A Rap Song About Academic Competition in Korea

An original rap song that “that illustrates the desolate emotional landscape of Korean youth left parched for love by academic stress and competition.”

For her independent research project for the Hallmark Humanities Seminar, Jiho Shin ’21 studied the history and implications of hagwons, or private, for-profit, after-school academies in South Korea, which she describes as an “integral part of competitive Korea culture” and “a manifestation of the fear of failure shared by parents and students alike.”

According to Jiho, while hagwons can propel students toward global success, this often comes at the expense of their mental health. To convey this struggle, Jiho created a rap song called “Stained Child.” In her words, the song is meant to illustrate “the desolate emotional landscape of Korean youth left parched for love by academic stress and competition, and captures toxic societal messages that students resist or internalize.”