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An Insider’s Guide to Top International Schools in Seoul, South Korea

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Top 5 Unique Facts about international schools in Seoul, Korea!

1. Education is a high priority for many Korean families, so competitiveness can
get pretty intense.

This might mean that you have to prepare yourself and your children for a different academic culture before starting school. International schools in Korea are well known for their high standards and rigorous programs, and the university acceptance is almost 100% at every international school. Some parents love the competitiveness while other parents might feel tired of dealing with this new source of potential stress.

2. The admissions processes for international schools in Korea can differ but also by grade

That means that the application process for a middle schooler in Korea could differ from an elementary schooler and so on. Moreover, some international schools require a varied number of documents, regardless of age, including passports and birth certificates.

3. If the tuition at an international school is too high and can be a burden to your
family, there are alternative schools in Korea you could consider.

For example, some families send their kids to alternative schools for English speakers, both in and outside of Seoul. Tuition at these schools is far less expensive and most schools are affiliated with a Christian background. The Korean government does
not authorize these schools, but these schools do have educational accreditations from well-known institutions such as Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), Council of International Schools (CIS) and International Baccalaureate (IB). Most  kids attending these schools are Koreans who want to pursue international curriculum education and then enter overseas universities.

4. The line between foreign school and international school might not be as neatly
drawn as we think.

Foreign schools are usually schools that are mostly made up of “foreign” students with limited enrollment for ethnic Korean students. International schools are seen as being predominantly open to anyone who can pay the tuition. However, in the past, the definitions haven’t been quite so strictly enforced, so don’t be confused if you see them being used interchangeably at

5. The Korean and international academic calendars are different, usually.

Most Korean calendars begin in March and end in the middle of July. The second semester starts in August and ends in the middle of February. The summer break is short compared to Western calendars, lasting only a few weeks. Winter vacation, on the other hand, can last over a month. Most international schools, however, adopt the Western calendar.

If you have any questions about international schools in Seoul or in Korea in general, please feel free to email us at EMAIL ADDRESS!


To help you out, here are the Top 10 Considerations parents can keep in mind when it comes to selecting international schools in Korea:

1. How far is the school from your workplace and what neighborhood is the school in?

Seoul is a big city, maybe more than you had imagined before arriving here. There are approximately 20 million people living in the Seoul metropolitan area.  Some international families live fairly far away from the school and use the school bus system. However, Seoul is a major city, and, during rush hour, long traffic jams are not uncommon. As a result, most people who find a place to stay close to the school their children go to tend to be more comfortable and less harried.  It also eliminates the possibility that your child may end up spending hours on the school bus.

2. What types of curriculum does each schools carry? For example: American, British, Canadian, German, French, Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB)? How academically challenging is the school and how much homework is given?

If your kids are in a senior–> Hi Angella, if your child is senior in high school, it is more important to pick the right curriculum, as they will soon be heading to college. Most schools in Korea are academically challenging with many of the Korean students who attend international school participating in after-school and private institution math and English classes. As a result, it is not uncommon for Korean students to be several grades ahead of most Western school systems

3. How expensive is the tuition and does the school offer scholarships and/or financial aid?

Tuition at an international school is quite expensive. If you don’t receive a subsidy from your workplace, it can take up a huge chunk of your budget. Each school’s tuition is different so check out each school’s tuition and ask them if there are any scholarships your children might be eligible for. Smaller size schools tend to have better tuition options than big major international schools.

4. How diverse is the school?

Because the size of the expat community is constantly changing due to economic and other factors, most of the students enrolled in international schools are Korean students. If you’re looking for an international school that consists mainly of international students, then you should check on each school’s website for a breakdown of the student demographics.

5. What kinds of religious affiliations does the school have? 

While some of the larger and older international schools were founded and affiliated with the Christian faith, the school accepts students of all religious backgrounds and does not force their students to be involved in religious activities.

6. How big is the school, including the total number of students and available school facilities?

Usually, a large student body means bigger spaces and facilities. Some parents and students prefer smaller-sized schools and some prefer larger-sized schools with cutting-edge facilities. We recommend you take a school tour and see which school suits you the best.

7. Does the school offer special education support? What is their policy on bullying and how do they handle such events? 

If your child has disabilities, please make sure to ask the school what kind of support system they have for your child. It is not easy to find  schools in Korea that are provide special education programs, especially for an English-speaking child. Nevertheless, while it can be challenging, it is not impossible.

8. How invested is the school in athletics, clubs, and other after school programs? 

Check out the after-school programs from each school’s website, or you can ask the school directly if your child is pursuing something special. Korea’s education system also relies heavily on private institutions for supplemental classes that include things like sports, music, and art.

9. What kinds of universities do their students get into? 

University acceptances can be an important measurement for choosing the right school. Most international schools in Korea are known for their successful acceptances to universities in the U.S. and all around the world. But remember competition international schools in Korea are competitive by nature, so the more a school advertises large numbers of students attending Ivy League universities like Harvard and MIT, the more competition your child will have!

10. Is the school accredited by the Department of Education in Korea?

The Korean Ministry of Education provides a list of schools that are accredited. Most international families send their kids to a school on that list, but there are also reasons why you may want to choose a school from a different list, including things like a bilingual environment, affordable tuition, convenient location, specific curriculums, and so on.

international schools in seoul korea

An Insider’s Guide to Top International Schools in Seoul, South Korea