South Korea - Country Commercial Guide
Education Services

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2022-08-02

Capital:  Seoul

Population:  51.7 million (July 2021 est.)

GDP (Purchasing Power Parity):  $2.188 trillion (2020 est., in 2017 dollars)

Currency:  South Korean won (KRW)

Language:  Korean


UNESCO Student Mobility Number

South Korea has 101,493 students studying abroad, according to UNESCO.

CIA World Factbook:

22.77% of the Korean population is under 25 years of age. 

ITA CODE: SV EDS         


Table: Total Korean Students Studying in the United States







South Korea’s Rank






Korean Students






% Percentage Change






No. of New International Student Enrollment






(Source: IIE Open Doors Report)

In South Korea, education is a high priority for Korean families.  Success in education is important culturally and seen as an important pathway to greater achievements.  Korea represents the third largest source of foreign students matriculating at U.S. universities, comprising 4.3 percent of total international students in the U.S.  The Open Doors Report from the Institute of International Education (IIE) indicates that a total of 39,491 Korean students were enrolled in U.S. institutions for academic year 2020-2021.  On a per capita basis, Korea sends the third-most students to the U.S. from Asia.  In 2020-2021, Korean students in the U.S. studied engineering (21%), STEM majors (20%), business management (16%), fine and applied arts (5.6%), and social studies (8.4%).

While the Korean market is very attractive to a wide swath of U.S. education service providers, it has become, over the last few years, an increasingly challenging market. A decade ago, Korean students with U.S. degrees enjoyed clear advantages in the Korean job market; however, this is no longer necessarily the case.  Korean universities have grown in prestige and students are opting to stay in-country to build connections.  U.S. schools are competing with the top Korean schools.  However, English language skills, internship experience, vocational training, or a degree from a mid-ranked state university in the U.S. is still seen as providing somewhat of a competitive advantage. This means that there are still significant opportunities for U.S. schools to recruit some of Korea’s most talented students.

The number of Korean students studying in the U.S. has trended slightly downward in the last five years, and it decreased significantly (21 percent) during the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the U.S. remains by far one of the most preferred overseas destinations, especially for undergraduate studies, fewer Korean students are going to the U.S. because there are simply fewer younger people and partially because of the rising number international schools in Korea attracting students who otherwise might have gone abroad.  Korea is a rapidly aging society, with one of the world’s lowest birth rates at 0.8 children per family.  In addition to this demographic change, the recent global economic slowdown is also contributing, to some degree, to the declining number of Korean students studying in the U.S.


Education Technology:  The education technology market is advancing in Korea and is a growing sector with potential for advanced education technology suppliers.  Korea is among the world’s most digitally connected countries and developments are progressing in EdTech areas, including mobile learning environments, online learning analytics for instructional design, and artificial intelligence for science research.  EdTech has been strongly supported by the government for decades and forms a significant part of government strategy to reform the education system to focus on developing students’ skills and using the latest cutting-edge technology.


To attract Korean students and penetrate the dynamic and highly competitive Korean education market, U.S. education institutions should take an approach based on a more permanent, consistent, and profound commitment to the market.  Korean parents are increasingly savvy about how they acquire information on educational opportunities for their children.  Traditional ways of recruiting students, such as hosting school information sessions and participating in trade fairs are less effective than they were in the past.  Education recruitment agents or local representatives are utilized less.  U.S. education institutions should consider employing a combination of online and off-line promotional campaigns.  Building people-to-people networks through alumni advocacy, as well as developing and broadening exchange programs, which could, in turn, raise the profile of the U.S. institution, and help U.S. schools attract Korean students to the United States.

Although a university’s reputation is still a key element for Korean students seeking degree programs, recently more Korean students are employing strategies to lower the costs of their education by studying at community colleges before transferring to four-year schools or state universities with less expensive living costs.  Korea’s dynamic and constantly evolving education market is best accessed via the speed and power of referrals and information that flow by word-of-mouth.  Good opportunities do exist, albeit with decreasing numbers of U.S.-bound Korean students, when U.S. educational entities are prepared to compete in a highly sophisticated, demanding, and brand-oriented market.

Trade Shows

  • International Education & Emigration Fair
  • EDU Plus Week (Korea International Children Education and Product Expo)
  • Edtech Korea Fair
  • Education Korea

Key Contacts

  • Ministry of Education
  • Fulbright (Korean American Educational Commission)
  • Education USA
  • KOSA (Korea Overseas Studying Agencies)

Local Contact

U.S. Commercial Service Korea   
U.S. Embassy Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongro-gu
Seoul 03141, Korea
Tel: 82-2-397-4535