Korean Students to Pay Less For Uniforms

April 24th, 2009 · Education and ESL · 10 comments

The government is being urged to try various initiatives to reduce the cost of school uniforms, including banning celeb advertisements, trying group purchases and eliminating “customizable” uniforms.

It appears that next the cost of always-controversial school uniforms will decrease by W30-40,000.

According to the Ministry of Science and Technology on the 19th, a conference was held on the 17th, attended by the Korean school uniform association (한국교복협회) and four large businesses (Ivy Club, SK Networks, Elite Basic, and School Looks), at which it was decided to stabilize school uniform prices.

The business first decided not to sell “customizable uniforms,” which would allow alterations for waist lines or purses, beginning next year.

They plan to thoroughly investigate ways of restricting the sale of such uniforms at stores.

School uniforms companies have been selling uniforms which can be customized against the wishes of schools, to increase convenience or attractiveness, and the practice has been criticized as the main driver in the increase of school uniform costs.

The businesses have accordingly been stopped from using celebrities in their advertisements, and have said they will defray costs by reforming the distribution process.

The businesses also said they would offer free uniforms to low-income students and increase their charitable giving, and comply with fair business practices law.

The Ministry announced, “if customizable uniforms are stopped and the distribution system reformed, the price of school uniforms will fall proportionately. Prices will fall to W200,000 from the current average of W240,000.”


  • This is a good idea, but I don’t see why schools don’t just refuse to deal with suppliers who don’t see to their demands.

    And W240,000? I sure hope that includes both summer and winter uniform along with track suit. I thought one of the points to uniforms was to reduce the amount teenagers would otherwise beg their parents to waste on school clothes.

    Yu Bumsuk · April 24th, 2009 at 8:43 AM

  • back in the day, i spent a king’s ransom on uniforms and nobody ever so much as complimented my s-line… ㅜ.ㅜ

    Chris · April 24th, 2009 at 9:34 AM

  • I’ve never understood why school uniforms cost so much and those ubiquitous silver suits worn by hoards of marauding 20- and 30-something salarymen only cost about W100,000 at Lotte Mart.

    ecorn · April 24th, 2009 at 9:46 AM

  • Isn’t it weird that the GOVERNMENT has to make it illegal to do alterations on uniforms? In essence Koreans must be protected from themselves because they can’t control their own purchases. . .that’s just bizarre.

    Merriam Webster · April 24th, 2009 at 12:47 PM

  • Merriam Webster-
    I would disagree. The government is stepping in to prevent a race to the bottom for kids to wear the most expensive clothes to school. By strictly setting the standard (uniform, no customizations), they are preventing people from getting around the rules. The government is the only institution in a position to do this.

    squeeze · April 24th, 2009 at 3:19 PM

  • #5 – why can’t the schools do this? If an outlet is offering more expensive, customised uniforms, they can switch to another supplier.

    Oh wait, the principal is probably getting a kick-back from the supplier he chooses. Yeah, I see your point.

    Yu Bumsuk · April 24th, 2009 at 4:02 PM

  • Now sit back and wait for the next marker of Social Status that students of schools with standard uniforms use….. Designer Label – Shoes, Trainers, Bags, Coats etc.

    B.B. · April 24th, 2009 at 4:55 PM

  • Well, it’s not as if any old uniform can’t be altered by a tailor.

    Anonymous · April 30th, 2009 at 9:37 AM

  • Ecorn does have a good point. Shouldn’t a polyester suit be cheaper than one made of wool?

    Anonymous · May 1st, 2009 at 3:31 PM

  • Yu Bumsuk’s got it nailed here — there is an individual administrator, or group of individual administrators, at each school who has the power to determine which uniform maker will be designated as the exclusive supplier to the school. Such person therefore has a monetizable discretionary power — he’s bribable.

    The uniform suppliers have to recoup the cost of the bribe somewhere. They do so by selling at a higher price.

    The correct method to squelch this graft would be to make the uniform designs belong to the schools, and allow any supplier to manufacture conforming product. So long as it’s to spec, the uniform is acceptable for wear (this is what the US military does with its uniforms, by the way). Since this easy fix isn’t being adopted, we can conclude that the Korean government doesn’t actually care about the students, or about eradicating corruption like this. The

    Brendon Carr · May 6th, 2009 at 10:36 AM

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