The Ultimate Teach Korea FAQ

Questions and answers about teaching English in Korea as a westerner

Our Services
We help people, just like you, land full-time English teaching jobs with schools in South Korea.
Everything! We’ll be presenting you to Korean schools for job application purposes, setting up your interviews with the school hiring managers, helping you collect the proper documents, guiding you through the work visa application process, arranging your airport pickup and lots more. Plus we’ll be answering all your questions along the way.
You’ll be working with a dedicated and highly experienced Gone2Korea coordinator.
Our services are forever free! As a candidate, everything you receive from us is 100% free of charge. We attain our fees from the school you accept employment with ~ this is how the ESL job market works in Asia. Be weary of agencies who market themselves as ‘programs’ in order to charge you a ‘service fee’.
Nope, everything we offer you is totally free, however, you’ll need to cover the costs of collecting the necessary documentation like your criminal record check and apostille authentications.

We have a phone number, obviously. We removed the number from our site because we were getting non-stop calls from people who don’t qualify for the services we offer. As a result, we don’t offer phone details until the candidate has verified their eligibility. Note: You’ll have direct phone, email, Skype, etc. contact with your respective Gone2Korea coordinator.

Application Basics
Yes, having a BA is necessary for securing a teaching job and work visa in Korea. Any major (field of study) is acceptable. Note: Your degree must come from a college or university which resides in one of the 7 designated English speaking countries – as defined by the Korean Immigration Office (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand).

No, sorry. Having a bachelor’s degree is the bare minimum for securing full-time employment in Korea as a foreign teacher.

Yes you can. However, our coordinators will need to know when you’ll receive your physical diploma before they start working on your application.

Not at all. Most of the teachers in Korea (over 10,000 foreigners are teaching there right now) started their new roles with zero classroom experience.

In most cases, yes. Being TEFL certified is a mandatory requirement with many schools and programs but not all of them. Either way, having a TEFL qualification is pretty standard these days and the credential will definitely make you more appealing to employers. Everything you need to know about TEFL for Korea purposes.

Yes. Being a native English speaker is a mandatory requirement. The schools and programs we deal with define a native English speaker as someone who completed all of their education in English, within one of the designated English speaking countries, from the start of grade 7 through the college/university level.

Unfortunately, we can only place native English speaking candidates as defined in the above Q&A.

Yes. Korean Immigration will only grant English teaching visas to candidates who have a valid passport from the USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand.

No. You will need a valid passport as defined in the above Q&A.

Application Process

Not much! All we need is a completed online application form and your resume. Offering a photo is strongly recommended because most Korean schools require applicant photos. Check our Application Tips page for some useful pointers.

Just head over to our online application form and enter your information. It’s as simple as that!
In most cases, we recommend applying 4-5 months before your desired starting date. Even earlier if you want public schools. Learn more about application dates and deadlines.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee interviews for everyone who applies. Only selected candidates will be contacted for job interviews.

Gone2Korea receives many applications annually and certain times of year are much busier than others. If we have job vacancies that match your credentials and requests, at the time of applying, you’ll likely hear from one of our coordinators in 1 to 5 days. If we don’t have matching vacancies, we will keep your application ‘active’ for up to 3 months.

It’s difficult to offer concrete timelines because every applicant is different. Some candidates generate lots of interest with Korean employers right away, others take more time, and some candidates fail to generate interest. Moreover, when you apply and when you want to start will also affect the timeline. In summary, the timeline is different for everyone.

Once your application generates interest with a school(s), your coordinator will send you the school details (i.e. the job description) to review. If you have a mutual interest in the job opening, your Gone2Korea coordinator will setup an interview time/date between you and the school hiring manager. We work with lots of schools so interviewing formats differ. Many schools will conduct video interviews over Skype but some use the good old fashioned phone line.

We will let you know, usually within 1-2 days, if your interview was successful or not. A successful interview means the school is interested in hiring you! At this point your coordinator will send you a copy of the school employment contract to review. If the interview wasn’t a success, we simply keep your application active and wait for the next interviewing opportunity to develop.

Of course. Assuming you’re interviewing with a specific school or campus, and your interview was successful, your coordinator will put you in contact with one of the foreign teachers who is currently working at the school.

Most schools will give you 2-3 days to make a decision. The reason the schools can’t offer more time is because they need to start interviewing other candidates right away if you decide to decline the offer.

Is Korea a safe place to live and work?

The official travel advisories of Canada, America and the UK have South Korea listed as a safe travel destination. Violent crime rates in Korea are lower than the US, UK and other highly developed countries. In short, Korea is an incredibly safe place for foreigners to live, work and travel. Safety is one of the primary reasons why 1000’s of foreigners choose Korea as their ‘go-to’ teaching destination each semester.

Work Visas
Before you can begin teaching English in Korea, you’ll need to get the proper work visa. The large majority of our teachers acquire an E2 or E1 work visa; commonly known as the ‘English Teaching Visa’ and ‘Professor Visa’ respectively. Select candidates, such as Korean Americans, Korean Canadians, etc. may qualify for F4 visas.
You will need to submit a group of documents (visa application materials) to the Korean Immigration office for processing. Korean Immigration will process your request and provide you with a ‘visa issuance number’. Once you receive the issuance number you will need to send a final (smaller) group of documents to the Korean Consulate in your region to acquire the actual work visa. Don’t stress it, your Gone2Korea coordinator will be walking you through each step. Visit our Document Requirements page for details.

No. Korean Immigration will only grant visa issuance numbers to candidates with job contracts. Basically, you need a job offer from a Korean employer before you can apply for your visa.

It typically takes 4-5 weeks. Most of this time is spent waiting for the Immigration Office to process your ‘visa issuance number’ and for Korean Consulate to process your actual visa.

All E-class teaching visas expire after 13 months. F4 visas are issued on a 1 – 3 year basis. This time period begins once you enter Korea (not when you acquire the visa).

Of course. You can easily have your visa extended for another year at the end of your contract period. Applying for an extension is a relatively simple process. There are no extension limits, teachers may have their contracts and visas extended an indefinite number of times.

It’s your responsibility to pay for the visa application fee ~ roughly $50.

About Jobs

It depends on your credentials and availability. In most cases, you can apply for jobs in the private school sector or jobs in the public school sector. If we don’t have the jobs you’re interested in or you don’t have the proper qualifications, we will let you know.

Yes you can. However, having very specific location preferences will limit the amount of schools we’re able to present you to.

It depends on the school type. If you’re working for a private school employer, you’ll have numerous western co-teachers. Most of our private school clients employ 5-10 western teachers, some have more than 20!  The education offices on the other hand only employ 1 foreign teacher per school, therefore, you’d be the only westerner if you’re working at a public school.

Teacher duties vary from school to school. What and how you teach is determined by the English levels of your students (some classes will cater to advanced English-speaking students and others to basic levels). Either way, your primary responsibility is teaching English as a second language to your students.

Your work day will be in the 8 – 9 hour range but you’ll only be in the classroom for 28 – 30 hours per week. Your remaining time will be spent preparing for your classes (lesson planning, marking and grading, etc.) Teacher stuff!

Yes you can but it’s important to understand where the demand for jobs resides. Most jobs that are available for westerners cater to kindergarten, elementary and middle school students. High school and adult teaching jobs are quite rare in comparison.

Of course. You will be entitled to 2 weeks vacation (typically 5 business days in the summer and another 5 in the winter), plus all national holidays, during the course of your 1 year contract. Note: Public school teachers have 2 weeks in the summer and winter.

Salary & Money

Salaries for first-time teachers with unrelated majors can expect to earn 2.1 – 2.2 million KRW per month. That’s roughly $2000 USD a month.

There’s opportunity to save a lot but how much depends on your lifestyle and habits. Your apartment will be provided rent free so your only ‘essential’ costs include food, utilities and transportation. Most teachers are able to save $10,000 USD in a year, some save substantially more while others save substantially less.

You will receive your salary once a month. Your school will deposit your salary directly into your Korean bank account.

You can setup a Korean bank account once you have an alien registration card, which is usually issued within 2-3 weeks of your arrival. Your school manager or a Korean co-teacher will help you setup a bank account, it’s a really quick and simple procedure. Once your account is setup, you’ll have a bank card which you can use at any ATM machine.

Yes it will. By law, you’re required to pay for or make contributions towards, the following government agencies. 

Income Tax: 3.3%
Medical Insurance: Roughly 50,000 KRW per month. This amount is matched by your employer (50/50 contributions).

Depending how your school registers you with the government (as an employee or as a contractor), you can expect to pay into the Korean National Pension Scheme in addition to paying income tax and 50% of your health coverage. Pension contributions equal 9% of your monthly salary but teachers only pay for half (4.5%), the remaining 4.5% is matched by your employer.

Note: American and Canadian teachers who pay into the scheme are entitled to a 100% ‘pension refund’ at the end of their contracted term.

Overall, the number of government related fees are quite marginal and your school will automatically deduct things from your monthly salary. Meaning, you don’t have to worry about filing forms with government agencies while you’re there.

Of course! You can wire money to your home country right from your Korean bank branch. To send money home, you’ll need to show the bank your passport and alien card in addition to providing the banking details of your home country bank (i.e. account number, branch number, address and contact details).

Bringing $1200 USD is necessary to get you through the first month (until your first pay day), but bringing $1500 is recommended if you can manage it.

Housing & Apartments

The school you sign the contract with will provide you with an apartment near the school.

Yes, it’s 100% rent free. Your employer is responsible for covering the rent. In rare instances or upon request, schools will offer a housing stipend (living allowance) as an alternative to the rent free apartment.

Although your apartment is free, you’ll be responsible for paying the monthly utility charges. These expenses may include any of the following: hydro, electric, phone line, cable tv, internet, maintenance fee, other. Some of the utilities are optional (cable, internet, land line, etc.) so it’s up to you to decide which services you want. Most teachers pay 150,000 – 250,000 KRW per month in utilities which is noticeably less expensive then utilities fees in the West.

It will have all the basics including a bed, dresser, fridge, table, chairs, microwave, etc. You’ll likely want to add some knickknacks once you get settled to ‘make it your own’.

Airfare & Arrival

The school or program you sign a contract with will pay for your airfare expense. Some schools offer prepaid flights but most offer an entrance allowance or airfare reimbursement.

Private school airfare benefits: Some schools still offer prepaid flights to Korea, however, most offer an airfare reimbursement which you’ll receive shortly after arriving.  
Note: Some schools in the smaller cities and rural areas also cover the flight home at the end of the contract.
Public school airfare benefits: Public schools provide an ‘Entrance Allowance’ of 1.3 million KRW  and an ‘Exit Allowance’ of equal value at the end of the contract term.
Note: Many education offices do not issue the entrance allowance until the teachers have completed 6 months of the contract term. 
Worth Mentioning: Private schools offer a contract completion bonus – equal to a month’s salary – at the end of the contract period.  Public schools do NOT offer the completion bonus ‘if’ the teachers accepts the exit allowance. 

We’ll plan your arrival details with you, step-by-step before you depart. Depending where you’re landing in Korea, we’ll have someone from the school pick you up or we’ll organize an airport pickup service (someone will be waiting for you at the arrivals gate).

Health & Medical

Yes. Korean law requires all Korean schools to provide their foreign staff with basic medical insurance. Medical insurance premiums are split 50/50 with the employer (as Korean law requires) which means you’ll be paying for 50% of the monthly premium and your school covers the remaining 50%.

Note: Your medical insurance is limited to doctor visits, hospital visits and any emergency care you may require. Dental, cosmetic, eye care and prescriptions are not included in the coverage.

Note: The insurance is only valid in Korea. If you travel outside Korea for vacation, you’ll need to consider purchasing temporary travel insurance.

Yes. Korean Immigration requires all foreign teachers to get a medical check within their first 90 days in the country. Most schools and programs will make you complete this check within the first week or two.  The test involves a blood sample, urine sample, chest x-ray and Q&A with the respective doctor.

Although South Korea is a very safe country with limited natural threats, it’s always smart to speak with a travel doctor before going abroad for extended periods of time.

Friends & Couples

Yes you can!

To be clear, applying as a couple means both parties are applying to teach. If you’re the only one who plans on working, your partner will be considered a ‘dependent’. More info about dependents below.

Please visit our Joint Applications page for detailed information on this topic.

Of course. However, it’s sometimes difficult to coordinate jobs for two people if they have very specific requests. Also, if one of you is really qualified and the other isn’t, it can be problematic to find 2 suitable positions at the same school or nearby. In most cases, we advise people who are applying with a friend to offer some level of flexibility.

Taking a Spouse or Child

A dependent is a direct family member (i.e. spouse, child or parent) who will accompany you to South Korea with non-working visa status. Their visa would be directly tied to yours (F3 visa).

Generally speaking, Korean employers view candidates who have dependents (non-working spouse and/or children) as high risk. We apologize for the discouraging news but as recruiters, we can only present schools and programs with applicants to consider; it’s the Korean employers and hiring managers who make the actual job offers. We’re not saying it’s impossible to find employment in Korea if you have dependents; it’s just difficult when you’re competing against many other applicants who are applying as individuals – which schools prefer.

Private schools tend to view people that are coming with non-working family members as ‘high risk’ because they’re always worried that if your spouse or child can’t adjust to Korean culture, get sick, can’t find suitable education facilities, etc. then chances are you’ll leave the country before your contract term has been completed. Therefore, when a private school has the choice between an individual teacher and someone with dependents, they will choose the individual. Furthermore, most schools have housing contracts for ‘studio style’ apartments which aren’t suitable for families.

Public schools allow teachers with dependents to apply but they will need a signed ‘Statement of Intent’ before a job offer is presented. The statement of intent requires applicants to state what their dependent(s) plan on doing for the full year; what your spouse will do if he/she isn’t working, where and how your children will continue their education, etc. Accommodations are also problematic because public schools do not offer housing assistance for families, therefore, candidates would need to find suitable housing on their own.

Can my children attend the school I will be working at?

In most cases, this scenario isn’t possible unless the teacher is working at an international school that’s willing to offer free enrollment. Public schools teach all subjects in Korean (aside from their English class) and foreigners are not allowed to attend these schools unless they’re registered citizens or have special permission from the respective office of education. Generally speaking, the education offices won’t permit foreign students unless they have sufficient Korean language skills. Private schools on the other hand are essentially English language institutes; meaning, they don’t teach math, science, geography, etc. so your child wouldn’t receive the education they require.

In Summary

It’s usually quite difficult for our coordinators to find suitable placements for applicants with dependents. We do our best to accommodate people when we can but the final decisions ultimately come from the schools so our influence is limited. If you plan on bringing dependents to Korea, we advise contacting multiple recruiting agents in order to maximize your chances.

Thanks for checking us out, we’re glad you’re here!

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.

Korean schools and programs offer western English teachers highly competitive benefits packages which includes: