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Teach English in Korea

By I - Posted on 24 September 2006

The demand for English teachers in Korea greatly exceeds the supply, and just about anyone from an English-speaking country with a four-year university degree can find a job here. These TEFL jobs provide salary, airfare to and from Korea, housing, and severance pay.

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English teaching jobs in Korea should also pay for half of the money put into the mandatory national pension fund, though at present only American and Canadian citizens are eligible for pension fund reimbursement. Most employers offer these benefits so if you don't see them in your contract, you should seriously consider looking for another job.

The high demand for native English teachers in Korea ensures competitive salaries and a lot of money can be made teaching English there. Subsequently, there are a fair number of Koreans in the English school business specifically for that reason, some of whom have little sympathy or care for people coming from other countries to work for them. There have been countless stories of Westerners coming to teach English in Korea under promises of large salaries, bountiful bonuses, and competitive benefits only to find that their work conditions were very different from those they were promised. Of course, if you have done any research online about teaching English in Korea then you already know this.

That being said, most people who come to Korea to teach English enjoy their experience and find the vast majority of Koreans to be kind and friendly people. English teaching salaries start at around 1.8-2.2 million won per month and go up as high as 3 million won or more, making them very competitive when compared with the relatively low cost of living in Korea.

Click on the currency converter for the most current exchange rates so you can make an informed decision as to whether or not teaching English in Korea is for you.

Be sure to check out our Korea ESL & TEFL Jobs.

RL's picture

If you do get hired by a less-than-reputable program, what can you do once there to fix the situation?

ohstopyourself's picture

This is kind of a difficult situation. I've heard of programs that hire you and then don't pay you, in which case you can't really do anything. I mean, you could try, but you probably won't get that money. This is one of the worst thing i've heard of. Your visa is with your work and so you can't be in the country while not working, so if you do get stuck in a bad situation and want to end your contract then you'd have to leave the country or have new work lined up--this is not too hard to do with how many hawkgwons there are. However, to my understanding, you would still have to leave to another country to get a new visa with your new work.. so that would mean you would maybe go Japan and get your visa for Korea there or something, I don't really understand how this works, but I had a friend who had to do it becuase he didn't like his first job. It's important to really looking to your job first though, most of the big, official jobs these days will have nice websites that look professional. Also, they will probably have a good hiring process. The bigger hawkgwons are chains so they can afford this, and i'd stick to one of those, if possible. Most of the posts you will see are through recruiters, so you will want to see what Hawkgwon they are recruiting for and then if that Hawkgwon is legit.

H_M's picture

I am thinking of moving to Korea and start my career as an English Educator. However, I come from Singapore. Will that hinder my prospect since I understand that educators from western part of the globe have better demand?

online poker's picture

A lot of my friends are teaching English in Korea and they enjoy it. Their students are children and adult.

traveller online's picture

How about online tutor? I would like to apply teaching English thru the net.

Anonymous's picture

I lived in Korea for two years as an LDS Missionary and I loved it. I lived in the city of Pusan. Its the second largest city in Korea located in the southeastern corner of the country. While I was there part of our service was teaching English. We would teach in the homes of those who wanted one on one learning experiences and also have a larger group class twice a week at our church buildings. I really enjoyed every moment in Korea. The Korean people are very kind, fun to be with and easy to teach.
I taught English for free as a missionary. So I don't know a whole lot about the programs a person would work in to teach English in Korea. But I saw and talked to many English teachers that were really enjoying themselves. they too loved the people and the work they were doing. As far as I know they were paid well and I always saw them with friends.
I would recommend teaching English in Korea to anyone. Look over the information and decide if it is what you want. But I think that all would enjoy the opportunity to go to such an interesting country.

Wiwiw's picture

I am planning to teach english in Korea and would like to know more about Korea and its people. I am particularly interested in knowing LDS members who are knowledgable in recruiting teachers. I have a BS degree from BYU-Hawaii.
I am excited to hear from you. BTW, I am now residing in San Antonio TX and attends Deerfield Ward.
Thanks for everything.

Anonymous's picture

I am wondering if Koreans allow neighboring asian countries with good English Skills like the Philippines to teach them.

Land for sale's picture

Korea is great. If you go there you would love it. hopefully it would not take long for you to adjust to the food. The culture and people are very similar to any other Asian culture for the most part. The big differences would be food. There are lots and lots of LDS people in Korea. I think they are close to 100,000 now. Many of them are in Seoul. But there are also a lot in Pusan and the other large cities. You would be able to find a job teaching English in any of those cities. Even the smaller cities would freak out to hire a real English speaker. I'm actually still a student at BYUI. just plugging away there.

Nathan Wawruck's picture

Great article. Although Korea is attrative in terms of salary, I think the overall experience in Japan might be better (having experienced both countries).

npfah38's picture

I was wondering how difficult (or not) it is for westerns to develop a relationship with a korean. I am interested in getting a korean female partner (girlfriend) while living there. Any experiences? Does it depend on place? What about China and Japan?

npfah38's picture

Is it still true that the demand for ESL teachers in China, Korean and Japan is high - (End of 2009)?

 Out of the three which one pays best (converted to dollars)?

I have a M.A. in Geography - but not a degree in English (however I speak Portuguese and Spanish fluently). Is this okay? What country could I be most valuable if those other languages are desired?

 Which country is best to get into a relationship (get a girlfriend)?

 Why do you, Nathan, say "Japan is better"?



Anonymous's picture

EPIK, the well known recruiting agency is denying well qualified teachers. I taught in the US for 4 years, and 1 year in Korea. I have my teaching degree and license in two states, Oregon and Ohio. I went to a distinguished education college, Otterbein College in Westerville, OH. I was part of the NMSA (National Middle School Assoc). I have a very good rapport with my current staff and students. EPIK denied my application. When I inquired for what reason they told me because of a reference check. That was a blatant lie. I spoke to the people I gave as references and my current staff. No one had spoken to EPIK.

What kind of reference check are they doing?

Anonymous's picture

If you're thinking about coming to Korea to just find a girlfriend then just forget about coming.

Anonymous's picture

i suppose very few would do such a thing to get a girlfriend... i'm not that crazy. i would like to go to korea to experience the life of a korean, to witness their manners, to understand their minds, to feel their uniqueness, to see their place, to eat their food (specially to eat their food!), to appreciate their view, perhaps even to work like one of them... i don't know... i just don't want to feel discriminated, left alone, ununderstood...

npfah38's picture

Does anybody know if it is helpful to know other languages similar to English, such as French and Spanish, for recruiters to choose actual English teachers?


And, are those languages themselves sought after at all?

Jacob Parslow's picture


I would like to come and teach in Korea with your company for one year. However my wife is Indian and she would of course have to come.

Can you tell me if she would be given a visa for one year to live with me?

Mr. Salim BASACI's picture

I am an Algerian, graduate from an Algerian University, holding a license degree in English, teacher of English with an experience of more than 20 years, speaking English fuently, native like.

As far a I am concerned, I would be very gald to apply for a post as a teacher of English in one of your schools.

On awaiting for a quick favourable answer, I would be very grateful to send you my warm salutations, sincere wishes and best regards.

                                                                             faithfully yours,

                                                                             Mr.  Salim BASACI

RUPAN.M's picture

I am Rupan .M, studying M.ed. I wish to teach English in Korea by next year.

Anonymous's picture

LOL @ The people who are trying to apply for a ESL job through these comment pages. If I were you guys, I would use my English skills I attained through those "20" years of experience and college degree's to figure out that this isn't an employment page, nor a website for a school.

I wouldn't hire idiots like you.

EnglishILL's picture

UMM...I am not trying to apply through these comment pages!! It's a bio. I wanted to say a little bit about myself, and also why I am interested in the program!
Thanks for being rude...idiot.

Anonymous's picture

HEY man what site do you get on to apply and post the resume? Thanks

japan's picture

haha, in other words, it is fraught with difficulty.

Thats why Nathan says "Japan", although that has its pitfalls too, but ok for short term relationships. Forget about saving money in Japan though, its very expensive (and so are the women to date, dine,etc).

And, for more people than you think, getting a GF is quite a high priority. Are you saying we re supposed to be sexless the whole time we are in Korea just so we can pander to someone's idea of what a "good" foreigner is?

People just come to Korea to save money, so long as the school they work for keeps its' promises and gives them free housing etc.

Not much of a life though, is it?

japan's picture

I ve got a feeling you might not enjoy Korea then. Id say its 50-50. Why dont you save up, come anyway, and then just bail out one night if you end up hating it?

If you think Koreans are already "unique" then you can be assured of being "excluded" from their unique tribe.

Not to say individuals arent kind, but intercultural dating should be discreet and you have to remember that until 10 years ago, Korea was a fascist police state that spied on its' citizens and they all were encouraged to watch and report on each other.

Liza Marie C. Floresca's picture

Me too, I'm very interested to be an online teacher, particularly in English. Because that's my field of expertise.

Anonymous's picture

hahaha good one

Anonymous's picture

funny haha

English101's picture

Hi everyone
I just wanted to know if I could be a teaching assistant in Korea? I don't have a degree in teaching or english but I have a level 3 in childcare. Do they have pre-school jobs or something along those lines. So could I still get a job in Korea?
Thank you :)


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