‘Education fever’ drives the demand for English in South Korea today. One professor of politics has recently deplored the current pursuit of ‘English education’ (yeongeokyoyuk) in South Korea as a ‘collective neurosis of English fever’ (Y-M. Kim, 2002). What has brought this current English boom to South Korea? It can be traced back to the traditional ‘education fever’ (kyoyukyeol) or ‘preoccupation with education’ (Seth, 2002). The English boom resulting from the Korean education fever has led to a strong antipathy toward Koreans – even in English-speaking countries.
This article explains how the current English boom in South Korea has been founded on the long tradition of education fever in the country, and why more and more Korean children are sent abroad to learn the English language. In addition, I also attempt to show the connection between this English boom and an associated antipathy toward the Korean language and Korean speakers in English-speaking countries.
Jin-kyu Park, Korea University and Kyunghee University in South Korea.