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  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2718

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« on: January 03, 2020, 07:36:46 am »
I work for EPIK and like many of my friends, we are placed in rural areas all around Korea.  Some as far out as near the North Korean boarder, some in Osan or Pyungtek,  some in Busan and other areas near there. 

One thing all my EPIK friends have in common is why can't we get a public school more closer to Seoul?

I've heard it's highly competitive and the teachers who do get those positions rarely leave. 

But who really gets to get into those coveted positions?   Because my friend and I were shocked to see a fresh off the plane noobie at our orientation land herself in central Seoul, while most of us have been here for years and have asked around and yet still get places way out in the wild west of nowhere with long commutes to Seoul. 

Any ideas or opinions on this? :undecided:


  • lhelena
  • Veteran

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    • March 11, 2018, 01:57:14 pm
    • Anseong
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #1 on: January 03, 2020, 07:48:31 am »
I remember there being a handful of people at my orientation placed in Seoul. One of them was the teacher I was replacing! I honestly don't know how they get in and others don't. Most of them were noobies too.


  • CO2
  • Waygook Lord

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    • Gunpo
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Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #2 on: January 03, 2020, 07:52:15 am »


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #3 on: January 03, 2020, 07:55:36 am »
It might be something to do with keeping up appearances because I'm sure parents like young teachers from the US....experienced or not......I wanted Seoul when I first came here but was glad that I didn't get Seoul.....now (after 5 years)  I would like to be in Seoul but not as a public school teacher. I think my stress would increase 1000% if I had to deal with attitudes/behavior of students in Seoul. I am not sure, but I believe the most rural places do have better behavior most of the time (of course bad cases too) and Seoul has more disrespectful students etc.

I would like to be in Seoul doing something else.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 3196

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2020, 08:12:27 am »
Just look for direct hires for private elementary schools. I always see ads for those about


  • plan b
  • Super Waygook

    • 285

    • March 22, 2013, 11:53:06 am
    • Korea
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2020, 08:23:44 am »
Just look for direct hires for private elementary schools. I always see ads for those about

I've been offered jobs by private elementary schools. They seem to pay less and be more work. The impression I get of them is of that of  a private hagwon, dressed up like an elementary school.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 3196

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2020, 08:26:28 am »
Oh, really? Damn. Maybe I was just lucky at my school then. What do they usually pay?


  • plan b
  • Super Waygook

    • 285

    • March 22, 2013, 11:53:06 am
    • Korea
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2020, 08:52:42 am »
Oh, really? Damn. Maybe I was just lucky at my school then. What do they usually pay?

The pay varies throughout the year, months with afterschool classes are paid more. The places I interviewed at averaged out to 2.5 over the course of 12 months, but had no housing, and no housing allowance!


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 3196

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2020, 08:55:41 am »
yeah i get about 2.5m, but that's for 17 classes a week, and no desk warming. there's also two more classes per day for the after school program, which comes to another 2m a month. but, there's also a lot of unpaid vacation time

did the places you interview for have desk warming?


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2718

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2020, 09:00:24 am »
It might be something to do with keeping up appearances because I'm sure parents like young teachers from the US....experienced or not......I wanted Seoul when I first came here but was glad that I didn't get Seoul.....now (after 5 years)  I would like to be in Seoul but not as a public school teacher. I think my stress would increase 1000% if I had to deal with attitudes/behavior of students in Seoul. I am not sure, but I believe the most rural places do have better behavior most of the time (of course bad cases too) and Seoul has more disrespectful students etc.

I would like to be in Seoul doing something else.

There was a whole topic on this on another post about rural kids vs city kids.  City kids I found were just as rude but rude with their mouth and not actual behavior (punching other students, throwing things, stealing things) 

Rural kids as another poster explained sometimes (sometimes) have a myriad of personal problems and thus creates it's own challenges in the classroom.  (I've had 40,000won stolen out of my purse at my first public school and as I stated at my second twice a week large public school it felt like I was working at a juvenile detention center.)   

While City kids are not as bad, they aren't the politest either when it comes to manners and how they address you.  Usually the city kids I worked with was during my hakwon years.  And thus, because they are "customers"  they acted as entitled as could be.

Rural kids can be far more polite but I found that working in a small village school they tend to be the most polite and are willing to apologize when they've done wrong.  Rural large public school kids kind of feel like you would be teaching at a low income inner city public school in America.  The same kind of attitudes and disobedience you would find there.   

But I have heard that the outskirts of Seoul (not central Seoul) have the most well behaved kids, that's according to my co-teachers who have had experience in the Ilsan areas. 

So yeah I'm not saying that I or my friends want to live in Gangnam, (though it would be nice) we are just saying we want to live close enough to Seoul where it doesn't take over an hour to reach popular areas by subway and it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to get home by taxi when you are out late on the weekends.  Plus some where easy where other Seoul friends can visit you and you can easily visit them on a weekday. 

Like I NEVER venture out to Seoul on a weekday because it's too far and not worth it if I have to be back home by 10:30pm.   Which means I've missed out on a lot of happy hour after work with friends and trivia nights because I can only be social during the weekend.  Which is fine by me because it means I save money, but sometimes on some weekends when you don't feel like going out ALL THE WAY TO SEOUL, it can be kind of lonesome because none of your friends want to come by your area either because of you being sooo far away. 

The only time I had it good social wise was when I lived in the the Bundang area.  I had colleagues near by to have a quick Wednesday night beer and for the times we didn't want to go to Seoul, we had great bars and restaurants in the area to have a nice Friday Night Let some Steam out dinners.  But that was during my hakwon days, which I DO NOT MISS OR WANT TO GO BACK TO.

That's the trade off that some EPIK teachers are having to grapple with.  Continue teaching at a chill school with chill coworkers but IN NO MAN LAND NO WHERE or move to hip Seoul but have to put up with all the stress of a hakwon. 

Some teachers surprisingly are trading in the comfort, easy going job of public school to jump right into the fire that is hakwon in Seoul.   I guess if trivia night are really worth the parent complaints, micromanagement of directors, and copious amounts of busy work like after work phone teachings and bi monthly reports....ugh.  No thank you.   
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 09:03:32 am by Piggydee »


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2020, 09:17:41 am »
I understand your feelings on that and I too would not want to work in a hakwon....anywhere. In my experience, my rural schools had the best behaved kids but my city school had really rude kids who refused to try.

I think I would mostly want to live in Seoul for the activities available, but then again I thought I would do a lot more moving from really really rural to a bigger city and I don't.......school, taekwondo, home repeat.


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2718

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2020, 09:27:38 am »
I understand your feelings on that and I too would not want to work in a hakwon....anywhere. In my experience, my rural schools had the best behaved kids but my city school had really rude kids who refused to try.

I think I would mostly want to live in Seoul for the activities available, but then again I thought I would do a lot more moving from really really rural to a bigger city and I don't.......school, taekwondo, home repeat.

(Not saying this about you) But I think some reality shows and tv shows like "Friends," "Sex and the City" etc. have some people mind warped about how working adults behave after work or in our weekday lives.  It's not always met up with your best gal pals and bros (j/k) for some beers, martinis, and coffee. A lot of times it's just the routine you stated.  Work, exercise (if you do that) Sleep.  Or Work, Language class/church/hobby group, Sleep. 

And quiet frankly I actually have seen some IG stories of some people I know who do live in Seoul are always at the trivia nights, always at the pub, always grabbing drinks after dinner (not talking about the few glasses of beer/wine at home people) I'm talking about the it's "always a Saturday somewhere" type people.....and let's just say their appearance reflects their unhealthy lifestyle. 
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 09:29:47 am by Piggydee »


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2020, 11:30:37 am »
I've had 40,000won stolen out of my purse at my first public school
Same thing happened to me at my first school, super rural. 50,000 won note taken from my wallet. To be fair, my co-teacher did tell me not to leave my wallet lying around on my desk. But I thought she was just being paranoid.


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2020, 12:19:52 pm »
I've had 40,000won stolen out of my purse at my first public school
Same thing happened to me at my first school, super rural. 50,000 won note taken from my wallet. To be fair, my co-teacher did tell me not to leave my wallet lying around on my desk. But I thought she was just being paranoid.

So then what happened after you realized it was stolen? Did the school do anything?


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2718

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2020, 12:39:01 pm »
I've had 40,000won stolen out of my purse at my first public school
Same thing happened to me at my first school, super rural. 50,000 won note taken from my wallet. To be fair, my co-teacher did tell me not to leave my wallet lying around on my desk. But I thought she was just being paranoid.

So then what happened after you realized it was stolen? Did the school do anything?

Nope.  I had my suspicions as to who it was.  And as per usual, it's always the kids who comes into class, with no pencil, who rips pages out of his book during class time to make mini paper balls to flick at other students.  This student also came into class everyday with a "what the point of ANY OF THIS ," look on his face.  He was seated closest to my desk and being the teacher who cared about his education and always asked him to stop sleeping in class, allowed him to borrow my pencils, and ask him politely to stop ripping up his book during class time; I guess after a while he got sick of hearing me and decided it was really "show me" by stealing my money. 

By the way am I the only one that really wanted to enforce a NO TEARING UP YOUR BOOK in class rule.  I don't mind the doodles in the book.  But real talk, it realized it was just the English book that got ripped to sherds half a months into semester.  Meanwhile, their 과학 (science book) and 사회 (social studies book) were in nice condition.  Guess that just goes to show how much respect the class and NET are given here by the students.   
« Last Edit: January 03, 2020, 12:42:53 pm by Piggydee »


  • Cohort 2019
  • Super Waygook

    • 442

    • August 17, 2019, 08:09:23 pm
    • 90S.- 0'E
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Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2020, 03:40:05 am »
Wow, that's awful. Stealing from your teacher. I've never heard of anyone doing that at school except at the very worst schools for juvenile delinquents.

In regards to the book, ignore it and him completely unless he throws it at you or another student. Then remove him. He's just in his own private hell, easier to blame whitey than to look at himself. Not so different from discussing terrorism at inner city schools. If you do expect books and shoes to be thrown at you.  ;D
« Last Edit: January 04, 2020, 03:54:42 am by Cohort 2019 »
incumbo studiis


  • confusedsafferinkorea
  • Waygook Lord

    • 5291

    • October 08, 2010, 01:02:32 pm
    • Zhubei, Hsinchu Province, Taiwan
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Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2020, 06:02:05 am »
By the way am I the only one that really wanted to enforce a NO TEARING UP YOUR BOOK in class rule.  I don't mind the doodles in the book.  But real talk, it realized it was just the English book that got ripped to sherds half a months into semester.


I am with you on this one, teaching them respect for books, no matter what the subject is, is important.  If parents had to pay for the books then it may be a different story. In my country you pay for your books and so your parents make very sure you look after them because you can sell them at the end of the year to upcoming students.  It is not like Korea that change the book virtually every year. It's all a money-making scam as far as I am concerned.

I am really against free education for those who can afford it. A means test and subsidy for those who cannot afford it is the way to go IMO.
There is no known medical cure for stupidity!


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2020, 07:39:44 am »
In my country you pay for your books and so your parents make very sure you look after them because you can sell them at the end of the year to upcoming students. 
Ah yes - I remember this routine.


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2020, 08:01:04 am »
Lol yeah I remember when I was in high school we had to "cover" our textbooks to protect them.  Most of us ended up using wrapping paper or old wallpaper samples.  Good times haha.


Re: Why is it so hard to get a public school job in Seoul?
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2020, 08:31:21 am »
yeah, my schools at home always only had just enough text books and if you had a damaged book or lost it you would have to pay for the school to buy a new one. The textbooks were used for years, maybe the school bought a new one every  6 or 7 years.