This news story from National Public Radio captures accurately the testing culture in schools and Korea and Japan. The idea of a test to screen applicants to a business seems unusual, but I think it fits well with the Confucian-values that underlie culture in East Asia. In Japan, junior high schools (grades 7-9), high schools (grades 10-12) and universities use school-specific entrance exams to determine who gets to enroll in their institution. The pressure on young people is tremendous and a “cram school” industry has grown to soothe the anxieties of parents wanting the best for their children. Classes in the evenings and weekends are tailored for each school the students want to enter and studying for the entrance exams begins up to 2 years in advance of the test. Some of our students with ties to Japan balance this with their IB programme. I admire the value Japanese families put on education and the respect educators receive is one of the nice things about working in a school in Japan.
I see the appeal of working at Samsung regarding salary and prestige, but the extremely long working hours and rigid hierarchy of the working environment would burn me out quite quickly.