TEFL in South Korea

Teaching English in South Korea

From the bustling streets of the capital, Seoul, to the stunning beaches and tranquil countryside of the country’s biggest island, Jeju, those who TEFL in South Korea aren’t stuck for choice. Feast on kimchi, bibimbap, and bulgogi; experience cutting-edge technology (including the fastest internet in the world!); and make use of affordable public transport during your days off to explore incredible sites such as the DMZ, one of the world’s most heavily militarised borders, and the unique and vibrant Gamcheon Cultural Village in Busan.

The demand for EFL teachers really is huge in South Korea, with private sector driving the demand for qualified EFL teachers. A staggering 83% of 5-year-olds attend hagwons (private schools), where English lessons are extremely popular. There are also opportunities to work in the public sector through government-run programmes such as EPIK (English Programme in Korea).

Considering the attractive salaries and benefit packages offered to newly-qualified and experienced EFL teachers alike, it’s not hard to understand why South Korea is top of the list for many EFL teachers.

Interested in teaching elsewhere? Check out our full guide here.

Traditional street in South Korea

Key Facts

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs in South Korea: Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Suwon, Incheon, Gwangju
  • Average salary for EFL teachers in South Korea: 2-2.7 million won (£1,350 – 1,820) per month
  • TEFL qualification requirements: At least a 120-hour TEFL qualification from an accredited provider. For the EPIK programme, a TEFL qualification consisting of at least 100 hours is required for all applicants who do not hold a degree in education.
  • Prerequisite university degree: A BA degree is a visa requirement.
  • Term times: The school year typically runs from March to February. The year is divided into two semesters, March to July and September to February.
  • Currency: South Korean won (KRW)
  • Language: Korean
  • Teaching programmes: EPIK and TaLK
  • Age restrictions: 62 for public schools, no limits for private schools.
  • Previous teaching experience: Not essential, there are many opportunities to TEFL in South Korea for newly-qualified EFL teachers.

Kimchi in a bowl

Living Costs

  • Accommodation: £350-£700 per month. Accommodation is included in many contracts or a stipend.
  • Utilities: £60 to £90 per month
  • Health insurance: 3.3% of your income, deducted from your salary
  • Monthly transport pass: £40
  • Basic dinner out for two: £20
  • Cappuccino in expat area: £3.50
  • A beer in a pub: £3.22
  • 1 litre of milk: £1.74
  • 2 litres of Coca-Cola: £1.82

Salaries and benefit packages allow EFL teachers to live comfortably and make the most of the experience of living and working in South Korea.  With accommodation usually included in teaching contracts, teachers can both afford to enjoy a good quality of life and save at the same time. We’ve heard of teachers saving up to £10,000 in one year – it all depends on how ambitious you are!

For those keen to enjoy all South Korea has to offer, the good news is that travel is very affordable and efficient, so during your time off from teaching you can explore the country.

Temple in South Korea

Finding a Job

There’s a huge demand for EFL teachers in South Korea. Work can be found in both public and private schools teaching students of all ages and abilities. After taking a course with TEFL Org you’ll have access to our exclusive TEFL Jobs Centre where you can find TEFL jobs all over the world.

Education is big business in South Korea, with parents spending around £12 billion every year on private education. Private schools, called hagwons, are where the majority of TEFL jobs in South Korea can be found – there are around 100,000 across the country!  Hagwons have had a reputation for bad conditions but things have been improving in recent years. Just make sure to do your research and read through our post about how to spot TEFL scams and bad employers.

You can also find positions in South Korea on other jobs boards such as TEFL.com, Dave’s ESL Café, and ESL base.

The government-run EPIK programme is popular with first-time teachers. Successful applicants work alongside Korean teachers to deliver English lessons, conduct conversation classes and prepare teaching materials. Places on the programme are competitive and while you can express a preference for where you work, you can be placed anywhere in the country

Sunset photo of Seoul skyline

Student Stories from South Korea

Sarah and her husband left for South Korea in February 2018 to take up work at a private Elementary school. Teaching in South Korea allowed them to save half of their wages each month and still enjoy life without worrying about money.

“I think we have such an amazing job and I love our school and all the little munchkins we’re lucky enough to teach. In my previous job I worked as an administration manager for a healthcare company, and I was under a massive amount of stress that was really affecting my mood. I was working long hours each week, with barely any time or energy left over to spend time with my husband. My schedule couldn’t be more different now, especially as we are the only native teachers at our school so we spend pretty much all of our time together!”

Five years ago, Dan qualified as an EFL teacher and has since taught in South Korea, Spain, the UK, and online. He loved South Korea and it was there he realised a career in TEFL was for him.

“I took the TEFL course, jumped on a plane to South Korea and started to lead a life that many of my friends back home were still dreaming of. Korea is a beautiful country full of friendly people, delicious food, interesting history, memorable (despite the soju and rice wine) nightlife and attentive students.”

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