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How Do Koreans Study? (10x Your Productivity)

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

The Korean educational system is one of the most difficult, demanding, and rigorous in the world. 

Even elementary schoolchildren have a grueling schedule that lasts at least 12 hours each day. 

With so much time spent on education, they must study in a methodical and thorough manner.

So, how do Koreans study? They study with memorization techniques. However, the subject does dictate the method and mode of study. They incorporate tutors, engage in night learning and go to libraries or cafés, among a host of others.

Regardless, much of South Korea’s education centers on exams and testing, so remembering the material is tantamount. 

Their education focuses on immediate material recall. So, they must spend as much time studying as they do in class learning.

Let’s dive deeper.

When Koreans Study & the Length of Time

Korean students study whenever they find the time to do so. They start regular school at around 7 or 8 am and it ends at about 4 pm. 

After, they go to their “hagwon,” or private school. These special subjects hone in on particular parts of a child’s education. 

For instance, they learn English, how to become a K-pop star, agriculture, business, finance, etc.

After dinner, they spend the rest of the evening studying all they learned earlier on. 

So, depending on education level and problems with particular subjects, they will study at school or at home. 

Sometimes they’ll study with a friend and other times their parents will employ a tutor.

This study period usually lasts until midnight, but it’s often much longer than that. 

This is especially true for students from middle school all the way into college.

It is not uncommon for the average student to spend 14 to 16 hours per day learning and studying. 

At least 10 of these they spend just studying.

Tools Korean Students Use to Study

Korean students use a myriad of tools to help them retain the information they learn. There are many modern tech devices such as apps, videos and tutor platforms. 

This allows them to study whether at night learning, at home, or with a group of their friends.

Actually, it’s quite common to see groups of students studying together. 

Not only does it allow them to keep each other motivated, but it can also provide the necessary support. 

Plus, having friends around is good to keep the body moving and the blood flowing on a periodic basis.

Methods Employed

But, it does seem that each student devises their own methods for taking notes. 

Some will record their teacher’s entire lecture, while others make shorthand notes on paper. 

Others take videos of the class, while some will practice mental repetition as the teacher speaks.

Then, after class, some will rewrite what they learned from memory, focusing on those items that they missed for the rest of the time they study. 

Others create flashcards, and some will engage in long discussions with other students about the teacher’s lecture in general.

Break Times Are Important

Another important aspect of how Koreans study is the break time between studying and going to class. 

This means they will go for walks, exercise, listen to music, sing, eat specific foods, play video games and etc. 

While this break is only for an hour or two, it’s the most important because it’s how they rest their mind.

Places Korean Students Go to Study

Another way Koreans study is by way of a concept called “night learning.” Enforced by teacher supervision, this is a passive learning process. 

This means the school offers an option for students to learn subjects on their own or add study time to their approved curriculum.

This begins at around 9 pm and ends at 10 or 11 pm. However, some schools offer this early in the morning, before classes begin. 

It provides an additional hour of study students may not get otherwise. 

What’s good about them is that only students who feel they require more study time apply, it is not compulsory for all students.

Study Halls, Cafés and Libraries

Of course, many students will simply go to the school’s study hall during normal hours when they have a moment. 

This is also true for libraries; they’ll study at the one at school or go to a public facility.

Other students will go to study cafés

These are places with separate, quiet tables similarly isolated from others as a cubicle. 

These places offer very healthily, brain-boosting foods yet provide a similar environment as a library. It’s quiet, and there are computers.

The Importance of Tutors in Korean Education

One of the most common ways that Koreans study, however, is with the help of a tutor. The tutor is sort of a rock star in the Korean education system. 

This is because, after the Korean War, children’s learning structures were poor and non-standard. Private tutors helped supplement this.

Even though the school system has greatly improved since the 1970s, parents still insist on tutors after dinner or when the student comes home from night learning. 

The most frequent reason for the tutor is to help the child develop his or her knowledge of a particular subject with which they struggle.

However, people hire tutors for many other reasons. 

In some cases, it’s to advance knowledge beyond what’s at school. 

In others, it’s to ensure the child studies enough on a particular subject to satisfy the parents and school’s requirements.


Korean students must study for at least 10 hours each day. 

Therefore, they use a variety of tools, tips, and tricks to help them retain information. 

From computers and smart devices to tutors and night learning, studying is an all-pervasive activity. 

But, it’s what makes Koreans some of the smartest and most educated people on the planet.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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