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  • Bamtori
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • December 25, 2012, 06:40:15 pm
    • Australia
Is it really that hard?
« on: December 25, 2012, 08:03:56 pm »
I've been thinking about teaching in Korea for some time now: I did my research, gathered the required documents, scraped together what little money I had to apostille my documents and enthusiastically blanketed the recruiter market.

I have teaching experience (albeit part time) and have lived in Korea before (not as a teacher).

Unfortunately, I'm finding it incredibly difficult to find a position in Seoul.

I have been "sympathetically" informed that native speakers from the United States are preferred over native speakers from other nations (I'm an Australian), and I know securing a position in Seoul is extremely competitive. But surely, there has to be somebody willing to give a man a break...

I would kindly appreciate any advice regarding securing a job in Seoul.

Should I try to branch out from the overexposed recruiting world and start applying for jobs directly?

I know all roads point toward "be more flexible with location" but I've been there and done that. For personal reasons I am really hoping that I can land something in Seoul.

On a side note, every native speaker knows British English is best!  :cheesy: :P


  • JL5205
  • Super Waygook

    • 325

    • March 05, 2012, 11:02:50 am
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #1 on: December 25, 2012, 08:09:16 pm »
Seoul wont hire public school teachers for middle or high schools and there are very few elementary school jobs available.  Try a hagwon first or go to another city.

Better yet, get your masters in English Education to stand out from the crowd and get a university job.  Its getting way too crowded in korea which is why there arent many jobs. 


  • Bamtori
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • December 25, 2012, 06:40:15 pm
    • Australia
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #2 on: December 25, 2012, 08:59:17 pm »
I am aware of the unfortunate changes to SMOE which have caused the great migration of teachers from middle or high schools to elementary schools. 

As a matter of fact, my original post relates exclusively to hagwon positions  (sorry, I should have included that somewhere). It's either a matter of recruiters not replying or blatantly disregarding any information you have given them in the first place.

Has anyone had success applying to a hagwon directly? If so, should I make my application/resume multilingual as I understand some hagwon owners are not overly proficient in English?




Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2012, 03:45:30 am »
I'm in a similar sitation. Recruiters are not offering me any jobs in Seoul. They are telling me that it is very competitive in Seoul and the schools and/or hagwons want experienced teachers only. :huh: :cry:


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2012, 08:04:48 am »
I am pretty sure that they are BS'ing you.  Recruiters say that stuff to get you take a less than stellar job.  Try using 4 or more recruiters.


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2012, 09:24:43 am »
I am. I have been emailing multiple of different recruiters and so far they all have been telling me the same thing. :/ i don't know what i am doing wrong. The recruiters are offering locations that i don't want.,theyre all either rural or far away from seoul.


  • taeyang
  • Moderator - LVL 4

    • 5517

    • September 08, 2010, 08:35:10 am
    • daejeon
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2012, 09:37:33 am »
broaden your choices. korea is more than just seoul.
use google to search the site

site:waygook.org XXXX

replace 'XXXX' with your search term


  • apuffer
  • Veteran

    • 89

    • October 18, 2012, 11:38:59 am
    • South Korea
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Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2012, 09:47:51 am »
Like the poster above said, Incheon is a great option... not too far from Seoul and a little less crazy in general.  I have friends who teach at public schools there and they love it.

Also think about Busan.  I am currently at a public school in Busan and I cannot tell you how amazing it is.  I did luck out a bit, got a great apartment in Haeundae (beach area) and a top-notch middle school with great co-teachers.  But almost all of my friends in Busan from orientation are raving about their placements too.

Honestly Busan > every other city from what I've heard and experienced.  It is a moderate climate compared to Seoul / Incheon, is home to the most beautiful beaches and mountains, lots of hiking nearby, it's a big city with tons to do but a bit more laid back than Seoul.

If you are thinking about a hagwon there are lots in Busan as well.  I prefer public school but it depends on your preference.  I have to admit I'm a bit jealous sometimes when I go out for a trivia night, and when it's over at midnight I am rushing home to bed while hagwon teachers are continuing to down beers because they don't start until 3pm. 

Either way, keep an open mind to different cities.  If you prefer the super-crowded 'city that never sleeps' Seoul kind of thing, Incheon is a short train ride away.  Busan for more of a beach & mountainous scenery kind of place.  Good luck!

Also, quick tip - if you are interviewing over Skype or phone, try to neutralize your accent a bit.  You are correct in the thinking that most schools tend to prefer a North American accent.  Many of my British / Aussie friends have 'flattened' out their accents a bit :)
Well, I stand up next to a mountain and I chop it down with the edge of my hand...


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #8 on: December 26, 2012, 09:54:17 am »
One of the biggest mistakes a newcomer can make is insisting on Seoul.

Seoul has lots of very large, developed satellite cities (they're not suburbs in the sense Westerners think about suburbs).  In some of these cities, you feel like you might as well be in Seoul given the highrises, transportation options, conveniences etc.  Also, since nearly all of the greater Seoul region is so connected, it's easy to get around.  Like NYC_Gal 2.0 said, it can be easier to get to a spot in Seoul from a satellite city than from within Seoul itself.

I used to live in Ilsan, and I was able to be in Hongdae (popular nightlife area) in 30-40 minutes, while it could take just as long, if not longer, from other parts of Seoul.

The larger suburbs not only have subways, but also express buses which will take you from your city directly to an area of Seoul without stops in between.

Living in Ilsan, I liked that I could get just about anywhere in Seoul easily and fairly quickly (except for maybe Jamsil/Gangnam which was a hike, but doable).  But, the quality of life in Ilsan was great because of more space, less crowds, and other amenities.

I suggest you consider cities like Ilsan, Bundang, Bucheon, Guri etc.

Not to mention, Seoul is expensive and the salaries are lower because lots of people are trying to work there.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Menlyn
  • Super Waygook

    • 488

    • March 05, 2012, 02:10:21 pm
    • Suwon
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #9 on: December 26, 2012, 10:19:36 am »
OP. Follow the advice listed in this thread.

While I don't doubt your credentials, you are competing with a lot of candidates who fall into a similar position as I do.
1. I'm already in country, that means the school can save ~$1000 on airfare.
2. I'm already in country, I can go in for a in-person interview. Why hire someone over the phone, when you can interview in-person?
3. I have 5+ years experience in Korea. I'm not going to struggle with culture shock (not saying that you are, but you are unproven), I have good references from previous schools (Your school is NOT going to call up your old boss in Australia, but he'll happily call up my former Korean supervisors).

Then throw in the fact that a lot of teachers in a similar boat to me are American (which as you heard is an advantage we can do nothing about).

To be honest, I'm struggling to find a position in/near Seoul. Last week, the government programme in Gyeonggi province cut all middle/high school teachers (myself included). This has led to over 350 teachers losing their jobs and many of whom are applying for positions in the Seoul region. All of those teachers tick the boxes I mentioned, it's VERY competitive right now, even for in-country applicants.

Here are your options.
1. Take a position out of Seoul. Korea is small, no where is more than 4-5hours from Seoul, and it's very easy to be within an hour or 2 from Seoul.
2. Struggle and find a position in Seoul. If you do find one, it's almost certainly going to be one that the above candidates have turned down. Be prepared for a very rough year.
3. Delay your coming to Korea, you might have better like once this public school mess dies down, perhaps mid 2013.


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #10 on: December 26, 2012, 10:42:43 am »
Thanks for the info. I will look into the Satellite Cities and Busan.


  • Bamtori
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • December 25, 2012, 06:40:15 pm
    • Australia
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #11 on: December 26, 2012, 11:00:30 am »
So far this thread has been very useful and I appreciate all the information/advice given to me.

My travels around Korea have been extensive and I have hopped from place to place (within Korea) for the best part of 3 years. However, I have never had the opportunity or chance to stay in Seoul for an extended period of time. I felt the time was right for me to experience the big smoke this year. But I guess things just were not meant to happen that way.

Alas, I guess it makes sense to accept a good position close to Seoul rather than a bad position in Seoul.  After all, whats a short trip into Seoul anyway?

That being said, I will continue to be doubtful of recruiters. Whilst some are great and most work really hard...they are all still just sales people.

Thanks for all the input, I really appreciate it.

I wish everyone the best of luck with their respective endeavours as we move into the New Year!  :wink:


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #12 on: December 26, 2012, 12:18:24 pm »
I live a 20 minute busride outside of Busan and it's great. I'm in there every weekend and Friday night and I enjoy feeling like part of the community out where I live.

Also try:

Ulsan - I don't know where it started, but I heard a rumor that the Expat Community in Ulsan is really friendly

Daegu - Friends of mine who used to live and work there RAVE about it; one girl openly prefers it to Busan

Places like Jinju and Gyeongju are really cool! Their communities are good people, they're beautiful areas, and there are bus / train lines to get you to a nearby bigger city in 1-2 hours.
Figure it like this - if you get out of work at 5, you get on a bus by 6, you can be in a big city by 7:30 / 8:00 and that's just when people are getting ready to go out anyway(maybe even later) If you're near Busan in the summer, you can just sleep on the beach, but otherwise, it's cheap to crash in a jimjilbang (I  had a friend do that EVERY weekend) or you could split the cost of a love motel.



  • klin062
  • Veteran

    • 91

    • March 10, 2011, 02:28:48 pm
    • Seongnam
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #13 on: December 26, 2012, 12:34:38 pm »
Recruiters can be incredibly frustrating.  They will try and throw all and any jobs at you, despite the fact that these jobs do not fit your specifications.  They will also lie and say anything to try and get you to take these jobs so they can get their cut.  I have had a recruiter blatantly tell me that my previous school had given me a bad recommendation and that if I didn't take the job he was offering, I wouldn't be able to get another one.
This was clearly bs, my previous co teacher had written me a glowing recommendation and my school would have renewed me if their funding hadn't been taken away.
Anyway, my point is, you need to just stick to your guns with telling recruiters what you want.  They will probably continue to ignore you and shove unwanted positions in your direction but hopefully you'll luck out eventually.  In saying that though, you're probably asking a bit much to get a decent position in Seoul when you haven't taught in Korea before.
Good luck anyway, I hope it works out for you!


  • lotte world
  • The Legend

    • 2272

    • August 22, 2011, 09:00:38 pm
    more
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #14 on: December 26, 2012, 01:44:11 pm »
Yes, it really is that hard.  Everyone wants to go to Seoul (for personal reasons).


  • Bamtori
  • Explorer

    • 6

    • December 25, 2012, 06:40:15 pm
    • Australia
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #15 on: December 26, 2012, 08:44:38 pm »
Yes, it really is that hard.  Everyone wants to go to Seoul (for personal reasons).

Ha ha...I remember my first witty remark.

I think you will find most people want to go to Seoul.

I had no idea of last weeks Gyeonggi province cuts until Menlyn kindly informed me. Needless to say, It's making a lot more sense now.
 
Not everybody is fortunate enough to know everything.


Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2012, 09:00:01 pm »
Even before the Gyeonggi cuts, you would have gotten the same answer.  It's been this way for about 2+ years now.
C is for cookie, that's good enough for me.


  • Frozencat99
  • The Legend

    • 2095

    • October 09, 2011, 04:31:36 pm
    more
Re: Is it really that hard?
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2012, 09:35:03 pm »
There are countless options in areas close enough to Seoul that get overlooked because people just ~have~ to be in Seoul.
Beware the Homosexual Industrial Complex -- http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-june-17-2013/left-behind

You can leave your heterophobia behind.


Having a hard time finding a hagwon job...is it really difficult?
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2013, 05:27:56 am »
I have all of my documents ready (apostilled diploma, criminal background check, passport,etc) but I am having a hard time finding a job. At first, I only wanted jobs in Seoul,however, I have expanded my options to Gyeonggi Province, Busan, and Ulsan. I am still finding it difficult to secure a job. I have emailed a lot of recruiters for both hagwon and public school positions but only a few have gotten back to me. :sad: For those who have gotten back to me, they are offering rural areas. I am a city person so I prefer a metropolitan area.  Any tips or suggestions on how to find and secure a job in Korea?


  • money55
  • Super Waygook

    • 277

    • July 05, 2011, 02:12:38 pm
    • south korea
Re: Having a hard time finding a hagwon job...is it really difficult?
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2013, 07:15:48 am »
try craigslist. Also try facebook, maybe someone is leaving their job.  Or you could just go to Korea wing it then do a visa run to japan.