Korea ranked top in the OECD in terms of schoolchildren's performance in reading and mathematics, for the third time after 2006 and 2009. Including non-OECD members, Korea ranked fifth among 65 countries after China, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The OECD released the scores under the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) on Tuesday. Korean students also took upper spots in science.
The OECD has conducted the international survey every three years since 2000 to assess the competencies of 15-year-olds in reading, mathematics and science. The latest survey covered 510,000 youngsters in 65 countries and economies, including 5,201 randomly selected in Korea.
But although Korean students performed well, they showed a lack of interest in the subjects, a phenomenon that was also noted in previous surveys.
Students' interest was assessed by asking them to rate statements like, "I look forward to my mathematics lessons" and "I am interested in the things I learn."
Korean students were far less enthusiastic about the subjects than the OECD average. In other parts of Asia like Macao, Shanghai and Taiwan that performed well in math, by contrast, youngsters were also more enthusiastic than the average.
Korean students seem to feel a lot of pressure because they learn math to prepare for their university entrance exams rather than for practical use, the Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation said.