by Sunju Kim, GBT MK staff, 2020

Korean Education System

  • Kindergarten(1~4 year) – obligatory (Junior Kindergarten 1~3 year & Senior Kindergarten 1 year)
  • Elementary (grades 1 ~ 6) – obligatory
  • Junior high (grades 7 ~ 9) – obligatory
  • Senior high (grades 10 ~ 12) – some region needs entrance exams
  • College (2-3 years)/University (4 years) – entrance exams

In-country resources available to families

  • MK-NEST(MK-Networking, Supporting, Training, MK Camp): 한국어 안내
  • 한국대학교육협의회(Korean Council for University Education): 한국어,영어, 중국어 안내
  • 재외동포재단(Overseas Korean Network): 한국어,영어, 러시아어 안내
  • 한국어교육(study.korean): 한국어,영어, 일본어, 러시아어 안내

Cultural differences for teachers to know 

It is different from MK to MK and from situation to situation.

Challenges/recommendations for MKs on furlough

  • MKs need to be taught how to read and write in Korean before they return to Korea for furlough. The “Chinese character” is especially important for a high level of education.
  • School experiences in Korea are important for safe landing when MKs are returning to Korea later. Some families take only short furloughs, which means MKs have no chance to gain experience in a Korean school. The MKs who have no school experience in Korea face difficulties when they return to Korea later. It is recommended that the family design long enough furloughs so that their children have a chance to experience Korean school.
  • Parents need to take time for their children to let them have many opportunities to visit many places and to meet many relatives and friends, which will help them to have an identity as a Korean.

Major Issues

  • Competition is extremely high for colleges/universities.
  • It is a serious challenge for Korean MKs to achieve an adequate level of academic language skills in Korean and to keep up with the Korean educational systems.
  • MKs who have lived overseas for 3-5 years attending junior high to senior high can take a special test for college/university entrance. The subjects they have to take are usually math, Korean language, and English. However the requirements for college/university entrance change very often according to the new leadership and educational policies.
  • The Ministry of Education in Korea doesn’t approve home-schooling systems. But a few universities have special admission for home-school students.
  • MKs need a proof of education from an accredited educational institute/organization to be accepted into Korean schools.

Cultural Differences between Asian students and the Average American MK

  • Asian parents have very high expectations for their children scholastically.
  • Asian students tend to learn by rote and accept what they are taught and not to question the teacher. They need to be taught critical thinking, creativity, and independence, but one must be observant and not aggressive in teaching these skills.
  • ‘Face-saving’ is an important value in Asian culture, therefore a teacher needs to let the student adjust to the situation before he addresses direct thinking questions to the student. In contrast, Americans often tend to dominate discussions or interrupt a conversation.
  • Students from many foreign cultures (both Asian and African) are taught not to look the teacher or another adult ‘in the eye’ as a matter of respect. This mannerism is often misinterpreted as inattention, impudence, or other. Therefore it behooves those working with ‘other culture’ students to make themselves aware of the values of that culture to better relate to the student.
  • The cultural differences are not as big a problem as they once were, Everyone is different.


Handong Global University (Korean: 한동대학교, Hanja: 韓東大學校) is a private, Christian, four-year university located in Pohang, North Gyeongsang province, South Korea, and is a good option for Korean TCKs.

Undergraduate programs are organized under twelve schools: Global Leadership School, School of International Studies, Languages, and Literature, School of Management and Economics, School of Law, School of Communication Arts and Sciences, School of Counselling Psychology and Social Welfare, School of Spatial Environmental System Engineering, School of Industrial and Information Design, School of Life Sciences, School of Computer Sciences and Electronic Engineering, School of Mechanical and Control Engineering, Global EDISON Academy.

While the university offers 30 to 35% of its courses in English in any given semester, the majors that English speaking foreign students can pursue are Information Technology, Global Management and Business, US and International Law, Psychology and Counseling, and Korean Studies.

For more information see Wikipedia.

Other universities have English tracks, but their suitability depends on a TCK’s educational and financial situation.

Other Resources

Steve Sang-Cheol Moon, the director of KRIM (Korean Research Institute for Mission) had a one-year research project especially for Korean MKs with other researchers. He wrote an article, “Korean Missionary Children and Their Educational Needs,” in 2013. Below is an some information from an English abstract (pp 65-76). The entire article, mostly in Korean, can be downloaded below.

“The information presented here is based on empirical research of two sorts: first, a quantitative survey I designed that was processed by staff at the Korea Research Institute for Mission (KRIM) in late December 2012; second, qualitative research involving field-based interviews carried out in nine countries in which 176 members of the Korean mission community took part — missionaries (70), MKs (76), and MK educators (30) — during the period of October 2012 through April 2013. 1

Another article written by Steve Sang-Cheol Moon (2014) is Missions from Korea 2014: Missionary Children.

  1. EunYong Cindy Kim carried out the interviews in the Philippines and Thailand. The remainder of the interviews in seven countries were carried out by Steve Moon with the assistance of Hee-Joo (Yoo) Moon and Jung Joo Lee. All are on the KRIM staff.

    The schools covered by our research are Manila Hankuk (Korean) Academy, Manila, Philippines; Grace International School, Chiang Mai, Thailand; Black Forest Academy, Kandern, Germany; Hanal Korean School in GDQ International Christian School, Tirana, Albania; Dakar Academy, Dakar, Senegal, and Bourofaye Christian School, Dakar, Senegal; International Gateway Academy, Istanbul, Turkey; Glovill High School, Busan, Korea; Sejong Global School, Cheonan, Korea; and home schools in China and Myanmar. Two separate group interview sessions with a total of eight university students were added later.