In South Korea, specialized schools train wannabe YouTubers

PHOTO: YouTube training academy People YouTube teaches attendees how to shoot and edit videos for YouTube.PlayABC News
WATCH South Korea offers special schools for YouTubers

Eileen Lee, 41, ditched her well-paying job at one of the top conglomerates in South Korea to become a YouTuber.

Lee, who now runs her own firm, believes that a YouTube channel about successful consulting strategies will help expand her business. Even with her busy work schedule, twice a week she drives three hours from her home to People YouTube, a YouTuber training agency, to take classes on becoming a YouTube star.

Being a YouTuber is one of the top dream jobs among South Korean elementary school students, according to 2018 figures from the Ministry of Education. Like Lee, a significant number of adults are also interested in quitting their stable jobs to become a professional YouTuber.

PHOTO: YouTube training academy People YouTube gives students scholarship based on camera test results in Seoul, June 25, 2019. ABC News
YouTube training academy People YouTube gives students scholarship based on camera test results in Seoul, June 25, 2019.

“Although it takes more than three hours from here to home and back, I come to take classes here hoping to establish a personal concept for my YouTube channel, ” Lee told ABC News.

All told, there are more than 60 YouTube-specialized programs across South Korea.

Students ranging from teenagers to 60-year-olds take so-called ‘YouTuber Master’ courses to learn YouTube tools including Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and Premiere Pro. Along with the technical instruction, students take classes on copyright law, personal branding, copywriting and channel analysis.

The agency provides students with a personal brand manager who helps them establish their channel's identity, and a comedian who give tips on how to be witty. As visual appearance is one of the significant factors for a successful YouTuber, there's even a Miss Bikini champion who comes to class to train students on how to keep up their body shape.

PHOTO: YouTube training academy People YouTube teaches attendees how to shoot and edit videos for YouTube. ABC News
YouTube training academy People YouTube teaches attendees how to shoot and edit videos for YouTube.

Popular institutes like People YouTube require students to take a series of tests when applying for admission. Only students who make it through all of the camera tests, interviews, and personality tests qualify for the program.

“Because we teach in small groups, around 160 students apply every month, but only 10 of them get the shot,” Lee Dong Gyu, head of teaching and learning at People YouTube, told ABC News.

Seventy students have completed the program since last November. More than half of them have begun their career as a YouTuber, and others will be starting their channel soon.

“YouTuber schools gave me the courage to make my own YouTube videos,” said Bae Soon-deok, a 64-year-old painter who took classes at People YouTube in order to start her own channel featuring memories of her mother, who has suffered from Alzheimer’s for ten years.

Even governmental organizations are offering training programs for potential YouTubers.

PHOTO: Gyeonggi Content Agency, a government-run organization, provides complimentary YouTube training programs in Gyeonggi-do. Gyeonggi Content Agency
Gyeonggi Content Agency, a government-run organization, provides complimentary YouTube training programs in Gyeonggi-do.

Gyeonggi province’s Content Agency offers a complimentary seven-week YouTube training course that teaches basic video editing plus provides mentoring opportunities and YouTuber networking activities. The agency even has in-depth courses for full-time YouTubers specializing in the beauty and game industries.

ABC News’ Hakyung Kate Lee and Hansol Park contributed to this report.