The Korean 'examination hell': Long hours of studying, distress, and depression

Meery Lee, Reed Larson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)249-271
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of youth and adolescence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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