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South Korea

Fast Facts



Geography and Climate



South Korea



South Korea's education system consists of six-year elementary schools, three-year middle schools, three-year high schools, and four-year colleges or universities with graduate courses leading to Ph.D. degrees. There are also two-year junior colleges and vocational colleges.

The school year is divided into two semesters. The first begins in the beginning of March and ends in mid-July; the second begins in late August and ends in mid-February. Korean students have summer vacation from mid-July to late August, winter vacation from late-December to early February, and a short vacation from mid-February to March 1. The schedules are generally standardized; however, it can vary slightly from region to region.

  • Kindergarten in South Korea is composed of children from ages three to five. When the child reaches about six years of age (7 years old in the Korean calendar system) he/she is systematically moved on to the first year of elementary school.

  • Elementary school consists of grades one to six (age 8 to age 13 in Korean years - 7 to 12 in western years).


  • Middle schools in South Korea consist of three grades. Most students enter at age 13 and finish at age 15 (western years). These three grades correspond roughly to grades 7–9 in the North American system.


  • High schools in South Korea teach students from first grade (age 16) to third grade (age 18), and students commonly graduate at age 18.


Secondary schools have traditionally used a five-scale grading system, which is converted from the student's raw score in midterms and finals (out of 100).

  • Su (Outstanding): 90-100%
  • Wu (Satisfactory): 80-89%
  • Mi (Average): 70-79%
  • Yang (Needs Improvement): 60-69%
  • Ga (Needs Much Improvement): Below 59%

Students are generally not held back in Korean schools. Thus a grade of 'Ga' is still a passing grade.

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