1. Am I eligible?
To be eligible, Korean law requires all candidates :
To be born in the USA, Canada, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia or South Africa. If you were not born in one of these countries, then you must have been educated in one of them since the age of 12 for at least 10 years.
To have a Bachelor diploma from an accredited educational institution from one of the countries listed above.
To have a clean countrywide criminal history.
To be within 22 – 62 years of age.
2. I was not born in a western country. Can I still apply?
Yes, as long as you :
- Were educated in a western country since the age of 12 for at least 10 years.
- Have a Bachelor diploma from an accredited educational institution from a western country which was taught in English.
- Have a clean countrywide criminal history.
- To be within 22 – 62 years of age.
3. I only have an Associate Degree, can I apply?
No. According to Korean immigration law, a Bachelor is a prerequisite in order to apply.
4. When is the best time to apply?
- The school year commences from the beginning of March & the new academic semester starts the beginning of September. Most of the public school positions are available at this time.
- Since public schools are highly sought after teaching positions in Korea, it’s best to apply 4 or 5 months in advance.
- Also, we work directly with the education office & provide public schools in off-season period.
5. What’s the difference between a public school & a private academy / hogwon?
- Public schools are regulated & financed by the Korean government. Private academies are private businesses, often franchises run by families and they have limited finances.
- Public schools include government contracts that are in-line with Korean law. The contents are always honored, supported & monitored by the education office. They always include medical contributions, pension contributions & vacation allowance. Private academy contracts are created by the director. Often, they don’t include the medical contributions, pension contributions & vacation allowance. This contravenes Korean law.
6. Do you provide university positions?
Very rarely. Usually, universities are able to recruit for themselves.
7. Do you provide part-time positions? What about summer / winter camps? Are short-term contracts possible?
- We don’t provide part-time positions.
- We don’t provide summer or winter camp positions.
- We only provide 12 month full-time contracts at this time.
8. How long are the contracts for?
All the public school positions are for 12 full months (365 days.)
9. What is the entrance allowance & exit allowance?
- This represents the amount of money the government will pay for your travel to Korea & the amount of money to leave Korea once your contract is complete.
- It is 1.3m coming in & 1.3m going out. It is a flat fee & it is the same for everyone.
- If your flight is less than this, you keep the difference. If it is more, you need to pay the extra.
- If you are employed from within South Korea, you still get the entrance allowance.
10. What is the severance payment?
- It sounds like something that you would have to pay for, but it isn’t. In accordance with Korean labor law, any citizen who completes a 12 month contract is entitled to one month’s salary in addition to the month that they have just worked.
- There is no obligation for the employer to pay the severance if you work less than 12 months.
11. What is the alien registration card (ARC) & how can I get it?
- It’s an ID card & all citizens in Korea have one. It is required by law that you acquire one within 90 days of arriving.
When you have the internet installed in your apartment, or if you want a cell phone – your ARC is required as ID.
- To obtain the card, you must first enter Korea & have a medical. Once the results come through, you can visit the Korean immigration office with your co-teacher & apply for one.
- It costs 10,000won & the processing time can take up to 2 weeks.
12. What is the visa process for the USA? + other countries
- The visa process can be seen here : http://koreanhorizons.com/sub02.php
- An apostille is required for all countries except Canada, who must validate their documents at the Korean consulate. These documents may also need to be notarized first.
- Once you send or take your passport for your visa to your local Korean consulate, there are variations from consulate to consulate on what is specifically required.
- Once you are accepted through our program, we will send you specific information concerning this.
13. What is an apostille? Which documents need one & how can I acquire one?
- An apostille basically notarizes a document for foreign use. In 1965, many countries agreed that if a document had an apostille, then the contents of that document would be considered genuine.
- The criminal background check & Bachelor diploma both need an apostille.
- Once you have accepted one of our positions, we will provide you information on how to acquire one.
14. How & when is my salary paid?
It is paid into your Korean bank account on the 25th of every month for all education offices except the Gyeongi region which has their pay day on the 17th of every month.
15. How do I open a Korean bank account?
- Officially, your ARC is required to open one. However, many banks will accept your passport as ID.
The operators in the bank speak English to a degree well enough to assist you. It’s very easy & only takes around 20 minutes to do.
16. Which locations do you serve?
At present, we provide public school positions to the following locations :
- Incheon metropolitian city - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incheon
- Gyeongsangnamdo (Changwon, Masan, Yangsan, Jinju, Sacheon, Goseong & Others) province - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyeongsangnamdo
- Chungnam (Cheonan, Ansan, Seosan, Gongju & Others) province - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chungnam
- Gyeongi (Suwon, Youngin, Bucheon, Uijeongbu & Others) province - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gyeonggi_Province
- EPIK (Nationwide) - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/South_korea
17. Can I see a copy of my contract?
The employment contract for government public schools are signed by the superintendent of the office of education. To get that, you must be at stage 4 of this link : http://koreanhorizons.com/sub02.php
18. What is EPIK & are you different? Why? What are the differences?
- EPIK is the central government body responsible for recruiting teachers throughout the country. When you apply through them, they send your application to a specific education office, like the Incheon Office of Education.
- We work with EPIK to provide professional teachers.
- We have contracts direct with EPIK & also specific education offices, like Incheon Office of Education.
19. What’s the cost of (utilities, food, drinks, transport, clothing, electrical goods, toiletries, etc)
- Utilities include electricity, water & gas. They range from around 50k to 100k per month, depending on usage & the month of the year. - - Internet is optional & so is cable TV, which both run at around 30k each per month.
- Food is very cheap. In restaurants, a meal ranges from 5k-10k per person. Supermarkets are generally cheap & you can buy relatively anything that you would be able to buy in your local supermarket.
- Transport is very cheap. An intercity bus from Seoul to Busan is around 30k. Local buses are about 900won. Trains are of the same cost. Subway is 800won – 1,500won. Taxi ride is 2,000won for 2km. Flight from Busan to Seoul is 60k.
20. What’s the value of the Korean won compared to other exchange rates?
The exchange rate fluctuates daily & so we prefer that you look at an independent exchange rate provider. See here : http://www.oanda.com/currency/converter/
21. Are there any deductions from my salary?
- Yes. All employees are required to pay income tax (certain citizens can become exempt), medical insurance (2.9% of your income), national pension (4.5% of your income) & house tax (if you own your own house.)
- For example, a level 2 teacher from America in a city will make 2.2m won per month. His deductions would be 154,800 (0won for income tax, 99,000won for pension & 63,800won for medical) won per month.
22. Do I need to pay tax? Why? Why not?
- South Korea & many other countries have a tax treaty to avoid double taxation. It is applicable for 2 consecutive years.
- For American citizens, if you provide a residency certificate from your tax office, then you can become tax exempt in South Korea. Also, you don’t need to pay tax on income earned abroad if it is less than $92.5k.
- For Canadian citizens, there is no tax treaty & therefore you need to pay income tax. For information on how much, please see here : http://www.nts.go.kr/eng/index.asp. It isn’t based on a fixed percentage per month, but if you average it over a period of a year, it comes out to around 3.3%
- For UK citizens, if you provide a residency certificate from your tax office, then you can become tax exempt in South Korea. However, you would need to pay tax in the UK for the income that you earn abroad.
- For Irish citizens, there is a tax treaty, but it only applies to colleges & universities. Therefore, you would need to pay income tax. For information on how much, please see here : http://www.nts.go.kr/eng/index.asp. It isn’t based on a fixed percentage per month, but if you average it over a period of a year, it comes out to around 3.3%
- For Australian citizens, there is a tax treaty. If you provide a residency certificate from your tax office, you would need to still pay income tax in Korea, but you can get a tax credit to off-set this against the amount of tax you need to pay in Australia.
- For New Zealand citizens, there is a tax treaty. If you provide a residency certificate from your tax office, you will become tax exempts on income tax in South Korea. However, it is indeterminate whether you would need to pay tax on the income you earn in South Korea. It depends on your circumstances – your income, assets & liabilities – and you are assessed individually.
- For South African citizens, there is a tax treaty. If you supply a residency certificate, you can become tax exempt in South Korea. To become exempt in South Africa, you need to provide your tax office your pay slips from the income that you earn in South Korea.
23. How do I apply for the residency certificate?
Once you have accepted one of our public school positions, we will provide you with the information that you need.
24. Why do I have to contribute to the national pension? How much is it? Can I claim it back at the end of the contract?
- Contribution to the national pension is mandatory by Korean law. It represents 4.5% of your income, which you need to pay monthly. Also, your school will pay 4.5% of your pension, thereby making 9% per month.
- Only American, Canadian & Australian citizens can claim back their pension. The entire 9%.
- South African citizens don’t have to contribute towards the pension in the first place.
- All other citizens cannot get their pension money back at the end of their contracts.
25. What does the medical insurance cover? How much is it? Do I need travel insurance from my home country?
- It is contribution based & only covers you for around 70% of the medical bills.
- Each month, you need to pay 2.9% of your income towards the medical. It is mandatory & is required by law. Your school will also contribute 2.9%, making a total of 5.8% per month.
- It is highly advisable that you obtain 3rd party travel & medical insurance from your home country to cover you against any eventuality for the entire year that you are in South Korea.
26. Does the medical insurance cover me from the moment I arrive in Korea?
The medical insurance does not come into effect until you have received your ARC, which could be 2 weeks after arrival.
27. Do I need to pay a housing deposit?
For Incheon & the Gyeongi region, there is a housing depositi of 500k spread over 3 months. For the rest of our locations you don't need to pay a housing deposit.
28. What’s the dress code whilst working at the school?
For your first day at school, please dress formally. For every other day, smart casual is best.
29. What type of visa is required?
An E2 visa is required for all public school positions. See here : http://koreanhorizons.com/sub02.php on how to acquire one.
30. Do I need to know any Korean before I arrive?
Absolutely not. It isn’t required, or expected in anyway.
31. Is it possible to learn Korean? If so, where? Is it easy?
It’s possible, but learning Korean is a very, very difficult language. It is best to start learning once you arrive. There are often free programs given to foreigners in community centers. Also, your Korean co-teacher will probably like a reciprocal arrangement whereby you learn each others’ language from each other.
32. Should I speak Korean within the classroom?
No. The public schools are hiring you to teach English only & you should only use English to communicate. Public schools have Korean teachers who teach English in Korean. Some English teachers use Korean in the classroom to make their job easier. However, you need to be creative & prepare enough material so that you are able to get your message across using English only.
33. Are there any cultural concerns that I need to worry about?
Korea is very different from any western country. However, Koreans know the customs of western citizens & so you are unlikely to offend your co-teacher if you are thoughtful & considerate.
34. What’s the food like?
The main staple is rice, with a soup or a piece of fish. Side dishes compliment the main meal & kimchi (marinated cabbage) is their national (side) dish.
The food is rather spicy & generally contains a lot of meat.
35. I’m a vegetarian. Will I be able to find restaurants easily?
No. There are meals that use rise & vegetables only but cooking & preparing your own meals maybe best.
36. What’s the population of Korea & the average income?
According to Wikipedia, in 2013 there were 50.2m people.
Average income $25,189USD equivalent
37. What’s the religion?
Amongst the population 46.5% have no religion, 22.8% are Buddhists, 18.9% are Protestants, 10.9% are Roman Catholics & 1.4% represents other religions.
38. I heard many “horror stories”; should I really pay attention?
What you may have heard is that teachers don’t get paid on time or do not get the benefits that they agreed to. These only occur with private (hogwans) academies. They often persuade teachers to come here, offering really good benefits, etc, etc – only for the teacher to realize that this is not true. This would never happen in a government public school as they are obliged to keep to the law & signed employment contract. “Horror stories” are only a worry if you teach within a private academy.
39. Will the doctors be able to speak English?
Absolutely. In order for them to become doctors in South Korea, they must be able to speak to a varying degree in English. In fact, a great proportion of doctors here study in a western country like the USA.
40. What’s the housing like?
- It is always a single studio apartment for single individuals. For married couples, it is a one bedroom apartment. Couples who are not married cannot live together.
- The apartments are rent-free, fully furnished & will include a bed, a closet, a table with chairs, a TV, a kitchen facility & separate bathroom with a western toilet.
- The electricity, gas, water, internet & cable TV is your responsibility.
41. Can I have the internet & cable TV installed in my apartment?
Yes, but you will need your ARC. Installation is around 30k won each & they are both around 30k per month.
42. How easy it is to get a cell phone or landline?
It’s very easy & your co-teacher can assist you once you have your ARC.
43. Can I teach privately?
- No. It is illegal to teach for anyone other than your employer, irrespective of whether it is paid or voluntary. If you do teach privately & you are caught, then you will lose your position. You could be fined & deported.
44. I applied & I have scheduled an interview. What should I expect?
- It isn’t really an interview, but an informal conversation to understand your preferences in a teaching position. We will discuss the positions in full detail, the locations available, the visa process & the steps to take.
- After the conversation, we will email you a government application form.
- Then we can submit your application to the education office & schedule an interview for you.
- That will be a telephone interview & the education officer will discuss your resume & why you want to teach in a public school here. The interviewer will also ask many questions about your relative strengths & weaknesses; may ask how you will manage groups of children & how well you work with others. It is a formal interview & you should prepare some thoughtful questions.
- After the interview, if successful, an employment offer will be made.
- We will then assist you with the visa process.
45. My passport runs out within the next few months. What should I do?
Passports must have 13 months of validity in order to apply. Please apply for a new passport & see if an expedited service is available.
46. Do I need a police background check?
Yes, it is a requirement in-order to acquire the teaching visa. For the USA & Canada, a countrywide (FBI / RCMP respectively) check is required. A criminal check for the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa for the country is required.
47. I have a cold, should I call in sick?
Korean people do not normally call in sick for something minor. Since you are teaching here, you will be expected to follow Korean standards.
48. How old are elementary, middle & high school students?
Elementary range from 6-11. Middle range from 12 to 14. High range from 15 to 17 years of age.
49. What are the students like?
- Students are very respectful & learn from a very early age to obey their elders.
- Public school students will treat you as a public school teacher.
- However, there will always be students who are difficult to handle.
50. What should I remember to bring to Korea?
- $1000USD in Korean won
- Converter for your laptop / gadgets. It’s for 16amps / 250 volts.
- Formal clothes
- Clothes for all seasons. Work attire should be smart casual.
51. Should I buy a laptop in Korea?
- It certainly may be a good idea. However, please remember that the windows operating system is in Korean & not available in English. - - You can bring the English version & install it yourself.
- The power cables will also be designed for use in Korea.
52. When are the Korean national holidays?
Please see the bottom of this page for details : http://www.koreanhorizons.com/sub05.php
53. How long is my vacation & when can I take it?
- There are 18 working days (24 calendar days) per year. You can take 9 in the children’s summer vacation & 9 in the children’s winter vacation.
- The children’s summer vacation is between the middle of July to the end of August. The children’s winter vacation is between the end of December to the end of February.
54. What’s a visa issuance number? Do I need one?
- It is provided for private academy positions & private school positions. It is not provided for public school positions.
Instead of the visa confirmation number, you will receive a notice of appointment which will be accepted to acquire your visa from your local Korean consulate.
55. I have an F2 visa, but I don’t have a degree. Can I apply?
No. A Bachelor is required for all of our positions.
56. I’m having problems with my apartment / school. What should I do?
Please speak to your co-teacher first. If you continue to have problems, please contact us.
57. I’m outside of my home country & I’ve never taught in Korea before. Can I apply?
To apply for a teaching visa for the first time in Korea, you must apply from the Korean consulate in your home country.
58. What happens if I leave my position before the 6 month mark?
You need to repay your settlement allowance & your entrance allowance.
59. Does the school provide housing? Do they pay the rent?
Yes. You will receive a single studio apartment. The school will pay for your rent. If you already have an apartment here, then you can receive 400k per month instead.
60. Will someone meet me at the airport?
Yes. A representative of Korean Horizons will meet you at the airport, introduce you to the education office & your co-teacher.
61. What are my responsibilities as a teacher?
- To understand & develop the curriculum.
- To improve the reading, listening & conversational skills of your students.
- To prepare your lessons.
- To take care of the classroom & well being of your students.
- To take part in meetings, workshops, extracurricular activities & camps.
62. How many hours do I need to teach?
There are 22 classes that you need to teach per week. 1 elementary school class is 40minutes, 1 middle school class is 45 minutes & 1 high school class is 50minutes. Any class in-addition to 22 per week will be counted as overtime.
63. If there are only 22 classes, then why do I need to be at school from 8:30am to 4:30pm?
It is a civil servant government position so you therefore need to follow the same work hours as a Korean public school teacher.
64. What would my typical daily schedule be like?
Arrive at 8:30am. Classes being anywhere from 9am & finish at 3pm. Lunch is for 1hr between 12pm to 1pm. From 3pm to 4:30pm you will be planning your lessons for the following day.
65. What’s the settlement allowance?
It is to purchase anything for your apartment which you feel it needs but doesn’t have. You don’t have to explain to your school what you spend this allowance on.
66. Do I need to provide proof of how much my airfare is?
No. All teachers receive 1.3m (except Gyeongi which is 1.5m) irrespective of where they are flying from or how much their flight is.
67. Do I need to get any injections before I come?
It is advisable. See here for what you need to have : http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/south-korea.aspx
68. Can I bring my pet with me?
No. Pets are no longer allowed.
69. Who sponsors my visa?
The local education office or a specific school will sponsor your visa.
70. What costs am I responsible for?
- You need to be responsible for the postage cost of sending your documents, the notarization costs, the apostilling costs & the visa fee charged by your local Korean consulate.
- If your service is free, who pays for it?
- We are funded by the education office.
71. I’ve already had my medical done in my home country. Will I also need a medical in Korea?
Yes. A requirement is for all teachers to have a medical shortly after arrival.
72. What should the references include?
- If you have teaching experience, they should state the position that you were employed in, the dates of employment, the relationship with the referee & it should elaborate on your performance as a teacher.
- Otherwise, it should reflect upon your professional conduct & performance.
If you have an unanswered question, please email Contactus@KoreanHorizons and let us know.