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Is celebrity education really education?

(Singer-actor Eugene)

Shortly after posting this entry about Tim’s educational background, I saw the following (edited) transcription of the “Star News report” (you can watch the video clip of the segment at that link as well), which discusses celebrities and the way in which they gain admissions to universities in Korea.

It’s a topic that comes around every year, around the time that school starts, when once more national ire flares over the unequal treatment of universities in how they admit students, favoring entertainers and pandering to them in order to woo them to their respective institutions.

On top of the easy admissions, there’s resentment from bona fide students, because the celebrities hardly carry on a normal student lifestyle once enrolled. Even the more distinguished institutions (which are generally more strict in admitting students based on merit) get their fair share of accusations of unfair treatment for stars.

The segment is pretty toned-down in its criticism — the issue provokes much more heated commentary in real life, as it’s a lightning rod for critique and debate. But you can read between the lines and get the general idea.

 
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Each year when the graduation-enrollment season rolls around, stars who are enrolling in universities become a hot topic of conversation. Who’s up for entry this year?

This year, there are tons of stars planning on entering university. In addition to the popular CF, drama and film actress Go Ara, there’s the lead actress in MBC’s current weekend drama Ggakdugi [Radish Kimchi], Park Shin Hye. There’s also the face of many music videos and CFs, Kim So Eun, as well as the actor in the recent popular sitcom Unstoppable High Kick, Kim Bum, who will be majoring in acting in the film and theater department of Joongang University’s media and performance art school.

There’s also SBS’s much-lauded and top actress Lee Tae Ran, who’s happy to be enrolling in the same program. Lee Tae Ran has admitted on a recent television program that she’s felt sad at being a mere high school graduate. Now that she’s become a university student even at this late date, she’s able to shake off that sadness.

 

Kim Bum, Go Ara

 

Lee Tae Ran must be even happier, as she’s starting her university education late. I hear Top of the singing group Big Bang, which has skyrocketed in popularity these days, is also planning to enter university.

That’s right. Big Bang’s Top will attend Dangook University’s Jookjeon campus in their film and theater department. He’s always had a lot of interest in acting, and recently appeared in KBS2’s drama I Am Sam, to generally favorable response. He’ll be majoring in acting.

 
Yes, that’s right. Quite a number of celebrities are entering university. As entertainers are so busy working that they won’t have much time for studies, how is it that they’ve been admitted to colleges?

At universities with film, theater and acting departments, there’s what is called an “special talent” admission.

When entertainers are recognized or win awards both at home and abroad in acting- or film-related capacities, or start appearing in films or television more frequently, they win support for their work. Myungji, Donggook, Joongang, and Hanyang Universities, as well as Dongdeok Women’s College and the like, admit celebrity students in this manner.

In the case of singers, it’s enough to have released one album. In particular, many singers enroll in Kyunghee University’s postmodern music department. Students at that school include Rain, Park Hyo Shin, Lyn, SG Wannabe’s Kim Jin Ho, Buzz’s Min Kyung Hoon, Sugar’s Park Sujin, Dong Bang Shin Ki’s Choi Kang Chang Min, and others.

 

Choi Kang Chang Min, Lee In Hye

 

Normal high school students study extremely hard in order to gain admittance to universities. It seems celebrities are accepted a bit more easily.

That does seem true. It can’t be denied that high school students who have to study extremely hard think, “Why don’t I just become an entertainer? That way I can get accepted to a university easily.” Even at the reputable Koryo University, students became upset at the admittance of SES pop singer Eugene.

Entertainers may possess talents, but they’re also the product of lots of planning by their management and the considerable influence of marketing. Their talents aren’t something that can be easily verified through objective means, but it’s inevitable that other students would feel disgruntled when a celebrity uses merely his or her name to gain entry to a university.

 
But why, then, are entertainers sent to college under such circumstances?

More than anything, it’s to promote the university. The university’s happy because they are advertised, and celebrities are happy because they’re admitted to college. In truth, many universities use their celebrities as models for promotion.

They are also used as models in brochures and videos. Many celebrities are used to promote all sorts of things for the schools they attend. Schools in the outer provinces are more in need of publicity, so it’s known that entertainers are even more welcome there.

 

Yoon Soyi, Park Hyo Shin

 

Celebrities seem to be enrolling in college more easily than in the past, but are they really engaging in the college lifestyle?

It has been pointed out many times that there’s a problem with entertainers being insincere in their student status.

You’ll have a hard time spotting a celebrity with a killer schedule in a lecture hall. This is the result of universities fighting fiercely over celebrities to bring in, as well as the universities offering to graduate these students even if they aren’t attending classes all the way through exams.

This is many times the cause for outrage among their fellow students. It’s only natural that they’d feel angered that entertainers are brought in merely to advertise the schools and are allowed to graduate without difficulty.

 
But still, there must be entertainers who are recognized as being model students, aren’t there?

Yes, there are. Those include Korea’s Little Sister Moon Geun Young at Sungkyoongwan University, Yoon Soyi at Donggook University, and Ryu Hyun Kyung at Hanyang University.

In order to attend school, Moon Geun Young stopped all acting activities this year. If she wants to major in Korean language and literature, she’ll have to study very diligently.

Yoon Soyi also slowed down her acting due to her studies. After appearing in last year’s Goodbye Solo, except for a one-act drama, she hasn’t appeared in any dramas. However, she is now acting in MBC’s Auction House.

Ryu Hyun Kyung, attending Hanyang University, even won a scholarship from her school.

In addition to these actors, there are also those such as Park Hye Won at Konkuk University and Kim Hyo Jin at Hanyang who are focusing entirely on their studies. Lee In Hye, who attended Koryo University as a special talent admission like Eugene, has been said to have been a model student.

 

Lee Tae Ran, Ryu Hyun Kyung

 

Perhaps because schooling issues are particularly sensitive, the subject of celebrities being admitted to universities is always a hot-button issue. When a celebrity is admitted to a university, what issues should the schools and students consider?

Actually, it’s rare for most high school students to want to go to a school strictly because a celebrity went there. The celebrities’ influence is not as strong as the schools believe.

As in Eugene’s case, the opposition to these kinds of admissions at schools with good reputations is strong. Rather than automatically admitting students because they’re celebrities, they’ll have to be admitted using a stricter basis, and the school administration should regulate the admitted students more strictly.

Entertainers should avoid thinking of entering college as simply career management, or a means to postpone military service, and instead focus on studying.

Source: YTN News

 
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i agree. why should some ppl just be admitted because of who they are? everyone else out there has to study their asses off (besides geniuses).

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I have always admired Korean celebrities for even going to University. How many stars in other countries go to gain higher education? I think they should be admitted based on merit, but then again they are putting the spotlight on the importance of education for everybody, which is a good thing. It would be great if people like Paris Hilton, etc could do the same for the education system in the U.S.

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^i agree with ethica, but in paris hilton's case, whatever university or college she enrolled in wouldn't be providing a good model for the future of america, rather it'd be highlighting the unfair system of admittance of that school. because come on, it's paris hilton. XD

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Interesting article, thanks for sharing. I think they are setting good example by enrolling into university with the intention to further studies, irregardless their status.

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I think in Paris Hilton's case, she would need to get a kindergarten education first before attempting Uni.

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This reminded me of the article/interview some magazine did regarding US stars going to college. The two writers for this particular article pretended to be certain stars and called up a selected number of colleges and asked if they could admit to the school. The responses were hilarious! ;D Some didn't even know who the stars were and others were like "send in your application and I'll see what I can do." xD

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I know this entry is suppose to make me think and while it is interesting...I can't help but think about Eugene as a tutor with that first picture.

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Does Korean colleges have a legacy system where famous/rich alumni's kids easily get in as well?

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first of all i think the criterias are way to high, and most celebrities can't meet them... i understand why one would be angered by celebritties having it easy, especially if you worked you buttocks off and didn't get in... but that phenomenon is everywhere... i mean most american actors go to ivy leagues... i think claire danes went to harvard... now i don't think Harvard needs an artist to promote them, but it does give them a edge... everybody should be treated equally, but everybody knows that that rule doesn't apply to celebrities.... but on the other hand, you do get celebrities that want to work hard (those mentionned above)... so i don't quite mind their admition being easy if they are willing to put on the work afterwards...

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Interesting. I always wonder why stars keep graduating smoothly with their schedule. Yeah, I understand that having a degree really boosts up your confidence, even if you're a big star, but when you present yourself to someone like your in-laws and say I'm a high school graduate. (Dude !)

Anyways, but it's wrong for stars to be admitted easily. I don't care how they manage to graduate but it's so unfair to those who work their asses off to get in.

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The comparison of the legacy student (which must also exist in Korea probably) to the celebrity university student is spot on. Of course students won't choose a university based on the celebrities who go there, but it is free advertising.

What is most unfair is not that the celebrities graduate without doing the same amount of work as other students, but the places they take from applicants who are more qualified, academically speaking. Those students have to either settle for a second-choice school or fail to attend university at all. As unfair as this practice is, it doesn't seem like it will end anytime soon. University admission practices are arcane and utterly opaque the world around.

Also, public spotlight should also focus on how these entertainers even graduate high school when they're entering the industry well before they're 18. I know in Tokyo, JE boys go to a specific high school that has a particularly "lenient" system that permits entertainers more flexible schedules.

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Well, it's not like there's truckloads of celebrities entering these univerities and getting special attention. A lot of people are just disgruntled at not getting in their preferred place of higher learning. (I know it helps if you're from a privileged family or have some really good contacts as much as we wish it weren't true) I agree that they're promoting education like what ethica wrote. It's not uncommon for stars to be high school graduates or not even finishing high school. But it would be nice if these celebrities could actually prove that they worked at getting that degree. I wonder if they get mobbed by fans at their respective universities? That would probably be amusing... XD

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Jeez, what kind of creep do you have to be to not want to share the same airspace with Eugene? The girl is fluent in at least three languages and bears no resemblance, whatsoever, to the kind of special cases (i.e. athletes and legacies) that are currently taking up space at our universities here in the United States. Most of this sounds like sour grapes from a lot of kids who can't start the day without putting on their morning frowns. Save your venom for the real problems facing the world of today. We have more than enough to keep you occupied.

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Preferential treatment is a fact-of-life. If it did not happen when these students enter the universities, then it will happen when they leave the white towers for their first job interviews. Yeah, it's unfair but oh well...

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@elbib #9: Be careful about knocking celebs who attend university. Some of them are intelligent in addition to having acting talent. Natalie Portman comes to mind, as do Brooke Shields and Jodie Foster.

(Didn't Danes go to Yale? Like many, she returned to her career before finishing her degree, if I remember correctly.)

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On Natalie Portman -- am I the only person in the world who thinks the girl can't act? Every move she makes seems so self-conscious and thought-out.
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while it's admirable that korean celebrities go to University, it reflects the really rigid society of korea. i think it's cool that you don't absolutely NEED a college degree to be taken seriously in the US. after all you might be a bill gates or a "insert a name of intelligent college dropout here."

one more thing, i've heard it said that korean university is a joke. you go to university in order to cruise/booze and network -- not to gain a rigorous edu. that's why the korean uni's are pretty low in world rankings.

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I was just wondering how is high school in Korea? And what are the tests to get in college? How is the life in college? I live in France and here high school is not that hard nor stressful, we just attend school then work a little to gratuate but we spend most of our time hanging out and partying. I'm curious about how it is in Korea, so can anyone tell me?

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As much as they are I suppose setting an example for students to continue their studies, ultimately it's not fair. I'd be indignant if celebrities are being accepted solely based on their celeb status. Interesting article though - thankss

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I LOVE YOU AND I LIKE YOUR PICTURE

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I LIKE YOU AND I LIKE YOUR ACTING ALSO YOU ARE SO SMART . I ALWAYS THINKING ABOUT YOU. READ THIS MESSAGE CAREFULLY AND ANSWER ME .

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hi all
kim bum is very beauti and i love him so much
lllllllllllllloooooooooooooovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvveeeeeeeeeee yyyyyyyoooooooooouuuuuuuuu kkkkkkkiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimmmmmmmmmmmm
bbbbbbbbbuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuummmmmmmmmmmm

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i read this many times.... bt if not mistaken... eugene being admitted in korea university became a big issue before that even undergo legal procedure... its like the SES times.... bada & shoo also applied but do not win the case.. its only eugene who passed... i dont knw where to find the news link about that before... but its reported that eugene won after they check her educational background and stuffs that can meet the requirements that korea university has.....

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well.. at the end of the day you study for the qualification to get to that particular career~these celebs have been 'trained' to do so and if they have those awards under their belt then they should pretty much have what it takes dont they?
that is..if theyre looking into/already studying the course they 'specialise' in..maybe they have their reasons like.. its looks good or who knows~they really might be interested in the theory part of the subject..
i hope its the latter

ps go moon geun young!yey

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Good day! Hot picture alert! If Paris Hilton is your fave, then I have a website for you to see. Who wants it?

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i wish i was a celeb too, that way i could get easily accepted to any school i wanted.......... i think it's very unfair for us, commoners.... why should they receive special treatments????? whew

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hi kim bum am i one of your fans in the philippines
ive like to say can you be my friend
thank you.i hope that you will come soon in the philippines
so that all of us will see you personaly

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hy......kiM bum.....am i one of your fans in the indonesia....?????
jujur gw ga tw bhs english tw pun korea....
biz gw orang indonesia....
i wanna say;
datang yc ke indonesia.....
gw fens banget ma Lo....
pLizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

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Cheers and Go for it, Lee Tae Ran!...

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I believe that this doesn't happen...
Chang Min-shi is a hardworking man, and he passed 'cause he has try very hard^^
I love him^^
i'm not trying to offend, i just think that is not fair to say that they passed because they are famous!!
In my country there's a singer that didn't pass...
Maybe i'm just defending him.... well ... xD

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I actually find nothing wrong with this system. It's true that these celebrities just need their names to get what others have to work hard - extremely hard, and sometimes even shed blood - to get - a ticket to the university, and it seems unfair. However, if we look at it this way, it would somehow be reasonable: the chance of being debut in korea is even less than the chance to get admitted to the university. Once a star successfully debuted and has his/her name known, isn't that recognition of his/her talent? Of course you can say that it is attributed to the maneger, the staffs etc, but come on, without talent how can they be a star in the first place, especially when kpop/kdrama fans are becoming more and more careful in their idol selections? So if an art university can admit a student with excellent record, why can't they admit a star - whose talent has been recognized by the community? I think the question is not "Is it fair or unfair to admit celebrities into universities?", but " How should the system work to preserve the fairness?". I think they should have stricter conditons ( like the singers must have an award), that's all.
That's just my opinion though, and sorry if it's a bit hard to follow.

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very interesting~
special talent admission..i juz knew it..thx for posting!

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interesting post! and we also have this one rare student: lee seung gi. :D

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Lee Seung Gi, Dongguk university, i love him so much.

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