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Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« on: April 16, 2014, 07:31:18 pm »

I'm so happy I've stumbled across this site!! I honestly don't know where to start in devouring the information!

I got my CELTA qualification last May and am really interested in applying to work in Korea, possibly Seoul or Busan as I feel that I'm a active person and want lots of opportunities  to keep me busy. I've got so many questions I need to ask and I simply can't seem to get them answered.

I decided that public school was more suitable for me as I prefer to work during the day and enjoy my evenings, plus I am not particularly assertive so a pushy boss would be my nightmare.

I downloaded the application ages ago to apply to SMEO and emailed the contact to clarify some of the information provided and still haven't received a reply back - it doesn't bode well. Am I better going through a recruiter as opposed to direct?

I've no experience beyond the 6 hours I gained on my CELTA - will I receive some support in the beginning? Is support available for finding accommodation? Although I gather its provided / paid for - how is this? 

I'm assuming that I will pay my flight to get to Korea but then some information mentions that they will pay your flights? How does this work?

How do they pay you - will I need a Korean bank account? Can I apply to be considered by the different schemes (EPIK / GEPIK) too if I wish or is that not allowed.

In order to complete the teaching philosophy aspect of the application what do they actually want as I am really struggling with my lack of experience.

Thank you for any answers or just for getting in touch


Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 07:19:24 am »
I hate to burst your bubble but Seoul and Busan are probaly the two hardest cities to get into.
Stay hungry. Stay foolish. Jobs (2005)

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 07:34:58 am »
You fly to Korea on your own dime, but schools reimburse your costs afterward. They pay a flat amount of money, so you often can have some left over as additional funds to help you get settled.

A word of warning: Working at a public school doesn't preclude pushy bosses. Depending on the vice principal or co-workers you get set up with, your experience can still be frustrating. Likewise... I know people who work at Hagwons and their bosses are an absolute joy to work with..

Schools set you up with a Korean bank account, which can differ from school to school and province to province. Your flight and settlement allowance, additional bonuses, and paychecks are all directly deposited here.

You can apply for EPIK and GEPIK. A lot of people do this. People who are denied from getting into EPIK have made it into GEPIK and vice-versa. There are also additional programs besides these two. I believe Jeollanam and Gyeongnam are two provinces that have placement programs separate from EPIK and GEPIK.

Teaching philosophy is kind of an open question. There are a lot of answers you can include. I think your CELTA course should have definitely given you some directions on a good teaching philosophy. Even my poor-man's online TEFL course provided that. If you go with a recruiter they will sometimes help you improve these aspects of your application or if they're very nice, give some examples themselves. Don't expect it though!

And last, yes... From the second-hand information I have heard and read, Busan is actually the hardest city to be placed in. Seoul is difficult too, of course, but something about Busan is just different. If you really want to come here, you may want to be willing to be placed anywhere. Everything here is very connected and even in smaller towns there can be so much to do and keep you active. If you survive your first year here and want to transfer to other cities or provinces in Korea it becomes exponentially easier.

Good luck.

  • jaec113
  • Adventurer

    • 44

    • August 29, 2012, 01:07:17 pm
Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 07:47:06 am »
Getting into public schools in Seoul and Busan can be tricky as both are cutting down (I think) the number of positions available. I would recommend applying directly through EPIK and through various recruiters. Some recruiters are good, some not so much, so it's better to have many options.

Your public school experience, in terms of support/assistance/etc, will be a dice roll. It will depend almost entirely on your co-teachers. Some co-teachers are very good and will help you, some will leave you on your own and criticize you for not being prepared (just search through the boards here). As mentioned earlier, public schools don't preclude pushy bosses. Busan (and I imagine Seoul) don't tell you where you will be placed (unless you're directly hired by a school), so you can't know exactly where you'll end up. That makes it virtually impossible to research or find out anything about your situation. That may be the one plus for applying at hagwons, you can find out something about the place if you put in the research time.

Schools will have a studio apartment for you, but you can opt out and take a monthly stipend for your own place if you choose. If you have a friendly co-teacher they will help sort that out as you'll need to speak with an agent here (no English likely). But, if you get your own place you will likely need to put some key money down first which can range in amount.

Flights can vary. Some will just buy your ticket for you, others will have you buy it then pay you back at a later date (I'm in Busan and that's what they did).

You will need a Korean bank account to get paid. That's something that would be set up after you arrive in Korea and get your Alien Resident Card (ARC).

EPIK and GEPIK are different things. EPIK is for the whole country (generally speaking), GEPIK is specific to Gyeonggi-do (the area surrounding Seoul). You can apply for both.

I think the 'teaching philosophy' is mainly a BS section where you talk about your ideas of education and what kind of teacher you are/will be.

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 07:49:38 am »
I typed out a whole reply before i noticed jaec113 had beaten me to it. :)

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 07:53:45 am »
Get your foot in the door. Apply to many jobs through many recruiters.

  • Allison-teacher
  • Veteran

    • 93

    • September 30, 2013, 07:43:56 am
    • Hwanggan, Chungbuk, Korea
Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 11:25:22 am »
My friend just applied through EPIK and they have over 2,000 applicants for the Fall 2014 intake. People have already passed their interview and sending in their documents, which can take months to gather. If you want to work here through EPIk or GEPIK, then you might want to wait until the next intake.

Seoul and Busan are the two hardest cities to get into. Also, because people have branched out, Daejeo, Daegu and Incheon are increasingly popular, so you may want to think about where you want to go. It's mostly first come, first serve with a look at qualifications. Smaller towns are not bad and there are still plenty of things to do and it's easy to travel everywhere.

To get paid, the school will set you up with a bank account. You can adjust and change it later if you'd like. It's direct deposit. No checks exist here, as far as I know.

The school provides housing or gives you a housing allowance. They will give you accomadations when your contract starts. This happens, because schools who hire native English teachers have a budget set aside ofr them. It's all part of the contract. If you were to come before orientation or your contract start date, you have to find a hotel or hostel yourself.

For the flight here, you have to pay for it yourself. They give you a reimbursment of 1,600,000KW.

You will have a co-teacher or co-teachers, but all schools are different. I had no teaching experience and I was just thrown in with no guidance. You may or may not receive any kind of support from your co-teacher and they will not plan your lessons for you. You can ask their opinion and run things by them. Some will actively co-teach with you, but it's all luck of the draw.

Like it was said before, public schools could have pushy bosses or nightmareish co-teachers. You may be mixed with many types, if you work at more than one school, which a lot of us do. Hagwons can be bad, but I've heard of many good experiences, too.

The teaching philosophy is what you would do or how you would teach or what you want your students to gain from their experience of you teaching English. Why did you choose Korea and why should they choose you, essentially. Are you going to do well, are you just looking for a fun place to travel around, and so on.

Also, take note when searching this site for information that most of us tend to be very cynical. We don't necessarily hate our lives or our jobs, but are very realistic in nature. We are no longer blinded by the glamor that originally came with Korea. We know how the system works. That doesn't mean we all hate it, but we aren't always cheery.

Hope this helps. Good luck!

  • Mezoti97
  • The Legend

    • 2703

    • April 14, 2011, 03:02:50 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 03:51:35 pm »
For the flight here, you have to pay for it yourself. They give you a reimbursment of 1,600,000KW.

Really? I thought it was 1.3 million won -- or at least I thought it used to be. Has it gone up in recent contracts?

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #8 on: April 18, 2014, 01:13:25 am »
I had a related question for people.  Are there EPIK positions post-initial intake?  For example, does EPIK send unfulfilled contracts to the recruiters after the initial intake but before the August start date?

Any factual info would be great.  Obviously we can assume they do, but I was hoping for confirmation.

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2014, 05:35:45 am »
Thank you everyone for taking the time to answer my questions, I have youtube'd seoul apartments and am suitably impressed.

I am a quite concerned that I have missed the boat to get a place ;( but as I've spent so long on this damm teaching philosophy that I can't just chuck it in now. LOL Poor man's TEFL - I never really thought about it like that as I was told (by my uni careers, who believes anything they say!) that CELTA / TESOL were the only accepted qualifications for those who don't wish to study full time for 2/3 years. Teaching philosophy was covered throughout the course; it was all theory though and from what I've read I need to alter my philosophy to suit.

I wonder if I posted my teach philosophy would anyone be willing to comment on it? I have 6 hours of experience + some volunteering at a local asylum and refugee centre.



  • gagevt
  • Moderator - LVL 3

    • 1163

    • August 24, 2013, 01:55:38 pm
    • Gyeongbuk
Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #10 on: April 18, 2014, 07:35:30 am »
Honestly don't get your heart set on Seoul with those qualifications, at least if you want to teach public school. I was told that EPIK SMOE(Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education) were only looking for people with Education or English degrees, experience teaching (EFL a plus), and maybe even a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA cert. So don't be discouraged if you apply to Seoul and get rejected.

I was told this last Spring when I was applying for August intake. My recruiter actually told me I couldn't even put Seoul or Busan on my application preference, because I just wasn't qualified. He wasn't being a jerk, and he actually helped me every little step of the way. In the end I chose Incheon on my application, but I didn't get that either. I could have put either Daegu and Daejeon and probably would have gotten those, but it's so random, who knows.

I ended up in Pohang, and I love it here.
"The man who passes the sentence should swing the sword."

Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2014, 07:39:00 am »
I do have a BSc Psychology degree too and a number of years of work experience too (I am 31).

  • MissEzri
  • Adventurer

    • 30

    • September 10, 2012, 10:49:46 am
    • Wandang-dong, Incheon, South Korea
Re: Hoping to apply for teaching in Korea
« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2014, 01:28:46 pm »
Seoul is next to impossible to get into, Busan as well. Even Incheon where I am right now is difficult to get into as they are cutting back on native teachers in schools.

You would be best to apply in the Gyeonggi province. Depending on where you are placed you might be able to even make it to Seoul on a week night, for sure the weekend at least to explore.

Another area to consider is near Daegu. While not the buzz towns of Seoul or Busan, I have a friend who lives near there and it is still a big enough city to find plenty of things to do (and is 2hours express train to Seoul)