An online tutoring service started in the year 2000 was founded by a former tutor at a private education institute. His inspiration for the company came while watching a home-shopping channel on television and he intended to help reduce the education inequality that is produced when nearly eight in ten students supplement public education with study in private cram schools, or hagwons. As noted in a New York Times article by Choe Sang-Hun, Megastudy.net, the online tutoring service Mr. Son Joo-eun started, may be the perfect convergence of South Korean's dual obsessions with educational credentials and the internet. By tapping into those concerns, which increase during a recession, Megastudy has become South Korea's fastest growing technology company, with sales expected to grow 22.5 percent this year to 245 billion won ($195 million) even as the country's economy is expected to contract.
Online commercial services like Megastudy charge a relatively small fee, averaging 40,000 to 50,000 won ($30 to $40) for each course a student selects from thousands of online tutorials. Megastudy competes with the government sponsored EBS, which offers similar tutorials for free. However, it hires teachers with followings that rival those of pop stars. Last year one Megastudy teacher generated 10 billion won (nearly $8 million) and pocketed 23 percent as his share.
With the country pouring billions of dollars into making the internet ten times faster by 2014, Mr. Son suggested that the world turn to South Korea for a glimpse of what education might look like in the future. "Offline schools will become supplemental to online education," he predicted. "Students will go to school, perhaps once a week, for group activities like sports."