Discover East Asia’s most economically developed country, with its mountain ranges, coastal plains, river basins and beautiful rolling hills. South Korea is one of the most ethnically homogeneous societies in the world, with more than 99% of people living in the country being ethnic Koreans. Most South Koreans live in urban areas.

Teenagers in South Korea spend a lot of time studying and advancing their education. Sports are popular leisure time activities with taekwondo (a martial art that originated in Korea), football and baseball topping the list.

People & Community

Open and direct communication is common between parents and children, and taking part in discussions to share your opinion will be highly valued. Respect for privacy is highly appreciated and seen as a sign of affection. Korean parents are quite cautious about their children’s school results and spare time activities, and you should always ask for permission and include your host parents before making decisions. Plan on spending some leisure time with your family at family dinners and watching popular TV talk-shows and games.


Korean school system is quite competitive and very demanding. South Korea’s education system is technologically very advanced: This is the world’s first country to bring high-speed fibre-optic broadband internet access to every primary and secondary school nationwide. Using this infrastructure, the country has developed the first digital textbooks in the world. The school year begins in February and ends in December. A typical day of school begins at 8 am and ends at 5 pm, but most students stay at school or go to a study room to study until 11 pm or even later. Schools usually teach Korean history, music, math, science and other subjects, but you can also study Korean language. Students wear uniforms in school and are expected to help clean the school after classes end.


The main language spoken is Korean, and it helps to have previous knowledge of the language before your exchange. Having a basic knowledge of English will be helpful.

A photo posted by Yeon Hwangbo (@hwangbo98) on


A traditional Korean meal consists of a bowl of rice or noodles, a bowl of soup or stew and side dishes. Side dishes are mostly vegetables, steamed or boiled, roasted meat, stir-fried and pan-fried food. One of the most popular side dishes is kimchi , a spicy pickled cabbage. Korean food tends to be very spicy. In most Korean families, breakfast is served and eaten at home. Lunch will be at school and dinner is often eaten outside the home: at a restaurant or school. Family dining communal style is common: Everyone is served an individual bowl of rice and shares meat and vegetable dishes placed in the center of the table.

Let AFS guide your intercultural adventure

Go abroad with AFS to discover who you really are, make new lifetime friendships and immerse yourself in a fascinating intercultural experience.

Our learning program will prepare you for an amazing AFS intercultural experience. The program begins at your home country with a pre-departure orientation and continues with orientations and other supported learning activities and facilitated conversations will help you maximize your experience, cope the challenges of navigating a new culture and community and gain knowledge, skills, and a global understanding, throughout your time abroad, and as you return to you home country. AFS volunteers will be there to support and guide you and your host family through your learning journey abroad.


The Global Competence Certificate (GCC) program will support your intercultural learning experience. This state-of-the-art program prepares you to successfully navigate new cultural environments—during your AFSNext experience and long after you finish the program. Online intercultural learning modules combined with in-person sessions help you develop practical and global skills, knowledge and attitudes that employers need and mission-driven organizations believe will help achieve their social impact goals. You will receive your certification upon completion of the training program.