Last year, I decided to finally get a Korean driver’s license. Even though you could technically get your driver’s license without taking any lessons (if you want to know more about that, WeFancy made a video on how to get a Korean driver’s license in a day), I thought it would be better to enroll in a driving school (or driving hagwon) and do it from scratch.
The first thing I had to do was choose a school. There are English-speaking driving hagwons in Korea, but they tend to charge you more so if you have intermediate or higher Korean skills, you should definitely opt for a regular Korean driving school. I went to a hagwon in Gwangmyeong, right outside of Seoul. I signed up for their basic program which included 3 hours of written lessons, 4 hours of driving course and 6 hours of on-road driving lessons.
The written lessons mostly consisted of old-school videos teaching you the basics of safe driving. I honestly didn’t consider them to be very helpful, hence I mostly studied information I could find online about traffic rules in Korea. They also gave us a book with possible exam questions, but I only ended up reading the first couple of questions. There were too many questions included in the book and it would have been impossible to memorize all of them before the exam. The written exam is the only exam that was not held at the hagwon but I went to a test center in Gangnam on a weekday afternoon. Before you take the actual exam, you need to fill out a form at the front desk and glue color photo headshots on the form (they should be 3×4 cm and you need to bring 3 of them). Also, don’t forget to bring your alien registration card! After filling out your form, you should head downstairs to do a health checkup, which will cost about 6,000 Won. They only test your eyesight, so it doesn’t really take much time.
After the health checkup, you can go back upstairs to take your written exam. Before you take the exam, you will pay a 7,500 Won processing fee. If you are not enrolled in a driving hagwon, you will also have to watch a traffic safety education video. I went into the test room straightaway because I had already watched it at my hagwon. The written exam consists of 40 true/false questions and is available in various languages, such as Korean, Chinese, Japanese and English. I took it in English to maximize my chances of passing the test. There were some tricky questions here and there, but most questions could easily be answered using common sense. If you manage to 60/100 or higher, you will pass the test and you can move on to the next part, the driving course.
After passing my written exam, I went back to my driving school to schedule my first driving lessons. I took two two-hour lessons on consecutive days. During those lessons, they basically teach you what to do during your driving course test. They don’t even teach you the basics of driving, but they just want you to do well on your exam. I’m glad I had previous driving experience or otherwise I would have been completely lost. On the day of the exam, you will be given instructions by a GPS inside the car and there will be no driving instructor sitting next to you. You need to follow the exact timing and get at least 80/100, or you will fail. I only got 75/100 during my first try, so I had to come back 3 days later to re-take the exam.
After you pass your driving course exam, you can obtain a temporary driver’s license for 3,500 Won or you can take your on-road driving lessons right away, which I did. The on-road driving lessons are similar to the driving course lessons: they don’t teach you how to drive, but how to pass the exam. My driving hagwon even posted videos of all 4 possible test routes on Youtube and I learned them by heart to prepare myself for the day of the exam. For the on-road test, you need at least 70/100 to pass. Fortunately, I passed right away but if you fail, you can re-take the exam 3 days later. After passing the test, I submitted a color photo headshot at the hagwon office and picked up my driver’s license one week later.
Overall, I was able to get my driver’s license in less than two months, but it is possible to get it a lot faster depending on your schedule. However, I don’t believe that 10 hours of driving lessons are enough to learn how to drive so if you don’t have any previous driving experience, I recommend taking extra driving lessons. Also, for those of you who want to know how much it costs to get your driver’s license in Korea, here’s the price list of my hagwon.
I hope this article was helpful 🙂
Till next time,