When it comes to education in South Korea, the demand is so strong it accounts for 12% of all consumer spending.
Parents push their children relentlessly, with classes in the evenings and at weekends. It's led to some teachers earning very high salaries, particularly to teach English. The BBC's Steve Evans, in Seoul, met one of them.
Watch the video and answer the questions below.
1 How many students does Gwen Lee teach in a classroom?
2 And online?
3 Apart from teaching how does Gwen Lee manage to make so much money?
4 What is Gwen Lee as a teacher?
5 Where are Gwen Lee’s offices?
6 Why do Koreans work so hard?
7 Why does Gwen Lee think it is important to keep fit?
7.30 in the morning, the start of a working day. For Gwen Lee’s job appearance is important, so this is essential preparation for the classroom. She earns half a million dollars a year teaching English to students who pay for her lessons, and they expect her to look smart.
My yearly income is around $500,000 and I think I can do that because I can manage a big-sized classroom. Of course, the more numbers of students that I have in my classroom, I earn more money, but part of my income is coming from online.
Every month, she teaches (1) a thousand students in an actual classroom but another (2) 200,000 online.
Hello everyone, it’s me Gwen…
(3) She has a radio programme and she writes textbooks, all adding up to that half a million dollars.
This is very driven teaching. (4) She’s very animated, moving energetically along the pre-arranged strips. And these kids, they want to learn, they’re paying money or their parents are paying money
And teacher Gwen Lee has the accoutrements of business, like a chauffeur. Her day is so tightly packed that she needs to use every moment. Her headquarters from where the teaching is organized are (5) in Seoul’s business district. Lunch is a business meeting, with her assistants, who deal with online requests. This is work at hyper-speed.
Koreans work hard. We work around the clock and, you know, they make best effort because… I don’t know why but(6) it’s coming from their parents’ generation, you know. We saw our parents, they went to war, you know, era and they thought that in order to survive they had to work, you know, hard.
South Korea is a pressurized country, with pressure on students to achieve and pressure on teachers to deliver grades. Gwen goes to the gym, but even this is part of work. (7) She reckons that keeping fit is a way of fending off illness. When you have 200,000+ students, you can’t afford to take time off.
Steve Evans, BBC News, Seoul.