Work

  • The biggest demand for work in Seoul is for English teachers, although those who also have Korean language skills will have more opportunities.
  • Native English teachers on a one-year contract can expect to earn around ₩2.5 million or more a month, with a furnished apartment, return flights, 50% of medical insurance, 10 days' paid holiday and a one-month completion bonus all included in the package. Income tax is very low (around 4%), although a 4.5% pension contribution (reclaimable by some nationalities) is compulsory.
  • Most English teachers work in a hagwon (private language school), but some are employed by universities or government schools. Company classes, English camps and teaching via the telephone are also possible, as is private tutoring, although this is technically illegal. Teaching hours in a hagwon are usually around 30 hours a week and are likely to involve split shifts, as well as evening and Saturday classes.
  • A degree in any subject is sufficient as long as English is your native language. However, it’s a good idea to obtain some kind of English-teaching qualification before you arrive, as this increases your options and you should be able to find (and do) a better job.
  • Some hagwon owners are less than ideal employers and don’t pay all that they promise. Ask any prospective employer for the email addresses of foreign English teachers working at the hagwon, and contact them for their opinion and advice. One important point to keep in mind is that if you change employers, you will usually need to obtain a new work visa, which requires you to leave the country to pick up your new visa. Your new employer may pick up all or at least part of the tab for this.
  • The best starting point for finding out more about the English-teaching scene is the Korea Association of Teachers of English (KATE; www.kate.or.kr).