, Volume 42, Issue 3, pp 303–318 | Cite as

The rise of Korean education from the ashes of the Korean War

  • Chong Jae LeeEmail author
  • Yong Kim
  • Soo-yong Byun


Over the past few decades, South Korea has made remarkable achievements in education despite many obstacles. Education, in turn, has played an important role in Korea’s achieving both economic development and political democracy. This article examines how South Korea expanded access to education and improved its quality. The article also identifies several tasks Korean education faces in the context of the new challenges of globalization and social polarization, and some of the broader policy implications that the Korean model of educational development has beyond South Korea.


Korean education Educational development Educational expansion Quality of education Education policy 


  1. Adams, D., & Gottlieb, E. E. (1993). Education and social change in Korea. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
  2. Brain Korea 21 (2012). Organization website.
  3. Byun, K., & Jon, J. (2011, October). Quest for building world class universities: Lessons from Korea’s experience. Paper presented at the HEPRI-BK21 GGTRE International Symposium, Developing World-class Universities in the Asia Pacific Region: Policy Approaches for Capacity Building in Higher Education, Korea University.Google Scholar
  4. Byun, S., & Kim, K. (2010). Educational inequality in South Korea: The widening socioeconomic gap in student achievement. Research in Sociology of Education, 17, 155–182.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Byun, S., & Park, H. (2012). The academic success of East Asian American youth: The role of shadow education. Sociology of Education, 85(1), 40–60.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Byun, S., Kim, K., & Park, H. (2012). School choice and educational inequality in South Korea. Journal of School Choice, 6(2), 158–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Byun, S., Schofer, E., & Kim, K. (2012). Revisiting the role of cultural capital in East Asian educational systems: The case of South Korea. Sociology of Education, 85(3), 219–239.Google Scholar
  8. Chung, B. M. (2010). Development and education: A critical appraisal of the Korean case. Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  9. Chung, B. M. (2011). Tomorrow’s Korean as an ideal of an educated person. Seoul: Hakjisa. (in Korean).Google Scholar
  10. Im, Y. K. (2008). An impact analysis of university establishment regulations. Korean Journal of Educational Administration, 26(4), 147–167. (in Korean).Google Scholar
  11. Jin, M. (2010). The link between education and work: Vocational education and training in Korea. In C. Lee, S. Kim, & D. Adams (Eds.), Sixty years of Korean education (pp. 546–581). Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  12. Kaletsky, A. (2010). Capitalism 4.0. New York: Public Affairs.Google Scholar
  13. Kim, B. (2010). The competitive power of higher education in Korea. In C. Lee, S. Kim, & D. Adams (Eds.), Sixty years of Korean education (pp. 582–618). Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  14. Kim, J. H. (1983). Education for the whole person. Seoul: Seyung Publishing Co. (in Korean).Google Scholar
  15. Kim, S. H. (2011, October). Instruction and assessment for creativity. Paper presented at the KEDI Seminar on School Management. Seoul: KEDI (in Korean).Google Scholar
  16. Kim, Y. H. (1997). The contribution of education to economic development in South Korea. Journal of Economics and Finance of Education, 6(1), 31–63 (in Korean).Google Scholar
  17. Kim, S., & Lee, J. (2003). The secondary school equalization policy in South Korea.
  18. Lee, C. J. (2008). Education in the Republic of Korea: Approaches, achievements, and current challenges. In B. Fredricksen & J. P. Tan (Eds.), An African exploration of the East Asian education experiences (pp. 157–217). Washington, DC: World Bank.Google Scholar
  19. Lee, C. J. (2011a, October). Development of education in Korea revisited. Keynote address at the 12th International Conference on Educational Research, Seoul National University.Google Scholar
  20. Lee, C. J. (2011b, November). Expanding access to education in Korea during 1960–1980. Paper presented at the 4th High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness, Busan.Google Scholar
  21. Lee, C. J., Kim, S., & Adams, D. (Eds.). (2010). Sixty years of Korean education. Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  22. Lee, C. J., Kim, S., Kim, W., & Kim, Y. (2010). A Korean model of educational development. In C. Lee, S. Kim, & D. Adams (Eds.), Sixty years of Korean education (pp. 53–106). Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  23. Lee, C. J., & Song, K. (2010). The school reform policy initiatives of a new government. In C. Lee, S. Kim, & D. Adams (Eds.), Sixty years of Korean education (pp. 478–511). Seoul: SNUPRESS.Google Scholar
  24. MoEST [Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology] and KEDI [Korean Educational Development Institution] (2010). 2009 education statistics. Seoul: MoEST and KEDI, (in Korean).Google Scholar
  25. Mullis, I. V. S., Martin, M. O., & Foy, P. (with J. F. Olson, C. Preuschoff, E. Erberber, A. Arora, & J. Galia) (2008). TIMSS 2007 International mathematics report: Findings from IEA’s trends in international mathematics and science study at the fourth and eighth grades. Chestnut Hill, MA: TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, Boston College.Google Scholar
  26. OECD [Organisation for Economic and Cooperation Development] (2008). Education at a glance 2008. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  27. OECD (2009). Creating effective teaching and learning environments: First results from TALIS. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  28. OECD (2010a). PISA 2009 results: What students know and can do—Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Volume I). doi: 10.1787/9789264091450-en.
  29. OECD (2010b). PISA 2009 results: Overcoming social background—Equity in learning opportunities and outcomes (Volume II). doi: 10.1787/9789264091504-en.
  30. OECD (2010c). PISA 2009 results: Learning to learn—Student engagement, strategies and practices (Volume III). doi: 10.1787/9789264083943-en.
  31. Park, S. (1995). The changing conception of education in globalized times: From regulation to deregulation. In The Nara Policy Institute (Ed.), Educational reform in the era of consumer’s sovereignty. Seoul: Gilbut, (in Korean).Google Scholar
  32. Park, H. (2010). Japanese and Korean high schools and students in comparative perspective. In J. Dronkers (Ed.), Quality and inequality of education (pp. 255–273). New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Park, H., Byun, S., & Kim, K. (2011). Parental involvement and students’ cognitive outcomes in Korea: Focusing on private tutoring. Sociology of Education, 84(1), 3–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Rychen, D. S., & Salganik, L. H. (2001). Defining and selecting key competencies. Paris: OECD.Google Scholar
  35. Ryu, B. (2004). The living and culture of elementary school teachers. Seoul: KEDI (in Korean).Google Scholar
  36. UNESCO (2000). The Dakar framework for action: Education for all: Meeting our collective commitments. Paris: UNESCO.Google Scholar

Copyright information


Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Seoul National UniversitySunghyun-Dong, Kwanak-KuKorea
  2. 2.Cheongju National University of EducationHeungdeukgu, CheongjuKorea
  3. 3.The Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

Personalised recommendations