STUDY CAFE AND STUDY GROUP CULTURE IN KOREA
In Korea, many young adults use study cafes and participate in study groups. This culture of using study cafes and studying in groups is something that isn’t common in other countries. So many foreigners could be curious about these two types of Korean modern culture. This month, we came up with various questions that foreigners might have about study cafes & study groups and answered them.
Q&As about Study Cafes
1. What is a study cafe?
A ‘study cafe’ is a place where cafe and library is combined together. It looks like a cafe where you can study, and is more open compared to a library. Study cafes are located in various places, but they are usually gathered in places where there are many students, such as Noryangjin or Daechi. However, it is not only students who use study cafes. Since a study cafe is a more open space than a library, as mentioned, businessmen also use it when they need a place to focus on their works.
2. What is the difference between a study cafe and a library?
One of the main differences between a library and study cafe is ‘openness’. While it is prohibited to use laptops or make noises in most libraries, in study cafe, it is allowed to drink, use laptops, or talk quietly. Also, a study cafe is divided into various spaces, such as ‘study space’, ‘laptop space’ or ‘group space.’ Therefore, you can choose the space you want and use it. Moreover, these days, there are many study cafes that are very luxurious and comfortable.
3. Why is study cafe so popular in Korea?
The main reason why a study cafe is popular is because one can study in a more comfortable and a freer environment. Also, these days, studying methods are diversified in many ways. For example, most Korean college students take lectures on cyber-campus and there are many people who study in groups. Therefore, study cafes have more merits to these people since there are various spaces to use.
4. How can we use the study cafe?
It is not difficult to use the study cafe. In the past, a general manager usually registered and managed the members, but nowadays study cafes mostly have unmanned system. Therefore, you can enter the study cafe only if you pay for the desired seat on the automated machine and check your payment with a barcode or fingerprint. Most automated machines contain English translation, so even if you are not good at Korean, you can use study cafes without difficulty. Usually, you'll be charged about 3,000 won for 2 hours, and if you pay for a seminar room that can accommodate 4 people, you have to pay about 6,000 won per hour.
After entering, you can rent electronic products or blankets you need at the counter. Generally, there are cell phone chargers, reading tables, blankets and computer cables available in study cafes. In addition, there are coffee, snacks, and various beverages in the resting area, so you can take as much as you want. In most study cafes, charging outlets are attached to each seat, so you can charge the electronic devices directly from your seat. In addition, the study cafe lights are set to enable changing colors, so you can choose the color that you like most.
5. What are the structures of study cafes?
In the past, study cafes were usually consisted of a general reading room and a single room, but the structures of study cafes developed over the years, and now you can see various types of seats there. For example, nowadays there are seats structured similar to an attic, so you have to climb up mini stairways to reach them. There are also seats near open windows, where you can enjoy the outside view while studying. Since each person's studying style and the way of concentrating are all very different, you can choose the seat that suits you.
Besides individual seats, there are also several seminar rooms for group studying and team projects. Since group studying wasn’t the trend a few years ago, most study cafes didn’t have structured seminar rooms. However, as the demand for team works and group studies increased, study cafes started to make various types of group seminar rooms. Depending on the number of people in the group, you can choose the size of a seminar room. Starting from 2 member seminar rooms, some study cafe group rooms can accommodate more than 10 people. In addition, you can even register for option rooms where a power point project, a laptop, and a blackboard are available. But when you use these option rooms, you have to pay extra money for this equipment.
6. What are the rules we should follow while using study cafes?
Using mobile phones is prohibited in study cafes. For example, you must turn your mobile phone off and keep it in your bag, etc. while you are in a study cafe. No food is allowed in a study cafe. Only drink bottles with a cap that can be tightly closed are permitted in a study cafe. Private conversations are not permitted. Even whispering or standing and chatting may be disturbing to others. Refrain from leaving your baggage, etc. on study cafe chairs/sofas, and avoid taking up two seats by sitting on one and putting your baggage, clothes, etc. on the other. Also, you have to pay for the amount of time you study.
Q&As about group studies
1. What is a group study?
It is a group of people with the same goal or interest. In a study cafe, you might find some people studying in the study room. Like this, we can meet up with people to achieve a particular goal. Usually, many people participate in these study groups to study hard or get some certificates. It is especially beneficial for people who have trouble studying alone because they can become more motivated by cheering each other up. Sometimes, they even share information. In a study group, each group might have its own rules and you should pay some money if you don’t follow the rules. It is also good for some people to study hard. Another advantage of study groups is that it is a good way to make new friends.
2. What kinds of study groups are there?
There are many different types of study groups and they vary in characteristics. They are largely divided into two categories: online and offline.
Online study groups mostly use SNS chat rooms and they share and record what they did or how much time they studied a day. It is easy to find such groups compared to offline groups. You can just search on the internet or use apps and join. Kakaotalk and Naver band are representative apps. Online groups have an advantage that people don’t need to meet in person.
Offline groups are usually aimed at obtaining certificates or exchanging language. It is more systematic than online study groups but you have to meet people in person about once or twice a week. You can also join offline study groups through internet but it could be quite difficult to find a group that is perfect for you. Offline study groups usually rent places or just go to cafes.
3. What kinds of online study groups are there?
There are different types of online study groups such as groups that prove early wake up time and groups that record study time. Due to COVID-19, university students do not go to school and take lectures at home and this made it more difficult for them to wake up early. Therefore, more and more students have been searching for a study groups that prove wake up time in order to maintain a good sleep pattern and stop themselves from becoming lazy. Moreover, there is a group that records study time in which you capture how many hours you studied for the day and send it to the study group chat to motivate each other. Also, there are self-studying online study groups that use zoom face-chat to make them feel as if the study mates are studying together even though they are not in the same place, in order to study harder.
4. How do online study groups work?
Online study group use platforms such as Kakaotalk’s open chatting system or Naver band, or Zoom where you video chat with the study mates. Kakaotalk’s open chatting system is a chatting system that can be used anonymously. As people do not get to meet face-to-face, online study groups usually hold a fine system for those who do not follow the rules to keep the system going in the right direction and pursue their common goal.
5. What is a common form of studying offline at study cafes?
Although not as many people use offline study groups these days due to the pandemic, there are still quite a few cases of meeting up face-to-face in order to achieve a common goal by studying together.
A common case is group tutoring. Group tutoring is usually done by first booking a study room – for four to six people – and then meeting up at the reserved time. As there are usually whiteboards, laptops, tablet computers and large desks in the room, tutors (teachers) use these materials to teach the prepared subjects. Those who use group tutoring most often are high school and middle school students. The purpose of these activities is to enhance their skills for Suneung (Korean college scholastic ability test), prepare school exams or others related to college entrance.
When the number of COVID-19 patients rose and the government temporary banned the opening of Hakwons (academies), some students turned to group tutoring. There were also cases of teachers working in the banned Hakwons coming to the study cafes to continue teaching their students.
6. What other forms of offline study groups are there?
A: There are also other cases of studying together at study cafes. College students study together to obtain certificates such as TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) to prepare for their jobs. Office workers also come together to enhance their skills such as English conversation. People from different situations gather at study cafes to prepare for their future or become a better self. These study groups also become an opportunity to meet new people with similar thoughts or goals.
These are some of the facts that you might like to know about Korean study culture. We hope you enjoyed it and found it useful. Now you don't have to be afraid to make use of study cafes or join study groups in Korea!