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Seoul: Education and International Schools

Expect life to have a traditional theme: Seoulites take great pride in their age-old city, and this is not surprising! Seoul is a city which fuses both tradition and modernity in an impressive way. Our article guides you through the city, with information on housing, schools and more.
Many high school classes in Korea are divided by gender.

The Changing Education System

South Korea’s education system includes six years of primary education, followed by three years of middle school and three years of high school. Back in 1996, only 5% of all high schools were co-educational. Even in a metropolis such as Seoul it is still common to find classes divided by gender, although this has changed significantly in recent years. In typical Korean schools, teaching focuses heavily on health, independence, creativity, and moral values. Teachers enjoy a lot of respect and authority.

Seoul’s high schools are divided into academic and vocational high schools. Most students choose to attend academic schools leading them on the path to higher education. Seoul’s high school students face a challenging and rigorous school day. Beginning around 08:00 and ending around 22:00 or even midnight, a typical school day involves studying before and after school. Luckily, elementary and middle school schedules are not as demanding.

What Are the Options for Expat Children?

Seoul offers three different schooling options for your children: local Korean schools, homeschooling, and international schools. Here is a brief introduction to all three options.

  • Local Korean schools make a lot of sense if you stay in Seoul for several years. That way, your children may find it easier to adapt to Korean society. At the same time, it may be hard for children to adjust if they are not proficient in Korean yet. There are many public and private schools in Seoul. While public elementary schools are free of charge, private and public middle and high schools charge tuition.
  • Homeschooling is becoming increasingly popular among expat parents living in Seoul, mainly due to the quality of homeschool education and practicality of it.
  • International and foreign schools are spread throughout the city of Seoul. Fees are usually in the region of 12,000–30,000 USD per year. Most foreign schools are located in Gyeonggi-do, Incheon Metropolitan City, and Seoul City, especially in Yongsan-gu. To apply on behalf of your child, make sure to add transcripts and report cards as well as standardized test scores and letters of recommendation to the application documents.

International and Foreign Schools

There are a number of foreign and international schools in and around Seoul which are fit to deal with the challenges expat children face:

For more information on international schools in and around Seoul, please refer to the website of the city government of Seoul.


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