so that is why many people are choosing nursing," You So-young, a nursing professor at Bucheon University. Care-givers are in high demand due in part to South Korea's ageing population, and Bucheon University, which despite the name is categorized as a junior college, says it has an 88 percent job placement rate for nursing graduates. During the past three years the number of university graduates who have gained admission to vocational school has risen by 25 percent to 1,379, according to the Korean Council of University College Education. It is a miniscule percentage of the total number of students entering universities and colleges - 356,000 and 214,000 respectively - but still reveals some change in the mind-set among the youth. More would make the switch if they could. About 40 holders of bachelor degrees have applied for five places set aside for them next semester in Bucheon's nursing program. "I think I've made a right decision," said Jang. ($1 = 1,154.4500 won) (Editing by Tony Munroe and Simon Cameron-Moore)
Kate Middleton and Prince William first started dating in college—a time where drama is hard to avoid.
- Women's Health
Alexandra Daddario is in Paris, and she took a moment to go nude and makeup free in an Instagram selfie. Alex believes her skin health is tied to mental health.
- In The Know by Yahoo
Disney World guest catches family allegedly sneaking in little girl in stroller to avoid ticket price
"Poor kid was in an infant car seat..."
- Yahoo News
If Vladimir Putin makes good on his threat to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the United States would likely respond with a sweeping economic embargo combined with massive conventional attack on Russian military positions that could quickly wipe out the the Russian president’s invading military forces, said Joseph Cirincione, a national security analyst and leading expert on nuclear warfare.
- Miami Herald
An illicit early morning joy ride ended in tragedy Sunday in Southwest Florida, an area still reeling from Hurricane Ian.
Salma Hayek always knows how to turn up the heat and she’s doing just that during Paris Fashion Week. She posted a behind-the-scenes snapshot of her Balenciaga look that shows how fantastic she feels at 56 years of age. Wearing a black, sheer corset top that teased her lacy black bra underneath, Hayek stared into […]
- USA TODAY Opinion
In the Republican Party of Donald Trump and Marjorie Taylor Greene, only those faithful to Trump’s MAGA movement are safe.
- NBC Sports Boston
Tom Brady fired off an A+ tweet the day after Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs defeated the Buccaneers in Week 4.
"What the HELL is going on with Aaron Rodgers hair?" one fan asked about the Green Bay Packers quarterback.
Paris Jackson is taking the granny chic trend to a whole new level at Paris Fashion Week. The famous daughter of Michael Jackson turned heads at the Stella McCartney Spring/Summer 2023 fashion show in France while wearing a floral crocheted sweater dress with distressed yarn strands hanging artfully from the mini number. The model and […]
- Patriots Wire
Here's what Aaron Rodgers said to Bailey Zappe after Sunday's game
- Business Insider
In the span of a week, Marco Rubio didn't vote for hurricane relief, asked for additional hurricane relief, and praised the Biden administration's hurricane relief
The Florida senator this week demonstrated a now-familiar Republican routine around taking federal money for hurricane relief.
- Fox News
Russia's Belgorod nuclear submarine is no longer operating in the Arctic. NATO has warned its member countries that Putin may be testing the vessel's "doomsday" weapon.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio says he'll fight against a federal relief bill that would assist his state's recovery from Hurricane Ian if it has 'pork in it'
Rubio on Sunday told CNN he would fight against the bill if it includes spending unrelated to the hurricane damages. "That's the key," he said.
- Yahoo Life
Days after the photos were taken, Prince Harry learned that his grandmother had passed away.
Kaley Cuoco Says 'I Only Had Eyes for' Big Bang Theory Costar Johnny Galecki: 'This Is Going to Be Trouble'
A new oral history of The Big Bang Theory goes into Cuoco's "crush" on her oblivious and their "uncomfortable" first kiss on camera
- Steelers Wire
Chris Boswell gets record-breaking field goal in first half.
- Falcons Wire
The Falcons placed RB Cordarrelle Patterson on injured reserve and signed Caleb Huntley to the 53-man roster.
Paris Fashion Week goes out with a bang.
- USA TODAY
At nearly 19 inches in length, a Savannah cat from Michigan was named the world's tallest living domestic cat by Guinness World Records.