The Korea Herald


Yoon’s comment wasn’t about ‘making Suneung easier’: presidential office

Education Ministry replaces official overseeing Suneung after Yoon’s remarks

By Park Jun-hee

Published : June 16, 2023 - 14:42

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President Yoon Suk Yeol (Pool photo-Yonhap) President Yoon Suk Yeol (Pool photo-Yonhap)

President Yoon Suk Yeol’s instruction to the chief of the Education Ministry on Thursday was not intended to mean that Suneung, or the nation’s scholastic aptitude test, should be “made easier,” his senior press secretary said Friday.

“President Yoon Suk Yeol was not talking about an ‘easy Suneung’ or a ‘hard Suneung’ to Education Minister Lee Ju-ho, yesterday,” senior presidential secretary for press affairs, Kim Eun-hye, told reporters in a written briefing on Friday.

The president made the comment in regards to whether Suneung questions that require excessive background knowledge or non-literary subjects at the level of university majors are pushing students to rely on private education, she said. Kim noted that Yoon said test questions requiring private tutoring are “unfair and unjust.”

The written statement came a day after Yoon ordered Education Minister Lee Ju-ho to leave out education content not taught in the public education sector. Yoon also asked the Education Ministry to come up with a set of measures that could quell parents’ financial burden in regards to private education spending.

Yoon’s questions about the test’s criteria and the Education Ministry’s plan to unveil reform measures soon kindled controversy, as the annual Suneung test is only five months away.

South Korea’s enduring education fever led to spending a record-high 26 trillion won ($20.3 billion) on private education last year, with spending on English being the highest, according to data from Statistics Korea and the Education Ministry.

Following Yoon’s remarks, the Education Ministry said it has replaced a high-ranking official to oversee Suneung.