By some measures, South Korea—the Republic of Korea—is the most educated country in the world. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 70 percent of 24- to 35-year-olds in the nation of 51.5 million people have completed some form of tertiary education—the highest percentage worldwide and more than 20 percentage points above comparable attainment rates in the United States. Korea also has a top-quality school system when measured by student performance in standardized tests: The country consistently ranks among the best-performing countries in the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment (PISA).
At the tertiary level, Korea’s universities have less of a resounding global reputation; nevertheless the country was ranked 22nd among 50 countries in the 2018 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems by the Universitas 21 network of research universities. The Economist Intelligence Unit, meanwhile, recently ranked Korea 12th out of 35 countries in its “Worldwide Educating for the Future Index,” tied with the United States.