The number of people looking for jobs reached almost 1 million last year as unemployment among young Koreans soared.
The Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education and Training analyzed the so-called economically active population from 2007 to 2013 and found that 960,000 people between 15 and 29 were looking for jobs last year, up 40.8 percent compared to 2007.
Some 319,000 or one in three were preparing to take civil service exams, accounting for the largest group. The number fell to around 280,000 in 2008 but rose again above 300,000 in 2013 for the first time in six years.
The main reason behind the surge was that the government changed the lowest-level civil service exam to draw more high-school graduates who opt to get a job instead of going on to college.
Also, 26.1 percent of the 487,000 jobseekers with university degrees or higher were preparing for civil service exams.
The number of people seeking employment in the private sector also surged from 133,000 in 2010 to 260,000 last year.
Oh Ho-young at the institute said, "A growing number of large businesses like Samsung, Hyundai and LG are using aptitude tests for applicants, leading to the creation of crammers targeting jobseekers."