Finding a daycare in Seoul
Daycares are called “orinijibs” in Korean and can vary in what they offer. Some orinijibs can take children as young as 100 days old and some can take children from age 3 to 7 (international age 7). Daycares for babies are called “nori-bang” and “yuchiwon” is more like a pre-school.
Before your search…
- According to many sources, one should start their search for a daycare as far in advance as possible. Although it may be possible to “walk-in” your child to a daycare, some of the more competitive daycares have wait lists that can go far in advance. Many parents start their research and contacting daycares even a year in advance.
- According to word of mouth, unfortunately, there are some daycares that might not prioritize multi-cultural children. This can be a very frustrating and infuriating process for many parents. Please keep in this mind before starting your search.
- Keep in mind that if your child is a Korean citizen, the government will cover part of the expenses. With coverage, you should be paying under 400,000 won a month. Without coverage, it can be anywhere from 400,000 to 800,000 won.
- Understanding Korean will be highly advantageous to your search. Try to have a friend help you or have a translator handy.
- Although the internet system is slowly changing, many websites will work most efficiently with Internet Explorer. If some pages will not load, try again with Internet Explorer.
Things to prepare
- If you are located in Seoul, you can look for a daycare on this iseoul Korean only website.
- To have your child on the wait list, you need to prepare (in Korean): Your child’s Korean Registration Number or Alien Registration Number, a phone number and an address in Korea.
Registering online (for a waiting list)
- Registration for a foreigner log-in at iseoul.seoul is here. You will need to fill out your name, foreigner ID (a button next to it checks that that ID is usable), password, password check, phone number and email.
- To make an online application: log in and sign up to be on the waiting list.
- The process will involve: searching for a daycare, make a reservation, wait for an answer from the daycare. If your child currently attends a daycare, you can send in two applications. If not, you can send in three applications.
- Children are taken in on a points-basis. (The more points that you have, you bump up higher on the waiting list.) If both the parents are working, then the points go up – making it more likely that your child will be taken in. If you are a foreigner, your points should go up.
- Wait for confirmation from the daycare center. They will call you or contact you via SMS or email.
- After confirmation from the daycare center, you will have to submit the documents that they ask for before the process is confirmed and you can send your child to daycare.
If you cannot wait the months that it often takes for a waiting list, you can try walk-in registration. This process may be a bit more tiresome, but can often produce fast results. You may have to rely heavily on word of mouth and be as intuitive as possible.
Tips for walk-in
- If you’re looking for a place to start, you can try the Facebook group called “Daycare Centers in Korea (ORINIJIB).” You can also look up the Facebook group called “Expat Moms.” For those in outer regions of Korea, you can try looking up region-specific groups such as “Expats in Suwon,” etc.
- As aforementioned, daycares may be wary of taking in non-Korean speaking children. Try to learn a few Korean phrases before visiting your daycare of choice. Prepare a letter in Korean explaining a bit about your child and why you would like this particular childcare center.
- Many large complexes, especially those attached to apartment buildings or malls, have daycare services inside. Some of these may be chain daycares or they might be smaller, family run daycares.
- While you are at the daycare, it’s a good chance to check if it’s a good and safe environment to send your child.
Other options for daycare
- English daycare: Some international schools also have kindergartens or preschools. If you are an English speaker, this might make things easier but it may also be more expensive.
- Babysitting and nannies: There are various babysitting and nanny services available in Seoul. You may check more local sites that offer services such as babysitter-korea.com, Korea International Nanny Service (Facebook) and nannyjob.co.kr. However, the standard of many of these professionals are case by case.