Kyung Hee University sociology professor Kim Jong-young has published a book titled "Ruler under Control." In the book, based on his 15 years of research on Koreans studying in the United States, he criticizes those Koreans pretending to be elites in Korea after going through marginalization in the U.S. due to their lack of English proficiency.
The professor is currently in the States for a sabbatical year. “More than 50 percent of Seoul National University professors are those who received a degree in the U.S., and those having the same experience constitute the mainstream of the society of intellectuals in Korea nowadays,” he wrote, adding, “Nevertheless, they have been engaged in little soul-searching or introspection regarding their American diplomas.”
His research on the issue dates back to 1999, when he was in a doctoral course at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign. The first set of interviews for the longitudinal study was carried out between 1999 and 2005, and a second from 2011 to 2014. The conclusion he reached was that those who studied in the U.S. and are flourishing as intellectuals in Korea are a group of "rulers under control," or "transnational middlemen."
“Assuming learning is a type of capital, those people are a kind of broker, who sell their capital in Korea, where studying in the U.S. is much more coveted than in Europe and Japan,” he explained, continuing, “The greater appeal is attributable to the lack of advanced research-oriented colleges in Korea. Research universities have to be grown for the excessive fantasy about studying in the States to be properly addressed.”