By Elena Seungeun Lee and Julie Hyunsung Lee: Parasite, a Korean black comedy film directed by Bong Joon-ho, shows the story of a poor family who infiltrated the household of an affluent family by getting employment by pretending to be highly qualified persons.
Their lifestyles, everything from household work to the children’s educational opportunities, are in sharp contrast. For example, a highly paid tutor educates the wealthy family’s children, Ki-Woo and Ki-Jung.
This movie shows the unspoken and uncomfortable truth: There IS a social class divided by the level of education and wealth.
Someone from a wealthy and upper-class family will continue to be more successful than those from poor family backgrounds. Inheritance of parents’ socioeconomic status by their children seems to be rising and persistent in today’s world.
Surprisingly, Parasite is much more than a mere film – it’s a reality.
It took a 17-year-old girl living in Daechi-dong in Gangnam-gu, an area notorious for ‘education fever’ in Seoul, South Korea, to recognize the rampant inequality in my society.
The housing prices near so-called ‘elite academies’ skyrocketed, and places in the most prestigious universities in Korea were taken by students from Daechi-dong. This area is the mecca for private educational academies or hagwon. Apart from highly reputable schools, the site also has the city’s best infrastructure, cultural amenities, and vibrant real estate.
This is what many Koreans encounter and experience every day. But they stay mute about this social phenomenon. Parents and students are busy fighting a war in which they are stepping all over their friends and ultimately dreaming of winning admission to a prestigious university.
This story is from South Korea, a relatively developed country. Indeed, people are lost in the labyrinth society has created in which so many people are pushed to be like Ki-Woo and Ki-Jung in the movie, Parasite.
Education today fails to fulfill its initial purpose: To educate all individuals on the basic knowledge necessary for life and to serve the role of a great equalizer.
In a society with equal opportunity, every student shall be at least given a chance to change their social status. Discriminating or restricting students’ right to education is like taking away their opportunity for empowerment and development. Something needs to be done.
This is why I made my YouTube channel “We Learn to Share”. My overarching goal was to bridge the inequalities in the education sector by providing students with educational videos without time, place, and border constraints.
Introducing myself as ‘Elena’, I shared my knowledge of Spanish and Korean languages and cultures, hoping to bridge the education gap.
I never thought that I could play a role in fighting educational inequality – which seemed like an undefeatable Goliath. But no matter how challenging it is, I continue to trust my gut and never lose courage.
Passion, courage, and perseverance. These are the credos I use to get motivated to connect myself to and sympathize with students on the other side. But I can’t do this alone.
From 2022, I’ve decided to recruit teenagers worldwide who are eager to dedicate their time and effort to solving rampant educational inequalities.
So, it changed from “Elena learns to share” to “We learn to share”. Recruiting students from four different countries and 13 different schools – including the co-author of this article Julie Hyunsung Lee, We Learn to Share is now making and sharing videos of a myriad of subjects.
Our subscribers are from more than ten countries, leave comments, and send us emails thanking us and appreciating our videos.
There is something you can do as well!
The fourth of the 17 sustainable development goals set by the UN is quality education, to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
To achieve this goal, I would like to call upon the youth to join us to bridge the educational gap. In today’s society, the youth is crucial for deriving change because we have passion, courage, and perseverance.
Think about it! The youth educate the youth!
We share our knowledge with the youth around the world. And by doing so, we take this matter into our hands and bridge the educational gap ourselves. Through this effort, we may be able to bring a collective action from which we hope to influence government policies regarding equality in education.
I want all the youth to be aware of this social phenomenon and believe that they can make a difference.
On my YouTube channel, we love what we do and how we can contribute to resolving educational inequalities in our society. I believe in the power of youth to bridge the academic gap and provide equal opportunities to learn for all.
Would you like to join us and share your funds of knowledge with the world?
Please find the YouTube channel here https://www.youtube.com/c/WeLearntoShare and you can contact the authors here ([email protected]) or fill out the application form on our website (https://www.welearntoshare.com/en/contact-8)
Elena Seungeun Lee (team leader) and Julie Hyunsung Lee are high school learners living in Asia. They participated in a joint APDA, and IPS training on developing opinion content. Hanna Yoon led the course and edited the opinion content.