A Day in the Life – How to Teach in Korea

We have already voiced our opinion about why Korea is the top choice for many people looking to teach ESL in Asia. However, recently we have been getting a lot of questions about how to teach here in Korea. Before moving our lives half way around the world, we did months and months of research. We thought it was about time that we shared some of our insider knowledge with any of you looking to broaden your horizons and teach abroad in Korea.

First of all there are two options when it comes to teaching in Korea. Hagwons (private academies) and public schools. Teaching jobs at these two places are vastly different, however we will talk about that in more depth next Sunday. Both of these places hire using recruiters. You can find these recruiters online and post your resume and information on their websites. If they are interested in accepting you to their recruiting program, you will hear back from them within a few weeks. They will then walk you through what you need to do as far as paperwork and choosing the right job/city for you. Speaking of paperwork, there is a MOUNTAIN of paperwork you must complete. Finding a job may be the easy part, but the paperwork is the biggest pain in the ass.

badge doc

  1. A valid passport. Hello!? You are moving abroad. This is a given. Make sure it has more than 6 months left before it’s expiration!
  2. A Bachelors Degree or greater. If your degree is in education, you can apply for higher paying and more reputable jobs. Also if you have teaching experience that is always a plus. You will need a notarized hardcopy of your diploma. Recent graduates, who have not yet received their diploma (this happened to Ryan) may be able to use an official transcript (or proof of completion) of your college courses with the date you finished your degree and what you majored in on it. This must be notarized as well.
  3. Sealed transcripts. 2 sets of sealed transcripts are required for public schools. We also needed them for our hagwon job last year in Seoul.
  4. Criminal Record Check. Go to your local police station and explain what you need it for. They will take your finger prints (usually free of charge) and you must mail them off to the FBI be checked for a criminal record. Once you get the clean record in the mail, you must have this paper authenticated with an apostille by then mailing it to the Department of State Office of Authentications. To get this paperwork back, it can take up to 3 months, so keep this in mind and make sure this is one of the first things you do! The Criminal Record Check cannot be older than 6 months when you apply for your job.
  5. A whole lot of passport photos. We came with around 10. We went through those pretty quickly with getting our visa, health check, and other misc things. We have since had to retake our photos. Come with 10 just to be on the safe side.
  6. Updated resume. This one is pretty self explanatory…
  7. Photocopies of all your documents. You will need these for the immigration office and your recruiter will possibly want them as well. It is also a good idea to have a digital copy on your hard drive.
  8. 2 Recommendation Letters. Usually only public schools will want these. They must come from academic or professional sources only. Both letters must include the person’s name, status, address, contact number and an ink signature (letterheads are advised). Many times, the recruiter might ask for the letters to be sent by the person writing them for you.
  9. Health Check. The hagwon schools usually only require a self health check (mental illness, surgeries, etc) while public schools will usually require you to go to the doctor and be deemed suitable for travel and living abroad.

badge public

  •  Seoul – SMOE (Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education)
    • Second largest city in the world and therefore the teaching jobs here are the most sought after positions. You should expect to have experience teaching and a degree or certification in education/ESL.
    • Recruiters for SMOE:
      • Footprints Recruiting
      • Canadian Connections
      • Korea Connections
      • Woongjin Think Outside
      • WorkNPlay
      • Korvia
  • Gyeonggido Province – GEPIK (Gyeonggi English Program In Korea)
    • Pretty much the suburbs of Seoul. Not as competitive, but still expect to have experience and a degree or certificate in education/ESL.
    • Recruiters for GEPIK:
      • Teach Away
      • Reach to Teach Recruiting
      • WorkNPlay
  • Jeollanamdo Province – JLP (Jeollanamdo Language Program)
    • They recruit for the Jeollanamdo Provinces of Korea. This program is actually expanding and doing quite well in recent years. However, Mokpo is downsizing their teachers. If you want beautiful beaches and countryside with a good mix of city life, we highly recommend Jeollanamdo!
    • Recruiters for JLP:
      • Canadian Connections
      • Jeolla Jobs
  • Jeollabukdo Province – Jeonbuk POE (Jeollabukdo Office of Education)
    • Recruits for the Jeollabukdo Provinces
    • Recruiters for Jeonbuk POE:
      • Footprints Recruiting
      • WorkNPlay
      • Woongjin Think Outside
  • The rest of South Korea – EPIK (English Program in Korea)
    • They recruit for large cities such as Busan and also smaller rural places. Typically not as competitive as SMOE and GEPIK, but Busan jobs are very competitive.
    • Recruiters for EPIK:
      • Gone2Korea
      • Korvia
      • Footprints Recruiting
      • Also you can directly apply to the EPIK website


Badge private

  • Say Kimchi Recruiting
  • Korean Horizons
  • Adventure Teaching
  • Footprints Recruiting
  • Jeju ESL

Additional Information:

  • Dave’s ESL Cafe
  • Waygook.org

*There are many more recruiters. This is simply our short list.



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