Whether appreciating the historical beauty of one of the globe's most mountainous regions or the upbeat rhythm and pace of life in the modern cities, Korea is sure to fascinate and inspire. Korea is also a perfect destination to take a wide variety of courses in English. Take free courses in art, music, handicrafts and calligraphy at the traditional Korean village on Keimyung's campus, or take a field trip to Hyundai Motors to see Korea's famous automobile assembly and manufacturing giant.



Languages Spoken:

Korean

Education System

HIGHER EDUCATION
Higher education in Korea is governed by the Ministry of Education. Korean students have a choice of junior colleges, teacher colleges, open universities (technical or vocational fields), four-year colleges, universities and graduate schools. Admission is highly competitive and determined by grades and an entrance examination score. Preparation for college entrance exams is extremely demanding.  In addition to a full week of classroom instruction, Korean high school students also attend school half the day on Saturdays. A high school student in Seoul usually begins school at 7:30 a.m. and finishes at 5 p.m. Many students also undertake a year or more of extra college preparatory after class and on the weekends. Some high school students remain at school for "self-study" until as late as 10 p.m. to prepare for the college entrance examination.

CLASSROOM CULTURE
The social aspect of university life for Korean students is very important and students enjoy socializing with peers on campus when they are not attending class. While some students may have negative opinions regarding school study, Korean students generally agree that the most difficult part about university life is passing the entrance examinations.    

GRADING
Students are generally required to take midterm and final examinations.  Other tests, presentations, research papers and projects may also be expected of students.  A student‘s performance in a course is determined by the results of examinations, class attendance and participation of the student. Student performance is usually graded on a 100 point scale. 

Visa and Residency

STUDENT VISA / RESIDENCE PERMIT

Students on summer programs thatl ast fewer than 90 days can enter the country without a visa, as long as they have a valid passport from the U.S. or another country with visa waiver agreements. Students from countries that don't have a visa waiver agreement may need to apply for a D-2-8 short-term study visa. 

Semester and Full Year students must apply for a D-2 visa, not a tourist or visitor visa. Do not apply for a visa until having received an Acceptance Letter and a Certificate of Admission from the host university.

In order to obtain a student visa, you must submit the following documents to the Korean embassy or consulate:

  • Passport valid through exchange period
  • Application for student visa (available on embassy or consulate web site)
  • Visa fee
  • Admission letter from your Korean host
  • One recent passport-size photograph
  • Official and original financial statements
  • Certificate of latest scholastic achievement (such as a sealed official transcript or diploma)
  • Host university’s Certificate of Business Registration (the embassy and most consulates require this)
  • If applying by mail, you must include a self-addressed, stamped envelope. ISEP strongly recommends that you use certified mail to send your documents to the embassy or consulate. You should also certify the return envelope to ensure that your documents arrive safely.

For more information, U.S. citizens or residents can visit:
Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington D.C.   and select "consular services," then "visa."

We recommend you CALL the visa office to confirm all visa application details, as the website does not always reflect the latest visa application changes.

Citizens or residents of other countries should check their nearest Republic of Korea Embassy or Consulate.

 

KOREAN MILITARY SERVICE
Military service is mandatory for all Korean men. Male citizens of Korea who plan to participate in an exchange to Korea and have not already completed their military service must contact the Korean consulate for their jurisdiction for further information on military service. Under certain conditions, this may also apply to male citizens of the U.S. or other countries whose parents previously held Korean citizenship. Please contact the embassy or consulate to verify military service requirements.

Culture

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Koreans bow to one another when greeting and departing. Greetings are generally considered most important during the first meeting. Subsequent meetings usually involve more of a slow, polite nod.  With foreigners, a handshake and small bow is acceptable. When speaking to one’s elder it is generally considered disrespectful to make direct eye contact.

Hierarchy is very important in Korean culture. It is important to be aware of the seniors within the group. Different names are assigned to each member within a group to emphasize their place and role within the group.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND FAMILY

Family relationships are an important aspect to Korean life. Confucian beliefs influence family roles and relationships between people and government, men and women, and seniors and youth. Parents place great importance on teaching children to fulfill family duties and to respect those older than them.

FOOD

Rice is a staple dish at all Korean meals and it is accompanied by a variety of side dishes. Korean cuisine is famous for its variety and abundance of colorful side dishes. Popular dishes include bean-paste soup, pickled cabbage (kimchi) and beef or fish with steamed and seasoned vegetables. Seasonings such as soy sauce, soybean paste, red pepper paste, ginger root, sesame oil and sesame seeds are also significant to Korean food. Food is not eaten in courses, but served all at once and eaten together.

Making sure that one’s guest has enough food to eat is important within Korean society. However, this does not mean that you must eat everything you are offered. It is perfectly acceptable to refuse food if ever offered something that you are unable to eat. As long as you are polite, your Korean host should understand. Also, in some cases it is actually considered polite and acceptable to leave uneaten food on your plate. This indicates that you are full and can no longer eat.

DINING OUT

In Korea, be prepared to be either the host or the guest when dining out. The concept of paying only for one’s own meal isn’t often practiced in Korean society. During birthday celebrations the one celebrating their birthday hosts and covers the bill.

ETIQUETTE

  • Showing the bottom of one’s shoe or putting one’s feet on furniture is disrespectful
  • Signing documents with red ink is reserved for the deceased
  • Do not plant chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice – this is another custom for the deceased
  • Refrain from eating rice with chopsticks, use a spoon instead
  • Remove shoes before entering a home or place of worship

Daily Life

COMMUNICATION STYLE

Koreans bow to one another when greeting and departing. Greetings are generally considered most important during the first meeting. Subsequent meetings usually involve more of a slow, polite nod.  With foreigners, a handshake and small bow is acceptable. When speaking to one’s elder it is generally considered disrespectful to make direct eye contact.

Hierarchy is very important in Korean culture. It is important to be aware of the seniors within the group. Different names are assigned to each member within a group to emphasize their place and role within the group.

SOCIAL STRUCTURE AND FAMILY

Family relationships are an important aspect to Korean life. Confucian beliefs influence family roles and relationships between people and government, men and women, and seniors and youth. Parents place great importance on teaching children to fulfill family duties and to respect those older than them.

FOOD

Rice is a staple dish at all Korean meals and it is accompanied by a variety of side dishes. Korean cuisine is famous for its variety and abundance of colorful side dishes. Popular dishes include bean-paste soup, pickled cabbage (kimchi) and beef or fish with steamed and seasoned vegetables. Seasonings such as soy sauce, soybean paste, red pepper paste, ginger root, sesame oil and sesame seeds are also significant to Korean food. Food is not eaten in courses, but served all at once and eaten together.

Making sure that one’s guest has enough food to eat is important within Korean society. However, this does not mean that you must eat everything you are offered. It is perfectly acceptable to refuse food if ever offered something that you are unable to eat. As long as you are polite, your Korean host should understand. Also, in some cases it is actually considered polite and acceptable to leave uneaten food on your plate. This indicates that you are full and can no longer eat.

DINING OUT

In Korea, be prepared to be either the host or the guest when dining out. The concept of paying only for one’s own meal isn’t often practiced in Korean society. During birthday celebrations the one celebrating their birthday hosts and covers the bill.

ETIQUETTE

  • Showing the bottom of one’s shoe or putting one’s feet on furniture is disrespectful
  • Signing documents with red ink is reserved for the deceased
  • Do not plant chopsticks vertically into a bowl of rice – this is another custom for the deceased
  • Refrain from eating rice with chopsticks, use a spoon instead
  • Remove shoes before entering a home or place of worship

Health and Safety

https://www.isepstudyabroad.org/guides-and-tips/health-safety

Currency

MONEY MATTERS

South Korea's monetary unit is the won. Currency is issued in 1,000, 5,000 and 10,000 notes, and 10, 50, 100 and 500 coins. Currency and traveler's checks can be exchanged at airports and banks. It is a good idea to bring some won with you for incidental expenses until you can get to a bank where exchange rates are more favorable than at the airport. Most hotels, restaurants and retail outlets in Seoul accept credit cards. In smaller, local shops it can be more difficult to use a credit card. While traveling, carrying adequate amounts of cash is advised.

It is smart to keep track of exchange rates between the won and your home currency.

ATM

Banks, convenience stores and other sites have ATMs. Because some ATM transactions require an account with a Korean bank, they may not be convenient with international credit cards, except for getting cash advances.

AVERAGE PRICE OF DAILY ITEMS

Water (0.5 L): 600 won
Apple: 1,000 won
Bagel: 900 won
Starbucks coffee: 3,300 won
McDonald's Big Mac meal: 4,600 won
Movie: 7,000 – 8,000 won
Book: 8,000 – 12,000 won
Newspaper: 500 – 700 won
Karaoke Room (1 hour): 5,000 – 10,000 won
Soda: 700 won
Bus Fare: 1,000 won

Sources of Information

Plenty of research is key to getting the most out of your experience, but check out these links for all things Korea!

USEFUL WEBSITES

Korean Overseas Information Service   

The Korea Times  

The Korea Herald   

Galbijim: For those living, working, and traveling in Korea  

Korea Beat: Korea News  

Korea.net: Gateway to Korea  

Eat Your Kimchi  


RECOMMENDED READING
*All links below will take you to the Amazon.com website for content and purchasing information.

GUIDES
Etiquette Guide To Korea: Know the Rules That Make the Difference!
Insight Guides: South Korea
Lonely Planet Korea
Korea - Culture Smart!: The Essential Guide to Culture & Customs  

LITERATURE
Junghyo, Ahn. Silver Stallion: A Novel of Korea

CULTURE, HISTORY, AND POLITICS
Cumings, Bruce. Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History
Eckert, Carter J., et al. Korea Old and New: A History (Korea Institute)
Nahm, Andrew. Introduction to Korean History and Culture

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