Teaching Private Lessons in Korea as an English Tutor
Teaching private classes in Korea (tutoring English to students 1-on-1) is technically illegal. Under Korean law, a foreign teacher on an E2 work visa can only work for a single employer (i.e. the school you signed the contract with). Korean schools essentially sponsor the foreign teachers visa during their employment period and securing other sources of undeclared income from third party sources is prohibited.
However, many westerners still teach private English lessons during their free time, regardless of the potential consequences. The tutoring industry is highly lucrative and lots of foreigners do it to supplement their incomes – substantially – each month. It’s not uncommon for Korean citizens to approach westerners in the grocery store, at the local bank, etc. and ask them for personal English lessons. In most cases it’s a parent who’s interested in hiring a private tutor for their children.
The consequences of getting caught vary and usually depend on the circumstances. Factors may include; what you were doing, the status of the person who catches you, who they report you to and what measures the authorities decide to punish you with (if at all). Most teachers never get caught; those that do are generally given a warning and asked to stop their private lessons. Others may face stiffer penalties such as visa cancellation accompanied by an exit order or a government issued fine.
Can anyone teach private English lessons legally? To our knowledge the only teachers who can teach privately in Korea are those with F2-1 or F5 visas. We advise all teachers to speak with their registered employer before engaging in opportunities outside of their contract.