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Bribing the Teacher

Authorities in South Korea have launched an aggressive new effort to crack down on bribery of teachers, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With parents desperate to give their children any sort of edge in the country's cut-throat college-admissions game, bribes to teachers are apparently commonplace in South Korea. Typically, according to the Times, the payoffs—known as chonji—are provided in cash-filled envelops, but they are also often hidden in candy boxes or other benign-looking packages.

To curb the practice, officials are closing many schools this year on Teacher's Day—a national teacher-appreciation day scheduled for later this week—and asking parents not to visit their children's classrooms for as long as a month afterward. Investigators have also taken to searching teachers' cars for hidden booty, and have placed undercover agents (acting as parents) in schools to monitor suspicious exchanges.

Parental selfishness and over-ambition are commonly blamed for the teacher-bribery phenomenon, but some parents claim that teachers encourage—and have come to expect—the payoffs.

"Across the country, one of five parents says they have given chonji to teachers, and one of three in big cities says so," said the head of the investigative team. "This culture must be fixed and stopped."

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