July Community Dinner

July Community Dinner

July Community Dinner


On Saturday, July 30, 2016 the 2nd Community Dinner took place at Kodachaya in the Hongdae/Sangsu area. The Community Dinners are organized by long time members of G.O.A.'L and the adoptee community in Korea. We gathered together to connect to the community and enjoy time with friends new and old.


We had 80 people attend - including many people that arrived early for the IKAA Gathering


The Community Dinners are a great way to get plugged into the adoptee community and expand your network! Come as you are and dress how you like! For more information please contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor.

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Korean Adoptee Life - An Introduction to Korean Public School

Korean Adoptee Life - An Introduction to Korean Public School


This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


South Korea requires children to complete schooling through middle school (Korean: 중학교 3학년). This is similar to completing through grade 9 or until ages 14-15. High school attendance is not required (Korean: 고등학교 1-3학년). While there are a variety of private schools within Korea offering instruction in languages besides Korean, the cost to attend these schools may be prohibitively expensive. Tuition for private school can be in the range of KRW 20 Million per year or even higher. Therefore, you may want to consider enrolling your children in public school as it is a much more affordable option.

Korean Language Requirement

There is no explicit Korean language requirement for enrolling children in public school. Bear in mind the language of instruction will be Korean for all subjects (foreign language classes could be an exception but could still be taught by Korean teachers). Note that communication with parents/guardians will also be in Korean.

If you would like to gain some exposure to Korean with your children, the Seoul Global Center offers a mother and child storytelling class twice a year.

Enrollment Process

Korean citizens receive notices in the mail when their children become school age. However, as a foreigner you will not necessarily receive such a notice. In order to inform your local neighborhood that you need to enroll a child in school you need to submit the following to your local community center (주민센터/동사무소).

Required Documentation

  • Alien Registration Card for yourself and your child (외국국적동포 국내거소신고증)

  • Certificate of Residency (출입국사실증명서)

After this process, you should receive a notice from the schools your child is valid for enrollment in. There is no fee for initial enrollment, however, schools have a series of fees regarding meals, supplies, and field trips. These are normally paid monthly or once a semester. Once you enroll your child in a school, the school will directly communicate with you regarding fees, academic schedule, and any other information.


Below are the required vaccinations for enrolling children in primary school in Korea:


Public elementary school students do not have uniforms (교복/학생복) but from middle school, uniforms are required, even in public school. Uniforms are sold by major uniform brands (IVY CLUB, SMART, SCHOOL LOOKS, ELITE) and can run anywhere from KRW 150,000-250,000 for the summer uniform and KRW 250,000-500,000 for the winter uniform. Physical education uniforms (체육복) are also required and cost around KRW 40,000. You can also find used uniforms at second-hard shops (아름다운 가게 is a popular second-hand shop in Korea).


Photo of the fall/spring season uniforms of Bundang High School students. The emblem and button design are copyright Bundang High School, Bundang, Korea.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0.


Photo of the fall/spring season uniforms of Bundang High School students. The emblem and button design are copyright Bundang High School, Bundang, Korea.
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license versions 3.0, 2.5, 2.0, and 1.0.

Sample Schedule of School Fees

  • Meals (급식 초등학생 기준) KRW 40,000-60,000 per month

  • Milk (우유) KRW 10,000 per month (In some provinces this fee has been eliminated)

  • Textbooks (교과서) KRW 20,000-30,000 (One book is KRW 500-2,000) once per semester

  • Day trip (체험학습) KRW 10,000-60,000, usually one day, twice per year.

  • Field trip (수학여행) KRW 200,000-500,000, usually takes place in grade 5 or grade 6. 3 nights or 4 nights in duration depending on the school. Elementary students will travel domestically and middle school students may travel abroad.

  • After school activity (방과 후 학습) KRW 40,000-100,000, could include activities such as English, arts & crafts, writing, etc. Fee is usually paid twice per semester.

Semester Structure

Korean public schools utilize a semester system with the first term of the year starting in March.

The spring semester normally runs from March to July while the fall semester runs from August to February. Summer break is approximately one month starting from the middle of July while winter break starts during December and ends in January. Schools observe all Korean national holidays and also may have other short breaks during the semester (Spring break for example). However, during the summer and winter breaks, schools often run academic camps.

Grade Progression

Students progress from grade to grade regardless of academic achievement; rather, grade progression is normally based on attendance. However, certain high schools may require an entrance exam depending on if they have a specialization (art, foreign language, etc). Even though academic achievement does not determine if students progress from grade to grade, class rankings will still be documented. The school may recommend children redo a grade but has no authority to force a child to do so.

Notes About Public School Daily Life

Students attend school Monday through Friday. Up until recently, students also went to school for a half day every other Saturday.

Students usually do not change classrooms during the school day. Instead, teachers will rotate through classrooms to teach subjects.

Students are in charge of keeping their classroom and school grounds clean and tidy. This means emptying the garbage, cleaning desks, sweeping, etc.

Students and teachers alike are usually given rice, soup, banchan (side dishes, like kimchi), and maybe some protein or fruit. Many students and teachers keep toothbrushes at school so they can brush after meals.

Shoes worn outdoors are not worn inside the school. Indoor slippers/sandals are worn.

Extracurricular Activities

As mentioned previously, after school programs can provide some extracurricular activities. Students may also participate in other after school activities at private academies (학원) or places like Taekwondo (태권도) schools, music schools, etc. Public schools vary in their extracurricular activities offered for students. Check with your specific local public schools on their offerings.


Normally, public school students attend schools that are close enough to their homes that they are able to walk, ride a bike, or take public transportation to and from school. Transportation provided by public schools is rare. Crossing guards assist students at major intersections near schools.


Contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor for any further questions!


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Korean Adoptee Life - Registering Your Name Seal (인감 도장)

Korean Adoptee Life - Registering Your Name Seal (인감 도장)


Any general seal/stamp is referred to as a dojang (도장), registering a personal seal with the government classifies it as an ingam (인감). Many vendors in Insadong sell hand carved name seals. The handles come in a variety of materials and designs. These are often purchased as a souvenir and are just a novelty item to residents in Korea until they are registered with the government.

You do not have to spend a lot of money on a name seal and any seal that meets specific requirements can be officially registered. Less expensive seals are usually machine carved using computer software for the layout of the characters. More expensive name seals are hand carved and have more decorative and/or elaborate handles. If you would like to get ink for your seal, most major stationery/office supply stores in Korea carry it.

Below is an excerpt from a district office in Korea regarding the registered name seals:

In Korea, a registered seal impression and Certificate of Seal Impression are necessary to carry out financial transactions (sales of real estate, bank loan, etc.). The seal used for such transactions must be identical with the registered seal. The seal protects its owner's legal rights and property. Only one seal can be registered and the seal cannot be replicated. Loss and negligence of the registered seal can incur serious consequences. Seals should not be lent carelessly. Foreigners can carry out business in Korea by owning registered seals.

Source: http://tinyurl.com/name-seal

Requirements for Registering a Seal

  • Width and length of the seal have to be more than 7mm and less than 30mm. With circular seals, these dimensions apply to the diameter of the seal.

  • Seals should not be made of materials that give varying impressions (copper or rubber).

  • The name on the seal must be identical with the name on the Certificate of Alien Registration. Transcription of the name in Hangul is acceptable. That is, if your Korean name is on your Alien Registration Card, you can register a seal that shows your Korean name. You could instead register one that is a non-Korean name transcribed into Hangul. But remember, only one seal can be registered to any one person.

  • Company names and job titles are prohibited on a personal name seal. That is, if your name is Hyunwoo Kim, CEO of Hyundai, you can only use Hyunwoo Kim. You cannot put “CEO” or that you work for Hyundai on your personal name seal.



Sample seal with edge requirements


Red Ink used for name seals - can be purchased at most major office supply/stationery shops


Name seal handle made of stone

Registering Your Seal

I registered my name seal earlier this year. Below is my experience at the Seodaemun district office (서대문구청), your experience may vary slightly. You must register your name seal in the district immigration has on file for you.

At the Seodaemun district office, I entered at the first floor and immediately turned left to enter the Civil Affairs and Passports Office (민원여권과). Inside that office there is only one station for foreigners labeled 면허 외국인인감 (Licenses and foreigner seal registration). I did not have to take a waiting number. The employee told me to wait until the previous person had finished.

When it was my turn, I handed the clerk my passport, alien registration card, and name seal. After a few minutes, the clerk made an impression of my seal as well as an impression of my left thumb print.

After the registration, the clerk asked how many 인감증면서 (Certificates of Seal Impression) I wanted. Then, another clerk had me sign for the certificate. The fee per certificate is KRW 600.


Certificate of Seal Impression

The process should be similar at any district office (구청) or citizen center (주민센터).

If you want to change the seal you have registered bring the following to your local district office:

  • Alien Registration Card

  • Passport

  • Seal

If you ever need to receive more 인감증면서 (Certificates of Seal Impression). Visit any district office, community center, or city/county office and bring the following:

  • Alien Registration Card

  • KRW 600 per copy


If you need assistance with registering your name seal, contact the G.O.A.’L Community Mentor!
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