Koreans study extremely hard from a young age to get into top universities and jobs.
So Korean students spend most of their days studying after school.
As a result, there are many unique Korean cultures that came about which relate to studying.
Let's take a look at what there are.
Studying In Korea
In Korea, compulsory education consists of six years of elementary school and three years of middle school.
Children who are 8 years old in Korean age (7 years old) enter elementary school.
There are many types of high schools from general, special, and vocational high schools which aren't included in compulsory education.
According to the2020 graphof students that entered high school, there were 91.4% entrees.
The university enrollment rate is very high at 72.5% which gets you an idea of how important education is in Korea.
Can this be because Korean students have been exposed to the learning environment for a long time?
Items That Help With Your Studies
Just as how important it is to be equipped with good equipment to win the war, there are many items that can help with studying.
We call this gongbutem (공부템) which is a combination of the words for study and item.
Let's look at what kind of items exist!
1) Smart study material
Young children develop study habits from an early age by solving study papers for various subjects.
The workbooks that children solve have evolved beyond simple paper books and there are now 3D fairy tables, AR workbooks that can be accessed through tablets and smart TVs.
Using these services, children can learn Korean, math, and foreign languages from an early age.
In addition, there are various learning materials such as clay art and blocks which children can use to enjoy classes more.
Looking at children studying with smartphones, apps, and various devices makes me realize how different the world is from when I used to study with only paper.
2) Standing desks
Standing desks, which are often used at home or at work to support back health and posture correction, can easily be found in Korean high schools.
In the case of the school I attended there were three to four in the back of the classroom where students would voluntarily go when they were sleepy.
On days when a large number of students were tired, students would even fight for their spot on the desk.
3) Library desk for 1
Just like standing desks, these library desks are specially designed for students to focus on their studies better.
These desks are usually set up in a bedroom for extra privacy.
It's a cozy space where one person can sit at their desk and study for hours without disruption.
Of course, each student prefers different desks when studying.
Interestingly, when this desk was introduced in the popular K-drama Sky Castle, the order volume increased by 10 times.
4) College entrance exam mechanical pencil
The college entrance exam is a very important test for Korean students.
The test center where students take the exam provides special mechanical pencils to all test takers to prevent cheating.
These are called college entrance exam mechanical pencils.
And for high school seniors who are taking the exam soon, it's important to know which company the mechanical pencils are from.
Some students actually use this mechanical pencil when studying for the exam to help adapt to the actual environment of the test center.
There have often been changes in companies that make the pencils, but most of them use the same manufacturer's model every year so students can easily find one from online stores or Daiso.
5) Other study items
You can find a wide variety of study supplies at Daiso, stationery stores, and various online shops.
In addition, you can easily find videos of reviews online which compare the quality of various study supplies.
Among them, this sticky notepad was the most useful product in my experience.
When I studied and took notes on Korean geography or history, I often drew a map of the Korean Peninsula, but the note comes with a picture of it anyway which makes it convenient.
Cultures Related To Studying
Now let's take a look at some of the Korean cultures that are related to its intense study culture.
1) Self-study at night
You may have heard of many Korean students attending academies until late at night and studying.
However, did you know that this is possible not only at academies but also at schools?
Self-study at night, known as "yaja" (야자) in Korean, usually refers to studying until 10 p.m at school after dinner.
Depending on the school, there are places where late-night studying is conducted, but it's not compulsory.
It's for students who applied because they feel the need to study more.
However, due to the school atmosphere, if they strictly make their students study hard, they will most likely end up studying until late at night at the study hall.
Some are in favor of students studying until late at night as it allows them to study at their own pace, however, some say that it's too much for students to study until late at night at school every day.
Our intern Jaeun Jo who was tired after self-study at night in high school
I also studied until late at night throughout three years of high school and it was also quite difficult in the beginning.
However, I could concentrate better at school than at home.
Since there's a large amount of study material at school, it definitely helped to stay after and review the material.
Also, it's a good time to make lots of friends and form deeper friendships.
I made lots of memories but I was also exhausted.
2) Study cafe
From regular cafes to cat cafes, there are so many differentcafes in Korea.
And of course, study cafes have become very popular among students.
It is commonly referred to as "Sca" shortened from "study cafe".
Study cafes are used by students to study more after they're done studying at school andhagwons.
In the past, there were single library desks next to each other. However, as the demand for study cafes increased, the interior has become more modernized and various facilities have been added.
There is a space where conversations are allowed. Students may go there to discuss the study material with other students or even have private tutoring there.
It's a nice environment for studying, with good lighting, a clean environment, personal lockers, fast Wi-Fi, and outlet chargers.
No wonder students prefer study cafes more than libraries these days!
3) Study groups
Studying with a group of friends who can motivate you is better than studying alone, right?
In Korea, friends or likewise students studying for the same exam get together and study.
In particular, 'wake-up study' has become very popular in Korea.
COVID-19 has made it difficult for people to maintain regular lifestyles as people spend more time at home.
So students have become lazy as they don't study as regularly as they did before.
People who participate in wake-up studies set the time to wake up in the morning.
If the study group members set the time to get up at 7.30 a.m, they'll wake up as promised, and enter the video chat to start studying.
It's hard to wake up early in the morning by yourself, so people can maintain their early-bird lifestyle by keeping each other accountable.
If you're late, sometimes you have to pay a fine, so it's very effective!
These studies are organized through communities such as every time and Campus Pick, which are online communities used by college students.
Although they're not in the same space, they can still see each other through their computer screens which can motivate them to study harder.
Recently, an app has been created for these groups and there is a moderator set in each group chat who monitors the people to make sure everyone is studying.
A variety of people, from students preparing for the entrance exams, to college students preparing for various certifications for employment participate in these study groups.
4) Tutor platforms
Unlike academies,private tutorsare 1:1 lessons provided after school.
Students who are preparing for an exam sign up for private tutoring from college students in their 20s.
A tutor exclusively teaches one student, which makes it easier to customize their lessons.
How do students match with their tutors?
In the past, university students found students to teach through connections with their parents or acquaintances.
However, as the demand for tutoring increased, apps were developed to help match tutors and students.
After matching on the app, they can discuss the study goals and costs together to see if they'd like to go forward with the classes.
Just a few years ago, most of the subjects for tutors consisted of math and English.
However, nowadays, people want to study Korean as well since the exam has gotten more difficult.
Since the apps are very convenient, there are various subjects available from musical instruments, dance, and video productions.
5) Study related content
If you search the word "study" on a Korean portal website, you will see so much content related to studying.
There are videos of people introducing different textbooks for high school students, and interior design that apparently helped younger students concentrate better.
In addition, there are many study vlogs that have been created that show how individuals study.
The main example is Nojambot on YouTube, who recorded himself studying at home and the video later blew up on YouTube.
There were many viewers who were motivated by the video and studied as well.
Since there is a high interest in studying in Korea, the demand for this type of content is very high.
This concludes our article on the study culture of Korea.
What did you think? Are there similar customs in your country?
Please let us know in the comments down below!