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Home2023 IssuesApril 2023Korean parents spend record US$20 billion on cram schools and language classes

Korean parents spend record US$20 billion on cram schools and language classes

Last year saw Korean parents spent a record 26 trillion won (US$20 billion) on private after-school classes up from 23.4 trillion in 2021 and 20.2 trillion in the year before the pandemic. The most popular subject was English with parents spending an average 123,00 (US$941) won per month on language lessons, compared to 116,00 won (US$888) on Maths. A staggering 78.3 per cent of Korean school children attend cram schools, Hagwon in Korean, for an average of 7.2 hours a week, according to Statistics Korea.

Much of the increase may be due to increase in the class sizes allowed by the government since the removal of the social distancing rules imposed during Covid. Unusually, the Hagwon were allowed to remain open throughout the pandemic even when all mainstream schools were closed, leading to an increase in enrolments as parents sought help with childcare, especially for children of pre-school and primary,  age, as well  as catch up lessons for older children who were falling behind during lockdown. 

Hagwon, however, have faced their own problems, especially in the English language market where ‘native speaker teachers’ are in demand.  As the Gazette reported in February numbers of  foreigners entering the country to teach English fell to around a third of the number seen in 2019.

Image courtesy of Lisa
Melanie Butler
Melanie Butler
Melanie started teaching EFL in Iran in 1975. She worked for the BBC World Service, Pearson/Longman and MET magazine before taking over at the Gazette in 1987 and also launching Study Travel magazine. Educated in ten schools in seven countries, she speaks fluent French and Spanish and rather rusty Italian.
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