South Korea’s North Gyeongsang Province is taking innovative measures to address its declining youth population by inviting teenagers from various Asian countries to enroll in its high schools.
The aim of this initiative is not only to bolster school enrollment but also to cultivate potential future residents for the region. The province is currently in the process of selecting 72 eligible candidates from six Asian countries – Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Mongolia, Cambodia, and China – for admission to its high schools in the upcoming school year starting in March 2024.
Under this program, selected students will be granted free tuition, similar to their Korean counterparts. However, they will be responsible for covering their living expenses, including dormitory fees. The initiative is especially attractive due to South Korea’s policy of providing free public education from elementary to high school levels, resulting in no scholarships being offered for this study abroad opportunity.
Nine schools, primarily vocational institutions with boarding facilities, will welcome foreign students through this program. Applicants are required to submit their middle school academic records and achieve at least Level 2 in the Test of Proficiency in Korean (TOPIK), a state-run language test. Successful candidates will be eligible to apply for a D-4-3 visa, which typically caters to elementary, middle, or high school students studying in South Korea.
The D-4 visa permits students to reside in South Korea for a year, with the requirement to renew the visa annually to continue their studies beyond the initial year and ultimately graduate. Discussions are underway with relevant authorities to facilitate work visas for program graduates, encouraging them to settle in North Gyeongsang Province after completing their studies.
Among the participating schools, Uiseong Unitech High School, Korea International Culinary Arts High School, Korea Railroad High School, and Gimcheon High School have already concluded their application processes. A total of 32 students from China, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mongolia have been admitted to these institutions. The application deadline for the remaining five schools is September 8.