Although the schooling options in Korea are somewhat limited for foreign residents, you do have some choices. Following is information on what is available to you.
International/Foreign schools are the two most common, albeit expensive, options for foreign students. There is a difference between foreign and international schools. Foreign schools are specifically for international students and limit enrollment by ethnic Koreans, while International schools are open to everyone who can afford to pay the tuition. Note that the schools use the two terms as per their 'personal' preference and so the school name is not indicative of the legal status of the school. (More information on eligibility can be found on the K4E Admission to Foreign Schools page).
The majority of these schools are based on either an American or British curriculum or teaching methods and while many of the older, more established international schools are Christian-value centered, a growing number of secular schools are being established around the peninsula. The majority of the schools offer some form of IB (International Baccalaureat, with some of the newer institutions offering a full IB programme.
All foreign passports are accepted in the schools but there is sometimes a waiting list for non-English speakers. Other options included British, German and French schools, as well as Japanese and Chinese Schools.
Among the expat students are Koreans with foreign passports or who have lived abroad and meet certain requirements. Since learning English is very important to Koreans and since many of them wish to have their children attend universities abroad, attending an international school is an attractive option to many affluent Koreans. Consequently, a number of 'international' schools have had a large Korean population, sometimes over 90%. Although not always the case, it is sometimes difficult for foreign students to adapt to the education culture in these schools - one that is extremely competitive and where their classmates may spend hours in after-school academic institutions and/or with private tutors.
Class size is limited in most of the international schools and new students will not be admitted if the limit has been reached for a particular grade or in the ESL program. Entrance is sometimes based on competence and is determined by the entrance examination. Most schools do not accept children with special needs. but a limited number of programs are being introduced by some.
Tuitions range up to about 24million won per year, with additional fees for bus transportation and supplies. (Fees may have increased since this information was posted so best to check wth schools for more current information). It is best to visit a school when classes are in session in order to get a true sense of how the school is run.
The following international/foreign schools* offer elementary and, in some cases, pre-school, middle and high school programs. To get a sense of whether or not the school is a good fit for your child/children, try and visit the facility during school hours. You will also want to check out the bus routes to see where they run in relation to your housing and how long a bus ride your child/children will. have. (Note: many parents worry about long bus rides, but most children don’t seem to mind them. In fact, the bus is often where they make friends and get to socialize with other children who live in their area). Some of the schools have quite long waiting lists, especially if your child is not already fluent in English (there is a quota on the number of ESL students per class in most schools).
Pre-Schools: (click on the school name for more details
- NIK (Namsan International Kindergarten) - Shindan-dong, Yongsan-gu / 02-330-3121
Christian Pre-Schools: (click on the school name for more details)
- Franciscan Foreign Kindergarten - Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu / 02-798-2195
International/Foreign Schools - English:
(K4E has visited and/or evaluated each of the institutions listed and described in our Directory.
Busan Foreign School (BFS) Kindegarten through Grade 12, located in Haeundae-gu, Busan. Tel: 051-747-7199. Foreign School*
Dwight School Seoul Kindergarten through High School (students from 3 to 18 y-o-a) located in Digital Media City in Mapo-gu, Seoul (near World Cup Stadium. Tel: 02-305-7575.
Dulwich College Seoul(DCSL), British-based curriculum from Toddler to Year 13 - located in Banpo, Seoul. Foreign School*.
Chadwick International School, Kindergarten through Grade 12 - located in Songdo City, Incheon. International School*.
Korea International School (KIS) has two locations. The Seoul Campus in Gangnam offers an English curriculum from PK - Gr 5 while the Pangyeo Campus in Gyeonggi-do goes from PK-Gr 12
Seoul Foreign British School, UK’s English National Curriculum (ENC) from Age 3 to Year 9 (a division of Seoul Foreign School - see below)
Seoul Foreign School, Age 2 through Grade 12 - located in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. Foreign School*.
Yongsan International School of Seoul. Kindergarten through Grade 12, U.S. curriculum and Christian educators - located in Itaewon, Yongsan-gu, Seoul.
*The schools listed above have all contributed their support for the service provided by Korea4Expats.
There are also International Schools where a language other than English or Korea is the primary language of the school. Some are listed on the K4E Information Page - International Schools-Non-English
Some international schools outside Seoul offer boarding programs that may be helpful for families facing the prospect of a waiting list or for those living outside Seoul. The boarding programs usually include adult supervision, meals and laundry service, supervised study halls, and a recreation program.
Home Schooling is another option for some. Families that take this route are often pleasantly surprised at the success rate. Home schooling requires dedication and patience on the part of the parents but can offer flexibility for the family. There are a number of accredited programs available, many of which offer a very structured approach. It is therefore not necessary to be a trained teacher to home school your child. Some countries, particularly in Europe, offer home schooling programs through the government's department of Education. North Americans can also find many home schooling sites listed on the Internet including (US Distance Learning Association) and (Distance and Education Training Council Online).
Korean Schools are another option for a very few families, but should probably only be considered if the child is in kindergarten or in primary school as the necessary language skills in both spoken and written Korean will need to be learned. A certificate of Registration issued by the Immigration Office is needed. The Korean school of choice can then be approached, but this should be done with the aid of a Korean speaker. Even then it is possible that the principal of the school may refuse admission although there are no restrictions on foreign residents sending their children to local Korean schools. The Korean school system consists of both public and private schools with both requiring tuition fees. Random selection determines acceptance into private schools. The Korean school year runs from early March to late July with the second semester going from early September to mid December.
In Korean schools, children who are 7 or younger usually go to a kindergarten, while 7 to 12 year olds attend elementary school for 6 years. Following that they will go to middle school for 3 years and then, from ages 16 to 18, to high school for 3 years. The first year of middle school and of high school are referred to as grade 1. During their last year of high school (November), students take a college entrance exam (similar to the SAT in the United States) that will determine, in large part, their choice of university and career.
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Last Updated on 2018-04-13
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|International Schools||Pre-School Options|
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