17 Reasons to Work in Korea as a foreign English teacher
Top Perks & Benefits
One of the reasons why South Korea is such a popular place to teach is because of the highly competitive benefits that are available to new and experienced teachers alike.
All teachers can expect to receive a free flight to South Korea. Airfare expenses are covered by your hiring school and some offer pre-paid flights while others offer an airfare reimbursement that you receive after arriving in Korea. Most schools also provide their foreign staff with a return flight home at the end of their contract term. Please refer to our Teacher Airfare page for more details.
Schools in Korea typically provide single studio style apartments for their western staff. These apartments are offered ‘rent free’ to the teachers and are usually within walking distance of the school. The majority of apartments will have the following furnishings; fridge, bed (sometime includes new linens), TV, phone, table, chairs, stove top cooking range and some basic cooking and eating utensils. Some apartments also include washing machines and/or an air conditioner. Larger cities such as Seoul and Busan tend to offer the smallest apartments. Please refer to our Housing in Korea page for more details.
Salaries vary based on qualifications and desired working locations. In most instances, new teachers can expect to make somewhere in the 2.0 million Won to 2.3 million Won per month (Currency Converter) range. Experienced teachers with credentials obviously make a little more, usually in the 2.3 – 2.6 million Won per month range. Believe it or not, schools in small cities and rural area’s typically offer slightly higher salaries simply because they have a harder time attracting applicants in comparison to the larger cities like Seoul, Incheon, Daegu, etc. Learn more about teacher salaries.
SEVERANCE PAY (Bonus)
Most Korean schools provide a severance package to their teachers who complete the full 12 month contract. The severance pay (also referred to as “The Completion Bonus”) will be the equivalent to 1 month’s salary.
By law, all Korean schools are required to cover 50% of their foreign staff’s medical plan. The remaining 50% of the coverage fee is automatically deducted from your monthly salary. The fee is quite minimum, roughly 1.5% – 2.5% of your salary.
Foreign teachers are technically required to put monthly contributions, roughly 4.5% of your salary, into the Korean national pension scheme. The contribution is typically deducted from your monthly salary then matched by your employer with an equal contribution. You can claim all of the money, your contributions plus the contributions made by your employer, at the end of your contract period. Note: Only Canadian and American teachers are eligible for the pension refund. Unfortunately the Korean government does not have joint pension agreements with the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
PAID VACATION BREAKS
Private school teachers can expect 2 weeks of paid vacation time in addition to all Korean National Holidays. Public school teachers can expect 4 weeks of paid vacation time in addition to Korean National holidays.
Depending on the year, National Holidays in Korea can account for an additional 10 to 14 days of vacation time.
12 MONTH CONTRACT
12 month contracts are the industry standard for public and private schools in Korea.
INTERNATIONAL WORK EXPERIENCE
Teaching in South Korea is a great way to broaden your horizons and gain true international working experience. Lots of western based employers view new employees with international work experience in high regards and value their ability to take on new challenges and overcome the fear of change.
LOW TAX RATE
Western teachers enjoy an incredibly low tax rate in Korea, somewhere in the 3.5% to 7% range. The amount of tax you pay depends on the salary you receive and your school will automatically deduct the taxes directly from your monthly salary and file them accordingly with the Korean Revenue Agency. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about filing tax claims during your time in Korea. Note: Public school teachers are exempt from paying income taxes during their first 2 years of employment. To qualify for the exemption you will need to submit a ‘Residency Certificate’ that was issued by the appropriate government office from your country of citizenship. Unfortunately Canadian and Irish nationals are not eligible for the income tax exemption.
Korean schools are responsible for sponsoring their foreign staff. Sponsorship means your E2 work visa (foreign teacher visa) is directly connected to your hiring school. The visa is valid for a total of 1 year with an option to have it renewed or extended at the end of your contract term – assuming you’re interested in staying and the school is interested in keeping you. Gone2Korea is here to help you through the entire visa application process.
LOW COST OF LIVING
Day to day living expenses in Korea are noticeably cheaper than western countries. Paying monthly utilities, buying groceries and other day-to-day expenses (transportation, entertainment, etc.) are very affordable. Many foreigners are able to get by on 900,000 to 1,000,000 KRW a month which means you get to save the rest!
Overtime is usually paid when you’re asked to work above and beyond 120 teaching hours per month – this is the industry standard. Overtime is based on the length of the class and the location. Schools in the larger urban areas usually provide 18,000 to 25,000 Won per 50 minute class, and 15,000 to 18,000 Won for classes that are less than 50 minutes.
Although the jobs are fun, the role tends to require more attention and dedication than many people assume. Teaching English in Korea is a challenging job and making sure the students are learning is a big responsibility but incredibly gratifying.
CULTURE & PEOPLE
Korea’s rich history, ancient traditions and modern advancements offer westerners the chance to experience something truly unique. Most people are pleasantly surprised by Korea’s welcoming attitude towards westerners. You’ll have ample opportunity to meet lots of interesting people including Korean locals, other western teachers, international travelers and more. You’ll find that most individuals who choose to teach overseas are open minded, outgoing, and eager to develop new friendships. Don’t be surprised if you leave Korea with new life-long friends from around the world.
You can expect proper teaching resources to be provided by your school. Teaching resources usually include: flashcards, photocopiers, paper, coloring tools, white and/or black boards, shared office computers, English related games, story books, work books and so on.