Fleeing South Korea

Published: 5.22.2017
Level 4   |   Time: 6:05
Accent: American
Source: Al Jazeera (12.29.2016)

A new generation of South Koreans is voting for a more liberal and kinder lifestyle with their feet - leaving the country in droves.


triangle Directions

  1. REVIEW the vocabulary / background.
  2. WATCH the video.
  3. ANSWER the questions.
  4. CHECK your answers. (Show Answers)

triangle Vocabulary

  • takes a back seat [exp] - is not as important
  • faithful [adj] - people who go to church
  • full-blown [adj] - fully developed, complete
  • uprooted [adj] - taken from their homes and normal living
  • unique [adj] - special, different from others
  • vitality [n] - life, liveliness
  • thriving [v] - doing very well
  • hip [adj] - cool, popular, trendy
  • front [n] - fake appearance, not reality

[n] - noun,  [v] - verb,  [phv] - phrasal verb,  [adj] - adjective,  [exp] - expression

triangle Questions

  1. Why are Korean young people leaving South Korea?
    long job hours
    fear of North Korea

  2. What does the Promise Church do?
    It gives food to the poor.
    It teaches Koreans how to cook.
    It helps Koreans get settled in America.
    It gives tours of Flushing, Queens.

  3. Why doesn't the Promise Church use chopsticks?
    They're too expensive.
    There are no chopsticks in America.
    It is a symbol of the difficulty of immigrating.
    Chopsticks are annoying.

  4. Where is the Promise Church?

  5. What functions does the Promise Church provide?
    Sports Center

  6. How many Koreans live in Queens?

  7. South Korea holds world records in what?
    work schedules

  8. What percentage of Korean under-35s want to leave Korea?
    almost 90%
    about half
    18 percent
    8 percent

triangle Discussion

  1. How can Korea encourage young people to stay and live in their home country?
  2. What are the difficulties of immigration?
  3. Why do you think alcoholism is so prevalent in Korea? Suicide?
  4. What are the benefits of finding a community of people from your home country when you immigrate? What are the drawbacks?

triangle Script

South Korea is high tech, high flying, and high stress. Everything takes a back seat to work and success, but economic growth has come at a cost that many young south Koreans are no longer willing to pay. I'm Steve Chao. On this episode, 101 East meets those willing to give it all up for a chance at happiness far from home.


Every Sunday at the Promise Church, several services give thousands of faithful a full-blown show. These Koreans mega-churches are fiercely competing with each other to attract believers. But the Promise Church is not in South Korea. Its in New York. The faithful are all immigrants who the church helps build a better life in America. The church is more than a place of worship for this uprooted community in Flushing, Queens. It's also a school, a daycare, a sports center. Its a place where Koreans of all ages can socialize 15,000km away from their country. Each week after the service, new arrivals share a meal. They are students or young workers. The church helped them leave their country.


The food at the church is Korean, but there are no chopsticks. Its a symbol of the difficulty in immigrating from such a culturally unique country to America. But they have made their choice. While they say its hard to adapt to life here, they were desperate to leave South Korea.


Nearly 100,000 Koreans now live in Queens. This Manhattan suburb has been transformed like other American cities into an Asian district. Millions in Seoul, hope to join them.

Back in Seoul, we visit Myeongdong market. Every night, it attracts the city's young people as well as foreign visitors. This “shiny Korea” is now a tourist destination. A model of vitality.

A lot of interesting things happening in design art... umm. I think it's a great place to be right now.

I think its thriving, economically, socially, umm, you know...all of the above. I mean its a...its a hip place to be, you know.


But many locals complain that that Korean success just is a front. A cruel, inaccessible, shiny dream. South Korea holds the world-record for alcoholism, suicide, and work schedules. After striving for 50 years to be a capitalist champion, young people are now questioning what the point of it all is. 88% of people under 35 now wish to move abroad.

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