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January 13th 2007
Published: January 13th 2007
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The trials of teachingThe trials of teachingThe trials of teaching

As you can see, it's a tough crowd...
"You speakee English? You want easy money? Come work my school!" -- (Excerpt from my third phone interview)

OK, actually that was about the WHOLE interview.

The bank account was looking rather paltry and I jumped on the train of easy employment, teaching English in Seoul along with tens of thousands of other native speakers. Despite my cynicism on life in Korea, I have to admit that the work itself was surprisingly pleasant and rewarding, even given my initial hand-wringing at the thought of having to entertain children all day long. And, while it is easy as pie to hop on a plane and instantly have a job in Korea, certain bits of information can drastically improve your position in life. I personally read through lots of blogs while searching for a teaching job to glean useful information, so I decided to return the favor and fill in any potential job seekers on the ins and outs of working in Seoul.

Job Hunting

First off, most people are interested in how much money you earn and can potentially save. A typical contract for someone with no teaching experience and without a teaching degree offers about 2.0 - 2.2 million won (about $2150 -$2300 USD) per month, health insurance, roundtrip air transport, an apartment, and a completion bonus of one month’s salary. Food is relatively expensive, but taxes are only 3%!,(MISSING) so you can save $1000 a month quite easily if that’s your goal. HOWEVER, what I wish I had known before coming is that so many more high-paying jobs are out there if you know where to look! With a little luck, you can get jobs paying up to 3.0 million per month with no experience as well. There are lots of websites advertising teaching jobs, like Dave's ESL Cafe or ESL Junction or for Pusan PusanWeb but the absolute BEST place to look for jobs in Seoul is WorknPlay (there are about 100 listings a day just in Seoul). In addition to full-time jobs, you’ll find lots of part-time private lessons advertised that pay between $30 and $50 per hour. If you search around to get a higher paid position and pick up a few private lessons, you can easily save $2000+ a month. (Let me also point out that working privates is illegal, but that most people do it. Some people come on tourist visas and just fill up
Confucian boyConfucian boyConfucian boy

Natural Medicine festival in Daegu
their days working privates, in which case you can potentially earn over $7000 a month for a 40 hour workweek if you could organize the hours.)

Most contracts are also for one year, but if you are active in searching on Work-n-Play you will find opportunities for shorter time periods as well. This is also a great opportunity to finance your travels if you are in Asia; every January and late July-mid-August, schools have winter/summer intensive sessions and you can work for just 4 weeks, earning $2500 to $3000 on average, with housing and meals provided by the camps.

The majority of teaching jobs are with elementary/middle school students at hagwons, or language academies, which will often have working hours in the afternoon/evening, such as 2-10 p.m. While this seemed perfect to a night owl like me before arrival, I have to say that I abhorred working the later hours because it messes with your whole eating and sleeping schedule. If you don’t mind little tots who don’t understand a lick of English, kindergarten may be a go for you, and those schools generally hold schedules more in the 9 to 5 range. (Be advised though that keeping the attention span of a whole classroom of little tykes who don't really understand you takes heaps of energy!) There are also jobs with public schools that seem to offer great compensation packages with 9 to 5 hours. The benefit with public school jobs is that you have a secure position and often shorter working hours too, but you may have 30 kids in your class as opposed to 8 students in an academy class.

The single most important piece of advice I would have is to come to Korea and look for a job instead of accepting a position from overseas. (I didn’t do this.) I know, the plane ticket is quite expensive, and most contracts throw in a round-trip ticket to and from Korea as part of the compensation package. But, while I actually had an awesome experience with my school, I was extremely lucky. In the first place, recruiters make $1000 for placing you with a school and really don’t give a crap about finding something you will like. I have also heard all kinds of horror stories from other teachers about broken promises on their contracts, not receiving their pay, or having the school just shut down overnight. Koreans’ insatiable demand for English teachers means that job opportunities are endless, provided you have a four-year university degree, so you needn’t worry about milling around for long without a job. Aside from visiting the school and seeing how well they are organized and getting a feel for whether it’s a good fit for you, meeting the teachers to talk about how things REALLY run there is priceless in comparing your options.

Job searching in person can also help you evaluate where you want to live and what the housing is like. (There are jobs everywhere in Korea, but I worked in Seoul and therefore can only really offer advice on working in the capital.) The best resources for finding your way around the city are these online Seoul subway and bus maps. The city is divided into north and south by the Han River, and the southern part - Gangnam - is the newer, wealthier part. If you like skyscrapers and malls, you’ll probably feel at home here. Even if you don’t, anywhere near Samseong or Gangnam stations are great places to pick up private lessons, and there’s good nightlife around Gangnam and Apkujeong. Many foreigners live in Itaewon, which is a great place to go when you tire of Korean food, as there are many different restaurants, or if you need to find some English-speakers to pal around with in the pubs. However, it’s also full of American GIs, which can be annoying - they come and patrol the bars and the streets at 1 a.m. to bust soldiers for breaking curfew and it sends you back in time travel to your days at summer camp or whenever it was you last had an institutionally imposed bedtime. My experiences bar-hopping in Itaewon were limited, but never without running into at least one spectacle reminiscent of drunken frat party members trying to get on “Jackass.” If that’s not your cup of Earl Grey, there’s also a good mix of Koreans and foreigners in Hongdae and Sinchon, which are close to another hot spot for teaching jobs, Mokdong.

While teachers themselves get recharged by these meccas of diversity, many Korean schools/recruiters are less than enthused by racial diversity among English speakers. A very disconcerting fact of life in the English-teaching web is that you will often see ads for "White Teachers Only" or find directors refusing to hire the most qualified candidate based on their ethnic background. Although I have met teachers here from every sort of racial background, I'm just letting you know that this attitude seems to be the rule rather than the exception among those doing the hiring. Also, many schools list preferences for North American accents, and apparently due to businessmen's preferences and some kind of scandal a couple years back involving inappropriate extramarital affairs with male "teachers", many jobs also specifically request female teachers. So, while there are jobs aplenty for any English speaker, if you are a woman from Canada or the U.S. with rosy cheeks and light colored features, you pretty much have your pick of the litter!

Practical Considerations: Life in Seoul

Speaking of choices, you can find almost everything you need in Seoul. Shopping seems to be a national pastime here - even the subway stations are turned into underground shopping havens. However, you may want to bring a few things with you. It is relatively difficult to find standard bed sheets, large bath towels, and deodorant. If you are a woman and wear a shoe size greater than size 8, you will miss out on all the cute foot fashions on offer and will definitely need to bring all the shoes you will need with you. I’d also stock up on your preferred brand of cold medicine, since I found the ones I got in the pharmacies here utterly useless. And unless you are a die-hard fan of Korean cuisine or prefer to eat out every night, you will probably need to search a bit for ingredients and spices to cook familiar foods. There are a few Costco's in Seoul and the foreign food store near the mosque in Itaewon that will help tremendously.

Keeping in touch is no problem; there is a PC bang (internet café) on every corner in Seoul and you can get good rates on international phone cards in Dongdaemun Market and in Itaewon. However, if you want to get your own computer, Jonny Computer in Itaewon did an awesome job getting me set up with everything for $300 and will buy it back from you when you leave, if you so desire. Foreigners can’t get contracts for cell phones so you have to pay up front to put credit on your phone and recharge it when it runs out.
The Devil and Mr. LeeThe Devil and Mr. LeeThe Devil and Mr. Lee

My morning conversation student at the World Cup party his company sponsored
If you’re not concerned about having the latest and greatest mobile phone, you can search for used ones at Yongsan Electronics Market and then have a phone company activate it, or ask around about teachers who are leaving Korea and try to take on someone else’s phone when they leave.

As you get acquainted with your new hometown, keep your head up. There seems to be no real method behind the madness on the streets. Motorcycles routinely drive on the sidewalks (occasionally cars do too when they are tired of waiting at a stoplight), red lights are run, and I can only make the generalization that Korean drivers are extremely impatient by observing the lane changes that ensue every few seconds during rush hour, which only serve to complicate the congestion. I read that the government had introduced a creative way to ameliorate the problem; namely, they offered a 10,000 on (about $10 USD) reward to anyone who called in a valid traffic violation and could document it. Apparently they had to quit this program after awhile because some people were making full-time jobs of it, earning up to $100,000 a year! However, it seems that their alternative to
The Palatial ViewThe Palatial ViewThe Palatial View

From the 17th floor in my apartment...smokestacks, sewage treatment plant, and Seoul...
this program was just to avoid any type of enforcement whatsoever, meaning that there is no real incentive NOT to be a jackass behind the wheel. Above all, the main problem seems to be a lack of respect for pedestrians. Near my school, where the road was only wide enough for one car to pass at a time and where half the people you saw on the street were children, cars would nonetheless barrel down the street honking the horn, the kids scattering like flies in the face of a flyswatter. Somehow the unspoken rule that because people are smaller and more vulnerable that automobiles, you must therefore yield to them, has the tone in Korea that because they are bigger, pedestrians better get the hell out of the way!

Given my views on above-ground traffic, my love of the subway system grew even more profound. Seoul’s subway system is very easy to use and has English signs and announcements for the stops, along with neighborhood maps in each station to help you orient yourself towards which exit you need to take. If you get a T-money card, you can transfer to the buses for free to get you door-to-door. Public transport is quite cheap, typically around 80 cents to $1, and even taxis are really affordable. Traffic is horrendous at rush hour and on rainy days, but you may still need to hop on the bus to avoid multiple subway transfers in some places.

I got lots of questions from friends and family members on how I can work and get around without speaking Korean. Basically, the more Korean you learn the easier it will be, but honestly, it’s quite easy to live here without knowing any. Since you teach English for your work, your co-workers obviously speak at least some English, and generally you aren’t teaching the kids from scratch so you only speak English with your students as well. It is quite helpful, however, to learn the Korean alphabet, Hangeul, so that you can at least read signs and menus (even if you don’t really know what it means). If you need assistance in English, businesspeople and kids/teenagers are generally the best ones to ask. While I was shamefully disinterested in learning to speak Korean beyond the bare essentials, there are actually free classes on Saturdays at Sookmyung University in Seoul.

There are also lots
The day that Seoul redeemed itselfThe day that Seoul redeemed itselfThe day that Seoul redeemed itself

The beautiful procession in Dongdaemun Stadium for Buddha's Birthday bash
of Koreans looking to improve their English who will do language exchanges with you and teach you Korean, and will give you an instant local social connection in this enormous city. Ads for language exchanges are posted in some foreigner magazines and on the English spectrum website, which is an amazing resource to help you buy things for your apartment, find jobs, get the scoop on cultural and entertainment options, and to find sporting or other clubs to fill your free time.

Any other specific questions on visas, travel agents, and tricky legal situations can often be answered by searching on the Korean job forum on Dave's ESL Cafe, and you can browse the following sites for more information on things to do in Seoul too:

Seoul Style
The Seoul Times
Adventure Korea
Korea Tourism Guide

I hope this serves as useful for someone out there wondering how to keep financing their nasty travel habit. :-D So get ready for a lot of awkward stares and a whole lot of pickled cabbage, and happy hunting!!!

UPDATE: 10/30/2009 -- PLEASE NOTE!!!:
There are a few things I think I should mention in the text of the blog itself, as I get oodles of comments and
personal messages about this entry that I don't really have time to respond to in a timely manner.

First, the visa situation has changed since the writing of this blog; you need to get a visa in your home country generally before arriving, so check with your country's Korean Embassy.

Second, I cannot answer questions about specific companies or recruiters. English teaching academies and schools are ubiquitous; it's like asking someone if they happen to know one particular non-descript restaurant in London or New York City....the odds are one in a million that I know anything about the particular job you are looking at!

Finally, PLEASE look through the comments before asking me your question, as I have already answered many questions, more than once to different people, and don't really have the time to reply to redundant questions. And, as I noted before, I don't usually get to them in a very timely manner these days, so it would be more helpful for you too to look through other questions and replies first if you need a quick answer! I'll still reply to anything that doesn't seem to have been asked before though if I know

Participant in the lantern parade - Seoul
the answer!

Additional photos below
Photos: 23, Displayed: 23


The kimchi's a-brewin'The kimchi's a-brewin'
The kimchi's a-brewin'

The giant pots where the cabbage ferments into Korea's national dish
Alleyway in Insa-dongAlleyway in Insa-dong
Alleyway in Insa-dong

Shopping street of traditional goods in Seoul
My apartmentMy apartment
My apartment

It was a bit spartan when I first moved in, but I can't actually say that it was ever this clean again!
Officetel apartmentOfficetel apartment
Officetel apartment

Officetels are generally nicer than "villa" style apartments but are one giant room, like a studio apartment

13th January 2007

Thanks for the advice
Wow, that was really informative. Thanks so much for posting this.
13th January 2007

Great info, thanks!
13th January 2007

Great to see a post by you at last! I've been wondering... Anyways, your photos are fantastic
14th January 2007

Nice pics Jenn. Can't wait for the SA blog and maybe a lil something from home. Miss you heaps. Big Hug.
14th January 2007

Thank you
you dont know me, but the info you gave was GRREAT !! I am a homestay mom in Canada, and have Korean students that I love...I t has been my dream to go to Korea and teach there when my husband retires...but I see I cant go and do that..I dont have a University degree. So sad, I think it would have been such a good experience. Keep up the good work, and make more unforgettable memories.
14th January 2007

Great pictures
Great pictures and a good story. Monkey and Bear Holland
14th January 2007

Wow! Thanks for the advice and insight
I thoroughly enjoyed your blog and whilst I am searching for a teaching English job, I now think I will search in Korea! Thanks for all the information and then beautiful pictures. You are a talented photographer!
15th January 2007

Don't give up yet Nora!
Hi Nora, Just wanted to let you know that you might still be able to work in Korea if you get a TEFL/TESOL certification, particularly in kindergartens. It might be illegal, I'm not sure, but I'm sure you would still be able to find work :-)
16th January 2007

teaching in Jeonju??
Does anyone know anything about teaching in Jeonju, South Korea?
16th January 2007

teaching english
How would I go about finding work ? I have actually enquired here in Calgary about taking TESOL.. Anyway thanks ^^
17th January 2007

Try searching the sites I mentioned; most part-time jobs (which you can piece together quite easily to make loads more than a full time job offers you) don't ask for your degree, but you could volunteer the info that you have TESOL certification. As a Canadian you get a 6 month tourist visa!
18th January 2007

Nice one luv!
I must admit that I have scrolled through all your blogs, and am thoroughly impressed with your photography. Especially the consistancy of very decent photographs. If you do not already, you should get them published, or simply sell them. Keep it up.
19th January 2007

Great info!!
Really nice blog....sharing your international experiences with other travelers!!!!
1st March 2007

Hi Jen! Thanks for the update! It's great to hear where you are and what you are doing now! It was great to see you over Christmas...Keep in touch! Katie
15th March 2007

I was given you blog link from another person on and I find you entries extremly usefull!! I am going to be teaching english in China this summer and have been doing as much research as I can to prepare me and your blog has helped me alot - thank you!! ~Cara
16th March 2007

Thanks for your helpful writing!
Hello, just wanted to let you know your writing is very helpful and much appreciated by myself and obviously others. I very much enjoyed your Korean article here and while I happened upon this site accidentally, I'm glad I did. Your observations and suggestions would be extremely helpful for anyone in the teaching field (and there are lots). The way you express your experiences makes overseas work seem less intimidating, at least in this case. Being a native English speaker with a serious interest in foreign languages, you have succeeded in arousing my interest a bit, even though I am not currently in the teaching field. Thanks again, and keep up the experiences!
16th May 2007

RE: Gender jobs
Kelly, No actually there are plenty of good jobs available for men. While you will find many ads looking for N.American females, there are SO MANY jobs available for people of all genders, races, accents....including the good job offers! Actually, you will also find certain jobs requesting male teachers, for example high school/university boys whose paying parents probably think their money will be more wisely spent if their sons are not distracted! :-)
3rd October 2007

how hard is it to find a 6 month contract?
how hard is it to find a 6 month contract?
6th October 2007

re: jerry
Hi Jerry, 6 month contracts aren't commonly advertised. Not to say that I haven't seen 6 month and even 3 month jobs advertised, but they are few and far between. However, it depends how desperately the school needs someone; if you go through a recruiter they might be able to help you finagle or strong arm your way into a 6 month contract too.
27th December 2007

Full time/part time
Great info. I was wondering how many hours of work is considered full time and how many hours for part time? Thanks!
1st January 2008

Jason: There's no universal standard in Korea; you just have to see what each job offers. My first FT job was 40 hrs/wk; currently my FT job is 32 hours/wk, but many FT are as low as 20-25. PT just implies that they likely won't give you a visa for the work but can be up to 30 hours/wk as well!
31st January 2008

Legal Issues and TESOL programs
From what I read with the prior posts, if I apply for part-time work, in S. Korea, most employers won't ask for a degree, however, wouldn't there still be legal issues? Also, when I look on the Internet for TESOL certificate programs, there are so many schools that offer it, but it leaves me very suspicious, that some might be scams of some sort. How can you tell which institution is legitimate?
25th February 2008

Hello, what kind of a salary and perks should I accept? I have an Associate in Business, a Bachelor in Elementary Education and a teaching license and I am in my early 50's (look younger than that though). Also lot's of experience working with kids(all ages) and adults - though working with preschoolers and kindergartners is not my favorite. Any idea of good locations? I would like to travel and save too - how much vacation time I would get is important to me. Like your information in your blog. Thanks.
9th March 2008

Re: Tammy
Yes there are legal issues with working PT: namely, it is not legal. It's also illegal not to report babysitting wages in the US on your tax I guess everyone needs to decide for him/herself how important it is to be "legal." My point of view is that no one is born 'illegal' and surely should have more rights and opportunities than beef and MP3 players, which seem to have no problems crossing borders and earning revenues between Korea and my country of origin..... Can't really help you out on the TESOL front; I'm not certified. You don't really need it to work here though, and after you get your feet wet, experience will help you out a whole lot more than a certification anyway.
9th March 2008

RE: Patricia
You'll just have to spend time looking through the offers to get an idea of the going rate in salary, benefits, and vacation time to decide what you think is a good package. I'm not sure what you would think is a good salary based on your background; ditto with 'good locations,' since that is largely dependent on your personal lifestyle preferences. You are certainly qualified and if you get a job with a proper elementary school or a university, for example, you will get a lot of vacation time. I'm currently working for a private elementary school and get about 14 weeks paid vacation a year....but I think I am really lucky to have this job since most academies and even public schools don't seem to offer much more than 2 weeks vacation. I think you could easily get jobs offering 3.0 million/month or maybe a bit less if they offer you an apartment on top of the salary. I'm not nearly as qualified or experienced and am currently bringing in 2.8 from my salaried job, plus the option of afterschool classes and legal privates for more, if that helps you out at all.
28th March 2008

Re: Jenni Jen
Thank you for your reply. :)
10th April 2008

Where exactly do you teach?
I am on the verge of hopping on a plane and going out to S. Korea. Your position right now seems to have great benefits. Can you tell us what school and recruiting company (if any) you went through? I would love 14 weeks paid vacation! Please let me know, I should like to be as happy as you!
19th April 2008

Re: Bee
Hi Bee, I work at a private elementary school; they only employ 3 native teachers, but most public schools (not afterschool programs at public schools but proper public school jobs) will also offer long vacation periods during school holidays. I didn't use a recruiter; in general I find that if you find the school directly you will find a better fit than going through a recruiter. I've been meaning to update this, but there have been some immigration changes with the rules for getting an E2 visa lately, and a great deal of variety between what they are saying needs to be done and what they are actually implementing. Before you jump on the plane it might be best to check out the latest discussions on Dave's ESL Cafe to monitor what's going on.
4th May 2008

You cant hop on a plane to look for work anymore
From Dec 15th new immigration laws meant that any person going to Korea to teach English for the first time can no longer hop on a plane - go to Seoul and then look for a job - followed by doing a visa run to Japan from Korea . This is now illegal. Only people doing a second E2 visa can do a Japan run. All first timers have to do the paperwork in their home country and then have an interview at the Korean embassy nearest to their home [ in their home country] Also you now need to get a criminal record check from your own country valid within 6 months. This criminal check needs to be notarized and Apostilled officially in your home country before being sent to Korea for your visa . Also once you are in Korea with a visa you cannot change jobs before 9 months working. Now all hagwon teachers and public school teachers have to get a full medical exam in Korea before 90 days [ and pass] or you do not get alien registration and have to leave Korea. Even C4 visas for 3 months camp work require a criminal record check and process out of Korea. Because of these major changes it is vital no one hops on to a plane to look for work as it may be a very costly experience. Also 6-12 month jobs are getting extremely rare because of the new regulations and costs to employers . Also public schools are now becoming the biggest employers in the market with over 1000 jobs available in Sept 2008.
30th May 2008

More Questions
Ok me again - I am looking at jobs. Most offer a max of 10 days paid vacation - even in the public schools. Some schools say a month or 6 weeks but then they require winter or summer camps. Also payscales are in the range of 2.1 to 2.3. Am I looking in the wrong places - wrong recruiters? Also I am wanting to stay out of the mountainous snowy regions - dealt with that enough in midwest USA. Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you.
10th June 2008

Morning Calm
I was stationed in Korea during the late sixties and decide to look at some blogs about Korea. I came across yours and thought that it was quite beautiful with outstanding pictures. I always thought the children in Korea were very special and your pictures seem to support this. Thanks for showing the true beauty of South Korea and it's children.
22nd June 2008

Hi Jenni Jen, First of all, you have the most informative and best website about teaching English in Korea that I have come across so far! I have an F-4 visa, "gyopo", but I'm new in Seoul and I'm trying to get private students but don't know how to go about. Do you know how people get private students or do you have any ideas? Everyone says it's so easy, but I don't know they do it. Thanks!!
1st July 2008

diversity in korea
Firstly, I thought your blog was very informative. I am currently signed on with Footprints recruiting and looking for a teaching job in Sept. One of the things i did notice is that in many of the pictures I have seen there hasnt been many african american people in them. After reading your blog I feel a little discourage. I would hate to go to an environment that i would feel uncomfortable in all the time based on my ethnicity. I was wondering though, that if given a contract should I be concerned of unfair treatment if hired.
12th July 2008

Great site - help appreciated
Hi there, great info, thanks. I am moving to Seoul with my bfriend who will be teaching english. I will hopefully be doing an open uni degree and want to work part time, but do you know any non-teaching english speaking jobs I could go for? I have finance experience if you know of any banks/insurance cos there that are also in england, e.g. AXA/Legal and General,etc. Sorry, not strictly teaching orientated msg...thanks in advance.
13th July 2008

RE: Ternica
I don't think you'll be treated unfairly if hired; unfortunately, I do think you may be passed up for some job offers because of racist school owners. However, my coworker at my present school was African-American and she spent 5 years here in Korea at different establishments, so rest assured that you will find work just fine. There are other African-Americans/Canadians/etc. as well as Africans here, particularly if you move to Seoul and live near Itaewon there are foreigners from all over the world here and you certainly shouldn't feel uncomfortable. But to be honest, you WILL probably feel uncomfortable here at times based on your ethnicity....but that goes the same for Caucasians, because if you're not Korean, you will get stared at and treated as an outsider a lot of the time. Many teachers are treated unfairly once hired, and many teachers are treated rudely and stared at....but if you come you need to remind yourself that this happens to blondes, brunettes, redheads, males, females, Filipinos, Latinos, South Asians, etc. etc. etc... and that it is not due to your specific ethnicity; just happens to be that xenophobia is as color blind as love is....
13th July 2008

re: silver
You can search on WorknPlay for non-teaching jobs or maybe use Monster search engine or something like that. They are much fewer and far between, of course, but you may luck out!
13th July 2008

re: peter
It's especially easy if you have an F-4 visa. Just look on the websites for the ads and apply for them! Check or
21st August 2008

Former GI chick trying to find a way to go back!
I am so thankful I ran across your blog! I am a little older than the "average" college student (I am 36 and since getting out of the Army am trying to find my nitche in life), but have been seriously looking into teaching in Korea. I LOVED IT THERE!!!! I am starting initially with my aa, but have every plan on getting my bachelors degree and then trying to get over there. As a soldier, I met so many teachers in the little villages that loved it there as well so that makes it even more intriging to me! I just wish there was a shorter route than having to get my full bachelors degree...!!
1st September 2008

RE: diversity in korea
First off , thank you for all the great info. i am an Afican-american female and I am current on active duty in the US Navy. When I am done (April of 2009) I would like to teach english in Korea. What is the name of the school you worked at that did not mistreat your African-American co-worker?
6th September 2008

Maybe you didn't read through the comments; immigration rules have changed and there are more hoops to jump through, therefore it is best NOT to just show up in korea without a job!
6th September 2008

re: kimmy
Hi Kimmy, The school I worked at was Dong Kwang Elementary School, but they only hire 1 or 2 times per year and only employ 3 foreign teachers. However, any place you get work is really luck of the draw on whether they are good or not; I can't really stress enough the fact that bad bosses are bad to everyone working there, regardless of the color of your skin! Just try to get names and contact numbers or email addresses of former employees of any places you are interested in working at. If they are really hesitant to give that info out, I'd beware. And ask the contacts whether or not they would recommend that workplace to their best friend or if they would work there again. I suppose you could ask them too how they think the boss will treat someone who's not white, but most applications require a photo so if you've gotten that far in the hiring process to get contact numbers of former employees, the boss is apparently not that concerned with such matters anyway!
26th September 2008

What an awesome blog!
Thank you so much for your wonderful, insightful blog! I have started my own blog and will definitely do what you have done once I have been in South Korea for a while. If all goes according to plan, I will be leaving for SK in Jan. Very excited and nervous too! Just wanted to ask you one quick question - I will be a qualified teacher when I come over - four yrs Bachelor of Education Degree and I have about a years practical teaching experience. Would this entitle me to a higher paid job and if so, have you any idea how much I should be looking at getting? I really don't want to get ripped off, and its not all about the money for me - but the quicker I get the massive student loan paid off - the better! Thanks again for the amazing blog. Really appreciate it! :) Jenna
28th September 2008

Re: Jenna
Yes you should be able to get paid more with a teacher's certification. Some jobs specifically request B. Ed. candidates and they do generally pay more. Off the job offers I have seen I would say you may be able to get 200,000 to 300,000 more per month. If you really want to pay down your debt faster though, don't just look at the monthly salary but how many hours you are working, because you can get some jobs making less money but working half the hours and then you can do privates and make a lot more!
6th October 2008

Criminal Record?
An informative article. You can find out more about pardons for criminal records and how they can allow you to teach, work, or volunteer overseas at Pardon Me, Canada
9th October 2008

English Apple
I am looking into teaching in Korea and was thinking about going through a company called English Apple based out of Boston and LA. Have you heard of them? Either way, do you have any suggestions as to which placement agencies to go through? Also, I have been doing an extensive amount of research on this and have been discouraged to find a lot of postings viewing their experiences horribly. I have read numerous postings saying they had to fight with their bosses to get paid or to get their promised vacation. Have you run into any of these problems?
13th October 2008

working illegally
hey jen, first im going to have to agree with everyone else and say that i really enjoyed reading this blog and perhaps you are in the wrong career.....your photos are amazing. I cant tell you how much im interested in teaching english in korea, but i have one major problem, i dont have a uni degree and im not sure i want to do things illegally. I do have a TESOL professional diploma though and am travelling to korea to visit my girlfriend in december on a tourist visa. Is there anyway at all to work in korea without a uni degree, or is there a uni degree i can do really fast??! (being a 22yo male not seing his girlfriend for 2 months means im really, really impatient!!!!)
20th October 2008

the short answer is: no. visas are only to be had with a bachelor's degree and the immigration rules have changed such that you need to get legal visas before arrival in korea anyway. it's either illegal or not at all in your case, but you'll still find people very willing to employ you!
22nd October 2008

working holiday visa
theres this kind of visa you can ask more about at the k embassy.. a few countries can get it france canada us australia nz and others.. its not a teaching visa and you cant teach unless you have the teaching visa. BUT like jenni said, many people are willing to employ you.. can they? where is that? in academies private schools? anyway its a good thing to get that visa if u really wanna go there and dont have a degree. good luck :)
31st October 2008

4 year degree?
I have found your site to be very encouraging as I am planning on going to South Korea to teach next year. I have a bachelor degree, however, i noticed that you wrote that "job opportunities are endless, provided you have a four-year university degree." My degree was only of 3 years duration, do you think that this will make much difference? I noticed that alot of jobs just say they require a bachelors degree whilst only 'some' specify 4 years.
3rd November 2008

School to AVOID
Do not go to Korea and Teach at The Big Apple Academy of English. They treat foreign teachers badly, withhold pay, and will try to get your passport and then not give it back so you are trapped and teaching for free because you have no place to go. In order to get your passport they will try to entice you with offering to get you your permanent card do not fall for it!!! Avoid this school !!!
13th November 2008

Have a serious think before you do it!
I went to Korea, to Seoul to be exact, with little expectation. I wanted to go away and I wanted to teach. Getting paid was a bonus so off I went! I really had no idea what i was in for. I have travelled before but Korea is a different place all together. I wasn't warned or prepared what so ever. I didn't realise i would be living on my own in an apartment in the middle of a huge city (sounds great - wasn't), teaching in a strange school where no one talked to me and miserable in general. I also started smoking, lost a lot of weight because i couldn't eat the food to begin etc etc.........and no there is no happy ending, I absolutely hated the place, I was spat on on the street (people thought I was an american soilder), found the people to bo so rude, the pollution is awful and i could go on and on.....yeah i know loads a people go and love it stay 2 years, never want to go home yada yada......well I wasn't one of those people. I left and went to Cambodia to teach English - much more if your thinking ' oh I might do that' might want to do some serious before you find your self trapped into a year contract and you have to go to huge trouble to escape the country with out getting caught by your school / police! One place I will never go back to
8th December 2008

Hello, i have stumbled across your fantastic blog, while searching for info on work in Korea. My boyfriend has just been offered a teaching job and has asked me to come too. I am English but I don't yet have a degree or any teaching qualifications. I can live with him but i would obviously need to make a little money to get by on. Also while he plans to stay a year I'd only be there about 3 months. Do you think that there is any kind of work I could get? and do you advise i just turn up and look? hope you can help! thanks
16th December 2008

re:amy -- 4 year degree
sorry amy, that was my american background coming out. what i should have said was a 'bachelor's degree' instead. i had just said 4 yr to distinguish it from american college options of 2-yr. associate degrees. you should be fine.
16th December 2008

re: gary / think before you go!
I have to agree with a lot of the negatives Gary presents here in his reasons for disliking Korea. it is definitely unlike any other country I've been in as well. i wouldn't go there expecting to be blown away by cultural and aesthetic beauty, and there are many aspects of Korean culture that surface in the people that will probably piss you off and make you enraged. however, i have to say that traveling is not the same as immersing yourself in a country long-term and that you are definitely bound to experience culture shock if you are teaching there, to a degree that you don't generally experience when you are travelling independently. Even if you are totally enamored with a place, if you immerse yourself in the culture and stay for a year, you will hit periods of depression and just want out. (See charts for 'culture shock.') Every time we've been there we wanted to get out by the end, but we kept going back. On a different topic, I wouldn't let it scare you too much. Know your rights; withholding your passport is illegal. There are resources available to you to help you if your employer is trying to pull one over on you. Also, if you don't like it, just leave! I don't understand anyone saying they got into so much trouble with the police; it's really none of their business if you don't show up to work some day. Just leave the country if you don't like it.....I did! No problems, no questions asked.
16th December 2008

yes, just turn up and look. try kindergarten positions.
4th January 2009

Public vs Private
I have been reading that public schools are more reliable to work for. Is this true? I also know they dont pay as much, but i am less concerned with making as much money as possible than reliability and not getting screwed when I get there. Also, do know anything of the SMOE positions?
25th January 2009

Teaching in Korea
I am seriously thinking about going down this summer, taking my chances with a school, and trying to find another school while there. Thanks so much for this info. I understand that all of this will be a challenge, since I happen to be black with teaching experience.
23rd February 2009

This was VERY informative thanks a lot for posting. I feel like most of the things you wrote I have been thinking and Ive only been here for 2 months
24th February 2009

Hi Jenn, This blog was very insightful and made my process of deciding to teach in Korea a little bit easier. I was wondering which company or recruiter you had. I have been getting a lot of e-mails from recruiters that post on my college job postings like travel and teach and asiaservices but I just am not sure who to trust. I am looking for a reputable and reliable recruiter/company. Also too, I was adopted from Korea when I was 18 months; what do you think the response would be from the prospective students?
7th March 2009

recruiters asking me to send my original College Degree
Nice detailed info--would any one happen to know what are the chances of I sending my original college degree to one of those recruiters in Seoul--is it safe and would I be able to get back the degree upon my arrival in Seoul? Thanks for your help!
1st May 2009

Jenni, thanks so much for all the useful information. Do you know if there are any contracts for less than a year? I would like to move to Korea for 6 months (my husband happens to be one of those annoying GI's) instead of the whole year. What are your suggestions?
5th May 2009

Online English Teaching
great blog...very informative and inviting..wonderful pictures too! I'd like to know though whether online English teaching (fr Philippines in particular) is sought in Korea? I am interested to teach Koreans however I just cant leave because I am starting a family.
16th May 2009

re: dave
sorry this is late, but maybe the answer will help someone else. (i obviously havent logged in for quite awhile!) yes they need your original degree to organize your visa, and you will get it back. (and probably be asked to show it again sometime when they get in one of their periodical frenzies about fake degree holders).
16th May 2009

re: meredith
there are sometimes contracts for less than a year, but they are much rarer. you might look into your possibilities for getting a spousal visa through your husband and doing privates if you dont find a short term contract.
16th May 2009

yes, online english teaching is sought by some, but to be honest i dont really know where to go about searching for clients! you might look on dave's esl cafe to see if anything is there about it (they have a whole korea forum that you can search) if you don't see any ads listed on the work websites.
19th May 2009

Teach English in Korea
I hire university graduates to teach English in Korea at
28th May 2009

Finding a job
My bf is thinking of applying as a teacher in korea for a year and I want to go too but I dont have a degree. I have professional work experience and have about 1.5 years left of school - what are my options for finding a job in Korea PT??? Is teaching out of the question?
5th June 2009

how much information do they need
hi, i was also looking at a recruiting agency and it seems like they want a lot of documentation, what was the process you went through before getting on the plane? this certain organization wants my passport.. like the actual passport. is that normal??
5th June 2009

is this recruiter based in your country? the only reason i can think they would use your passport itself is if they were procuring the visa for you or something. i don't know much about this as the visa processes changed after i had my work visas, but sending your actual passport sounds sketchy.
6th June 2009

Lost transcripts
Hi Jenni. Certain provinces in S.Korea have for a time now allowed those with two years worth of uni credits to teach esl. I went to a vocational-tech school for my AA and still have my original diploma, however, the school filed for bankruptcy several years ago, shut down and I CANNOT get a hold of my transcripts as they were destroyed by the Custodian of Records(they were only required to keep them for 5 years). Is this going to effectively be an insurmountable wall blocking me from teaching legally? I still have my original diploma... but without transcripts am I going to be rejected outright? btw, I'm still a S.Korean citizen, I have a S.Korean passport... do I even NEED a "visa" to teach esl legally?? lol I left S.Korea for the U.S. when I was only 8 months old back in 1972. So, yes, English is my native language. I can now read Hangul and speak several Korean words :)
8th June 2009

beware of Korean hiring practices
Many Koreans have tendencies to judge people solely on their physique, rather than their talents or inner beauty. The Korean employers are no exception, they think a white American or a Canadian are absolutely the best English teachers, if you are a African of any nationalities or a Asian, you will have harder time acquiring a job in Korea. Perhaps this is the reason why Koreans cannot speak English or make any improvements on it due to their fixation on physical beauty rather than talents or teaching abilities.
10th June 2009

Going to Korea before obtaining work/a contract
Thanks for all the info. Everyone suggests going to Korea ahead of time. The idea just makes me really nervous but I'm more concerned with having to find my own apartment which can require a huge key money deposit. Also, the earliest I can start is mid August and have to leave the same time next year to start grad school in the States so organizing everything beforehand is really convenient. So my question is, if I go and find a job there, will the school still provide me an apartment and will it still likely require a one year contract? What recruiting agency did you use and can you suggest any good schools from your work experience? Thanks!
13th June 2009

Im really sorry to bother you with my question but since you’ve already experienced this im hoping you can help me out. I was wondering if you recommend I go through an agency to get a teaching job or should I look for one myself. This is my first time doing this so I have no experience and no clue in what to do that’s why I am leaning more for finding an agency or program which can help me with every step but ive heard it is better to do this process yourself..what do you recommend?
18th June 2009

I have been researching South Korea for months and walked away with more information from your 1 post. Thank you.
21st June 2009

re: jennifer du
Please realize that visa restrictions have changed since I first posted this blog and that you are probably better off getting something lined up beforehand, due to the fact that you can no longer due visa runs to Japan. Other people have posted comments on this, perhaps you can scroll down and read their advice about it.
24th June 2009

Thanks! :-)
I'm thinking of going to South Korea in October, just stumbled onto your blog -- it looks great and I'm very much looking forward to reading it! Thanks for posting!
29th June 2009

Typical day in the classroom?
Hey Jenjen, I am considering taking a teaching job in Korea. I have a degree but no teaching experience and was wondering if you could elaborate a bit on the teaching methods used? Were you teaching from a book or were you left to your own devices?? Any info on this would be much appreciated thanks!! Louise
30th June 2009

Teaching in Korea w/ dependents
I am a single mom and want to teach in Korea but I have a 4 year old daughter. Do you know of any other teacher in this situation and if so how did they do it? School for my daughter? and is school and airfare paid for dependents?
6th July 2009

re: JJ
If you are a Korean citizen then you don't have to go through the U.S. for a visa and they would probably be offended that you do so. If you are a citizen you have the right to work there like every other Korean citizen.
6th July 2009

re: louise
Louise, every school is different, some have their own curriculum that they want you to follow closely, others give you a book 5 minutes before the lesson and thinking on your feet is the name of the game. Just prepare to be flexible and if you feel like you need some preparation just check out some teaching websites for icebreaker/mixer activities and get to know the sites for puzzles and word games just in case you get thrown in at the deep end.
6th July 2009

Re: Meschel E
Hi Meschel, I can't say that I know any single parents in Korea but I do know parents in Korea (myself included). Each school or job is likely to handle things differently so you should ask them if your child's airfare is included, though I would guess the answer is no. As for school, are you going to put your daughter into Korean school? You may be able to get her in for free as a resident but I don't know. However, everything will be in Korean. If you are sending her to a kindergarten you will probably have to pay as well as for an international school. I have never heard of employers paying for that, but like I said, it doesn't hurt to ask. Maybe you should search on the ESL Cafe Korean forum to find other people in your situation who have done this.
19th July 2009

Very informative and insightful blog. It would be nice going to Korea. Hope you can visit us too at
22nd July 2009

Hi! I'm a McGill University Graduate and want to teach in Korea. I've finished my program and am just waiting for my diploma to be there any way to get an E-2 Visa without my actual diploma? I have a notarized letter saying I've finished and my transcript says the same thing....
23rd July 2009

Fed up in california
Im desperately looking for employment teaching in korea. I live in California and went to school back east. I hold a BS in Nuclear medicine and a Masters in chinese medicine. I also tutor for the local school systems. Any negotiating strategies for getting a top notch job, decent living quarters and nice area where I can get to the beach or hiking....Im already packing my stuff. Please reply to my email and here as well if you like, but Im scouring the web for other blogs
27th July 2009

i love your blog
just wanted to say i really like your blog, it's full of great information and you take awesome pictures!
29th July 2009

Is is easy for a non-native speaker to teach english in Korea?
I am looking forward to be able to teach english in Korea part-time, to see the country and to be able to have the opportunity to learn the local language. I am from malaysia but I have a Masters degree from the United Kingdom. I have no TESL qualification. I notice that in countries like China, Korea and Taiwan they are only interested to take in native speakers as teachers. What is your advice?
9th August 2009

specific questions
Hi! I am actually leaving for Daejeon, South Korea in a little over a month to teach English, and have a few questions. If anybody has been there and has any advice, I would really appreciate it! Do I need to buy plug converters for the walls? I can't seem to find if they have the same size as us or not! Also, this may seem silly, but what is a good warehouse store (to the equivalent of a Wal Mart perhaps) to get some necessaties when I arrive (lamps, shower supplies, etc)? What are the best things to pack, and what are the things that I really don't need to bring? I am bringing a DVD player, and wanted to make sure my DVD's would play over there? I also would like to get some kind of satellite TV service (I've heard Direct TV is big in South Korea) to watch football games on the weekend, any suggestions how to go about getting that? Any other comments/ideas/advice would be very helpful! Thank you!
13th August 2009

Interested in Teaching English in SK
I am a Korean-American female who is thinking about teaching English in S. Korea, but after doing some initial research, I am now terrified that 1) I will have a difficult time being placed in a good working environment b/c I read that Korean recruiters are somewhat racist, and believe that if you are not Caucasian, you are unqualified/unworthy to teach even if you studied in the US and speak the language fluently and 2) I will actually end up in debt because there are so many horror stories about teachers not getting paid. I would greatly appreciate any insight you may have regarding teaching in a public school vs. private school. I'm considering teaching in a public school. Also, I took a look at worknplay and noticed that they have placement services at public schools for no cost. Do you have any idea as to whether or not this is a reputable placement agency? Do you recommend any other placement programs/recruiters? THANKS!
3rd September 2009

I wondered how many Americans take their children with them abroad to teach english? Are there schools for them and how are African american treated there?
6th September 2009

One of the most straightforward and thoughtful accounts I've read. Extremely helpful, thank you.
22nd September 2009

Great post!
Thank you, this is a very informative page. I do have on question, though - do you have to pay both Korean taxes and U.S. taxes? I've been unable to find information about how that works, and I'd appreciate it if anyone had a link to more information.
5th October 2009

good job Jen!!
Hi Jen. This is excellent and informative. Have you met or seen any Filipino teachers in Seoul? Just wondering if a Filipino teacher like me would have the chance to work in Korea. Do you think my degree in Elementary Education is enough for me to get hired? Speaking of experience,I'm currently teaching ESL to primary students in two of the public schools here in China since last year. I can say that it was really tough in the first few times, cause they prefer "whites" same in Korea as you mentioned in your blog. But I'm lucky though, I've stayed here teaching for more than a year now. But i'm thinkin to have another place to work and enjoy with. And I'm considering Korea. So what do you think? Is it possible?
21st October 2009

I'm 57 years old & been wanting to teach
Can you comment on how older people are accepted as English teachers. I am a retired lawyer, my in laws live in Busan, and could go to work privately (as a tudor) while living with them. I would imagine you need a work visa to do this? Any thoughts? Thanks for your site, it is extremely helpful.
31st October 2009

I haven't really had much interaction with older teachers in Korea, but I know a few. Yes you would need a visa still which would require you to get a visa-granting job, i.e. more than just tutoring generally. Unless you just live with your inlaws on a tourist visa and tutor illegally, or if they are your in laws perhaps you are privy to a different visa through your wife which would allow you a much easier status! check the korean embassy for your options.
31st October 2009

re: clay -- taxes
Hi clay, No actually you get a kind of visa waiver from the U.S. for income under something like 70,000 dollars, can't remember exactly what it is, but you could call a tax accountant and find out if you want to know the exact amount.
31st October 2009

re: rose -- kyopos
Hi Rose, Korean Americans are actually sought after by many companies specifically, so don't worry about not finding work. If you are going with a public school I'd actually recommend NOT going with placement agencies as they can be scammers, if you are worried about not getting paid and having everything stable. Lots of time they work with afterschool programs that require you to travel to multiple locations, which can significantly add to your time as you have to commute quite a long ways from your home. I wouldn't worry about going into debt. If your job turns out totally horrible, there are always other options out there!
31st October 2009

re: tori -- kids
I don't really know that many people who brought kids with them but know a number, myself included, who had kids there. There is an international school (probably more than 1) in Seoul where diplomats' kids tend to go, but I really don't know much about this. See previous comments if you are interested in the race issue.
31st October 2009

re: carl -- BCLAD credential
Hi carl, To be frank, your questions are out of my league. I am not familiar with professional teacher qualifications in the U.S. or what you mean by a self-contained classroom. Do you mean you want to teach at an international school? There are probably not THAT many opportunities for that. I know there are school on the U.S. army base and Seoul International School but not really much about them. ESL schools generally have their own materials they want you to use to teach from, though supplementary activities generally can be helpful for you. However, most of these can be acquired online so you don't have to bring anything with you, I'd say.
8th November 2009

looking for jobs
Hi! I really enjoyed your article and am really benefiting from the sites you linked the readers too. I am currently in Seoul, and taking your advice into consideration: What would the best way for me to go about looking at schools? There are so many public schools and after school programs available that I wouldn't know where to start and learn about what programs are hiring so I could visit. Would appreciate any info you can give! :)
13th November 2009

After doing a TEFL certificate, I have been considering going to teach in Korea for a long while now, so this blog was extremely informative and interesting ... not to mention fantastically written with beautiful pictures to go with it - nice one! My question for you Jenni Jen is this - how many actual English English-speaking males (of which I am one) did you actually see working out there? What are my chances? Apart from being a limey bloke, I do have a 4 year degree, a TEFL certificate with practical experience from the course (in Costa Rica) and occasional teaching gigs and one-on-one lessons afterwards. Keep traveling ... Peace, Matt x
29th November 2009

Be careful to sign with a creditable company!!!
Private hogwons such as Univro Academy in Seoul have been known to bend all the rules; this man has cheated several teachers out of their wages because he is a poor businessman trying to save money by making up the rules as he goes along. If he followed the contract, it would be fine. But at every pay period, he comes up with a new invention, which saves him the bother of honoring the contractual obligations he has. Not all schools are necessarily as bad as he is, but I would look twice before committing to work for such a man, who has proven to be something less than honest in his dealings with English speakers.
29th November 2009

Good Information
Hello, thanks for the insightful information - I'm one of those annoying GIs - I've pulled three tours in Korea and am heading back in March - considering teaching English when I retire - knew quite a few different teachers from my previous visits (both US and Canadian). Having access to a military installation with BX and commissary access will make my budget much easier to save.
3rd December 2009

Your article has certainly given me a much broadened look on teaching abroad, so let me start out with thanks. :) Throughout the comments and what i've read in your article I have come to the conclusion that you don't necessarily need a Bachelors Degree to teach in Korea, yet in order to go to Korea and teach you need a Visa from the Korean Embassy. How is it possible to get a Visa without having a BD to show the Korian Embassy? Thanks in advance for any help your able to share with me.
15th December 2009

teach without a degree legally?
Is it easy to find a English teaching job in South Korea without a degree legally? I am looking to take those TESOL classes. I really want to go Korea to learn and teach ^^ for a year or 2 Please give me as much info as possible! TIA
29th December 2009

Looking on my own vs. going on a contract
I understand from your blog that looking for a job on my own would yield a higher salary than going through a contract. However, given the current US economic situation, if one has very low funds would it not be more advisable to go through a contract for the first time around, then pick up "independent" work and if one wants to stay to then negotiate a different contract because they are there already? (I want to go the beginning of March, 2010). There is so much fraud out there that I am afraid to go -- but given the economy in the US, I am also afraid NOT to go! Also, is there age discrimination? I am a single female, 58 years old. Thank you for a great blog, and I would appreciate any information you can give me.
6th January 2010

Searching for work
what is your experience or opininon about footprints recruiting and Epik. Because it seems i am getting the run around.
14th January 2010

Awesome posting man! You are a great blogger. I like your work. Truly you are a genius. Keep up the good work Man!! Webroyalty
27th January 2010

Doing some research
Hi, Firstly, can I say thank you for a very informative blog post! I have decided against Seoul as a place to work (for a few reasons, more expensive to live there, heard a lot of reports that people are less friendly (like most capitals)), but it was still interesting. I have done quite a lot of research (can't wait to go, but need to finish my teaching degree first, so getting impatient) and I can answer a couple of the questions on here, however, bear in mind, this is from research and not from experience. Lemon and Charles: You cannot work legally as an English Teacher without a degree if you aren't married to someone already over there. To be honest, I'm not sure if it is even possible if you are. Basically, working on a tourist visa is illegal, and they will only offer a English Teaching visa to those with a BA or BSc. This is the law in Korea, and has nothing to do with individual schools, so any school who claims it is legal is lying to you. Also, I think someone asked a question about TEFL certificates and which one to get. I am from the UK and the two big ones over here, which are internationally recognized as being awesome are CELTA certificates and Trinity TESOL certificates. In general though, anything with a 4 week intensive course with teaching practice included (above 10 hours is good I think) is seen as a pretty worthwhile certificate by most employers. I have read time and time again, however, that having a TEFL certificate isn't necessary (I'm doing one because my grandparents offered it to me as a present, and I want to go to other countries afterwards, plus extra qualifications can't hurt!). Anyways, I hope that is useful. As for recruiters, I am currently looking at teachkoreans, which is run by a guy called James Cranshaw who has a facebook profile and a group on there (although, the group is under the full web address). As I said, I haven't been out there yet, but he is the recruiter I have found which I feel most comfortable with. He only recruits in Cheongju most of the time though, so if you have your heart set on being somewhere else, you might want to look at other recruiters.
2nd February 2010

Jen, im an irish lad and i have a job in a public school next month in Incheon, have no teaching experience, dont know what to expect and im goin alone, i know il meet plenty people, (im indecisive of whether to go or not) have i reason to be nervous with lack of experience and an american accent or wil it be one of the best things ill ever do in my life...?
3rd February 2010

Teaching in Korea w/o degree
Thank You for your will be a big help for me..I'm retiring in 2012 or maybe sooner. I'm from Hawaii and want to expend my knowledge in korea.
22nd February 2010

Awesome Info!
Thanks so much for posting this blog! It was very helpful! I don't think I'll get a chance to go to Korea anytime soon to search for a job by touring the I'll check out your suggested websites! I graduated last may with my BS in Elem. Ed. and I also have my TESOL and Reading endorsement certifications. Just looking for a job in Korea is overwhelmng and exhausting. It's so difficult to know who to trust! I need to fully scope it out. Thanks so much for your great suggestions and heads up on teaching abroad. :)
24th February 2010

same with lemon: no degree?
I just want to let you know that I'm really impressed with your detailed blog and I just wish I can write as well as you do. Anyway, I'm actually a high school senior right now and I want to work in SK over the summer, but most schools require a uni degree.. Are they strict on that? Is a degree really necessary even though I will be attending an "accredited university" in the fall?
25th February 2010

Need a Degree
Sorry...but your article is WRONG on teaching English without a degree Simply put YOU CAN'T TEACH THERE WITHOUT ONE....Period!
11th March 2010

re: michelle
Thanks for posting an informative comment for others!
11th March 2010

Re: Dan, Laura, and Lemon
Please read again, and see Michelle's comment: to get a work visa, you need to have a degree. However, Dan, I know plenty of people personally who are working and either A) do not have degrees and/or B) are not on a legal work visa, so yes you can work there without one, it's just that you would be working illegally!!
12th March 2010

When to begin
I will not graduate with my bachelor's until the end of this summer, and I won't get my diploma until mid-fall. Are jobs constantly available or would it be wise to wait until the Spring Semester starts to look for a teaching position in Korea. I realize you may not know, which is fine, but any information would be appreciated. Thank-you for your post and thanks to other contributors for making this a great site for information. :)
30th March 2010

education blues
godd work guys, keep it up. hats off.
6th April 2010

Teaching Private Lessons
Dear Jenn, You mention early on in your blog that one can make $30-50 an hour doing private lessons. My two questions are the following: 1) Where would these jobs be advertised? and 2) If they are illegal, why do so many people do it? Is it the Koren authorities just look past it? I would not want to be asked to leave the country if I was caught.
15th April 2010

May I ask for some advice?
Hello! I've been planning to go to Korea for the past 5 months now and it seems like all I need to do is purchase the plane ticket! To be honest, I've visited this blog of yours several times and I want to thank you for sharing your experience with everyone. You're very helpful to many of us! Haha.. that's enough kissing up on my part. So anyways!.. I believe I'm taking a risk because I don't have a degree and I've obviously never taught English before. Do you have any suggestions about getting the right teaching material? I've googled plenty of online lessons for conversational English and other exercises, but I can't decide if they're "legit" for an actual private lesson. Where do I start? Or better yet.. HOW do I start? I'm sorry if you've answered this question already! I hope to hear from you soon! Thanks again for your blog! =D -June
16th April 2010

Great blog! It was super helpful and reading a commentary by such a positive person was really refreshing. Thanks!!
16th April 2010

Thank you
Thank you for this excellent entry in your blog! It already has been quite helpful as my husband and I plan out move to Korea!
21st April 2010

Hey Jen! just wanted to say, i love this post to death, it's very thorough and insightful and you really get an inside view of what korea is like! if you could do it again from the start, how would you do it differently? would you have moved to korea for a short summer teaching job and then used the free time to look for a good job?
25th April 2010

You are amazing for posting this, so helpful!!! I am now using the search methods and engines you listed above.
1st May 2010

hello mate. Are there jobs in south korea which require english native speakers other than teaching in schools. Is it better for me to go through an agency here in england rather than just getting a flight to south korea and looking for work while am there. Thanks Chris
14th May 2010

Realistic & inspirational site!
Hey, my name is Al- I am American and will be teaching esl near Seoul in afew wks. I had taught esl way back in Japan in '98. There I did the FT school (NOVA) and after school I had quite afew private lessons. I am hoping in Korea to do the same. I read that this is technically 'illegal', but you write everyone is doing it! Really, you are one of the first blogs I've noticed that advises to Go for it and I like that! I'd appreciate any advice you may offer re: private lessons and who is supposed to know about my business and who isn't ? Thanks, Al
23rd May 2010

Is a four year visa essential? jinjja?
Jen, amazing post as many other people have said. Incredibly interesting and informative. Would like to ask either you or Michelle a couple of questions as I am suddenly starting to worry. I am currently in Australia but am going back to England via Seoul with my fiancée who is South Korean, and intend to be in Korea by the end of the year. I previously taught English as a volunteer in China for a year at a junior/middle school. I am planning on doing my TESOL course when I get back to England which I am applying for at the moment. My worry is that I don’t have a university degree. Will my previous experience and TESOL course be enough to qualify me for a visa grant and position teaching in Korea? I appreciate you told lemon and Charles an answer for this already, so I am more interested if you know more about the marriage or if you can point me in the right direction to find information. Thank you. Mike.
25th May 2010

language barrier
how well developed should my korean be if i want to go over there?
2nd June 2010

concerned, nervous, excited...all
First off, thank you, Jen, well done, very well written and informative. It was REAL, which made a world of difference. In late March of 2010 my girlfriend quit her job her and wanted a change, she found something in Korea teaching and being the adventurer that she is, decided to go, even though we both were sad about the whole thing. Well, later, I am graduated and have all my things and because of the lack of finding a job here (and I miss her too much) We talked and I decided I wanted to come join her in Korea! Well, it has been a long process already but it looks as if I am going to be accepted and leave later this summer. I have been reading about it, and learning the language, talking to a couple friends that have been there before and to my GF who is there right now (for the last 2.5 months). So I am not completely clueless of this whole thing. I had concerns and questions and etc First, I haven't heard anything negative from my girlfriend personally, but I was told that they were going to fire a couple people, and that made me nervous because I read somewhere that some places will tend to try and fire people toward the end to avoid paying the 'fulfilled contract month payment'! Others would cut wages or place you in a dumpy apartment, etc. also, are there problems with the public and doing normal things like shopping and getting food? Just those types of concerns, I am super nervous. A REAL question is for SARAH who wrote this:"" August 9th 2009 - Sarah: specific questions "" I was wondering about things like appliances, what I NEED to bring, what i should leave, what i need to pack for the whole time, IE i hear deodorant and american sized clothes are key. I'm not a big guy but I'm sure to a Korean I may be kinda big...sad. haha But another major question is "HOW AM I GOING TO WATCH MY BELOVED AMERICAN FOOTBALL! Go Packers!!!" For the most part I can watch things online, But i hope to buy a new computer before I go, because the one I have now is getting older. anyway, just a person concerned and kinda scared about this whole thing, I hope to leave for Korea by mid JULY this year, so SOON! I hope I can hear ANY info from anyone that may help me and put me at ease....PS: I hope I can still play tennis, basketball, and disc golf (I talked to a few guys about it and there are some temp courses and I plan to expand the sport in Korea and maybe build some and make a club) Anyway THANK YOU!, ryan
5th June 2010

Knowledge of Korean Language
Hi, I've been looking for good information on teaching English in Korea, and yours is some of the best and most straightforward that I've found so far on the web. I've wanted to work in Korea, either teaching English or in some other capacity, since I was stationed there with the service from 2004 to 2005. In about a year I'm to earn a BA from a well-known university system majoring in English (minoring in Linguistics), and I've also studied the Korean language rather heavily since 2005. I was wondering if results for a Korean language test such as TOPIK or KLPT, showing at least basic communicative proficiency in Korean, are of any help to people who are seeking work in Korea -- whether they wish to teach English or do something else. P.S. -- I'm not a Gyopo, but for whatever it's worth, I've been told that I speak the language better than most Gyopos.
16th June 2010

will you be my bff?
:) Super helpful! thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this. Your bolg makes it obvious your students are lucky to have you. Your writing is as informative as it is interesting/entertaining. Thank you for the pics too. my son grads HS next yr, and I see it as a window of opportunity to go adventuring. If you need a pen pal in Palm Beach FL for the next yr, I volunteer. (I have a BS in geography fm UF and a MS in Varying Exceptionalities fm NOVA SE I spent 8 yrs as a navy pilot and 10 yrs teaching at risk students) Thank you again. Be good to yourself. Cheers, Shears
21st June 2010

Thanks for this blog. It's been exceptionally helpful.
26th June 2010

Can you bring children?
Hi Jen, First off, let me say that your blog is fantastic! It is very well-written and extremely informative. My name is Rachel and I am currently wrapping up my BA in Psychology. I am interested in teaching abroad, but I am married with two young sons (3 years and 1 month). Are job opportunities like this only offered to single people, or would I be allowed to bring my family along? Thanks for your time:)
29th June 2010

First off I would like to say this is a great BLOG! I am so happy to have come across this blog of yours. I envy you so much for the fact that you had the chance to teach in Korea! It has been a dream of mine to teach there. I would like to know how I can get a job without having a degree. I know you must have answered this question a million times and perhaps said it in your blog, but there's a lot of writing and for some reason, I am not getting the answer I am looking for... I know it's illegal, but I would like to give it a shot anyway, lol ! What exactly do they do to you if they found out you were working illegally? Do you know??
20th July 2010

Visa questions
Hey your blog is pretty informative and the tips on going to Korea before getting a job were particularly relevant to me. I was hoping you could answer a few questions I had about the visa process. What visa did you have when you first arrived in Korea? I am planning on visiting my brother who teaches in Suwon, and I was hoping to get a feel for the country before I decided to teach there. Do you think this is feasible? Would I be able to land a job once in Korea and then get the visa from a neighboring country like Japan? I plan to enter Korea without any visa at all, I'm American and I think I am allowed to be there for 90 days without a visa. I would really appreciate any advice you may have for someone in my position. Thanks a lot. Ian
24th July 2010

Bringing Family
Hi Rachel, Yes, you can apply for dependent visas to bring your family and put them on your insurance too. Will your husband be applying for a job too? The only thing is they might question the ability to provide for thewhole family on the one contract's income if the job is not very well-paid, as they might suspect that you or he will be doing privates to make up for it otherwise. But that is just a guess since I don't know many families who have gone to teach where only one of the parents was working. At any rate, our first child was born there and we have had a number of friends give birth or bring kids there so it's not a problem! Jen
24th July 2010

re:matthew / korean language
Hi, I'm not actually sure whether that will help or not, I suppose it depends how fluent you are. There are many jobs that look for Gyopos, assumingly for the purpose that they can speak Korean, so I suppose that if you do get some sort of qualification/certification you could apply for those jobs and let them know about your skills even though you are not Gyopo.
24th July 2010

Hi Ryan
Sorry it took a long time since you wrote for me to respond, you may already be there in Korea now, so you may have found answers to your questions already. If not, FYI, Korean men aren't really that short, so you probably won't have problems finding pants that fit. Shopping and getting food aren't problematic, you just may stare a bit blankly the first time you go into a local grocery store trying to figure out what to buy that you know how to cook. If you are in Seoul there are E-Marts, Home Evers, Hyundai Dept Store and CostCos that can help you get more variety, in addition to the stores around Itaewon. You can find most things you need, definitely all electronics and such like that, but the things you need that you can't find are not usually obvious until you actually try looking for them, like when we started looking for newborn baby clothes. Also try the Korean Job Forum on Dave's ESL Cafe for the Buy/Sell/Trade page for anything else you need. I'm pretty sure that some pubs down in ITaewon will show American football games (Yeah Packers! -- I'm from WI ) ;-D and for playing sports there are a number of intramural kind of clubs in Seoul; just check the latest English language info magazines circulating (I can't be sure of what the names are anymore as they have been different every time we go back!) Best of luck, JEn
24th July 2010

re: dustin / when to begin
Jobs are continuously available
24th July 2010

re: visa questions
Hi Ian I don't want to steer you wrong here as I last left in 2008 and things had changed in the course of that year to make getting the visa in your home country necessary, and may have changed again since. Perhaps you should find someone on ESL Cafe to ask about it, they have a korean job forum.
24th July 2010

Privates, No Degrees, and Teaching Prep
Hi, I get LOTS of comments about these things so I'm just posting this for all. Privates: They are illegal. Most recruiters know this and kind of make sure you know this as well; the jobs are advertised the same places that other jobs are on, I can't tell you the current climate but I guess from teh number of job postings highlighting that they will only take F2 or F4 visa holders that there is a certain amount of fear from recruiters about taking illegal workers. When I was last there I knew some people who worked privates and got busted; the ones who had actual legal working status in Korea with an E2 visa got a slap on the wrist and a 1,000,000 won fine; however, if you don't have legal working status you may be kicked out of the country. No degrees: you can try to get privates without a degree, but for E2 visas you need to have a degree as part of the application process. Teaching prep: it really depends on the particulars of thejob in question. There are tons of online teaching resource if you search for them, but you will likely need to tailor that to the needs/skills of the person or class you are teaching, so I don't think you can prepare too much before meeting them, other than to know where those resources are online. Also the English bookstores and English sections of Koren bookstores in Seoul anyway have teaching materials you can buy and most jobs have curriculums they want you to use anyhow! Hope that is helpful. Jen
24th July 2010

re:mike / marrying s. korean & degree questions
Hi Mike, A university diploma is necessary for E2 visa, however, if you marry a Korean you will be able to get a spousal visa which gives you much much greater access to well-paying private jobs, so I would go for that! Jen
26th July 2010

Hey Jen, I'm planning to go teach in Seoul (or perhaps Il-san) next year while my husband is deployed to Afghanistan. We figured it would be a great way for me to keep busy, reconnect with my culture and make some money to pay off student loans while we are apart. A couple questions for you- 1) Will it be a problem to bring my cat with me? Do they allow pets in Korean housing? 2) When should I start applying for jobs if I want to go to Korea in August when he deploys?
3rd August 2010

Thanks for the information. I am preparing to go to Korea to teach English.
12th August 2010

Study English in Korea / Philippines
I studied english course in Cleverlearn - Study English in Korea and they are reliable and have a good english teachers. I recommend you to enroll in Cleverlearn. I'll post here the school information. Cleverlearn, a fast-growing international school based in the Philippines with offices in various countries across the world. Courses Offered: 1. General English 2. English for Academic Purposes 3. Intensive English 4. IELTS / TOEFL 5. Advanced English 6. Medical English 7. Business English Cleverlearn English Language Institute Cleverlearn Residences, Saac II, Mactan, Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines Contact #: (+6332) 495-9955 local 500 For Inquiries:
17th August 2010

Korean Poly School Pohang
I recently got offered a job at the Korean Poly school in Pohang has any ever taught there or know anything about it or the city?
29th August 2010

Allot of criminal checks are done for teaching requirements across the country. It is very necessary to get these done because it is different rules everywhere.
1st September 2010

Visa Interview
Hi Jenni, It is 2:30 am, I have a phone interview with a Public School at 8am and cannot go to sleep due to a growing fear of not being prepared. In my panic, questions are popping in my head from all over the place and the one I cannot answer and am curious about (although it has nothing to do with the interview), is what usually happens at the visa interview?! Are you aware of the types of questions people are usually asked? What types of questions were you asked? I just need to be prepared :). Thanks a bunch and thanks also for all the useful information. Liza
5th September 2010

I love your blog!
Hey Jen, I really like your blog. I used the info you provided and found a job teaching in Anyang, Korea. Check out my blog:
29th September 2010

I want to work there as a teacher.
13th October 2010

Talking about TESOL / TEFL
Please would Na Young An (aka "Jessica") who lives in Korea, age about 35, height 160 cm who holds an MA in English Philology degree from UK Sussex University 2008 and also has a maths degree and TESOL experience) contact Nigel in Brighton ASAP about her UK pension. His email is: surname followed by his initial Also if you recognize her please send her this message. Thanks Nigel
25th October 2010
My apartment

Very nice
26th October 2010

I'm considering teaching in Korea next year but I'm hoping to find a short term conctract. I've seen mentions of camps does anyone have any experience with them? Also after searching around I'm worried about becoming a pariah or something. I'm african-american female, college degree and tefl certified. I'm qualified but worried my race will have a negative impact. has anyone experience or seen racism? How bad is it really? i listen to a lot of Korean hiip-hop and R&B and have seen collaborations with black american artist. So i never really considered it to be a big problem but of course they are celebrities. So in the real world would being black hurt me socially?
7th November 2010

Thanks a ton! Really helpful!
4th January 2011

Hi, I've also written a bit about Korea on my Web site including what it means to work there and save money. If you would like to check it out it's at: Thanks! Sam
19th January 2011

hi there. i will be obtaining my bachelors degree in accounting this year and was interested in teaching english in korea next year. if my boyfriend does a diploma in english teaching would he also be able to come over that side to teach? we are from south africa and dont really know much about teaching abroad and the requirements.
23rd January 2011

What An Adventure
Last July 2010, my wife and I watched our 27 year old son leave for S. Korea to teach English in Gwangyang. While we Skype frequently, we miss Trey Woska. It sounds like you have enjoyed yopur time there which is very affirming. If you ever find yourself in Gwangyang and have the time or the desire feel free to look up Anthony Gerard Woska III, known as Trey.
10th February 2011

Quick question
Hi, Thanks for writing this blog! It has been so helpful as I just started looking for jobs in South Korea. I'm not sure of you said this but did you work for a hagwon or a public school? And how bug was your class. Is there anyway I could getthe name of your school. I'm really nervous about choosing the right one!! Also your apartment looks great compared to some that I've seen. Would you say yours was nicer then most? Thanks again, Katie
20th February 2011

So much info, that brilliant thanks. I've just come out to Korea working in Suncheon and writing a blog of my experiences here. I'm so surpised by how friendly and help full everyone is, both other TEFL teachers and the locals. Anyway check me out google davesaway13.
21st February 2011

Great Information
I've been in Japan for one year and it has been great. I bought a ticket to Korea when I returned to Japan because I needed to show proof of an onward ticket. I ended up getting a visa, so I don't need to leave, but think I will use the ticket anyway. Any advice on where to go for visiting Korea for one week? It sounds like I need to go. I hear Korea is completely different from Japan. Great article, by the way. Brian Travel English –
26th February 2011

Your Blog
Your blog is kickass. You're a lifesaver!
17th March 2011

love your blog
Jenni, Someone who obviously sweet enough like you can only able to write a such detailed information for making a living in Seoul. Thank you for sharing. I am a Chinese/American and was advised that I would be hard to launch a teaching position due to my appearance and my degree (associate degree, major in Hospitality Management). Do you have any word of wisdom on that? I have to move to Seoul in order to get married with my boyfriend in July. Even though I've been working at Luxury Hotel Chain in Hawaii as a Asst Front Office Manager for a long while, I am thinking about to be a teacher in a kindgergarten as a language teacher because I couldn't speak korean at all. I understand that you are busy. However, look forward to hearing from you. Thanks for your time! Yvon
8th May 2011

Great but hard to believe
Nice writing, Do people usually get paid 30-40$ for private lessons! This seems too good to true for the average wage
4th July 2011

Losing hope
Hi Nora, I reviewed the comments before asking are you still there? :) My husband and I are very interested in teaching in Korea and have emailed countless individuals to get a start on everything.(Even Yahoo answers) Still no consistent information. If you have any references you are able to share, it will be greatly appreciated. I am a Army Veteran and am currently working towards my Bachelor degree in Physics, so I am not sure if I am really eligible. If you have the time please email me at
21st August 2011

very interesting
btw, Gary is a complete waste of oxygen
24th August 2011

Apartment Questions
Hi, I've been looking on youtube for apartments so I know what to expect if I move. Some are absolutely awful. How do you manage to get a nice one like you have. Should I ask for particular things in order to secure a decent apartment. Oh and I really want to have a regular shower and I know that most Koreans don't have a tub or a shower curtain though I have heard some apartments do. Did you have any problem in that regard. I was wondering if you can give me advice. Thanks. Bridgette
25th October 2011

This is one of the most informative blogs I've seen!! Thanks SOOOOO much for all the tips and info you gave!!

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