Definition of Youth

The South Korean youth law (2008) defines youth as between 9-24 years.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 20
  • 18
  • --
  • Female
  • 20
  • 18
  • --

  • No specific legislation for same-sex marriage. Source: UNSD, ILGA

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
Source:  Criminal Code

Majority Age


Source: Civil Code (2011)

Voting Age


Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • -- Male (15-24) %
  • -- Female (15-24) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • 96.37%Male %
  • 95.55% Female %

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • 14.90% Male (13-15) %
  • 10.60% Female (13-15) %
  • Year: 2010
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
South Korea has a youth law and a national youth policy. An English summary is available.

The youth law (2008) outlines the legal and social provisions for young people, youth organisations, youth centres, activities and welfare, youth leaders and funding. The vision of the national youth policy, described extensively on the Youth policy pages, is to enable, “dreaming youth, family with hope, [and a] bright future of society.” It’s goal is “to reinforce the competence of the youth and to build health and sound environment for the youth.” It has three specific tasks: 1) Promoting diverse hands-on youth activities; 2) Expanding and improving youth welfare outcomes; 3) Providing sound environment for youth. The policy outlines specific measures to strengthen youth policy, youth participation, youth welfare & safety and protecting youth from violence.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
Since 2010, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family has responsibility for youth affairs and aims at “[f]ostering welfare and protection of youth.” According to the 2007 report a National Youth Commission was established in 2005 under the Office of the Prime Minister and “developed a five-year plan for 2008-2012, to be implemented both nationally and by local governments.” However, the National Youth Commission could not be located on the government organizational chart.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
The National Council of Youth Organizations in Korea (NCYOK) is a membership organisation founded in 1965. The work of NCYOK,
covers information exchange, mutual cooperation among youth organizations and joint research on youth, connecting the government, schools, social organizations and international youth organizations in striving to promote organizational activities for youths and youth leaders.
The NCYOK represents Korean youth at the Asian Youth Council and international youth events.

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No documentation on youth spending in South Korea could be found online. According to the World Bank, South Korea spent 15.77% of its government expenditure on education provision in 2008, and 5.05% of its GDP in 2009.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. (Accessed August 2013).

Additional Background

The Innovations in Civic Participation – South Korea provides background to the youth policy and civil participation context. Youth policy
Youth affairs and policies in South Korea are overseen by the National Youth Commission. Established in 2005, the National Youth Commission is directly attached to the Office of the Prime Minister. It also unites the Ministry of Culture and Tourism and the National Youth Protection Commission, which were all previously their own faculties. The National Youth Commission brings youth fostering and youth protection together, and seeks to develop the basic plans of youth policies, activate youth participation, promote training, counseling and guidance, provide support and management for youth welfare, investigate and regulate harmful media sources, protect young people from sexual crimes, support victim rehabilitation and publicize youth issues.
The National Youth Commission developed a five-year youth development plan for 2008-2012, to be implemented both nationally and by local governments. Policy goals include: a safety net for those in crisis, ensuring various opportunities for young people, the promotion of youth participation and the overall improvement of a young person’s environment. The policy provides for implementing shelters for youth in crisis, after-school activities, extending youth rights in regards to youth participation and the creation of a healthy media environment for young people, among others.
Other laws specifically relating to Youth Civic Participation include the Youth Basic Law and the Youth Activity Promotion Law. The Youth Basic Law has been in effect since 1993 and regulates youth policies and basic functions of youth development. Under this law, youth leaders are trained, facilities are created, and youth-led programs are developed and executed. The Youth Activity Promotion Law was enacted in 2004, and created a policy for international youth exchange activities, and the management of youth encounter centers as well as encouraging volunteering and other cultural activities.[4] Limited information is available regarding the details of these laws.
Civic participation
Young South Koreans are civically engaged throughout various parts of the nation, specifically in rural areas lacking in educational and community facilities. Rural areas of South Korea, unlike large cities such as Seoul, still face a lack of access to running water and sewage disposal. As a result, environmental pollution and poor sanitation still pose serious threats to residents in these areas. Additionally, new and less conventional threats, but, according to the South Korean government, still very important public health issues have arisen such as internet addiction. The average South Korean high school student spends over 23 hours each week playing video games. In response to these issues, and support from the government, organizations are creating programs to assist and engage these young people in their communities.