Over 1 in 5 middle school teachers in Korea regret their choice of profession, a survey showed Tuesday.
According to a report by Yang Jung-ho, education professor at Sungkyunkwan University, 20.1 per cent of teachers had second thoughts about their profession, the highest among all members of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Korea was followed by Sweden, Portugal, Bulgaria and Chile, which recorded dissatisfaction rates of 17.8 per cent, 16.2 per cent, 14.6 per cent and 13.9 per cent. The OCED average was 9.46 per cent.
By analysing the answers of 105,000 Korean teachers who took the OECD's Teaching and Learning International Survey, Yang also discovered 36.1 per cent of them would choose a different career if they had a choice. The leader in this particular category was Sweden at 46.1 per cent.
The discontent among Korean teachers was in stark contrast to Korean teachers' relatively high average pay. The annual salary of Korean teachers typically peaked at $76,432 while the OECD average was $57,621.
Korean teachers expressed difficulty dealing with students while having to carry out administrative duties. Stress was also one of the main reasons teachers were dissatisfied with their jobs.
A study by the Korean Federation of Teachers' Association showed that in 2013, violations of teachers' rights increased for the fifth consecutive year. The most common causes of complaint were verbal abuse, threats and physical violence from students and their parents.
An Education Ministry study showed that 5,562 cases of rights violation for teachers occurred in 2013.
The immense pressure at work sometimes leads to mental conditions. According to Rep. Lee Elisa of the ruling Saenuri Party, 112 teachers either left their jobs permanently or temporarily in 2014 after suffering from mental illness, up from 69 the year before.
A high school teacher in Gwangju died by suicide in January. The 55-year-old teacher had been suffering from severe depression.