Private VS Public

Comparing the different job sectors in Korea’s bustling English teaching industry. As you can imagine, there are pros and cons to both. The table below highlights the major, and minor, differences between the two.

Private Schools or Public Schools

Which is the better option?

Private Schools (Hagwons)
Public Schools (EPIK)
Term
1 year
1 year
Start Dates
Year round but primarily at the start of March, June, September and December.
Two hiring periods only at the start of March and start of September.
Application Timeline
4-6 weeks on average.
2-3 months on average.
Working Locations
Many options, teachers can choose locations and decline offers.
One location ‘preference’ allowed but working area is ultimately determined by the EPIK office. No option to decline the offer.
Western Teachers
2-20 western teachers per school. You’ll be working with other Americans, Canadians, Brits, etc.
Only 1 western teacher per school. You’ll be the only foreigner at the school.
Co-Teaching
No co-teaching. You’ll be the only teacher in the classroom.
Yes. You’ll be teaching in tandem with an experienced Korean teacher.
Class Sizes
10-15 students per class, on average.
35-40 students per class, on average.
Work Schedule
9-5 or 1-9 type schedules, give or take an hour.
9-5 schedule, give or take an hour.
Student Types
Mainly kindergarten, elementary and middle school students. Some jobs at pre-K, junior high, high and adults levels.
Almost all public school jobs are now at the elementary age level. A small handful of middle schools still employ western teachers.
Salaries
2.1 – 3.1 million KRW per month.
1.8 to 2.7 million KRW per month.
Severance Pay
Severance, or contract completion bonus, equal to 1 months pay, is given at the end of the term.
Severance, equal to one months pay, is given at the end of the contract term.
Airfare
Flight costs covered. Some schools offer prepaid flights, others offer reimbursement upon arrival.
Teachers are given an entrance allowance (received after arrival). Cost differences are the teachers responsibility.
Housing
Apartment, with basic furnishings, provided rent free. Teachers are responsible for monthly utilities.
Apartment, with basic furnishings, provided rent free. Teachers are responsible for monthly utilities.
Vacation
10-12 days plus national holidays
18 days plus national holidays
Commuting
Very rare, most private schools offer apartments within walking distance of the campus.
Commuting isn’t uncommon in the public school system, especially when working in smaller cities or rural areas.
Medical Insurance
50/50 medical coverage provided, per Korean labor law requirements. The school pays 50% of the monthly premium and the teacher pays the rest (roughly 3% of salary)
50/50 medical coverage provided, per Korean labor law requirements. The education office pays 50% of the premium and the teacher pays the rest (roughly 3% of salary).
Pension Plan
Depends on how the school registers their teachers; as employees or contractors. Employees are entitled to pension contributions, contractors are not.
All public school teachers are required to pay into the pension scheme. Note: Only Australian, Canadian and US citizens are entitled to the refund.

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Gone2Korea is your connection to full-time teaching jobs in South Korea. Western graduates, primarily from the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, use our services to secure jobs with trusted Korean schools, and schools use our services to find and hire enthusiastic teachers from the West.

Worth noting: We’re not a job ‘sourcing’ agency or recruiter that finds new schools on the fly. On the contrary, we work with a select group of schools and programs that we know and trust. 

In addition to helping you land a job, we’ll also be helping you with your work visa, departure, arrival, and offering support for the entirety of your contracted term.

Prior teaching experience and related degrees are NOT prerequisites for teaching in Korea. Here’s what you’ll need in order to qualify.

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