South Korea invests almost 7% of its GDP in education expenditure. This represents one of the largest allocations of government spending on education anywhere in the world. The value of this market, including after-school and e-learning classes, is approximately GBP 20.7bn. An estimated 80% of elementary, middle, and high school students use some form of e-learning.

Impact of the EU-Korea FTA

Implemented in July 2011, the EU-Korea FTA will lead to the removal of 97% of all tariffs for UK exporters. The FTA contains provisions on services, public procurement, intellectual property (IP) and sustainable development as well as the liberalization of goods tariffs. The FTA has ushered in enhanced protection for IP rights and improved copyright regulations.

Potential Opportunities

  • There is large demand for English amongst young learners, career-based education and training, and teaching/learning materials (books and multimedia materials) as many Koreans are keen to improve their English language skills for future employment

  • British educational expertise is actively sought after due to the UK’s excellent educational reputation

  • South Korea’s e-learning market is worth approximately GBP 2bn and is expected to grow considerably over the next several years

Case Study: Leading UK Global Language Training Provider

The Brief

A UK-based global language training provider appointed the BCCK to find a new master licensee of one of their English education programs in Korea. The company wanted to ‘think outside of the box’ and also approach companies that are not necessarily in the education business but could effectively distribute their program in offline education centres.

The Approach

The BCCK took a holistic approach and identified more than 60 potential partners in the Korean market, ultimately arranging six meetings with key decision makers. At the end of the project, the BCCK provided the company with a comprehensive visit report outlining key opportunities and recommendations for each potential partner in order of priority.

The Outcome

Currently, the company is in the final process of signing a master license agreement with one of the companies that the BCCK has identified. The BCCK is providing advice and guidance to the company throughout the process of finalising the new business deal between the two companies.

Sector Specialist

Taewon Um


Taewon Um is the Director of the BCCK’s Trade Services team. Taewon has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Prior to joining the BCCK, Taewon worked with a Korean government body to attract FDI and helped sign deals with major international healthcare institutions. Taewon also worked at the World Bank and the Embassy of Korea in Washington DC. Whilst at the BCCK, Taewon has worked with companies across a broad range of sectors including financial services and industrial materials amongst others. His past client in the education space include the Linguaphone Group (Direct English and Pingu’s English). LinkedIn



“I cannot speak highly enough about the market entry service that we received from the BCCK. Their professionalism, customer service and access to senior decision-makers was first-class. Their responsiveness to us, as often demanding clients based in London, was second to none. We can never guarantee a successful result with a challenging project such as this, but they helped us secure a strong, first-class partner in the Korean market. What more can we ask?” 

– Sarah McAllister, Head of Marketing (New Business), Linguaphone Group

Some Companies Supported & In the Market

For More Information

Download our one-page flyer regarding South Korea’s Education market here.

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