South Korea

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This entry is a rather short. For up to date (March 2015) information see the 11-page report Open Education South Korea, by Stella Hayoung Shin
For comprehensive background on online learning in education in South Korea, see E-learning:South Korea

Policies Survey notes:

The KOCW Information Strategy Plan makes reference to the incorporation of OER.


South Korea, officially the Republic of Korea and often referred to as Korea (Korean: 대한민국, Hanja: 大韓民國), is a presidential republic in East Asia, occupying the southern half of the Korean Peninsula. Also known as the Land of the Morning Calm, it is neighbored by China to the west, Japan to the east and borders North Korea to the north. South Korea's capital and largest city, Seoul, is a global financial and cultural center and the second largest metropolitan city in the world.

South Korea is a major economic power and one of the wealthiest countries in Asia. It is a developed country with a high standard of living, having a trillion dollar economy that is the third largest in Asia and 13th largest in the world. Forming the G20 industrial nations and the world's top ten exporters, it is an APEC and OECD member, defined as a High Income Nation by the World Bank and an Advanced Economy by the IMF and CIA. A major non-NATO ally of the United States, it has the world's sixth largest armed forces and the tenth largest defence budget in the world.

OER in South Korea: Map

Total number of Open Education Initiatives in South Korea on Saturday, 19 October 2019 at 20:21 = 28 , of which:

  • 3 are MOOC
  • 25 are OER

Initiatives per million = 0.57

Loading map...


The government of South Korea is divided into three branches: executive, judicial, and legislative. The executive and legislative branches operate primarily at the national level, although various ministries in the executive branch also carry out local functions. Local governments are semi-autonomous, and contain executive and legislative bodies of their own. The judicial branch operates at both the national and local levels. South Korea is a constitutional democracy.

The South Korean government's structure is determined by the Constitution of the Republic of Korea. This document has been revised several times since its first promulgation in 1948. However, it has retained many broad characteristics; with the exception of the short-lived Second Republic of South Korea, the country has always had a presidential system with an independent chief executive. South Korea has developed a successful liberal democracy since the 1960s and the first direct election was held in 1987.

South Korea is divided into 8 provinces (do), 1 special autonomous province (teukbyeol jachido), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi), and 1 special city (teukbyeolsi). These are further subdivided into a variety of smaller entities, including cities (si), counties (gun), districts (gu), towns (eup), townships (myeon), neighborhoods (dong) and villages (ri), as explained below.

(Note on translation: although the terms "Special City," "Metropolitan City," "Province," and "City" are commonly used on English-language government websites, the other translations ("county," "town," "district," etc.) are not official translations, and are only intended to serve as useful illustrations of each entity's meaning.)

The current population of South Korea is roughly 48,850,000.

Most South Koreans live in urban areas, due to rapid migration from the countryside during the country's quick economic expansion in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. The capital city of Seoul is also the country's largest city and chief industrial center. It had 10.3 million inhabitants in 2006, making Seoul one of the most populated single cities in the world.[79] Other major cities include Busan (3.65 million), Incheon (2.63 million), Daegu (2.53 million), Daejeon (1.46 million), Gwangju (1.41 million) and Ulsan (1.10 million).[

The population has also been shaped by international migration. Following the division of the Korean peninsula after World War II, about four million people from North Korea crossed the border to South Korea. This trend of net entry reversed over the next forty years due to emigration, especially to the United States and Canada. However, South Korea's burgeoning economy and democracy in the early and mid-1990s slowed the high emigration rates typical of the previous decades.

Although small, the percentage of non-Koreans has been increasing. Officially, as of the summer of 2007, there are just over 1 million foreigners living in Korea. That number includes foreign residents, students, tourists and illegal aliens. Among them, 104,749 people were married to Koreans, 404,051 were working in Korea and 225,273 were illegal aliens.

Korean farmers have a hard time finding a wife, as few women want to live in the countryside. Farmers are forced to look abroad to find their wife, mostly from Southeast Asia, and increasingly from Eastern Europe. For the year 2006, 41% of the marriages amongst the farmers were to foreign nationals.

There are 31,000 US military personnel.

Further information

For further general information see Wikipedia:South Korea.

Education in South Korea

For a general description of education in South Korea see Education:South Korea.


For a description more focussed to e-learning see E-learning:South Korea.

Quality procedures

Internet in South Korea

Internet in Education

Copyright law in South Korea

Copyright law in Education

OER Initiatives in South Korea

In its response to the OECD questionnaire, Korea stated that its main reason for promoting OER is to enhance the global competitiveness of higher education through open sharing. Korea was the only country to report very high activity in the tertiary sector. It was also noted that the Information Strategy Plan of the Ministry of Education makes reference to OER. Korea also mentioned that developing technical standards for OER was an issue in its implementation of OER. (3)

National OER initiatives

OER have been used to leverage the quality of higher education in South Korea. After consultation with universities and students a national plan  for promoting OER had also been developed. A national repository of OER which collects metadata of e‐learning lectures of Korean universities was  launched in 2007. OER copyright guidelines (including open licencing) in the Korean legal framework were published in 2008. Public funds are used  to publish under‐graduate OER materials. In 2010 a portal (KOCW) was launched that links to the OER at 17 cyber‐universities and the 10 UESCs. (1) 

The EBS Internet Service was launched by the Korea Educational Broadcasting System (KEBS) in 2004. The major purpose of this service is to promote the quality of public educational services and reduce the citizens' economic burden of private education. This service provides online lectures for high school students preparing for a national entrance exam for higher education. It offers the students high quality learning materials and helps to reduce the educational gaps between regions and people of differing social status. In order to enhance the service in 2010, KEBS recruited outstanding teachers in design, development and delivery of online lectures. It also began to offer learners differentiated courses according to their level of proficiency, and to provide a mobile service using smart phones. (2)

A digital library system (DLS) was developed for improving the capacity of school libraries in 2001 and extended under the School Libraries Support Project in 2009. DLS is a standardized information system for school libraries installed at the municipal educational office level. It aims to provide individual schools with educational resource management services and enhance students' reading and writing abilities. Librarians in schools upload and share various resources, and open their services to users beyond the schools. Currently, 95.8% of schools are registered in the service and over 8 million students in the K-12 levels have access to the service. (2)

The development of digital textbooks in Korea has been carried out through governmental initiative since 2007. Digital textbooks provide learners with various resources and tools beyond the limitations of paper-based textbooks and the classroom-based learning environment, and also assist teachers to obtain high-quality resources to improve their teaching. A digital textbook is defined as an electronic textbook that includes the existing paper-based textbooks and activity booklets, integrating them with multimedia and interactive contents such as video-clips, animation, virtual reality, and online interaction. It allows learners and teachers to access unlimited resources and promotes advanced learning. This project is in the pilot stage of research and the investigation of cases. So far, digital textbooks have been developed for language, social studies, science and mathematics in elementary schools, and language and science in middle schools. Pilot studies for the utilization of digital textbooks have been conducted in over 100 schools. The initial versions of the digital textbooks were used on a learning platform and application programs operated in a Windows OS environment. Since 2009 the platform and applications have been upgraded and revised to use digital textbooks without the limitation of operating systems and digital devices. (2) It is not clear from the information in the ReVica/VISCED page for South Korea whether these digital textbooks are OERs or not, or may become so.

The Cyber Home Learning System (CHLS), launched in 2004, provides learners with free online services offering learning content, adaptive supports to complement learners' capabilities by cyber teachers and tutors, and private learning spaces on cyberspace. The major purpose of the project is to pursue better performance within public school systems and equity of educational opportunities. Basically, CHLS offers supplemental materials and activities related to school work. Students can voluntarily access the system through the Internet at home and be involved in additional learning opportunities with teachers' and tutors' guidance. Students who want to study in CHLS must register on a separate web site operated by regional educational institutes. Educational contents delivered through CHLS cover core subject matter in the 4th ~ 6th grades of elementary school, the 7th ~9th grades of middle school and the 10th grade of high school. (2)

EDUNET is an educational information service which aims to improve the quality of education at all K-12 levels, focusing on the distribution and utilization of educational materials and resources. It is the largest educational portal system established by government since the early stages of ICT use in education in 1996. Teachers have access to information and resources related to school education, and students can access a diverse range of educational materials for learning in and outside of schools. EDUNET also provides national standards, educational models and guidelines for ICT use in education, and supports regional learning centers and individual schools for expanding the use of ICT in teaching and learning. (2)

Regional OER initiatives

Institutional OER initiatives



  1. Open Education South Korea, by Stella Hayoung Shin, March 2015,
  2. Open Educational Resources: Analysis of Responses to the OECD Country Questionnaire, by Jan Hylen, OECD Education Working Papers No. 76, OECD Publishing, 2012,
  3. Taking OER beyond the OER Community: Policy and Capacity - Summary Report, ICDE, for Policy Forum in Paris, France, 1 December 2010,

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