m a r k a n d e y a

The Kid with the 200 I.Q.

Posted by Brian on November 8, 2005

Anyone else suspicious of this so-called prodigy named Song Yoo-geun? The kid is 8 years-old and just entered Inha University as a freshman; his major is Physics.

The Korean media is all over the story, of course, but something just doesn’t seem right about what I’m reading. For example, there’s this:

It seems it’s never too early to begin a college education. That is, if you are as smart as Song Yoo-geun, an eight-year-old boy who has been just accepted at Inha University. A school official said yesterday that in an “in-depth” interview with professors that lasted all of 20 minutes, Yoo-geun cruised through the grilling, answering questions on topics such as Schrodinger’s equation; a math formula used in physics and most of chemistry to deal with problems involving the atomic structure of matter. The boy is expected to enroll in a special program the university launched this year with the express aim of producing the country’s first Nobel Prize winner in science.

How “in-depth” can a 20 minute interview be?

The Korea Herald wanted to interview the kid as well. But:

The interview was conducted mainly with the senior Song since Yoo-geun is lacking in his ability to communicate with adults.

And then the interview continues with lots of brainy quotes from Song’s dad, but nothing from the child prodigy himself. But if he can wow a group of college profs with Schrodinger’s Equation, how come he can’t handle a lone Korea Herald beat reporter? I’ve seen several articles on this kid and they’re all the same: plenty of quotes from the father telling us how smart his kid is, but nothing from the kid himself.

But why? What’s the motive here? Perhaps this explains it (from the same KH interview):

It’s no wonder then that Yoo-geun is now a national figure and the focus of media attention. People are curious about his mental capabilities and how he will be taught at university. They also want to know how he is different from ordinary children and how he has been brought up.

Just think of the financial opportunties here. We’re talking books, videos, hagwon endorsements, additional funding and attention for the schools he goes to. He’s a walking gold mine.

Of course, I could be full of shit on this (wouldn’t be the first time). After all, if he was just an average kid there’s probably no chance that he would be able to get by a college interview. But I can’t help but wonder if all the hype is pushing people to make judgements about the kid’s intellect that are off simply not supported by the facts. Perhaps he’s merely above-average in intelligence and is able to put on a pretty good front has a kid genius. I could be wrong, but color me skeptical on this one.

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