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Under the radar: teaching in South Korea

When looking to East Asia for work, many postgrads look to the mighty powerhouse that is China or the quirky vibrancy of Japan.

But one country in this region that is often overlooked is South Korea, a land with a long history and rich culture. In addition, its job climate caters to overseas adventurers who are keen to start their working life outside of their native land.

What you'll need to do prior

It's important to note that there isn't an all-encompassing law for every country and rules differ by nationality. There are also different stipulations for the type of job you want to apply for, too. For more information, click here.

It's worth learning some basic Korean phrases as English-speaking ability among natives dwindles when outside of the capital.

Don't forget to apply for a VISA

Don't forget to apply for a VISA

The Job

As aforementioned, the level of English in most parts of Korea is low. This may seem daunting, but it is why you will be needed in this part of the world and with a TEFL accreditation you will be prepared to deal with teaching to non-native speakers.

In terms of options, often you will have to chance to opt for a state or private school. Hours vary, but generally you will work longer for a fee-paying school, but your income will be higher. Your classroom size will also be smaller, making it easier for you to handle your students and you will generally be amongst other foreign nationals, so you won't be alone.

On the other hand, state schools generally have longer holiday allowances, which is great if you have plans to travel around the country or neighbouring areas.

It's important to weigh up the pros and cons of private and state school teaching

It's important to weigh up the pros and cons of private and state school teaching

Living costs

It would be a falsehood to suggest that South Korea is dirt cheap as there are definite aspects of living in the country that seem expensive. For instance, those wishing to rent out an apartment will usually have to put down a deposit or 'key money'. This sum is usually a large percentage of the house's mortgage. The good news, however, is that many schools offer to pay this deposit as well as your rent in general. This means that your wages, which averages at around £1000 a month if at a public school and £1100 if at a private institution, will be yours to spend on recreation and food. 

Transport is cheap if using the metro, especially when compared to London's underground service and it is possible to eat high-quality food for a reasonable price. Myeongdong Kyoja in Seoul, for instance, is considered a great place to try the nation's delights like kimchi or dumplings at an affordable rate.


Seoul's underground service is £1 for a single fare

Seoul's underground service is £1 for a single fare

Other sectors where you can work

For those looking for other types of profession other than English teaching, it is slightly more difficult to acquire work, but not impossible. There are still sectors that require English-speakers, but you're best bet is to be granted the job before you leave so that your employer can make the government aware that you are wanted. It helps to have a degree from a respected university and have worked for a recognised company beforehand.

There's nothing like perusing the busy streets of Seoul

Make the leap and experience Korea