What holidays do I get?
Basically, you'll have the statutory Korean holiday's, approximately 12 - 15 days a year. You get only one day off for Christmas, and that would be Christmas Day. Their biggest holiday is Chusok, which is the big Korean harvest festival, like our Thanksgiving. For this holiday, you'll get 2 days off plus the weekend. You don't get to pick and choose your holidays or days off. Some schools will allow extra vacation time. It depends on the school. Most don't.
If I'm having a problem with my employer. What should I do?
The first thing that you should do is talk to your director about the issue. If this doesn't work, and things appear at an impasse, phone your contact in Korea or Taiwan (we'll supply you with the numbers). If things are still in conflict, you now have a problem that may need official intervention. Contact "The Association of Foreign Workers Human Rights" and they may be able to help you. In extreme cases, you may need your embassy to get involved. In the Links section, we will include links to other websites, some of which list legal resources.
Can I be placed with my friend or spouse?
Yes, it is possible to be placed with or near a friend or spouse, but it may limit your choices of placement. It requires finding a school that needs two teachers at the same time, but couples can get placed together. It just sometimes takes longer.
Are my flights to and from Korea at my expense?
A round-trip ticket is often provided for you by the school. Sometimes they ask that you pay for it in advance and then get reimbursed upon arrival. Occasionally only a one-way ticket is provided. Flight benefits will be stated in your contract.
What kind of medical facilities are available in Korea?
As with many kinds of businesses in Korea, the competition amongst hospitals and doctors is fierce. Medical attention is fast and inexpensive compared with back home. With the huge number of hospitals, doctors and pharmacies in any given area you’re unlikely to ever need to queue for long – simply walk in, take a number and wait a short time. There are large hospitals and smaller family practices as well as oriental medical clinics and acupuncturists. Registering is as simple as showing your foreigner ID card (Alien Registration Card) and filling out a form, though you may need a Korean to help you do this if the form is entirely in Korean. Many doctors and dentists have trained overseas and can speak excellent English, and in the larger clinics many staff will also know some English. If you are prescribed medication every clinic will have several pharmacies within a stone’s throw.
Because of the lower cost in Korean clinics, many foreigners opt to get their dental work done here during their sojourn. The cost for procedures will vary from place to place, but as a rough guide you can get a root canal and crown for around W350,000.
Lasik and Lasik eye surgery
If you are interested in corrective eye surgery, the relatively low cost and excellent after care service of Korean eye clinics may appeal. As with all surgery, the cost will vary from clinic to clinic but will cost around W1,700,000 and upards.
Who pays my medical fees?
Every school teacher working in Korea is provided with national health care insurance which will subside the cost of medical fees, excluding most dental work and elective (cosmetic) surgery. You will pay into a monthly scheme at a rate of 3.94% of your salary and your school will match this contribution. The cost of pharmacy medicines is very low compared to back home, for example a packet of Aspirin will cost around W3000.
Is it easy to get around the cities? Are the signs posted in both English and Korean?
In major cities the road signs will be posted in both English and Korean. All subway stations use both languages and you can pick up a free English subway map from any station. Buses, however, usually list their destinations only in Korean although this is not always the case. That said it is very easy to learn the Korean alphabet and you will be able to read (slowly) within a few days or even hours of starting. It is highly recommended that you try to learn the Korean alphabet as many signs and advertisements actually use English words written in Korean script. Once you’ve mastered hangeul 한글, the Korean alphabet, you’ll see English words written everywhere. There are numerous online sites for learning the alphabet but you can start with this one
http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/CU/CU_EN_8_6_1_1_1.jsp For a more comprehensive list of resources for learning Korean see our Learning Korean page.
Can I get Western fast food?
Absolutely. The following are quite common: McDonalds, Subway, Quiznos, KFC, Burger King, Dunkin Donuts, Pizza Hut, and Dominoes. And as a bonus, some Korean McDonald’s branches offer delivery service.
How do I pay my bills?
You can ask your school to help out and save yourself a lot of hassle. Just give them your monthly bills when they arrive in the post and they can deduct these directly from your pay (just be sure to photocopy all your bills before you hand them over and get receipts if possible).
If you want to pay your own bills there are many options. Once your bank account has been set up you can have your bills automatically deducted from your account or you can visit the bank in person and pay there – just present your bills and pay them over the counter. It is also possible to set up phone and Internet banking. Finally you can pay your bills using the bank’s ATM machines. Many ATMs will display instructions in English; just look for the touch screen button on the first screen. Banks open at 9:00 a.m. and close at 4:00 p.m. and some banks will open for a few hours on Saturday. ATM services begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. and end between 10 p.m. and midnight. There is generally no 24 hour ATM service but many convenience stores have cash dispenser machines that are available 24 hours a day and issue cash in W10,000 units.
How much will I have to pay for utilities, apartment fees etc?
Although your school will pay your rent, you are responsible for your own utility bills. The cost depends very much on where you live and how often you turn on your heating or A/C. If you live in a villa you will most likely pay only for your own utilities, but will share the cost of communal lighting. In an officetel it is common for bills to be split and averaged across all the residents, so you may end up with astronomical bills even if you never switch on the heating or A/C. In the height of summer or the coolest days of winter your costs will rise significantly. It’s not possible to put any kind of average figure on utility bills as they vary so much by area and person, but rest assured that your pay will easily cover the cost of your expenses with plenty of money left over.
Will I have to share an apartment?
It’s possible but this is up to your school and you. Many hagwons will offer you a choice of shared or individual accommodation and many first time teachers prefer to live with other teachers who can show them the ropes. Public school teachers typically have their own apartment as it is unusual for a public school to have more than one foreigner working for them.
What kind of housing will I be given?
You are likely to be housed in either an villa or an officetel. A villa is a smaller building, usually 3 stories high located in a residential area. The monthly maintenance fees for villas are considerably less than those of officetels, starting at around W20,000. This maintenance fee will cover things such as the cost of a cleaner to keep the communal stairwell and other areas tidy.
What is the cost of your service?
To you, nothing. We are paid by the schools to advertise, search out, educate, pre-screen, and assist candidates who are willing to consider the opportunity.
This, in itself, is a very time and resource consuming thing for a school to do. That’s why they would rather pay us to do it.
The directors of schools know how to run a school, provide educational programs, and deal with parents.
We know what it’s like for foreigners to teach and live in Korea. We also know the process of what it takes to get there. That’s our specialty, so we spend our time doing it, and you benefit by receiving our expertise for free.
Is Korea safe?
Extremely safe. Research shows that incidents’ of violent crimes are substantially lower in South Korea than in it’s in neighboring Western countries i.e. Canada and the U.S.
However, you certainly don’t want to invite trouble by being careless, especially if you end up getting placed in a major city. Every part of the world still has bad apples.
However, you will find very quickly that you are surprised at how safe you feel walking around such large cities. It will be quite a contrast from what you are probably used to.
What if I have to leave early (death, illness of family member etc…)?
There are always things in our lives in our future which we have no control. Such instances are treated case by case. For example, if you had to return home for a funeral half way through your contract, but planned to return after a week, there would likely be some arrangements made to accommodate this.
If you had to leave after one month, and were not going to return, you would obviously not expect to have your return flight paid for.
It all depends on what the circumstances are, and what your plans are. Your employers are people too, and we all understand that an emergency is an emergency.
Is there an age limit?
There is no specific age limit but schools tend to do the bulk of their hiring between ages 22 and 34. It’s quite possible to find a job if you’re over this mark. If you are older and want to teach in South Korea it may take us a little longer to find you a suitable position, but these positions do come about, so all that is required on your part is some patients.
What kind of picture should I send?
This is really important as a large part of a schools decision to hire is based on what kind of picture you send. Think about it, they can’t meet you in person until you arrive. Here are some tips to consider when taking the photo.
-Your picture should be of you and only you.
- It should be recent
- Don’t take it when you’re at a party or having a good time with friend
- Look presentable and clean cut
- smile (no passport photos)
- wear something nice
-It should be a clear shot from about the top of your head to bottom of your rib cage
Can I get a job somewhere other than a school?
You can only be employed teaching English at a workplace that is registered with the local education office to employ foreign teachers on an E2 or E1 visa. Most corporate businesses and companies are not registered to do this. This narrows down the number of legitimate places that you can work teaching English. If you wish to be employed at a place other than a school, then you should look for an applicable visa that may be obtained for that employer.