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South Korea Plans to Establish Educational Development Special Zones, Foreigners Allowed to Apply

Plans to Establish Busan International K-pop High School

Source: News 1

The Ministry of Education announced 31 areas as the first pilot regions for the “Educational Development Special Zone,” a project supporting the cultivation of local talent through collaboration between local governments, education offices, universities, and corporations. Six metropolitan and 43 basic local governments have been selected as the first pilot regions. The Presidential Committees for Decentralization and Balanced Development and the Ministry of Education jointly promote this policy.

Jang Sang Yoon, the Presidential Senior Secretary for Social Affairs, held a briefing at the Presidential Office in Yongsan and revealed the results of the first pilot region designation. Secretary Jang said, “40 proposals were submitted for the first open recruitment, with six metropolitan governments and 52 basic local governments applying.” A committee composed of educational policy and regional development experts evaluated and reviewed the applications, and 31 places, including six metropolitan governments and 43 basic local governments, were designated.

Among the metropolitan areas, all six areas of Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan, and Jeju were selected. For the basic local government Type 1, Goyang, Yangju, Dongducheon, Ganghwa, Chuncheon, Hwacheon, Wonju, Chungju, Jecheon, Okcheon, Jincheon-Eumseong, Goesan, Seosan, Pohang, Gumi, Sangju, Chilgok, Uljin, Bonghwa, and Gwangyang passed, excluding nine out of 29 cases.

In the Type 3 basic local government designated by the metropolitan government, governments such as South Gyeongsang Province, North Gyeongsang Province, North Jeolla Province, South Jeolla Province, and South Chungcheong Province were included.

The nine basic local governments that were not selected will be designated as preliminary regions and will be encouraged to improve their deficiencies. Additional designations will be possible in the second open recruitment scheduled for May. The preliminary designated regions include Yeoncheon, Paju, Pocheon, Boeun, Nonsan, Buyeo, Ulleung, Geochang, and Haenam.

Source: News 1

The government announced plans to manage the performance of the pilot regions by dividing them into 19 leading regions and 12 management regions. After a three-year pilot operation, the leading regions will be officially designated as special zones following a comprehensive evaluation by the committee.

Secretary Jang said, “The first pilot region will establish detailed implementation plans with the Ministry of Education, the Presidential Committees for Decentralization and Balanced Development, and policy experts, and the Ministry of Education will support $2.2 million to $7.5 million in special grants for local education finances while also removing regulations requested by each region. We will create excellent regional education models through full support.”

He also revealed some plans for the pilot regions. In Busan, they plan to establish a 24-hour care center for children from birth to sixth grade and a Busan-style 365-hour childcare center. The Busan Educational Special Zone plan includes the Busan International K-pop High School to attract foreign students.

Busan International K-pop High School is a public educational institution cultivating talent to lead K-pop, Korea’s representative cultural content.

The Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education is pushing for the establishment with a goal of opening in March 2028. Regarding the establishment, an official from the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education said, “Despite the continuous growth of the K-pop-related industry, there is a lack of educational institutions specializing in practical arts education related to K-pop for students. The need for operating educational programs related to specialized practical arts schools for K-pop talent cultivation is increasing.”

The school plans to utilize Garak Middle School, which is scheduled to close, to foster international K-pop by letting foreign students apply. The education courses are organized into practical arts field student-customized education, foreign student-customized education, etc. The Busan City Office of Education will seek help from the National Institute for International Education and the Korea Tourism Organization to attract foreign students.

Jinju, Sacheon, and Goseong in South Gyeongsang Province plan to operate as an educational development special zone specializing in aerospace. They decided to expand the local talent selection of related departments to foster Gyeongsang National University as an excellent university in the aerospace field in connection with local research institutes and companies. As a result, more than 20 graduates from related departments will be linked to the Aerospace Defense Science and Technology Institute and the Aerospace Defense Research Institute every year.

Source: News 1

In Chuncheon, Gangwon Province, they plan to cultivate the Gangwon Animation High School as a specialized high school for animation broadcasting and operate the excellent local high school, Chuncheon High School, as an autonomous public high school.

In addition, they revealed that they will activate employment and startup education specialized in local industries, such as establishing a FoodTech department and a Bio department in collaboration with Gangwon University, Hallym University, and Korea Polytechnic University in Chuncheon City, Gangwon Province.

The government plans to create a favorable environment for raising children through education development special zones, improve school quality through public education innovation, and foster local talents. The specific amount of the budget to be invested will be determined according to the contents of each proposal.

This special zone is not concentrated but dispersed, and the strategy is to benefit all regions ultimately when the wave of change occurs by spreading as much as possible.

Secretary Jang said, “This is a core policy of the Yoon Suk Yeol government to revitalize the local areas with the power of education and save the locals from the crisis of regional extinction and low birthrate.”

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