What Is Life As a Korean Teen Like?

Life as a teenager in South Korea centers on academic study, family and friends. Some teens live at home, while others attend boarding school. Because of the high premium Korean society places on attending competitive institutions of higher learning, school-related responsibilities, particularly those related to scholastic performance, take top priority for many teens and their families.


Korean teens spend upward of 16 hours a day studying, according to Teen Life in Asia. Whether they're in class or studying for exams, the work and preparation is constant. What type of university a teen attends significantly affects the type of job he'll have, and eventually, the salary he'll earn after graduating, according to "Teen Life in Asia." Many teens attend boarding school, though others live at home.

Family Relationships

Traditionally, the oldest brother has assumed the most responsibility in the family and, in turn, could expect the unconditional obedience support, loyalty and admiration of his younger siblings. Korean teenage girls have only recently become more independent and can be expected to share some of these responsibilities with the oldest brother, according to "Korea 2010: The Challenges of a New Millennium," by Paul Chamberlin 1. Parents are devoted to their children's education and do whatever they can from preschool to ensure their child has the tools for success. In turn, teens are expected to work tirelessly to achieve good grades.

Extracurricular Activities

Competitive sports and sporting clubs are a part of many, but not all Korean teenagers' experience. Soccer is the most popular sport, according to Judith J. Slater's "Teen Life in Asia," as is handball, recreational biking and skiing in the winter 2. Particularly promising teens might participate in sports clubs outside of school, though many will stick within the athletic opportunities provided by the school itself. Almost every school has a soccer field, notes Teen Life in Asia. Both girls and boys can both participate, though the intense time spent studying -- even for good athletes -- underscores that school a continued priority.

Social Relationships

The rise in coeducational school during the 1990s has increased the friendships between male and female Korean teenagers. Because most Korean teenage girls plan to marry before 26 years old, according to Teen Life in Asia, topics such as dating, and, particularly sexual relationships between teenagers is considered taboo, and rarely discussed between generations. The Korean government has taken action in recent years to increase the sexual health and education available to teenagers, according to "Korea 2010: The Challenges of the New Millennium." 1

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