Early childhood education is highly valued in Korea, and the government places a strong emphasis on providing high-quality educational opportunities from the very beginning. Early childhood education is operated through a dual system of kinder-gartens run by the Ministry of Education and childcare centers run by the Ministry of Health and Welfare. These entities operate separately, subject to different administration and financial laws and regulations. Three types of kindergartens are in Korea based on their founding entities: government/public, corporate, and individual. As of 2022, there are 8,562 kindergartens nationwide. Early childhood education is not compulsory, but it has become increasingly universal, with the enrollment rate for kindergartens at 52.7% in 2022, up from 44.2% in 2012. Notably, the enrollment rate for early childhood education, including childcare centers for children aged 3 to 5, is 94.0% in 2020, which exceeds the OECD average of 87.4% by a significant margin.

At the core of early childhood education in Korea is the Nuri Curriculum, a national -level common curriculum implemented in 2013. The curriculum is designed to develop physical, emotional, cognitive, and social skills of children aged 3 to 5. To alleviate the financial burden on parents, the government provides subsidies for operating expenses. In recent years, the government has prioritized the promotion of equity and access to high-quality education and childcare for all children, leading to the consolidation of early childhood education and care. This integration aims to address the disparity in quality and services provided by kindergartens and childcare centers, ensuring all children with high-quality education from an early age.

Source : 2023 Education in Korea