Edu in Korea

Korean Education System: Enrolling Your Child in School

Moving to a new country involves a multitude of changes, and one of the most significant for families is navigating the local education system. In South Korea, the education system is highly regarded worldwide, known for its academic rigor and emphasis on extracurricular activities. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the process of enrolling your child in a Korean school and help you understand the structure of the Korean education system.

Understanding the Korean Education System

The Korean education system is divided into three main stages: elementary school (초등학교), middle school (중학교), and high school (고등학교).

Elementary School (초등학교)

Elementary school, which spans six grades (age 7-12), is the first stage of compulsory education in Korea. Children learn foundational skills in subjects such as Korean, mathematics, science, and social studies.


Middle School (중학교)

Middle school in Korea spans three years (grades 7-9). The curriculum becomes more subject-specific, with students starting to learn subjects like English, music, arts, and physical education in addition to the core subjects.

High School (고등학교)

High school, also lasting three years (grades 10-12), is where the curriculum becomes more advanced and specialized. High schools are often divided into general and vocational schools, with general high schools preparing students for university and vocational high schools providing specific job training.

Enrolling Your Child in a Korean School

Determine Your School District (학군)

In Korea, your residential address determines which public school your child can attend. Once you have a permanent address, you can contact the local education office to find out your designated school district.

Prepare Necessary Documents

You will need to provide various documents, including your child’s birth certificate, proof of your address, and your Alien Registration Card. You may also need to provide immunization records and recent physical exam results.

Submit Your Application

Once you’ve gathered all necessary documents, you can apply for admission at your designated school’s administrative office. The process is usually straightforward, but it’s advisable to inquire about specific application procedures and deadlines.

International Schools in Korea

For families who prefer an international curriculum, there are numerous international schools in major cities like Seoul, Busan, and Incheon. These schools often teach in English or other foreign languages and follow international curriculums such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or American Common Core State Standards.

After-School Programs and Tutoring

Korean students often participate in after-school programs or private tutoring (학원) for additional learning and preparation. This is particularly common during high school years to prepare for the university entrance exam, known as the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).


Understanding and navigating the Korean education system can be a challenging task for newcomers. However, with a little research and preparation, you can ensure a smooth transition for your child. Remember, each child’s needs are different, so it’s essential to find an educational environment that best supports your child’s growth and learning.

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