Header Notice

Winter is here! Check out the winter wonderlands at these 5 amazing winter destinations in Montana

Where Do Expat Children Go To School In South Korea


Modified: January 3, 2024

by Agneta Imhoff



When expat families relocate to South Korea, one of the most important considerations is the education of their children. Finding the right school that caters to their needs and provides a quality education is crucial for their smooth transition and academic success. South Korea offers a diverse range of educational options for expat children, ranging from international schools to public and private schools.


International schools in South Korea are a popular choice among expat families, as they provide a curriculum that is recognized globally and offer a multicultural learning environment. These schools follow international standards of education and often have a diverse student body, allowing children to interact with peers from different cultural backgrounds.


On the other hand, public schools in South Korea are government-funded and adhere to the Korean national curriculum. While they primarily cater to Korean students, some public schools also accept expat children. These schools can provide a great opportunity for expat children to immerse themselves in Korean culture and learn the language.


Private schools in South Korea are another option for expat families. They offer a variety of educational approaches and may follow either the Korean or international curriculum. Private schools often have smaller class sizes and may provide more specialized programs and facilities.


In addition to these options, some expat families choose to homeschool their children in South Korea. Homeschooling allows for a more personalized approach to education, but it requires careful planning and adherence to legal requirements.


Special education programs are also available in South Korea for children with special needs. These programs aim to provide support and inclusive education for children with disabilities, ensuring they have equal opportunities for learning and growth.


With such a diverse range of educational options available, choosing the right school for expat children in South Korea can be a challenging task. It is important for families to consider factors such as curriculum, language of instruction, location, facilities, and support services when making their decision.


In this article, we will explore the various educational options available for expat children in South Korea, discuss the challenges they may face, and highlight the benefits of attending school in this dynamic and educationally advanced country.


International Schools in South Korea

International schools in South Korea are an excellent choice for expat families looking to provide their children with a globally recognized education. These schools typically follow an international curriculum, such as the International Baccalaureate (IB) or the American or British curriculum.


One of the key advantages of international schools is the multicultural learning environment they offer. These schools attract students from all over the world, creating a diverse and inclusive community. Expat children attending international schools in South Korea have the opportunity to interact with peers from different cultural backgrounds, fostering a global mindset and understanding.


International schools in South Korea also prioritize English language instruction. This is particularly valuable for expat children who may not be fluent in Korean. By attending an international school, they can receive instruction in English and comfortably navigate through their academic subjects.


These schools often have state-of-the-art facilities and a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, and clubs. This allows students to explore and develop their talents beyond their academic pursuits.


Furthermore, international schools in South Korea typically have smaller class sizes compared to public schools, ensuring more individualized attention and support for each student. Teachers in international schools are often highly qualified and experienced in teaching international students, providing a high-quality education that meets global standards.


Some of the well-known international schools in South Korea include Seoul International School, Korea International School, and Dwight School Seoul. These schools offer a comprehensive curriculum, including a strong emphasis on academics, as well as opportunities for personal growth and development.


While international schools often come with a higher tuition fee compared to other educational options, many expat families find the investment worthwhile for the high-quality education and the opportunities these schools provide. It is recommended to research and visit different international schools to find the one that best meets the needs and preferences of your child.


Public Schools in South Korea

Public schools in South Korea are government-funded institutions that primarily cater to Korean students, but some public schools also accept expat children. These schools follow the Korean national curriculum, providing an opportunity for expat children to immerse themselves in the local education system and culture.


One of the advantages of enrolling expat children in public schools is the opportunity to learn the Korean language. Being exposed to the language on a daily basis in the school environment can accelerate language acquisition and integration into the local community.


Public schools in South Korea have a rigorous academic program, focusing on subjects such as mathematics, science, language, and social studies. The curriculum is designed to prepare students for the national university entrance exams, which are highly competitive in South Korea.


These schools also offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, music, arts, and student clubs. This allows expat children to engage in various activities and develop their skills and interests outside of the classroom.


While attending a public school in South Korea can be a valuable cultural experience, it is important to note that expat children may face some challenges. Language can be a barrier initially, but most schools provide support programs for non-Korean speakers. Additionally, adapting to the teaching methods and Korean classroom culture may take some time.


To enroll in a public school, expat families must provide the necessary documents, including a residence certificate, passport, and immunization records. It is recommended to consult with the local education office or the school directly for specific enrollment procedures and requirements.


Some expat families choose to enroll their children in public schools with an international division. These divisions typically cater to both Korean and international students, offering a curriculum that combines elements of both the Korean and international systems. This can be a great option for expat children who want to experience a mix of Korean and international education.


Public schools in South Korea are an excellent choice for expat children who wish to integrate into the local community, learn the Korean language, and experience the Korean education system first-hand.


Private Schools in South Korea

Private schools in South Korea offer an alternative education option for expat families. These schools are independently operated and can provide a range of educational approaches, including both Korean and international curricula.


One of the advantages of private schools is the smaller class sizes compared to public schools. With fewer students in each class, teachers can provide more individualized attention and support to each student, fostering a conducive learning environment.


Private schools in South Korea often boast modern facilities and resources that are tailored to enhance the learning experience. These schools may offer specialized programs or focus on specific subjects, such as STEM education, arts, or language immersion programs.


In addition to academic pursuits, private schools also emphasize extracurricular activities and holistic development. They provide ample opportunities for students to participate in sports, clubs, and cultural activities, allowing them to explore their interests and talents outside of the classroom.


Some private schools in South Korea are known for their bilingual or international programs, which offer a curriculum that combines elements of both Korean and international education systems. These programs provide a unique learning experience for expat children, allowing them to bridge the gap between their home country’s education system and the Korean system.


It is important to note that tuition fees for private schools can be higher compared to public schools or international schools. However, these schools often offer scholarships or financial aid options to ensure accessibility for deserving students.


Choosing the right private school for your child involves considering factors such as the curriculum, teaching philosophy, facilities, extracurricular activities, and track record. Researching and visiting different private schools will help you make an informed decision that aligns with your child’s educational goals and needs.


Some well-known private schools in South Korea include Seoul Foreign School, Yongsan International School of Seoul, and Chadwick International School. These schools have established a reputation for academic excellence and provide a supportive and enriching environment for students.


Private schools in South Korea offer a range of choices and approaches to education, allowing expat children to find a school that best suits their individual needs and aspirations.


Home Schooling in South Korea

Home schooling is an option for expat families who prefer a more personalized approach to education or have specific circumstances that make traditional schooling challenging. While it is not as common as attending international, public, or private schools, home schooling in South Korea is a viable alternative.


Home schooling allows parents to take full control of their child’s education, tailoring the curriculum to their child’s individual needs and interests. This flexibility can be beneficial for expat children who have unique educational requirements or have difficulty adapting to a traditional school setting.


Parents who choose to home school their children in South Korea must comply with the legal requirements set by the Ministry of Education. They need to submit an application for home schooling and provide proof of their eligibility, such as a teaching certificate or a university degree.


When home schooling, parents can choose from a variety of curricular options, including following a recognized international curriculum, integrating online resources, or creating a customized curriculum. They can also design their own teaching methods and schedules to suit their child’s learning style and pace.


One of the advantages of home schooling is the individualized attention and one-on-one instruction children receive. This allows for a focused learning environment and an opportunity for parents to provide personalized support and guidance.


However, it is important to consider the potential challenges of home schooling. Socialization and peer interaction may not be as readily available as in a traditional school setting. Parents need to make an effort to provide social opportunities for their children, such as joining co-op groups, extracurricular activities, or online communities.


Another consideration is the responsibility and commitment required from parents. They need to be dedicated to creating a structured learning environment, delivering content effectively, and evaluating their child’s progress. Regular self-assessment and seeking external feedback, such as through standardized tests or assessments, can help ensure the child’s educational development.


Home schooling in South Korea provides an alternative path for expat families who desire more control and customization in their child’s education. It offers the flexibility to adapt the learning experience to the child’s individual needs, interests, and circumstances.


Special Education Programs in South Korea

South Korea is committed to providing inclusive education for children with special needs. Special education programs are available across the country, aiming to support and empower students with disabilities to achieve their full potential.


Special education programs in South Korea cater to a wide range of disabilities, including but not limited to intellectual disabilities, developmental delays, physical disabilities, and sensory impairments. These programs offer tailored instruction and support based on the individual needs of each student.


The Ministry of Education in South Korea has implemented policies and regulations to ensure that students with special needs receive an equitable and inclusive education. These policies emphasize the integration of students with disabilities into mainstream classrooms whenever possible, fostering an inclusive learning environment.


Special education programs in South Korea provide a variety of services, including specialized teaching methods, individualized education plans, and assistive technology. These programs also offer support services such as counseling, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy to address the specific needs of students.


Different types of special education schools exist in South Korea, including special schools dedicated solely to students with disabilities and inclusive schools that integrate students with and without disabilities. Both types of schools are equipped with trained professionals who are experienced in working with children with special needs.


Inclusive education is a key focus of special education programs in South Korea. By providing support within regular classrooms, students with disabilities can engage with their peers, develop social skills, and benefit from a diverse learning environment.


While progress has been made in the field of special education in South Korea, challenges still exist. These challenges include a lack of awareness and understanding of disabilities, limited resources in some regions, and the need for ongoing professional development for educators in inclusive practices.


Efforts are being made to address these challenges and further improve special education programs in South Korea. The government promotes collaboration between schools, parents, and community organizations to create a comprehensive support system for students with special needs.


Overall, special education programs in South Korea strive to provide an inclusive and supportive educational experience for students with disabilities, ensuring they have equal opportunities to learn, grow, and thrive.


Choosing the Right School for Expat Children

When it comes to choosing the right school for expat children in South Korea, there are several factors that parents should consider to ensure their child’s educational needs are met and their transition is smooth.


1. Curriculum: Consider the curriculum offered by different schools. International schools typically follow recognized global curricula such as the International Baccalaureate or American or British curriculum, while public and private schools may follow the Korean or international curricula. Evaluate which curriculum aligns with your child’s educational goals and future plans.


2. Language of Instruction: Language plays a vital role in the educational journey of expat children. Consider whether your child would benefit from an English-language environment or if they would like to learn Korean by attending a public school. Assess their language skills and choose a school that complements their language needs.


3. Location: Consider the location of the school relative to your residence or workplace. It is important to ensure that the daily commute is reasonable and feasible for your child. Proximity to expat communities and support networks may also be a factor to consider.


4. Facilities and Resources: Assess the facilities and resources available at the schools you are considering. Look for well-equipped classrooms, libraries, science laboratories, sports facilities, and extracurricular opportunities that align with your child’s interests and areas of development.


5. Support Services: Consider the support services provided by the school, especially if your child has specific learning needs or disabilities. Look for schools that offer counseling services, special education support, and resources to ensure that your child receives the necessary support to succeed academically and socially.


6. School Culture and Values: Explore the school culture and values to determine if they align with your family’s values and expectations. Take into account the teaching approaches, discipline policies, and philosophies of the school to ensure a good fit for your child’s overall growth and development.


7. Reputation and Accreditation: Research the reputation and accreditation of the schools you are considering. Look for schools that have a track record of academic excellence, student achievements, and positive feedback from current and former students. Accreditation from recognized educational bodies can also provide assurance of quality.


8. Financial Considerations: Consider the tuition fees and additional expenses associated with attending the schools you are interested in. Take into account your budget and evaluate the value of the education and resources offered by each school.


Visiting the school, talking to current students and parents, and seeking recommendations from other expat families can also provide valuable insights in making the right decision.


Remember that choosing the right school is a personal decision that should prioritize your child’s educational and holistic development. Consider their unique needs, aspirations, and learning style to ensure the best possible educational experience in South Korea.


Challenges Faced by Expat Children in South Korean Schools

Expat children who attend schools in South Korea may face various challenges as they navigate through a new educational system and cultural environment. Understanding these challenges can help parents and students better prepare for a smooth transition and successful academic journey.


1. Language Barrier: One of the primary challenges for expat children is the language barrier. South Korean schools predominantly use the Korean language as the medium of instruction. For students who are not fluent in Korean, understanding the lessons and effectively communicating with teachers and peers can be a significant challenge.


2. Cultural Adjustment: South Korean schools have their unique cultural norms and expectations, which may differ from what expat children are accustomed to. Adjusting to new classroom etiquette, social interactions, and hierarchical relationships can initially be overwhelming for expat students.


3. Educational System Differences: The structure and teaching methods of South Korean schools may differ from those in the students’ home country. The emphasis on rote learning, high academic standards, and competitive nature of the education system can be quite different from what expat children are accustomed to.


4. Social Integration: Expat children may face challenges when it comes to social integration and making friends with local students. Cultural and language barriers can sometimes hinder their ability to connect with classmates, especially in the initial stages of their schooling.


5. Academic Pressure: South Korean schools are known for their academically demanding environment. The rigorous academic standards and the high expectations placed on students can create a significant amount of stress and pressure on expat children, particularly if they are not familiar with such intensity in their previous educational experiences.


6. Curriculum Differences: Expat children may also face challenges related to differences in the curriculum, especially if they transition from a different education system. Adjusting to a new set of subjects, teaching styles, and evaluation methods can require time and effort.


7. Homesickness and Emotional Adjustment: Being away from familiar surroundings and family support can make expat children susceptible to homesickness and emotional challenges. Adjusting to a new school system, making new friends, and adapting to a different culture can contribute to feelings of isolation and longing.


It is crucial for parents, teachers, and the school community to provide support and guidance to expat children facing these challenges. Language support programs, cultural orientation, peer integration activities, and counseling services can help ease the transition and ensure that expat children have a positive educational experience in South Korea. 

The Benefits of Attending School in South Korea for Expat Children

Attending school in South Korea offers several benefits for expat children, providing them with unique experiences and opportunities that can greatly contribute to their personal and academic growth.


1. Cultural Immersion: South Korea has a rich and vibrant culture, and attending school in the country allows expat children to immerse themselves in this cultural tapestry. They have the chance to learn the Korean language, experience traditional customs and celebrations, and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation for Korean society.


2. Global Mindset: South Korea is known for its global outlook and technological advancements. Attending school in South Korea exposes expat children to a multicultural environment, where they can interact with students from various nationalities and backgrounds. This exposure fosters a global mindset, promoting tolerance, understanding, and respect for different cultures.


3. High-Quality Education: South Korea consistently ranks high in global education rankings. The country has a strong emphasis on academic excellence and offers a rigorous curriculum that challenges students to excel academically. Attending school in South Korea can provide expat children with access to high-quality education that prepares them for future academic pursuits.


4. Disciplined Learning Environment: South Korean schools are known for their disciplined learning environment that instills a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility in students. This structured and organized approach to education can benefit expat children by developing their self-discipline, time management, and study skills.


5. Technological Advancements: South Korea is a technological hub, with advanced infrastructure and a strong focus on innovation. Attending school in South Korea exposes expat children to cutting-edge technology and digital learning tools, equipping them with valuable skills for the digital age.


6. Sports and Extracurricular Opportunities: South Korea offers a wide range of extracurricular activities, including sports, arts, and cultural clubs. Attending school in the country allows expat children to participate in these activities, nurturing their talents and interests outside of their academic pursuits, and providing a well-rounded educational experience.


7. Preparation for a Globalized World: South Korea is a major player in the global economy, and its educational system prepares students for an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. Attending school in South Korea equips expat children with the skills and mindset required to thrive in a highly competitive and diverse global landscape.


Attending school in South Korea provides expat children with a unique cross-cultural experience, access to high-quality education, and prepares them for the challenges and opportunities of a globalized world. The benefits extend beyond academics, nurturing their personal growth, cultural understanding, and ability to adapt to new environments.



Choosing the right school for expat children in South Korea is a significant decision that can shape their educational journey and overall experience in the country. South Korea offers a diverse range of educational options, including international schools, public schools, private schools, and the possibility of home schooling or special education programs. Each option has its own advantages and considerations, and it is important for families to carefully evaluate their child’s needs, goals, and preferences.


International schools in South Korea provide a globally recognized curriculum, a multicultural learning environment, and English language instruction. Public schools, on the other hand, offer an opportunity for expat children to immerse themselves in the Korean culture and learn the language. Private schools provide smaller class sizes and specialized programs, while home schooling allows for a personalized approach to education.


Expatriate children may face challenges such as language barriers, cultural adjustments, academic pressure, and the need for social integration. However, South Korea also offers numerous benefits for expat children. These include cultural immersion, fostering a global mindset, access to high-quality education, discipline, exposure to technological advancements, extracurricular opportunities, and preparation for a globalized world.


Ultimately, the choice of school depends on the individual needs and aspirations of the expat child. It is essential for parents to research and visit schools, speak with teachers and administrators, and involve the child in the decision-making process to ensure a good fit. Collaboration between the school, parents, and the student is crucial for creating a positive and fulfilling educational experience.


South Korea’s commitment to education, its cultural richness, and its global outlook make it an attractive destination for expat families seeking quality education. By carefully considering the available options and understanding the challenges and benefits of attending school in South Korea, expat children can embark on a rewarding educational journey that prepares them for success in a multicultural and interconnected world.