Katherine Mangu-Ward Discusses South Korea's $4 Million Teacher at HuffPost Live


Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher. But are students actually learning more from these million-dollar teachers? If so, should the US follow South Korea's academic methods?

Originally aired on August 7, 2013

Hosted by: 

  • Josh Zepps


  • Jenn Pedde  @jpedde (New York, NY) Community Strategist at 2U; Taught in South Korea
  • Katherine Mangu-Ward  @kmanguward (Washington, DC) Managing Editor at Reason Magazine &
  • Robyn Larsen (San Jose, CA) Teacher Credential Candidate at San Jose State; Taught in South Korea
  • Todd Sutler  @toddsutler (New York, NY) Founder and Executive Director of the Odyssey Initiative


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  1. Kim Ki-hoon earns $4 million a year in South Korea, where he is known as a rock-star teacher.

    We don’t pay teachers enough!!

    1. Salary:
      $5000/kid/year who scores in “excellent” range.
      $3000/kid/year who scores in “good” range.
      $1000/kid/year who scores in “average” range.

      $0/kid/year who scores below that.

      Absolutely nothing else needs to be done. The good teachers will stay and the bad will leave and the kids will win.

      If I teach 20 kids and they all score at “excellent”, I damn well deserve $100K.

  2. ” If so, should the US follow South Korea’s academic methods?”

    He does teach at at private, after school academy. If you are suggesting that the US go to that model, you could be right. But the problem is more that just what you pay teachers, and how they teach; it is cultural. Until you fix that issue, and I am not sure how you do it, you will continue to have the same problems, no matter what model you adopt.

    1. If it’s a private after-school academy, then I guess it’s really only about what families are willing to spend. Paying a public school teacher more per year than his students would pay in taxes, upon entering the workforce, would be absurd.

  3. I haven’t watched any of his videos, but it’s hard to imagine he’s better than Khan.

    1. Sal is awesome. His videos are easy to follow and explained well. There are few in the entire world of his caliber.

      1. I bought another AppleTV and TV for the sole purpose of being able to stream some of his videos while homeschooling.

        Between porn and Khan Academy, I probably never would have gone outside if I had the internet while growing up.

  4. What brief sentence could you use to describe “public education”?

    “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Seems to fit perfectly. The more “needy” the child is, the more money will be spent upon him.

    Tony absolutely adores public education and that is really all that needs to be said about it.

    1. Oh I don’t think that’s quite right. Public schools exist on an inverse Bell Curve. The poorest neighborhoods and the wealthiest neighborhoods are well-funded: the former by way of the State and Federal Governments, and the latter because wealthy people give a damn about their neighborhoods and pay a shitload in property tax.

      1. the latter because wealthy people give a damn about their neighborhoods and pay a shitload in property tax.

        Because they care? Or because they have their property taxes confiscated at what is basically gunpoint?

        I was not referring to district funding but individual funding. When children can be classified as anything below “average” the schools receive more money for that student. The worse off the child is, the more money provided, regardless, of course, of results.

        1. Well, a lot of people move into such districts knowing the tax rates so their kids can go to school there, so “because they care” is definitely one of the reasons.

  5. Maybe he is. But if he is, you can’t square that with the liberal obsession with class size. Liberals love to talk about the importance of limiting class size. That is because they seem to be unaware that some teachers are better than others. Small class size is just another way of saying “limiting the opportunities for kids to be in class with the best teachers”.

    1. Limiting class size is all about providing more union jobs. There is no functional difference between teaching a class of 20 kids and teaching a class of 30 kids.

    2. It could reasonably be argued that his material is presented one-to-one.

  6. “The harder I work, the more I make,” he says matter of factly. “I like that.”

    Something else that is not the case in American public schools.

  7. That was brutal. God bless KMW for going into the fray.

  8. We need to build more subways before we switch to the Korean model of education. Most US cities lack something for students to jump in front of when their parents freak out that they weren’t the best in jump-rope ?? (hagwon: academy/cram school).

    In all seriousness there are some great things about the Korean model, but they keep a brutal schedule. Regular school from 7:30 to 2:30 and then various after school hagwon/sports from 3-10:30, and they still haven’t done their homework.

  9. According to the liberal legacy media, the only foreign country whose educational system Americans are allowed to consider is Finland, and then only certain grades in the Finnish educational system. Media types have had to cherry-pick the evidence ruthlessly to confirm what they want to believe.

  10. Kinda sorta OT: Speaking of education, what’s wrong with this picture?

    10:38 a.m.: Make three (gramatically-correct, as befits an English teacher) lists on back of syllabus: (1) With Whom In This Room I Would Sleep; (2) With Whom I Would Never, Ever Sleep; and (3) With Whom I Have Already Slept. Wish that the third list was shorter.

    1. Start designing a unit plan: Dystopias And How To Prevent Them.

      Promote libertarian ideas in class
      Promote bigger government. What could go wrong?

    2. He doesn’t realize that the ending a sentence with a prepostition rule is a Latin thing and so has no bearing on the language he is writing in?

      1. It still requires the objective case pronoun, so ending the sentence with a preposition would sound worse or would require rewording.

  11. Meanwhile……..&navcode=0

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