Monday, January 17, 2011

Why You Should Come Teach In Korea

Or at least someone you know should.

I know everyone has their own thoughts or concerns about the stability of Korea and our lovely neighbor to the North, and while I will completely respect that…  it’s just plain silly. This is a wonderful country that is incredibly safe and filled with kind and sincere people.  You will often see small children walking alone and bicycles resting unlocked on the side of the street. Mail is delivered in unlocked boxes and store owners will often leave their store unattended. And nothing bad ever happens.  Why?  Because here people have respect for themselves and respect for everyone else.  The crime rate is unbelievably low here. It’s a wonderful breath of fresh air from America where you always have to ensure that your doors are locked, credit card bills are shredded and make sure children know to never talk to strangers.

I’ve met dozens of foreigners in my short time here and most are in the 25-35 age range.  Not that I get into everyone’s business, but obviously everyone comes to Korea for different reasons.  Most come to escape a bad job market or because they are just bored with the job they have. Many I have met are here to get some space to help move past a tragic breakup or major life event. Others come because they have an overload of student loans or other debt and Korea is the 2nd highest paying country for ESL teachers.  (You can easily save/send home $1,000+ a month here.) The remaining few are here truly to see the world and experience a new culture, but they seem rare.

As you can tell from my blog I have fully enjoyed my time here thus far.  While I would LOVE to stay here for a second year, I still haven’t made that decision.  There are a details that would need to be worked out and I feel like I need a few more months in residence before I am prepared to make that decision.  Either way, I highly recommend South Korea.  All the stresses of your life are remedied the moment you step off the plane. You have a new focus now.  You have to figure out your way around a new country, learn a new alphabet (and language), new food, new culture, new everything.  Your priorities immediately shift.

It’s not like everything is rainbows and lollipops, I mean, I don’t wake up smiling and spend all morning dancing in my underwear. (Although I do know people who do…)  It’s just all the things that bother you at home…the bills, the same boring job with the same annoying people, the same boring weekend plans, and (for some people) the memories haunting you around every corner…they don’t happen here.  You have an overflow of new opportunities and experiences waiting for you, dozens of people that want to do and try these new things with you, and far more cash than you can possibly spend in one month.  What more do you want?

Lots of single people come here.  Lots of couples, both married and dating come to Korea as well.  Some people come and leave their other half at home for one year.  Most come with absolutely no teaching experience and with no knowledge of the new language.  Some are interested in dating, and others come after swearing off the opposite sex. Foreign teachers come from every corner of the world and at any given time there are over 20,000 foreign teachers in Korea.  You will never be alone here.

While I have found a cozy little home in Korea and would love for any of you to join me here, I’m sure any other foreign country would bring you similar happiness and I support that just the same.  I have several friends who are thinking about Japan and that would probably be way cool also.  (I have to say that so you will keep reading my blog.)  There are many perks you will find in Korea that you won’t find elsewhere and vice versa.  The only requirement for teaching abroad is that you have a bachelors degree (in any major) and speak English.  Easy, right?  95% of you are already qualified!

If you are looking at Korea or other countries, which many of you reading this are, do your research.  How much does it pay?  How many hours will you be working?  Do you have to find your own apartment and/or pay your own rent?  (Many countries you do…) What will your monthly bills be like? What is the tax rate in that country?  How close to your school will you be working? Is it walkable distance or will you be expected to take a bus or subway to get there?  Talk to current teachers in that country. And in the school you plan to work for if possible. Do they buy your plane ticket or do you pay for it and get reimbursed at the end of your contract? Do you need TOEFL certification?  Learn about the culture, the climate, the people, everything you can.  And talk to recruiters…many of them. Not just one.

Do your homework!

Then contact my recruiter, Lindsay at and come hang out with me in Korea!  *smiles*

(Ps. I am realistic about our noisy little neighbors, and I trust that my government, the Korean government, my school, my family, everyone I have met since my arrival here, and my own above average intelligence will ensure that I get out in time if anyone thought there was a real threat.  And Pps.  North Korea hates the US just as much as they hate SoKo.)


  1. can i bring my wife and kids?

  2. actually yes! My recruiter Lindsay and her husband both teach here, they have a small son, and she just had another baby last week I think. Childcare is totally doable over here. Email her :)

  3. I think North Korea hates the US *more* than they hate South Korea. They blame the US for all the issues and animosity on their peninsula.

    I don't have the patience to be a teacher. Do they need someone to go over there and be a lottery winner? I think I could do that pretty well. Ask Lindsay if she is recruiting for those.

  4. Matt, I might have to agree with you on the patience thing. You would have a bit of difficulty over here. :(

    And they don't have a lottery here either. Sorry!

  5. i heard a few horror stories about how teacher would be terminated before the completion of their one year work contract.

  6. There are bad schools out there, just like their are bad companies everywhere. If you work with a good recruiter and get a reputable school then you won't have to deal with things like that. Plus, there are plenty of resources in Korea to help you if your school mistreats you in anyway.

  7. I'd love to, the problems it'd cause with family, it wouldn't be worth it. Plus, I have my responsibilities teaching at the YMCA. A year of training TKD in Korea would be pretty sweet though.

  8. Hi Amy
    I love your blog and taught in Korea 2008-2009 (near Busan). I am considering going back as most jobs here seem incredibly boring and the pay is even worse. Thanks for this's a reminder to me of why I went there in the first place, and although I've really wanted to be settled here at home, your post is causing me some excitement about going back again. I visited Daejeon to see a friend while I was there, and LOVED the city (compared to where I was working). I actually saw green grass...a exceedingly wonderful sight to behold! So, if I DO go back, I'm looking at Daejeon. I'd love to meet up with you if it happens!

  9. Thank you for reading, Lindsey! Please let me know if you decide to come back to Korea. Daejeon is a wonderful city with a great group of foreigners!

  10. Yes, that's what I needed last year...more foreigners out my door instead of having to travel 20 minutes by bus (1 hour by subway) to get to them. I'll be in contact should I make the plans and the move! Thanks!

  11. Hi, i graduated in the arts of computer science with a AA degree, I am doing fine no problems. I was wondering though would teaching overseas be an option for me? i have a wife and a kid, wife is native Spanish and kid is native english as well I. I would prefer to go to japan because i am more well adjusted the their culture better, my wife kinda more attuned with korea because she has worked with koreans before here in los angeles but she is currently in mexico working and i work in the U.S while my kid goes to school here also. She cant live permanently here in the U.S we want to go somewhere we can be together and work, yet have a peaceful living and good culture. So far our picks are mostly Asia.

  12. Hi Eric,

    Unfortunately, as far as I know, you have to have a bachelors. I think it's Korean law and is required to get your work visa. Japan, I think, is the same and it is VERY competitve. I'm sorry for your situation though, that sounds really tough! Best advice I have is to talk with different recruiters and see what they have to say.

  13. Here's the South Korean lottery website: Many small convenience stores with Lotto 6/45 + B banners sell tickets all across the country.

    Also, if you are a member of the British Commonwealth, you can apply to teach in the Korea to the north. From all accounts, it is like stepping into a whole other world.