A South Korean plan to greatly increase medical school seats has helped prompt more top students to enroll for exam-prep studies to become doctors — over the once sure-fire bet of trying to become engineers who make semiconductors.

The operators at some of the nation’s largest cram schools have set up new courses for those looking to take exams in November to enter a university medical program next year, when South Korea plans to increase the number of slots by 2,000 from the current 3,058 to alleviate a shortage of doctors.

"When students think about their lives after graduation, their preference lies with medical schools,” said Lim Sung-ho, head of one of South Korea’s biggest cram schools, the Jongro Hagwon Academy. The overall number of med school applicants is expected to increase from 9,532 in 2024 to 15,851 next year, according to Jongro Academy.