Military Training: An Unusual High School Activity
It may seem astonishing, but during my high school years in South Korea between 1990 and 1992, I underwent military training. We had to practice for an hour each week while wearing uniforms reminiscent of military attire and carrying fake guns. At the time, the Korean Peninsula was experiencing heightened military tension, which lasted until the 2000s. Consequently, it didn’t strike me as odd or excessive for high school students to receive such training. However, in retrospect, I believe it was redundant, given that Korean men are obligated to serve in the military once they reach their 20s anyway.
Choosing a Second Language: A Life-Changing Decision
In addition to English, my high school required us to study a second foreign language, offering only French and Chinese as options. Since I was familiar with Chinese characters, I opted for Chinese – a decision I now deeply regret. I had no idea how challenging Chinese would be, nor did I realize that this would be one of the few opportunities in my life to learn French.
Academic Rigor: English and Mathematics
Apart from these unique aspects, my high school experience in South Korea wasn’t much different from that of other countries. Although it’s true that the intensity of English and mathematics education is significantly higher in South Korea than in many other nations, I didn’t notice it much while I was studying. Perhaps this was because I enjoyed both English and math, even finding pleasure in solving complex differential and integral calculus problems. This natural affinity for math eventually led me to my current career as a professional civil engineer.