As the birthrate plummets in South Korea, rural schools are emptying. To fill its classrooms, one school opened its doors to women who have for decades dreamed of learning to read.
Park Jong-sim, 75, is a champion octopus catcher in her village. But on a recent day, she was more worried about falling behind in her elementary-school class.
She blinked her eyes as she tried to keep them focused on the notebook, and occasionally took her reading glasses off to wipe tears caused by eye fatigue. Enunciating words was also difficult. To practice her penmanship, she woke up before dawn.
“My memory, hand and tongue don’t work like I wish,” Ms. Park said. “But I am going to learn to write before I die. You don’t know how I feel when I go to a government office, they ask me to fill out a form and the only thing I know how to write is my name.”