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Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« on: January 11, 2019, 06:52:07 pm »
Hi everyone!

I know this is a regular topic for a lot of people planning to teach English in South Korea (and frankly probably annoys people a bit as this is MANY other peoples wish as well, sorry :azn:). But I am just struggling to find recent info about the chances of getting placed in Seoul through EPIK.

Background: I have been planning to do this for over 5 years, and seriously researching and planning to apply Feb 2019 as soon as applications for fall open. I have a bachelors degree, a 168 hour TEFL certificate with 20 in class hours, and am a 26 year old female from New Zealand.

THE REAL QUESTION THOUGH: I have always been planning to apply through EPIK as I want to work in a public school and it seems nice as a first timer to go through a government based program. Also the hours and workdays are what I'm after. But as it's creeping closer to feb and I'm starting to get all the info and documents prepared, I'm starting to doubt if it is wise to apply through EPIK and risk getting placed supppper rural. I don't want to sound super fussy I know there is a chance of getting placed anywhere and that's part of the adventure! I would be happy with most cities, but I don't think I want to be placed somewhere rural, and I think you do not find out where you have been placed until you arrive?

As title mentions, obviously I really want to go to Seoul, but would be happy a MOE as I've looked at other cities too. Is there any advice or tips/tricks to really securing a place in Seoul? Is it better to apply some sort of other way? Is there still a huge amount of people applying to EPIK atm? Would it be safer to put gyeongi-do as preference to potentially be close to Seoul?

Now that its super close and it all feels a bit more real I guess I'm getting a bit of fear with not knowing where I am placed till arriving and worried it will be super rural!

Thanks for any help!
I hope I don't annoy anyone with the typical 'I want to work in Seoul" spiel!!


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #1 on: January 12, 2019, 09:10:14 am »
Everyone wants Seoul. There are a lot of immensely qualified people all throughout Korea who are trying to get Seoul. I was placed in Seoul last year (after teaching in Korea for a year). Out of the 18 people who were placed in Seoul within my group, only one had no teaching English as a second language experience. She was a qualified teacher in her home country. All had at least a year of teaching in Korea, or many years teaching in Japan, China, Thailand, etc. 
I had really strong recommendation letters from my previous co-teachers, a really strong lesson plan, and had an amazing interview. I was rather shocked how well it went.

I highly suggest teaching in another part of Korea first and getting comfortable first. Itís easier to reapply from inside Korea. Also, the Seoulcontract is the worst contract in all of Korea. Other areas will have significantly larger apartments and actual renewal benefits.

Even if you are placed ďsuper rural,Ē itís usually not that rural. I was placed in an Eup and there were 40+ restaurants and 12+ cafes within walking distance. My friend was placed in a Myeon and she had 20+ restaurants, 5 cafes, 2 grocery stores, 2 dentists, etc. the bus was a two minute walk from her house and she would travel around Korea every weekend.
« Last Edit: January 12, 2019, 09:15:13 am by ISHKABIBBLE »
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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2019, 02:40:24 pm »
When I applied to EPIK for Spring 2016, I put Seoul on my application, however my recruiter suggested that I put Gyeonggi because Seoul was really impacted.  I ended up at a rural school, however my apartment is in a city 25 minutes away.  It's not a super huge city but it's definitely not rural.  And I'm about 90 minutes away from Seoul by bus and/or subway. 

If you really want Seoul I would suggest applying the very first day applications are accepted, as they are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.  At my orientation, a lot of the Seoul teachers had no teaching experience, but I'm guessing in the last couple of years, because of the amount of applications, they've become more picky on who they choose.

Personally I wouldn't choose Seoul because their contracts differ and like someone commented, they have the worst contract.  If you want to teach in a city, I would apply to another MOE.  Or if you want to be close to Seoul, apply to Gyeonggi.


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2019, 07:51:59 pm »
All you have to do is have your documents ready by opening day of the application. EPIK acceptances and placements are random so it's hard to tell you what is needed to get in. The only thing you can do to increase your chances is to be the earliest applicant. EPIK will tell you where you get placed, just not the grade level you will be teaching. Select Seoul anyway and take your chances. If it absolutely must be Seoul, why bother choosing somewhere you don't want to be? If you don't get in, just apply for a hagwon position there.

Also, I wouldn't be too worried about the location that much. The layout is pretty much the same anywhere. Every city will have restaurants, cafes, malls, parks, and places to see. You also have to keep in mind that you'll be working so the weekends will be the only time you can really relax and explore for the entire day. I dated someone who lived in Seoul and I'd frequently do day trips or one night stays in Seoul and vice versa during the weekends. The train made it possible to get there in 2 and a half hours so traveling wasn't difficult or tiring.

I'd personally recommend Busan over Seoul. That's where I am and I love it here. My friends in Daegu also like their location.

Good Luck!


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2019, 05:29:53 am »
EPIK's dirty little secret is that most of its jobs are in rural areas. If you are a first-time EPIK teacher, you're probably going to get placed in a rural area. There are EPIK jobs in cities but they usually go to people who have first done a few years in a rural area of a province and then request a transfer to one of the big cities in the province.

I don't know about Seoul since it's not a province, I imagine that because everyone wants to live in Seoul they are extremely picky. Koreans are very clubby so the best jobs tend to go to people already in Korea who network and are politically connected with people inside the various provincial/metropolitan ministries of education.

If you want to pick where you live, work at a hagwon. There are also a lot of non-EPIK public school jobs which are good, but they are easiest to get if you are already living in Korea and have some local connections. Also the funding of these jobs tends to fluctuate so they might only last a year or two before funding is cut and you have to find a new position if you want to stay in Korea.
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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2019, 05:39:19 am »
Not OP but would it be a better idea to apply or Gyyeongi-do or Seoul?  I don't mind being an hour or so away. 
« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 07:02:26 am by Boilerbunch »


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 11:05:06 am »
I got Seoul first time with no teaching experience what so ever (did engineering degree, perhaps that looked good), some crappy online TEFL course and all the other 'didn't haves'. I DID apply right as it was possible to so i suggest if you want Seoul just apply straight away. Of course always a chance you won't get it but that's how i got it.


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 12:44:23 pm »
Thanks for all the replies everyone! It's all very helpful info, I feel like when I posted this I was just having a reality scare with how close application time is and the reality of it all! Since this has been such a long term plan and I know you get placed anywhere, this is what I want to do, meet new people, explore a new culture and country and help children with their English :) I'm thinking about looking into some of the smaller cities and maybe putting one of those!

Curious but would you and your friends classify yourselves as

A) a purple haired nose ring feminist type
B) a Koreaboo
C) another demographic.

There was a discussion in another thread about what type of young women are coming to Korea to teach these days.
Hope you both get Seoul anyway. 

I'm not sure if this was a serious question, I hope I don't come of that way haha! I am not a purple haird nose ring feminist type, I have my natural coloured hair. Not a koreaboo, in saying that of course I know some of the pop culture, my plan was to teach in Japan or/and Korea so yea I have had an interest in both countries for over 10 years but I think it's better to go somewhere with a bit of cultural knowledge over none :) thankyou :)

Everyone wants Seoul. There are a lot of immensely qualified people all throughout Korea who are trying to get Seoul. I was placed in Seoul last year (after teaching in Korea for a year). Out of the 18 people who were placed in Seoul within my group, only one had no teaching English as a second language experience. She was a qualified teacher in her home country. All had at least a year of teaching in Korea, or many years teaching in Japan, China, Thailand, etc. 
I had really strong recommendation letters from my previous co-teachers, a really strong lesson plan, and had an amazing interview. I was rather shocked how well it went.

I highly suggest teaching in another part of Korea first and getting comfortable first. It’s easier to reapply from inside Korea. Also, the Seoulcontract is the worst contract in all of Korea. Other areas will have significantly larger apartments and actual renewal benefits.

Even if you are placed “super rural,” it’s usually not that rural. I was placed in an Eup and there were 40+ restaurants and 12+ cafes within walking distance. My friend was placed in a Myeon and she had 20+ restaurants, 5 cafes, 2 grocery stores, 2 dentists, etc. the bus was a two minute walk from her house and she would travel around Korea every weekend.

Thank you for your advice! After some more thinking about posting this I think I am going to put another city as my preference! I have heard that Seoul can be very full on and hurry hurry especially for first time teachers, considering I am coming from a city of 500,000 max maybe it would be a lot for me! I didn't actually know about the contracts in Seoul differing either so this is really helpful information!

When I applied to EPIK for Spring 2016, I put Seoul on my application, however my recruiter suggested that I put Gyeonggi because Seoul was really impacted.  I ended up at a rural school, however my apartment is in a city 25 minutes away.  It's not a super huge city but it's definitely not rural.  And I'm about 90 minutes away from Seoul by bus and/or subway. 

If you really want Seoul I would suggest applying the very first day applications are accepted, as they are processed on a first-come, first-serve basis.  At my orientation, a lot of the Seoul teachers had no teaching experience, but I'm guessing in the last couple of years, because of the amount of applications, they've become more picky on who they choose.

Personally I wouldn't choose Seoul because their contracts differ and like someone commented, they have the worst contract.  If you want to teach in a city, I would apply to another MOE.  Or if you want to be close to Seoul, apply to Gyeonggi.

I think I may put another city as preference now! I didn't know about the differences in contracts in Seoul which I have somehow missed in my research. It may be best to apply somewhere else and learn a bit about the country for a year and try to move into Seoul if I still want to do that after a year :)


All you have to do is have your documents ready by opening day of the application. EPIK acceptances and placements are random so it's hard to tell you what is needed to get in. The only thing you can do to increase your chances is to be the earliest applicant. EPIK will tell you where you get placed, just not the grade level you will be teaching. Select Seoul anyway and take your chances. If it absolutely must be Seoul, why bother choosing somewhere you don't want to be? If you don't get in, just apply for a hagwon position there.

Also, I wouldn't be too worried about the location that much. The layout is pretty much the same anywhere. Every city will have restaurants, cafes, malls, parks, and places to see. You also have to keep in mind that you'll be working so the weekends will be the only time you can really relax and explore for the entire day. I dated someone who lived in Seoul and I'd frequently do day trips or one night stays in Seoul and vice versa during the weekends. The train made it possible to get there in 2 and a half hours so traveling wasn't difficult or tiring.

I'd personally recommend Busan over Seoul. That's where I am and I love it here. My friends in Daegu also like their location.

Good Luck!

I think I still want to go with EPIK! In the end,  this has been such a long term plan it really doesn't matter where I get placed! I had a bit of freak out, but really I'm going to explore the country, mon-fri I will be working as you said and Seoul is always a trip away no matter where I am! I actually really wanted to go to Busan before Seoul but I have only 20 inclass hours on my TEFL certificate and I have read that Busan now requires 50 inclass hours :( I am SO sad about it :l

« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 12:48:27 pm by danidevinenz »


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 12:47:31 pm »
I got Seoul first time with no teaching experience what so ever (did engineering degree, perhaps that looked good), some crappy online TEFL course and all the other 'didn't haves'. I DID apply right as it was possible to so i suggest if you want Seoul just apply straight away. Of course always a chance you won't get it but that's how i got it.

You seem lucky you got Seoul! I have seen places say don't even bother putting Seoul because there is nearly no chance, which is why I'm hesitant to even put it as preference... I wish you could list 3 preferences so if Seoul isn't available they could look at the next 2 incase there's openings!

Also on the note of applying on the first day, does anyone know when EPIK opens applications? I know it's Feb sometime but I couldn't find a particular date on their website!


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2019, 08:12:38 am »
I got Seoul first time with no teaching experience what so ever (did engineering degree, perhaps that looked good), some crappy online TEFL course and all the other 'didn't haves'. I DID apply right as it was possible to so i suggest if you want Seoul just apply straight away. Of course always a chance you won't get it but that's how i got it.

You seem lucky you got Seoul! I have seen places say don't even bother putting Seoul because there is nearly no chance, which is why I'm hesitant to even put it as preference... I wish you could list 3 preferences so if Seoul isn't available they could look at the next 2 incase there's openings!

Also on the note of applying on the first day, does anyone know when EPIK opens applications? I know it's Feb sometime but I couldn't find a particular date on their website!

It could open at any time honestly. Sometimes they open submissions early. Just make sure you have everything ready. I would start checking the website regularly starting around the end of the month.
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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2019, 09:50:54 am »
I got Seoul first time with no teaching experience what so ever (did engineering degree, perhaps that looked good), some crappy online TEFL course and all the other 'didn't haves'. I DID apply right as it was possible to so i suggest if you want Seoul just apply straight away. Of course always a chance you won't get it but that's how i got it.

You seem lucky you got Seoul! I have seen places say don't even bother putting Seoul because there is nearly no chance, which is why I'm hesitant to even put it as preference... I wish you could list 3 preferences so if Seoul isn't available they could look at the next 2 incase there's openings!

Also on the note of applying on the first day, does anyone know when EPIK opens applications? I know it's Feb sometime but I couldn't find a particular date on their website!


I tried applying an intake before (really late) and the coordinator suggested waiting till next intake and told me when it was exactly so I applied legit as soon as it opened. All other people in my intake who got Seoul said they also applied super early and majority didn't have teaching degrees. Unless somethings changed in the last 4 years about how they accept i think its basically apply early and luck.


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #11 on: January 28, 2019, 11:27:38 pm »
  It is issues like this that made me ask myself and post onto waygook the question "Is EPIK still worthwhile or is it just a crazy waste of time?"
If EPIK was the same as it was 10 or 15 years ago, I would definitely have said that EPIK WAS WORTH IT.
Now I am not sure of that, and it's issues like this-being forced into a rural location-or rejected for too much experience that make me think EPIK is just crazy. Crazily bureaucratic.


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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2019, 09:50:15 am »
I got Seoul when I started in Korea in 2010. It was a fun time, but it also lead to me lingering on there - thinking that smaller cities outside of Seoul just look like parts of Seoul (but are less convenient) and rural areas would be semi-depressing to live in.  After 5 years and getting tired of the place I gave Gyeongsan a try and it ended up giving me a whole new perspective on Korea.

Much more relaxed atmosphere, things were cleaner and calmer, the people very pleasant and there is just no contest for the quality and size of housing you can get when you move away from the Gyeonggi region. Also, Korea is small - even in my "rural" location I could get to East Daegu in 30mins and take the SRT up to Seoul in under 2 hours. Not that that is always necessary - I liked Daegu a lot and the day and weekend trips that you can go on down South are so much better than what is available nearby Seoul. Trips to Jinju, Yeosu, Gongju, Busan - and a lot more. There are areas in Gyeonggi or Seoul where it is so far from anywhere fun you want to go that you might get there quicker from a completely different city that is one the KTX or SRT line.

Overall - MOE is the way to go. If I had to move back to Korea I would prefer to NOT be in Seoul and enjoy life down South. It felt like my Korean quality of life really shot up after leaving Seoul. Also, this must be a case by case basis type of thing - but I found the Korean people I worked with down South (in multiple schools) were a little more welcoming and inclusive than what I experienced in many schools in Seoul. I made friends with Korean teachers and we hung out after hours at times - more so in my short stay down South than all 5 years in Seoul.

Just my perspective - if you have your heart set on Seoul you will probably still push for Seoul or Gyeonggi, good luck to you.


Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2019, 02:10:51 pm »
I got Seoul when I started in Korea in 2010. It was a fun time, but it also lead to me lingering on there - thinking that smaller cities outside of Seoul just look like parts of Seoul (but are less convenient) and rural areas would be semi-depressing to live in.  After 5 years and getting tired of the place I gave Gyeongsan a try and it ended up giving me a whole new perspective on Korea.

Much more relaxed atmosphere, things were cleaner and calmer, the people very pleasant and there is just no contest for the quality and size of housing you can get when you move away from the Gyeonggi region. Also, Korea is small - even in my "rural" location I could get to East Daegu in 30mins and take the SRT up to Seoul in under 2 hours. Not that that is always necessary - I liked Daegu a lot and the day and weekend trips that you can go on down South are so much better than what is available nearby Seoul. Trips to Jinju, Yeosu, Gongju, Busan - and a lot more. There are areas in Gyeonggi or Seoul where it is so far from anywhere fun you want to go that you might get there quicker from a completely different city that is one the KTX or SRT line.

Overall - MOE is the way to go. If I had to move back to Korea I would prefer to NOT be in Seoul and enjoy life down South. It felt like my Korean quality of life really shot up after leaving Seoul. Also, this must be a case by case basis type of thing - but I found the Korean people I worked with down South (in multiple schools) were a little more welcoming and inclusive than what I experienced in many schools in Seoul. I made friends with Korean teachers and we hung out after hours at times - more so in my short stay down South than all 5 years in Seoul.

Just my perspective - if you have your heart set on Seoul you will probably still push for Seoul or Gyeonggi, good luck to you.

Thanks for your reply! This is a little late but in the time that has passed I have actually had a complete change of mind, I am submitting my application tonight (super late I know! some things came up and I had to put my application on the back burner) also given I can actually get onto the epik site because I have been having trouble with that the last few weeks.

I think Seoul looks great and all, but I really do think it is a little bit big for me to jump into after living in my tiny city all my life (I found European cities a bit overwhelming when I travelled abroad). And I also really want to experience Korean culture and have an authentic experience (not saying you wouldn't have this in Seoul, but I feel like I could easily stick to a foreigner bubble type situation). Also, nature just really makes me happy and I think I want to be in the south-ish where I can make a lot of my trips to such places! I'm going to put Daegu as my preference, but am fully aware applying this late I may just get anywhere, but somewhere in that area would be nice.

Now that it's actually come down to sending my application in, I am just supppper nervous about teaching and all of the challenges I'm going to face (I'm quite the introvert), but I hope it will be a great learning experience given I'm accepted! Thank you!


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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2019, 01:57:03 am »
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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #15 on: April 15, 2019, 08:29:45 am »
I got Seoul when I started in Korea in 2010. It was a fun time, but it also lead to me lingering on there - thinking that smaller cities outside of Seoul just look like parts of Seoul (but are less convenient) and rural areas would be semi-depressing to live in.  After 5 years and getting tired of the place I gave Gyeongsan a try and it ended up giving me a whole new perspective on Korea.

Much more relaxed atmosphere, things were cleaner and calmer, the people very pleasant and there is just no contest for the quality and size of housing you can get when you move away from the Gyeonggi region. Also, Korea is small - even in my "rural" location I could get to East Daegu in 30mins and take the SRT up to Seoul in under 2 hours. Not that that is always necessary - I liked Daegu a lot and the day and weekend trips that you can go on down South are so much better than what is available nearby Seoul. Trips to Jinju, Yeosu, Gongju, Busan - and a lot more. There are areas in Gyeonggi or Seoul where it is so far from anywhere fun you want to go that you might get there quicker from a completely different city that is one the KTX or SRT line.

Overall - MOE is the way to go. If I had to move back to Korea I would prefer to NOT be in Seoul and enjoy life down South. It felt like my Korean quality of life really shot up after leaving Seoul. Also, this must be a case by case basis type of thing - but I found the Korean people I worked with down South (in multiple schools) were a little more welcoming and inclusive than what I experienced in many schools in Seoul. I made friends with Korean teachers and we hung out after hours at times - more so in my short stay down South than all 5 years in Seoul.

Just my perspective - if you have your heart set on Seoul you will probably still push for Seoul or Gyeonggi, good luck to you.

Thanks for your reply! This is a little late but in the time that has passed I have actually had a complete change of mind, I am submitting my application tonight (super late I know! some things came up and I had to put my application on the back burner) also given I can actually get onto the epik site because I have been having trouble with that the last few weeks.

I think Seoul looks great and all, but I really do think it is a little bit big for me to jump into after living in my tiny city all my life (I found European cities a bit overwhelming when I travelled abroad). And I also really want to experience Korean culture and have an authentic experience (not saying you wouldn't have this in Seoul, but I feel like I could easily stick to a foreigner bubble type situation). Also, nature just really makes me happy and I think I want to be in the south-ish where I can make a lot of my trips to such places! I'm going to put Daegu as my preference, but am fully aware applying this late I may just get anywhere, but somewhere in that area would be nice.

Now that it's actually come down to sending my application in, I am just supppper nervous about teaching and all of the challenges I'm going to face (I'm quite the introvert), but I hope it will be a great learning experience given I'm accepted! Thank you!

I'd recommend Miryang as well, if you are going to put Daegu down.
Miryang is probably the size of palmerston north, but with less people there.
It has a train station, and can get to Daegu and Busan in 38 - 42 minutes by train; and you can go to Seoul in about 2 - 2.5 hours by train too.
I used to live there in my first year but, had to move at the end because of some changes.

I'm now in a different province, in a super rural area (think a small city that a population x sign, with some guy who sits by it and changes as people come and go. It's a boring town, but the people are super friendly, and my workplaces are mostly awesome. :D


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Re: Chances of getting placed in Seoul fall 2019
« Reply #16 on: April 15, 2019, 01:18:07 pm »
I got Seoul when I started in Korea in 2010. It was a fun time, but it also lead to me lingering on there - thinking that smaller cities outside of Seoul just look like parts of Seoul (but are less convenient) and rural areas would be semi-depressing to live in.  After 5 years and getting tired of the place I gave Gyeongsan a try and it ended up giving me a whole new perspective on Korea.

Much more relaxed atmosphere, things were cleaner and calmer, the people very pleasant and there is just no contest for the quality and size of housing you can get when you move away from the Gyeonggi region. Also, Korea is small - even in my "rural" location I could get to East Daegu in 30mins and take the SRT up to Seoul in under 2 hours. Not that that is always necessary - I liked Daegu a lot and the day and weekend trips that you can go on down South are so much better than what is available nearby Seoul. Trips to Jinju, Yeosu, Gongju, Busan - and a lot more. There are areas in Gyeonggi or Seoul where it is so far from anywhere fun you want to go that you might get there quicker from a completely different city that is one the KTX or SRT line.

Overall - MOE is the way to go. If I had to move back to Korea I would prefer to NOT be in Seoul and enjoy life down South. It felt like my Korean quality of life really shot up after leaving Seoul. Also, this must be a case by case basis type of thing - but I found the Korean people I worked with down South (in multiple schools) were a little more welcoming and inclusive than what I experienced in many schools in Seoul. I made friends with Korean teachers and we hung out after hours at times - more so in my short stay down South than all 5 years in Seoul.

Just my perspective - if you have your heart set on Seoul you will probably still push for Seoul or Gyeonggi, good luck to you.

Thanks for your reply! This is a little late but in the time that has passed I have actually had a complete change of mind, I am submitting my application tonight (super late I know! some things came up and I had to put my application on the back burner) also given I can actually get onto the epik site because I have been having trouble with that the last few weeks.

I think Seoul looks great and all, but I really do think it is a little bit big for me to jump into after living in my tiny city all my life (I found European cities a bit overwhelming when I travelled abroad). And I also really want to experience Korean culture and have an authentic experience (not saying you wouldn't have this in Seoul, but I feel like I could easily stick to a foreigner bubble type situation). Also, nature just really makes me happy and I think I want to be in the south-ish where I can make a lot of my trips to such places! I'm going to put Daegu as my preference, but am fully aware applying this late I may just get anywhere, but somewhere in that area would be nice.

Now that it's actually come down to sending my application in, I am just supppper nervous about teaching and all of the challenges I'm going to face (I'm quite the introvert), but I hope it will be a great learning experience given I'm accepted! Thank you!

Yeah man - dive in and enjoy. Wherever you end up, growth will happen and I'm sure there will be fun and stories in abundance. Good luck!