Journal of Youth and Adolescence

, Volume 29, Issue 2, pp 249–271

The Korean ‘Examination Hell’: Long Hours of Studying, Distress, and Depression

  • Meery Lee
  • Reed Larson

DOI: 10.1023/A:1005160717081

Cite this article as:
Lee, M. & Larson, R. Journal of Youth and Adolescence (2000) 29: 249. doi:10.1023/A:1005160717081


The goal of this study was to investigate whether the higher rates of clinical depression found among Korean than American adolescents was related to Korean's daily ordeal of studying and schoolwork in preparation for the competitive college entrance examination. A sample of 56 high school seniors in Korea and 62 seniors in the United States provided time-sampling data on the amount of time they spent in daily activities and their affect states during these activities. The Korean adolescents were found to spend much more time in schoolwork and less time in discretionary activities than their American counterparts. Korean adolescents' affect states across daily activities were more negative relative to American adolescents. In the combined sample of Korean and American adolescents spending less time in active leisure activities and experiencing more negative affect states during schoolwork, socializing, and passive leisure activities were related to higher depression. These findings suggest that the effect of the college exam in generating depression in Korean adolescents may be partly mediated through its effect on their daily experience.

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meery Lee
    • 1
    • 2
  • Reed Larson
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Child and Family StudiesYonsei UniversitySeoulKorea
  2. 2.Department of Child and Family Studies, College of Human EcologyYonsei UniversitySeoulKorea
  3. 3.Department of Human and Community DevelopmentUniversity of IllinoisUrbana-Champaign

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