In South Korea, the school year begins in spring -- a time of new beginnings -- and new students at all educational levels across the country look forward to more than just buying school supplies. It's customary in South Korea and Japan to welcome newly matriculated students with a school entrance ceremony, usually held in March or April, as classes begin.
This long-standing custom has traditionally been fairly serious, with speeches and readings emphasizing new pupils' duties and responsibilities. But in recent years, South Korean schools have begun to create fun, welcoming ceremonies aimed at making new students feel included -- and uplifted. Below are five unusual ways South Korean schools have welcomed new students, showing them the excitement of learning before they even pick up a pencil.
1. Riding A Horse To School
On the morning of March 2, 7 new students rode horses to their school, Siheung Elementary School in Seogwipo, Jeju Province, while other students and parents applauded. (Photos: AP)
2. Giving Roses To Every New Student
On the morning of March 2 in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do Province, Suil High School’s principal started the entrance ceremony by giving every new student a rose to congratulate them. (Photos: AP)
3. Donating Blood
After their entrance ceremony on March 2, Hannam University students gave blood on a blood donation bus. This is the 8th year new students have given blood after their entrance ceremony. Second from the right in the picture is the chancellor of the university, Hyung-Tae Kim. (Photo: AP)
4. Releasing Wish Balloons
On Feb. 25th in Busan, South Korea's second-largest city, Silla University students released balloons with their wishes attached into the air during their entrance ceremony. (Photos: AP)
5. Having The Chancellor Wash Their Feet
At the entrance ceremony on Feb. 24th, Dongseo University’s chancellor washed the feet of new students, symbolizing his service to his students. (Photo: AP)
A version of this post appeared on HuffPost Korea. It was adapted for a U.S. audience.