Yonsei Korean Language Institute Review

yonsei kli korean language institute program logo
서울특별시 서대문구 신촌동 연세로 50 , Seoul 120-140, South Korea


The Yonsei University Korean Language Program is an extremely popular choice for those wanting to learn Korean, especially among the younger demographic who are undoubtedly drawn to its lively and party-loving reputation.

It is also one of the ‘big 3’ SKY universities in Korea, leading to Yonsei’s KLI being one of the largest Korean language programs in Korea. Yonsei has both a massive foreign student body and is often recommended within Korea and abroad as a great place to study and make the most out of your time in Seoul!

This review was last updated in 2020.

Key Links

Evening, 3-Week, University Preparation, Summer, and other programs are also available.



As the most popular program in Korea it should come as no surprise that it is also one of the most expensive.

  • Regular Morning (Mon-Fri / 9am-1pm)  Class –  1,730,000 KRW/Term (10 weeks, 200 hours) + Application Fee: 80,000KRW
  • Regular Afternoon (Mon-Fri / 1:40-5:30pm) Class –  1,730,000 KRW/Term (10 weeks, 200 hours) + Application Fee: 80,000KRW

There are also a variety of different course options to choose from outside the most popular Regular Program.



Yonsei is located in Sinchon in Eastern Seoul, an area famous for its nightlife and array of interesting coffee shops, bars, restaurants. and shopping. Sinchon is in walking distance to Hongdae, and thus belongs to the city’s epicentre of youth culture, with several other major universities also situated in the vicinity. It is a great place for those who want to socialise and party as much as they study. If this appeals to you, there simply is no better place to be (well perhaps Sogang, Ehwa, and Hongik are worth a mention to since they are in the same area).

However, while it is definitely worth visiting these areas, you may not necessarily be excited by the prospect of living right in the thick of them.  Although the Yonsei dormitories and housing are generally in the more residential pockets, you will inevitably feel the influence of the all-night drinking culture which pervades the area. It also means that you will frequently come across groups of other foreign students, and may have to more actively seek an ‘authentic’ Korean experience if that is what you are looking for during your stay.

Living in this area is also on the more expensive side, especially for a one-room studio. Expect to get a lot less for more with average one room prices starting from around 500,000 KRW/month with a 5,000,000 KRW key money. hasukjips and dormitories will cost less but provide fairly small rooms with communal services. Check out our ultimate housing and accommodation guide to start looking in the area!


Reputation and Content

Whilst the university’s name carries prestige which is heralded Korea-wide, the language program (and indeed the experience of international students in general) has a somewhat unique reputation.

Firstly, the Korean course at Yonsei is known to be very heavily focused on grammar, rather than practical speaking or listening. This may be because the course tends to cater to many to prospective university students who are doing a language bridging course, whilst the remainder is largely made up of non-serious learners who have come for a term just to party.

As a result, some students commented that they did not improve their fluency in Korean as much as they had hoped during their time at Yonsei, as the environment is not particularly conducive to improving your Korean through practical use. This is especially evident at the beginner levels, although those with some command of the Korean language may find the academic and textbook oriented approach quite useful in their future Korean language studies.

Furthermore, students from Western countries especially are likely to find the teachers at Yonsei’s preference for a very ‘traditional’ style of education quite non-engaging and ineffective. There is little time for deeper exploration of concepts and general conversation during class, which tend to follow a very rigid test-oriented curriculum.



Outside of the classroom, the atmosphere at Yonsei is almost unbeatable, particularly in the summer. There is a real party / college town feel. You will no doubt find yourself socialising outside classes, succumbing to a few of the many distractions offered in the surrounding area – eating, drinking, partying – to name a few.  The large foreign student population means less staring and more English menus and signs (a blessing and a curse). You can even attend the famous Yonsei v Korea University Games and will probably find yourself joining in with the students’ great pride for their prestigious school.

Yonsei has a very large foreign student body and is a renowned destination for Western exchange students, but the language program is not particularly diverse. Classes will be dominated by Japanese and Chinese learners and then American students in the summer. Expect your class demographic to be 80% Japanese / Chinese. Incidentally, if you have an interest in practising these languages at the same time, this may be a hidden benefit for you.



As the largest Korean language program in Korea most companies and TV networks advertise positions and part-time opportunities through Yonsei. TV networks and model agencies can be spotted on campus scouting for talent or conducting interviews from time to time. Yonsei also curates by far the best Jobs and Opportunities board of all the Korean universities. This resource gives Korean language students access to a wide range of employment and cultural opportunities that are hard to find elsewhere. Also keep an eye out for job and notice boards around campus, these are an excellent resource if you are looking to fund your studies via some part-time English tutoring.


Asia Options Verdict


Yonsei’s Korean Language Program provides a great option for someone who has come to Seoul for a fun time, with a healthy side of study. The university is also known for its excellent jobs board and networking opportunities for foreigners.

If it is your first time in Korea and want to be right in the thick of Korean youth culture, Yonsei’s location and atmosphere are hard to beat.

Simultaneously, if you are determined to learn Korean as quickly as possible, you may prefer a course with a more pragmatic teaching method and fewer social distractions.

It is also among the most expensive programs overall for tuition fees, accommodation and cost of living. If your budget is tight then choose elsewhere.

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What Students Say... 2 Leave your rating
Yonsei - Foreigners top choice in Korea
I will begin studying at Yonsei this fall at the Graduate School of International Studies (GSIS). My review is therefor based on my experience applying to Yonsei GSIS, as I can not yet say anything about the program itself.

Yonsei is ranked as the second best university in Korea, Seoul National University (SNU) being number one. The competition for Koreans applying to the university is fierce, and admitted students are definitely part of an elite in terms of education and academic results.
The story is somewhat different for Foreigners applying to the school. I will not go so far as to say the selection process for foreigners is easy, but compared to Koreans who normally will need a GPA of 4.0 (A) to be considered, foreigners are let of with a GPA of 3.0 (B). This do however vary from year to year, and case to case.

Being the university in Korea with the largest foreign student body, Yonsei is putting a lot of energy into keeping this position. The straightforward application process, with all documents provided in English, is a clear sign of the position they have built up among foreigners wanting to pursue higher education in Korea.

Since Yonsei is a private university, compared to SNU being a national one, the tuition fee is more expensive. However, if you compare the tuition fee with comparable universities in Europe or the US, you are still looking at a great price. For the GSIS, the tuition fee averages 7000USD a semester, essentially 28000USD for a two-year degree.

Yonsei has a large gallery of famous alumni, and is regarded as a top educational institution in Korea. The Seoul campus is located in Sinchon, an area in Seoul famous for it’s many bars and coffee shops. The campus is also one of the most beautiful campuses you’ll find in Korea.

Overall I strongly recommend applying to Yonsei if you’re considering pursuing higher education is Korea.

May 21, 2015, 5:19 am
Classes and Materials10
Good University
I attended the YSKLI program in 2010 and I really enjoyed my time there and living in the area, Like the review says it was a little distracting at times to live in party central but it gave me the opportunity to meet so many Korean friends and really improve my Korean. I'd definitely recommend it and I personally think it looks good on my resume to have 'Yonsei'
February 2, 2015, 10:13 am
Classes and Materials10
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