Life satisfaction is a key part of a person’s well-being. It is integrally associated with physical, emotional, social, and academic functioning. Child abuse, friend communication, and self-esteem during the transition from childhood to early adolescence may be related to life satisfaction in unique ways. Life satisfaction is understudied among Korean youth in comparison to Western and other non-Western youth but has been shown to be lower among Koreans compared to Western youth. In this study we tested longitudinal direct effects of child abuse and friend communication on life satisfaction, and the indirect effects of child abuse and friend communication via self-esteem on life satisfaction. Data were from the nationally-representative Korean Children and Youth Panel Survey (KCYPS). Data were analyzed using Latent Growth Curve Modeling (LGCM) across ages 11, 12, and 13 years old (n = 2110, boys = 52%). Child abuse and friend communication showed interindividual variability in starting levels and change over time. Low abuse was related to better friend communication from 11 to 13, which was directly associated with greater self-esteem at age 13. While friend communication was directly linked to life satisfaction at age 13, abuse was not. Two indirect pathways from initial levels of or change in child abuse and change in friend communication through self-esteem to life satisfaction were significant. This study confirms that interactions with meaningful figures during early adolescence, including parents and friends, have enduring impacts on life satisfaction. Self-esteem is an important mediating factor which can contribute to life satisfaction, suggesting the need for intervention services to promote self-esteem along with supporting positive parenting and peer relationships to increase adolescent life satisfaction.