A centralized administration in South Korea oversees the process for the education of children from kindergarten to the third and final year of high school. The school year is divided into two semesters, the first of which begins at the beginning of March and ends in mid-July, the second of which begins in late August and ends in mid-February. The schedules are not uniformly standardized and vary from school to school. Most South Korean middle schools and high schools have school uniforms, modeled on western-style uniforms.

Photo: KAIST main campus in Daejeon

Higher education is a serious issue in South Korea society, where it is viewed as one of the fundamental cornerstones of South Korean life. Education is regarded with a high priority for South Korean families as success in education is often a source of pride for families and within South Korean society at large, and is a necessity to improve one's socioeconomic position in South Korean society. South Koreans view education as the main propeller of social mobility for themselves and their family as a gateway to the South Korean middle class. Graduating from a top university is the ultimate marker of prestige, high socioeconomic status, promising marriage prospects, and a respectable career path.


Seoul National University is considered to be the most prestigious university in South Korea.

South Korea is one of the top-performing OECD countries in reading literacy, mathematics and sciences with the average student scoring 519, compared with the OECD average of 492, placing it ninth in the world and has one of the world's most highly educated labor forces among OECD countries. The country has one of the world's highest-educated labor forces among OECD countries. The country is well known for its highly feverish outlook on education, where its national obsession with education has been called "education fever". This obsession with education has catapulted the resource poor nation consistently atop the global education rankings where in 2014 national rankings of students' math and science scores by the Organization for Economic and Cooperation and Development (OECD), South Korea ranked second place worldwide, after Singapore.

In 2015, the country spent 5.1% of its GDP on all levels of education – roughly 0.8 percentage points above the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 4.3%. A strong investment in education, a militant drive for success as well as the passion for excellence has helped the resource poor country rapidly grow its economy over the past 60 years from a war torn wasteland.