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Teaching English in Korea

Seoul Tower in winter
Namdaemun Gate
Seoul Tower in winter
Namdaemun Gate

Map of Korea

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How Much Can I Earn?
Monthly Salary:
1,800,000 - 3,000,000 KRW ?
1,570 - 2,610 USD
Private Tutoring per Hour:
10,000 - 50,000 KRW
10 - 40 USD
Income Tax Rate:
3 - 10%
Ability to Save per year:
7,600 - 23,000 USD
What Are My Benefits?
Usually included or allowance given
Partially paid for or reimbursed
Health Care:
What Will Teaching Be Like?
Teaching Hours:
22 - 30
Typical Contract Length:
One year
Typical Start Date:
August/September, February/March, or year round
Application Timeline:
2 - 6 months (longer for EPIK)
What Do I Need?
Work Visa:
Employer sponsors
Education Requirements:
Bachelor's Degree
Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certificate
Additional Notes:
Private tutoring is forbidden in most contracts; medical coverage will not start until you are legally registered in the country, which can take 30 days to 3 months; public schools strongly prefer 100-hour TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification
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What to Know About Living in Korea

Along with being a great place to explore, enjoy entertainment, and witness the footprints of history, Korea also features one of the world's largest ESL markets.


The good news is that most schools will cover their English teachers' apartment rental costs. Many ESL teachers are surprised by the size of an apartment and the included amenities once they move in. Living spaces provided to teachers in Korea are typically one-room single occupancy studio apartments, much smaller than Americans may be used to. They usually do not include ovens, only stove-tops, though toaster ovens are cheap and easy to obtain. Often a school will give teachers a choice between having their own private apartment or sharing a larger space with another English teacher; there are pros and cons to both situations. Sharing an apartment with someone else will allow you to make quick friendships with any roommate(s) and their network of friends. There are a lot of things to take into account for an English teacher setting foot on Korean soil for the first time, and having a roommate can help make this transition smoother.

Having a private apartment ensures that an English teacher has privacy and lots of quiet time to prepare lessons and mark assignments. Many English teachers prefer their own apartment. Single apartments are often smaller than the shared counterparts, however, and can be isolating, especially for someone who has just moved to Korea.

English teachers may have the rent for their apartment covered by their school, but most will be responsible for paying the utilities, phone, Internet, and other monthly household bills. Bills will rarely cost over 200,000 KRW for a teacher living a moderate lifestyle.

Many Koreans who call an apartment 'home' are not tenants but owners. Apartments are purchased because they are much more affordable than houses and they are close to conveniences such as grocery stores, entertainment, and other common destinations. Many larger private English schools own their own apartments or apartment buildings in which their teachers live.


There is such a high demand for English teachers in Korea that many schools will pay for their teachers' airline tickets up front, while others will reimburse the cost of the flight (usually within one month of arrival). If a contract is broken before its end date, or within the first six months of the contract, the teacher will often be required to pay the school back for whatever they received in compensation for the flight, and forfeit their return ticket home.

Health Benefits

One benefit to teaching English in Korea is a top-notch health care system. The medical system in Korea is similar to most developed nations, and most schools will pay for half of their teachers' health care premiums. English teachers employed in Korea should be enrolled in a public national health insurance plan. Even without coverage, medical treatment in Korea is surprisingly inexpensive. Cosmetic procedures are a common example of inexpensive medical care. Prescription drugs also tend to be very inexpensive. Some teachers enjoy having the added protection of private medical insurance to cover anything not provided by the public Korean system.

Retirement Age

'Mandatory retirement' is a common phrase in Korea. This policy allows businesses the ability to reject applications from candidates over 55 without penalty. It is still possible to work in Korea past the age of 55 if a school or business wants to hire you. The legal age of retirement is 60, and it becomes much more difficult to find employment past that age.

In addition to modifying the retirement age of Korean workers, the government also lessened the time of mandatory military service to get younger workers in the job market earlier. The rules concerning mandatory military service have loosened enough to allow many young Koreans an opportunity to get a good post-secondary education.

Technology and Advancement

The technology industry was one of the main elements that turned Korea from one of Asia's poorest nations to one of the world's wealthiest. This transformation, nicknamed the Miracle on the Han River, means advancements in technology are abounding across the country. Popular Korean companies like Hyundai, Kia, LG, and Samsung have products that are well-known by consumers around the world.

English teachers from North America have access to similar technologies in Korea. Modern conveniences such as high-speed Internet and cell phone service are very easy to obtain, even by foreigners. Cell phones work on the tops of mountains as well as in the deepest subway stations.

American Food

One of the main reasons many English teachers come to Korea is to sample Korean food, but sometimes it is hard to ignore a craving for food from back home. There are plenty of options for eating American food in Korean cities. Many large grocery stores will also offer western-style products, allowing English teachers to prepare their own familiar recipes at home.

Korea has many of the major American fast food chains in its urban areas; McDonald's has been in the country since 1988. However, western restaurant chains have found that in order to be successful they must fuse their products with Korean cuisine. An example of this hybrid would be the bulgogi burger offered at Korean McDonald's restaurants. In addition to fast food, there are many independently-owned and operated restaurants that offer traditional American foods like burgers, steak, ribs, Tex-Mex Chicken, etc. Eating at these restaurants is generally more expensive than eating in traditional Korean restaurants.

Transportation in Korea

Public Transportation


Many ESL teachers find taxis to be a quick and safe way to get around the city. As time passes, more and more drivers are able to speak English. When it comes to getting a taxi there are two methods: waiting at a taxi stand (found in larger cities), or hailing one on the street. If an ESL teacher is in a rush, they can use a phone and call for a taxi; however, rates are much higher this way.

When riding in a taxi, don't be surprised if the driver stops and picks up other people. Most cab companies in Korea have a shared cab system; the driver will pick up other customers traveling in the same direction. Calling for a 'mobom' (high-end taxi) could be an option if money is not a concern and one is looking to travel in style. These cars are more expensive than a normal taxi but offer much more comfort and speed. Often used for business, moboms are black with a yellow sign on the top of the car.

Some taxi drivers are excited to practice their English skills with native English teachers, while others may shy away from conversation. Don't be surprised if taxi drivers don't stop to pick up foreigners, as it is likely that their English ability is limited and they are saving both the driver and the passenger the difficulty of trying to communicate.


The train system in Korea is one of the world's finest. The railway is used for both commuting and for moving goods across the country and abroad. The railroad has changed since its beginnings at the end of the 19th century, as much of it needed repair after WWII and the Korean War. Over time, rail connections across the North Korean border have been severed, but the Korean rail system continued to grow into the modern enterprise it is today. Korea's railway system is maintained and managed by the state-owned company, Korean National Railroad (Korail).

ESL teachers can take advantage of routes that connect Seoul to other major Korean cities, running every 15 to 60 minutes. There are five types of long-distance travel trains in Korea:

- The Korea Train eXpress (KTX) - The pride of the Korean rail system with an estimated 100,000 passengers per day, the KTX is a commuting option for many. The high-speed train currently operates on two lines: the Gyeongbu Line (which connects Seoul, Busan, Daejeon, and Daegu) and the Honam Line (which connects Yongan, Gwangju, and Mokpo). The KTX travels at a speed of 185 mph, but is capable of reaching a speed of 215 mph.

- The Saemaul-ho - The Saemaul-ho train makes a lot of stops during its route, but makes up time with its increased speed between stations. A Saemaul-ho ticket will also ensure ESL teachers a seat which is much more comfortable than cheaper fares.

- The Mugunghwa-ho - The most popular way to travel the rails in Korea is by hopping on the Mugunghwa-ho. Designed to have a lot of standing room, this train does not make as many stops as the Tonggeun and offers reserved seating as an option.

- The Nooriro-ho - In 2009 the Nooriro-ho service began operating between Seoul and Sinchang. Almost identical to Mugunghwa, in that it offers ample standing room and is a very affordable option, the Nooriro trains cover shorter distances than Mugunghwa-ho.

- The Tonggeun - Translated as "Commuter" on timetables, this short run train pauses at all stops along a route. It serves an important function for many small, rural towns and new communities around Seoul, which otherwise lack good public transportation connections. There are no reserved seats on the Tonggeun. Train tickets for this train are the cheapest, but it is much slower than any other train.


The subway system in Korea is another important part of the Korean transit system. The first subway system was built in Seoul in 1974. Currently, there are six fully functioning subway systems operating in Korea. Commuters in Seoul, Incheon, Busan, Daegu, Gwangju, and Daejeon can get around town via the underground train. A huge advantage for ESL teachers taking the subway is the fact that there are many English signs explaining each stop at subway stations. Even above ground, teachers use subway stops as helpful landmarks and often carry a subway map to get from place to place.


Most towns and cities in Korea have access to a bus transit service. Many English teachers find traveling by bus harder than by subway due to the language barrier. Buses are not known to have a lot of route information in English. There are two different types of buses to choose from when traveling in a Korean city:

- Shioe Bus - These buses are for smaller routes. Shioe buses make a lot of stops in a short amount of time so they move at a fairly slow pace.

- Gosok Bus - Traveling in a Gosok bus makes getting around the streets of a Korean town a much quicker process. These buses travel faster because they make fewer stops and seats are much more comfortable than a Shioe bus. A ticket to ride a Gosok bus is more expensive than its counterpart, but many English teachers are happy to shell out a couple extra Won.

The Koreans find buses to be a great way to not only travel around the city, but to commute longer distances. Bus services vary from region to region, but there are two major types of long-distance busing systems:

- Doshihyeong Bus - These buses are usually used to travel from a rural area to a city. There are a lot of stops on a Doshihyeong bus, so people in a rush should consider other transportation options. There are usually a few very uncomfortable seats on the bus where wheel wells take up legroom. Though it may not be luxurious, it's one of the cheapest ways to travel.

- Jwaseok Bus - English teachers looking to travel a long distance in a short amount of time and in comfort should consider riding on a Jwaseok bus. There are only a few stops on the Jwaseok bus and seats are very comfortable compared to its Doshihyeong counterpart. Ticket prices are more expensive, but this bus is a good way to ensure timely arrival to most destinations in Korea.

Other Modes of Transportation


Traveling by riding a bicycle is a popular way to get around Korean streets, but it is not as popular as in other Asian nations. The Korean Home Affairs Ministry estimates that one out of every seven people rides a bicycle as a primary form of transportation. Bike paths and bicycle racks on streets are common, making bike-riding a great transportation method; however, riders should be wary of automobiles when on the road, as they don't always follow traffic laws.

Motor Vehicles

The '80s were a time of growth for Korea, evident by the massive upgrading of the Korean roadway system. During this decade, dirt-covered roads were paved over and massive freeways were built. ESL teachers interested in driving while living in Korea should be warned that Korean roads are known for being crowded and full of aggressive drivers.

Foreigners staying for a short period of time are able to use an international driver's license, which can be purchased in one's home country. Americans who decide to get a Korean driver's license will find the process to be much easier than in many other countries. Drivers can get their American licenses converted by submitting a passport, current driver's license, Alien Registration Card, photos, and fee. For more information about obtaining a Korean driver's license, visit the Driver's License Agency. It is recommended that ESL teachers obtain an international driver's license before leaving their home country.

Etiquette in Korea

Like in most nations, displaying proper etiquette in Korea is an important element to career success and the ability to effectively communicate.

General Etiquette

- Most Koreans will greet others with a handshake, but some may prefer the traditional bow. Follow the other person's lead and match your greeting to theirs.
- It is common to hear someone say "manasuh pangap seumnida" as they are greeting you. This Korean phrase translates into "Pleased to meet you".
- Superstition is an integral part of Korean culture. The number four is considered to be bad luck, while the number seven brings good luck. For example: when giving flowers, never give four flowers at a time - it would be better to offer seven.
- Men do not usually wear jewelry in Korea; however, it is acceptable to wear wedding bands and watches.
- Red signifies death; it is advised not to write someone's name or sign a card in red ink.

Business Etiquette

- When someone offers a long bow at the end of a meeting, it is a way to communicate that the meeting was successful.
- Korean business etiquette calls for the exchange of business cards early into a meeting. Again, follow the other person's lead. If they offer something using two hands, accept it with two hands.
- Much business is completed by making appointments and attending meetings; not keeping or going to one could be costly.
- The Koreans view a contract as a set of guidelines and starting points. It is important to be flexible when it comes to a Korean contract, and if the employer modifies an agreement, it is not a sign of disrespect. This is something of which every English teacher in Korea should be aware.

Eating Etiquette

- When dining in someone's home, it is important to wait to be seated by the host.
- Always remove outdoor footwear before walking into any Korean residence. It is common for indoor footwear to be provided.
- Koreans are known for being upfront; this is not to be mistaken as rude.
- Send a hand-written thank you note to the host the day after attending a dinner party.
- During a meal the oldest guests and those highest in seniority are always served food first.
- It is common to bring a small gift when invited to someone's home. However, do not spend too much money because the person will feel they must spend the same amount on a future occasion.
- Try all the dishes offered and be sure to have an empty plate at the end of the meal. It is okay to turn away a second helping of food.
- When leaving a dinner party, the host of the evening will usually walk the guest to their car or to the sidewalk.
- When pouring yourself a drink, ensure others' glasses are full before filling your own. Drinks should be poured with two hands on the pitcher and received with two hands on the glass.

Chopstick Etiquette

- Koreans avoid using their hands to eat, so chopsticks and a spoon must be used whenever possible.
- Never stab at food with chopsticks.
- Be sure that chopstick tips are never pointed in anyone's direction.
- Place the chopsticks down on the table every few bites, and also while speaking, but never lay chopsticks down to the left of a spoon.
- Never place chopsticks standing vertically in a bowl of rice or other food.
- When the meal is finished leave chopsticks on top of the bowl horizontally; placing them on the chopstick holder indicates an unfinished meal.

North Korea and the Kim Dynasty

Citizens of today's Korea have seen their nation transform itself from the images of the Korean War to that of a thriving economic leader in Asia. In recent history the world has focused on the negative attention generated by North Korea, its leader, Kim Jong-un, and his father Kim Jong-il before him. Steps are being taken, however, to reunify both ends of the Korean Peninsula. There have been American soldiers stationed in Korea since the end of the Korean War, but the tensions have calmed down over recent years as both nations met in 2007 and signed an agreement that will allow for peace, open borders for transportation including rail, and joining elements of their separate economies.

Language in Korea

Although it borrows some from Chinese, Japanese, and even English, the Korean language is truly Korea's own. There are even differences in the way Korean is spoken in South Korea compared to across the border in North Korea. The Korean language can be found around the world in China, Japan, the Philippines, as well as in the United States and Canada. Some examples of the Korean language can be found below:

- Hello
Annyong haseo

- Thank you
Kamsa-ham nee-da

- How much is that?

- American

- Foreigner

- Korean

- What's your name?
Eee-ru-mee oh-toe-kay dwee-shim-nee-ka?

- Excuse me

- Have a good day

- My name is ________

- English teacher
Yong-oh Kang-sa

- How do I get to _______?
_______-eo Otoke kamyun doipnikka?

- Goodbye
Annyonghi gaseyo

Eating in Korea

Korean Cuisine

Korean cuisine has elements of Buddhist, Chinese, and Japanese food, but possesses its own unique flavor, making it well-known around the world. Like many countries, the dishes in Korean cuisine vary from region to region, each area adding their own local ingredients to their dishes. Many of the recipes for popular Korean dishes also offer little direction, which accounts for a lot of the creativity and diversity a single dish can obtain across the country.

Some historians believe that the first humans to prepare rice for food were in fact from the Korean Peninsula, debunking the traditional belief that the Chinese were the first to eat the grain. Many people around the world think Korean food is spicy due to the cultural reliance on seasonings such as peppers, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, mustard, and vinegar.

Citizens of Korea are surrounded by water, and this is made evident in many Korean dishes featuring a wide assortment of seafood. Koreans are also known for having a good mix of fresh produce, grains, and meats. Many dishes feature tofu, vegetables, rice, and noodles. A typical Korean diet consists of many meats including fish, pork, and chicken. Occasionally beef is eaten, though it is generally more expensive and thus usually reserved for holidays. Some regions still have people also incorporating dog into their diet; nationally, it is not nearly as popular as other meats, and is often consumed on holidays only.

One thing that makes Korean food stand out from the cuisine of other nations is the amount of banchan (side dishes) served throughout the course of a meal. The banchans are usually meant to accompany plain steamed rice. This ensures that ESL teachers will experience a wide range of flavors, and enjoy the amount of time a good meal can last.

Some of Korea's more popular dishes include:

- Kimchi - Korea's most popular banchan. There is a wide variety of kimchi in Korea, but all dishes are vegetables (usually cabbage) fermented with various spices, vegetables, and meats. Each region adds different ingredients to their kimchi and the food will often vary depending on the time of year in which it was prepared. Kimchi is eaten with every meal.

- Jajangmyeon - Jajangmyeon is so popular in Korea that many restaurants will deliver it right to their customers' doors. This dish consists of rice noodles served in a black bean sauce with various meats, vegetables, and spices mixed in.

- Patbingsu - In the summertime, it is hard to avoid eating patbingsu; on the other hand, no one should miss this Korean treat. Starting as a food sold by merchants on the street, patbingsu is now a huge business in Korea. The basic ingredients of a patbingsu are sweetened red beans with ice shavings. Every patbingsu maker has their own way of making this great treat by adding fruits, candy, grains, ice cream, and yogurt.

- Gimbap - Known mostly as a snack food, gimbap consists of white rice mixed with other ingredients rolled in dried seaweed. It is likely that gimbap from one city will taste completely different than that of another due to the openness of the recipe. There are many 'fast food' restaurants in Korea that serve gimbap as their staple food because it is quick to eat and prepare, very popular, and a variety of ingredients can be used to make it unique.

- Bulgogi - Literally translated as 'fire meat', bulgogi is a popular dish made by marinating thin slices of sirloin or other prime cuts of beef in a mixture of soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, garlic, pepper and various other ingredients. The beef is traditionally grilled with vegetables and served with lettuce and side dishes such as rice or glass noodles. Some fast food restaurants also serve bulgogi burgers, where the beef patty is marinated in bulgogi sauce. Other variations include dak (chicken) bulgogi and dwaeji (pork) bulgogi.

- Bibimbap - Served as a bowl of warm rice topped with seasoned and sauteed vegetables, typical additions are egg and meat. This signature Korean dish, translated as "mixed meal" or "mixed rice", is often enjoyed in a hot stone pot as dolsot bibimbap. Diners mix the ingredients together before eating.

Dog Meat

Koreans frequently endure debates and protests about whether or not eating dog meat is cruel, or if it is an acceptable part of Korean culture. While it is true that dog meat is still eaten in some areas of Korea, it is not as controversial as some North Americans may think. Traditionally popular during the summer months because it is believed to have a cooling effect on the body, some Koreans still believe that food which includes dog meat has medicinal purposes, especially concerning male fertility. Many dishes that traditionally featured dog have now been modernized to include chicken or other meats as substitutes.

The Korean government asked Koreans not to prepare dog meat during the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul and the 2002 FIFA World Cup because they were afraid that this would injure the nation's animal rights activism and blossoming modernization. ESL teachers have no need to worry about eating dog. Due to the public outcry against it, the majority of Korean restaurants will not serve it and many never would, regardless of public resistance. It usually takes an effort to find restaurants that serve dog. Like in North America, most dogs are simply household pets, not food.

Climate in Korea

The weather in Korea is temperate, meaning that there are four unique seasons in a year. Summer months are warm with high amounts of rain and winter months are cold. Spring and fall seasons are ideal for traveling and sightseeing, with the occasional light rain. There are some regional differences in weather, as Korea's southern coastline has warmer temperatures in the winter compared to most of the nation, while mountainous areas experience snow.

Natural Disasters in Korea

Korea is in a region of the globe that experiences a summer typhoon season. During the typhoon season, it is not uncommon to see flooding due to an increase in rainfall. Hurricanes occasionally make their way to the Korean Peninsula; however, ESL teachers should not let the Korean climate stop them from teaching English. Upon arriving in Korea, be sure to pay attention to local weather forecasts and take weather warnings seriously.

Holidays in Korea

Korean holidays reflect the love Koreans have for a good time, being with loved ones, and remembering the nation's past. The country uses the traditional Korean calendar, which is lunisolar, as well as the Gregorian calendar to mark time. Koreans may not have as many national holidays as other nations, but some of their holidays last for three days at a time.

- January 1 - New Year's Day (Sinjeong)

A holiday which celebrates the first day of the Gregorian calendar (paid holiday).

- First Day of the Lunar Year - Korean New Year (Seolnal)
A three-day long celebration which many Koreans consider as one of the most important holidays in the country (paid holiday).

- March 1 - Independence Day (Samil Jeol)
A remembrance day for Koreans to honor their ancestors who protested against Japanese rule (paid holiday).

- May 5th - Children's Day (Eorininal)
Since 1975, the Koreans have joined many other nations around the world and celebrated the accomplishments of their children (not a paid holiday).

- Eighth Day of the Fourth Month of the Lunar Calendar - Buddha's Birthday (Bucheonim Oshinnal)
Usually occurring in May, there are large celebrations in temples across Korea.

- June 6th - Memorial Day (Hyeonchung-il)
Korean Memorial Day is a day of paying respect to the Korean soldiers who are currently part of the military and those whom have served in the past in the Korean War and World War II.

- July 17th - Constitution Day (Jeheonjeol)
Marks the anniversary of Korea's constitution in 1948.

- August 15 - Liberation Day (Gwangbokjeol)
A celebration to remember the end of the Japanese rule of Korea during the WWII era.

- 15th Day of the Eighth Month of the Lunar Calendar - Harvest Festival (Chuseok)
Usually falling in September, this three-day holiday is celebrated to mark the tradition of giving thanks for a good harvest. ESL teachers should be aware that part of the Harvest Festival is traveling to one's ancestral hometown. This means that careful planning is required if a teacher intends to travel during this holiday due to increased road and commuter traffic (paid holiday).

- October 3 - National Foundation Day (Gaecheonjeol)
A day to celebrate the creation of Korea's first kingdom (then called Gojoseon) which occurred in 2333 BCE.

- December 25 - Christmas (Seongtanjeol)
Since 1949, the Koreans have celebrated Christmas.

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Teaching English in Korea

There is a very strong demand for ESL teachers in Korea with positions to teach in public or private schools. The Oxford Seminars Job Placement Service has access to many positions with reputable schools and agencies.

There are a wide range of teaching jobs for native English speakers with TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification in Korea. An advantage for Americans is the fact that many Korean schools want their students to have American accents, which means US residents are much more marketable to recruiters. Contracts in Korea are nearly always for one year in duration with the possibility to extend. An understanding of the English language is something that Koreans value, with most post-secondary institutions requiring a test of this skill before offering students admission into their programs.

Peak ESL Hiring Season in Korea

The demand for ESL teachers in Korea is particularly high in February and August, but there are positions available throughout the year. For Korean public schools, the main start dates are in February/March and August/September with applications being processed in the four months preceding. There are new job postings on the Internet every day, and Korean streets and newspapers are always filled with job notices regardless of the season.

Types of ESL Teaching Jobs in Korea

Public School System

Teaching in a Korean public school has its advantages for ESL teachers. Factors which attract many teachers to the public school system include job stability and the lower number of teaching hours. English teaching positions in a public school typically pay a standard rate depending on qualifications, while payment from academies or hagwons (private education companies) varies depending on many factors. Many ESL teachers also feel more secure working at a public school because they are mandated and run by the Korean education system. Teachers looking for employment in a Korean public school should be aware that these positions offer more vacation time but they may only work with one to three other foreigners, as other subjects are taught in Korean by Korean teachers. The advantage is that foreign teachers are accompanied by Korean teachers in the classroom to assist with lesson planning and behavior management.

Private Language Schools

The easiest place for ESL teachers to find employment in Korea is in hagwons. A hagwon is a privately-run school which offers classes in English. Hagwons vary in size and the number of staff; they also vary in the courses offered to their students. When doing an Internet search, it is easy to spot both stories of positive and negative experiences teaching in hagwons. Remember that these are businesses, and while some might seem to place a higher importance on generating profit than the education of their students, don't let horror stories scare away a great opportunity. Asking questions when being interviewed for a teaching job and spending some time researching any school that may be interested in hiring is great advice no matter where an ESL teacher is applying. Pay is typically equal to or higher than in public schools and working with several other foreigners is more common.

Universities and Colleges

Universities and technical colleges in Korea almost exclusively hire from the large pool of ESL teachers already in the country and these positions are highly sought-after. Applicants should have at least three years of experience working in the overseas ESL market to be considered and master's degree holders are strongly preferred. However, because there are a significant number of colleges and universities operating in the country, the potential for a serious ESL teacher's career growth is almost limitless. Many of these jobs pay similar wages to teaching in the public school system, and compensate this discrepancy by offering more benefits, including more vacation time.

Private Tutoring

It is possible to make some extra money working as an English teacher offering private tutoring to Korean students. Teachers thinking about offering private English lessons should consult the contract they originally signed with the school. Most schools in Korea stipulate that teachers may not teach English anywhere other than in the school that hired them. Violating this agreement will risk many elements of an ESL career in Korea and could result in the loss of a job, monetary fines, or deportation. Be sure to discuss the possibility of teaching private English lessons with any employer before signing a contract. If an English teacher is able to work delivering private lessons, they will be able to charge around 10,000 - 50,000 Won hourly.

EPIK [English Program in Korea]

EPIK was established by the National Institute for International Education in 1995 to improve the English-speaking abilities of students and teachers in public schools throughout Korea. ESL teachers are encouraged to apply through their local Korean embassy or consulate, or through an EPIK-approved recruiting agency. Guidelines for qualifications can be found at the EPIK Website. Placements are made in September and March, but applications are accepted several months beforehand. Interested individuals should note that contracts with EPIK are for a minimum of one year, renewable each year following, and that preference is given to those having previous teaching experience with children.

GEPIK [Gyeonggi English Program in Korea]

Much like EPIK, GEPIK is a government-run group that manages schools in Gyeonggi province (which surrounds the metropolis of Seoul) and recruits instructors to teach in public schools throughout the province. Many of these schools are located in the suburbs of Seoul and are accessible to downtown by subway. A number of partners to the Oxford Seminars Job Placement Service recruit for public school positions through EPIK, GEPIK and other provincial or metropolitican offices of education.

Other Jobs Teaching English in Korea

With English being the international language of business, many Korean companies are incorporating English lessons into their employees' work day. Korean businesses find it easier to hire in-house English teachers rather than send employees to a hagwon. These jobs typically have longer hours than a public school or hagwon, and usually do not include accommodations. ESL teachers choosing this career path may have the option of negotiating salary; these types of positions are best secured in person by teachers with experience in Korea.

How to Find Jobs Teaching English in Korea

Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Job Placement Service with exclusive access to established schools and recruiters around the world, including Korea.

There are also many websites which feature lists of schools looking for TESOL/TESL/TEFL certified teachers to teach English in Korea. Decide which elements of teaching English in Korea are important to you before applying for any teaching jobs.

Individual answers to the following questions should provide some insight:

- Does working in a large urban area such as Seoul appeal more than working in a smaller rural region?
- How much of a factor is salary and quality of accommodations when considering applications to teaching jobs?
- What level of English would students need to communicate?
- What age range would comprise the ideal classroom?
- Are there any concerns about taking public transit?
- Is travel important? How much off-time would the ideal teaching position offer?

Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in Korea

The following links are recommended resources for individuals interested in ESL teaching in Korea:

- Oxford Seminars ESL Teaching Resources
- Wikipedia Article on Korea
- Job Monkey Language Guide
- Korea.Net

Resources that may include ESL teaching jobs are:

- Oxford Seminars English Language Schools Directory
- ESL Cafe
- Just Landed
- craigslist

Korean Newspapers

- Korea Herald
- Korea Times
- The Chosun Ilbo

Largest Chain Schools in Korea

Korean parents consider knowledge of the English language to be a very high priority for their children, often spending large portions of their income on additional private education. With such a large ESL market, there are many chain schools and academies specifically for teaching English in all regions of Korea, 12 months a year.

- Chungdahm Learning - One of the largest chain schools in Korea, this is a great place to start looking for English teaching jobs. Chungdahm Learning boasts over 40,000 students across the country with over 200 locations in cities including Seoul, Busan, Jeju, Daegu.
- ECC - ECC has locations throughout Korea; including several offices within Seoul. Being a large company, they are able to offer very competitive salaries and opportunities for their teachers. There are ECC schools in Seoul, Incheon, Ilsan, Bundang, Daejeon, Daegu, Changwon, and Busan.

Tips for ESL Teachers in Korea

- There are a lot of opportunities for ESL teachers in Korea, so decide what type of English teaching job is the best fit. Elementary school positions are the most common.
- Learning the Korean language overnight is impossible, but it is highly recommended to spend some time learning as many common phrases as you can. In many urban areas it is possible to find free Korean language lessons. Hangul, the modern Korean alphabet, was created by academics some 600 years ago so that even a "commoner" could learn to read and write. It is an extremely phonetic alphabet that can be learned in just days.
- For the most part, Korean apartments are smaller than those in North America. Do not expect to have a lot of space for items that can easily stay at home.
- The majority of schools will pay for, or reimburse, air transportation costs. Typically the cost of a one-way ticket to Korea will be reimbursed within one month of arriving and the ticket home will be provided at the end of the contract. One can bring this initial cost down by spending some time researching various options on the Internet.
- Practice using chopsticks. Do not come to Korea expecting to use a fork and knife in public.
- Moving to the other side of the world usually means that ESL teachers must find someone they trust to manage their finances while they are gone. Some choose friends or family while others choose to retain the services of a professional financial advisor. The rules for filing income tax are generally the same whether one resides in the United States or abroad. For more information visit: IRS.

Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in Korea

The requirements and guidelines below are listed for ESL teacher applicants to Korea who are citizens of USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.

The most common visa for which ESL teachers apply is the E2 (Long Term Visa to Teach a Foreign Language).

Minimum Requirements to Apply for Teaching Positions in Korea

- BA (3 or 4 year) degree from an English-speaking university/college. A temporary degree or graduation letter from university is not acceptable.
- Native English speaker (English spoken since birth), or have resided and been formally educated for at least 10 years (from at least 7th grade) in an English-speaking country (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa).
- Citizenship in a country where English is the primary language (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa).

Types of Applicable Visas

- E2 (Long-term Visa to Teach a Foreign Language).
- E1 (Professor Visa): designed for those who wish to teach in a university setting (not confined to teaching foreign languages) and who are qualified according to the 'Higher Education Act' standards.
- C4 (Short-term Employment Visa): designed for those who plan to stay for 90 days or less with the intention of profiting from lectures, research, the instruction of new technology, commercials, fashion modeling, etc.
- Spousal Visa: designed for those married to a Korean and living in Korea. ESL teachers are eligible to use this visa to teach English, providing the necessary requirements are met.
- F4 (Visa for People of Korean Heritage): This visa can be secured for a stay of up to two years and can be extended. This visa can be used for employment in almost all sectors, excluding unskilled manual labor and speculation activities.

Important Visa Information

- E2 visa applicants should apply for a visa at a Korean embassy or consulate in one's own country.
- Visas will only be granted if there is sufficient time remaining on the applicant's passport after end of stay in Korea (six months).
- One should apply for a visa in person.

Standard Process for Obtaining Documentation to Work Legally in Korea

1. Applicant secures a contract with a legitimate school.
2. The school applies to the Korean Immigration Office on applicant's behalf, and if approved, receives a Visa Issuance Confirmation Number (VICN).
3. VICN number is given to the teacher to be used in applying for the visa.
4. Teacher takes VICN to closest embassy/consulate along with documents listed below.

Standard Required Documents for Visas

(It is important to check with the Korean embassy/consulate as variations in requirements sometimes occur.)

- A valid passport with at least six months remaining after travel dates (This should be confirmed with local embassy/consulate)
- Completed visa application
- Passport photos
- Original degree and a notarized copy
- Sealed university transcripts
- Employment contract
- Letter of personal reference
- Federal Criminal Background Check from police department in region of residence (with attached FBI notarization/apostille for US residents). Those with minor offences will be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis, but typically any criminal record check that does not come back clean will disqualify the applicant for a Korean E2 work visa.
-Applicant's Health Statement (form available through Korean embassy/consulate). The applicant is not required to obtain a physician's medical assessment, but rather must complete a self-health statement to be submitted along with the visa application. Within 90 days of arrival in Korea, he/she would be required to go through medical testing at a designated hospital in order to maintain a valid visa.
- All official documents notarized
- For Canadian Citizens: All notarized documents must be confirmed at the Korean embassy/consulate

Embassy and Consulate Information in Korea

The United States of America Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea

Embassy of the United States, Seoul
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-710, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 397 4114
Email: seoulinfoACS@state.gov
Website: http://seoul.usembassy.gov/

U.S. Consulate General, Busan
Room #612, Lotte Gold Rose Building
#150-3 Yangjung-dong, Busan jin-gu
Busan, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 397 4114
Email: seoulinfoacs@state.gov

Canadian Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea

Canadian Embassy, Seoul
21 Jeong-dong, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-120, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3783 6000
Fax: 82 2 3783 6239
Email: seoul@international.gc.ca
Website: https://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/korea-coree/offices-bureaux/embassy_canada_ambassade.aspx?lang=eng
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 11:45 am; 12:45 pm to 5:00 pm

Canadian Consulate, Busan
c/o Dongsung Chemical Co. Ltd.
472 Shinpyeong-dong, Saha-gu
Busan 604-721, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 5 1204 5581
Fax: 82 5 1204 5580
Email: seoul@international.gc.ca
Website: https://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/korea-coree/offices-bureaux/consulate_busan_consulat.aspx?lang=eng
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday : 09 :00 am-11 :30 am; 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Australian Embassy and Consular Offices in Korea

Australian Embassy, Seoul
19th floor, Kyobo Building
1 Jongno 1-ga, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-714, Republic of Korea
Phone: 02 2003 0100
Fax: 82 2 2003 0196
Email: seoul-visa@dfat.gov.au
Website: http://www.southkorea.embassy.gov.au
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm

Australian Consulate-General, Busan
Room 802 Samwhan Officetel
830-295 Bumil 2-dong, Dong-Ku
Busan 601-709, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 51 647 1762
Fax: 82 5 1647 1764
Email: seoul-visa@dfat.gov.au
Website: https://www.dfat.gov.au/missions/countries/krpu.html
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm

British Embassy in Korea

British Embassy, Seoul
Sejong-daero 19-gil 24, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-120 , Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3210 5500
Fax: 82 2 725 1738
Email: Enquiry.Seoul@fco.gov.uk
Website: https://www.gov.uk/government/world/organisations/british-embassy-seoul
Hours of Operation: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm, 1:30 pm to 5:15 pm (closes at 5:00 pm on Fridays)

Irish Embassy in Korea

Irish Embassy, Seoul
13th Fl. Leema Bldg.
42, Jongro 1-gil, Jongno-gu
Seoul 110-755, Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 721 7200
Fax: 82 2 774 6458
Email: contact form on website below
Website: www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/republic-of-korea/
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:30 am to 12:30 pm; 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm

New Zealand's Embassy in Korea

New Zealand Embassy, Seoul
Jeong Dong Building, 8th Floor
21-15 Jeong-dong gil, Jung-gu
Seoul 100-784 (West tower), Republic of Korea
Phone: 82 2 3701 7700
Fax: 82 2 3701 7701
Email: nzembsel@kornet.net
Website: http://www.nzembassy.com/korea
Hours of Operation: Monday to Thursday, 9:00 am - 12:30pm and 1:30pm - 5:30 pm

Embassy and Consular Information Outside Korea

Korean Embassy and Consular Offices in the US

Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Washington
2450 Massachusetts Ave. NW.
Washington, DC 20008
Phone: 1 202 939 5600
Fax: 1 202 797 0595
Email: consular_usa@mofa.go.kr
Website: http://usa.mofa.go.kr/english/am/usa/main/
Hours of Operation: Monday to Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Korean Embassy and Consular Offices in Canada

Embassy of the Republic of Korea, Ottawa
150 Boteler Street
Ottawa, Ontario, K1N 5A6
Phone: 1 613 244 5010
Fax: 1 613 244 5034
Email: canada@mofa.go.kr
Website: http://can-ottawa.mofa.go.kr/eng/
Hours of Operation: Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to noon; 1:30 pm - 5:00 pm
Free PDF - Financial
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Korea: A Financial Snapshot

Read more about banking in Korea and expected costs of housing and food.

Expected Apartment Costs

There are some English teachers who are not offered accommodations as part of their contract. Although rare, this is more likely to happen in a large urban city like Seoul, or for a job in a public school. Positions without accommodations included will typically offer a higher rate of pay or housing allowance. In Korea, English teachers typically have a much higher income than that of an average family of four. Finding an apartment and saving some money should be a fairly easy task if one is careful.

Typically, an English teacher should be able to find a single-occupancy studio apartment for between 500,000 - 900,000 Won monthly. Renting an apartment in Seoul could cost a little extra. Most landlords will ask for a 'wolsei' (deposit); the amount is determined by the cost of monthly rent.

Banking in Korea

Setting up bank accounts for foreign ESL teachers is a typical part of the job for Korean bank employees. Many larger banks try to gain more international business from native English speakers by having on-site translators to ease the communication barrier. It is still best for ESL teachers to bring someone along with them if the bank does not have any staff members that speak English. Many schools will have a bilingual staff member to help their ESL teachers settle into Korea.

Korean banks offer similar services and accounts to other banks around the world, but there are little to no service fees on a Korean bank account, making banking in Korea unique. To set up a bank account ESL teachers should bring a passport, a Certificate of Alien Registration, and their visa. It's important to note that most bank machines close (and are locked) around 10 PM local time. Teachers should also research the location of ATMs that allow international transactions to facilitate withdrawals from American bank accounts, when necessary, as there may only be one or two such machines in smaller cities.

Food Costs

One of the best ways to make an ESL teacher's paycheck stretch a little further is by doing some grocery shopping and cooking meals at home. Eating out in a restaurant is a great way to experience Korean cuisine, and can also be an affordable option. Eating in western-style restaurants generally costs much more. A lot of grocery shopping in Korea is done at the local street market, but there are large supermarkets in cities that will also offer a wider variety of food for a higher price. Below are some examples of typical Korean food prices:

- Coca Cola - 1,400 Won (per 0.33 liter bottle)
- Milk - 2,500 Won (1L)
- Cup of coffee - 4,400 Won
- Bottle of Water - 800 Won (per 0.33 liter bottle)
- Gimbap - 1,500 Won
- Beer - 4,000 Won (per bottle)