Work and Play at the Land of the Morning Calm (South Korea)

by wavepoint

Dec. 1, 2022, 10:28 a.m.


Where Do I Start?

Maybe you are into K-pop, K-drama, or even esports?  Maybe you have that oddball aunt or uncle that told you stories about the time they spent living the expat lifestyle teaching English in South Korea during the early 2000s?  Curious about working and playing in South Korea for a year or more?  The easiest path to experiencing South Korea  is being a foreign language teacher.  There are very few qualifications needed to teach as a foreigner in Korea. This is a big reason why the job draws so many people straight out of college.  Generally, the work is not too hard, the pay is decent, and the work life balance (35-45 hours) is better than what regular Korean office workers have. 




The requirements for teaching in Korea at a private academy (Hagwon) are a Bachelor’s degree, a criminal background check, and a sponsor company/school. It was not as prevalent in the past, but most schools and hagwons (private academies) ask for a certificate known as TEFL or TESOL, attesting that one can Teach English as a Foreign Language. (I will add a post about TEFL or TESOL here in the future and provide a link here.)


Public school teaching program is based on the EPIK, which stands for English Program In Korea.  The requirements for this type of employment are more stringent than the requirements for a private academy (Hagwon).  To apply for the program you must have a Bachelor's degree or above; TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification, BA or MA in Education, or a teaching license; Native English speaker with citizenship from either Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, UK, or Ireland); Clean Criminal Background Check (CRC); meet all requirements for an E-2 (Teachers Visa) or F-4 visa(Overseas Korean Visa).  (I will add a post about it here in the future)




Compensation for private academies really depends on the hagwon and your credentials.


Salary: $1600 to $3100+/month

Hours: 35-hour workweeks on average

Pension/Medical/Severance/Airfare: (most GOOD places cover all of it)

Vacation: it ranges from unpaid to paid with various number of days offered

Housing: stipend/provided by hagwon

Quarantine:  No longer matters, but again most good places paid for it


Compensation for public schools (EPIK Program) is set by the government but, in general, a placement at a public school is more secure and offers greater benefits, but the pay is comparatively lower and it requires a year-long commitment.


Salary: $1,380-$2,000/month Pay Scale at https://www.epik.go.kr:8080/contents.do?contentsNo=49&menuNo=278

Hours: 8 hours/day Monday-Friday (i.e., regular school hours of operation).

Pension/Medical/Severance/Airfare: covered by school

Vacation: 28 days paid

Housing: stipend/provided by school

Quarantine:  No longer matters


Getting Started


You can go right to the next section and start looking for a position, but if you are dead set on teaching in Korea, I suggest that you gather the following documents ASAP because it takes time to get it all and any delay will make things harder for you.


- Notarized / Apostilled photocopy of your Diploma(s) Bachelor's / Master's 

- Notarized / Apostilled Nationwide Original Criminal Record/Background Check 

- Application for Visa 

- Medical Assessment for Immigration 

- A color scan of the information page of your Passport 

- (4) passport sized photos (3.5cm x 4.5cm) 

- Resume with current mailing address and phone number 

- (if any) Photocopy of TESOL/TEFL/CELTA Certificate(s) 

- For Korean American (Gyopo) teachers, prepare either the Photocopy of F4 visa or Permanent Residentship Certificate 


IF you do NOT have a TESOL/TEFL/CELTA Certificate(s), get that ball rolling too.  (link to how)


Now that that is settled, you need to find yourself a place of employment.


Tags: work , job

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