Over 5,000 Korean teachers say they want out

An increasing number of teachers are applying for retirement, the Education Ministry said Thursday, indicating that the once highly coveted job is losing its merits.

A total of 5,172 teachers in elementary, middle and high schools have applied for retirement so far this year, marking a significant increase compared to 3,579 and 4,202 during the same period in 2012 and 2013, respectively.

The figure coincided with the falling number of teachers who said they are content with their jobs. According to a survey by the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations, about 49.8 per cent of the teachers answered that their job satisfaction fell rapidly in the past couple of years.

One of the underlying reasons is the increasing tendency of students and parents disregarding the teachers' authority.

Rep. Lee Man-woo of the Saenuri Party said Thursday that some 5,562 cases of students or parents infringing on the authority of teachers have been reported in 2013. They included physical and verbal violence or sexual harassment of the teacher.

Adding to their unhappiness was the recent sinking of the Sewol ferry that left 247 high school students and 12 teachers dead or missing. The KFTA survey showed that around half of the teachers answered that they were traumatized by the incident.

The KFTA said the teachers tend to suffer more from the tragic accident because they can identify with the teachers and students who lost their lives.