Employment Guide

 Working in Korea is not guaranteed to be all that you've hoped it would be, but can still be a rewarding experience none the less.  To begin with some prerequisites for employment are that you are a Native speaker of English, you have a bachelors degree or better from a legitimate university, a valid passport, resume and transcripts.  Also, you need a guarantee of employment from a Korean national.  You should get your visa before coming to Korea.  It's much easier and cheaper, unless your employer will pay for a visa run to Japan.  If they are generous, take the trip and see Japan.  You'll be glad you went on another adventure.  For more visa information you can go to the links Ministry of Justice Republic of Korea or http://www.moj.go.kr/immi/e_frame.htm . For lots of information about a variety of legal issues faced by English Teachers in Korea, check out EFL-Law.com

How do I find a job?
 English teaching jobs are easy to come by, just be careful to do your research beforehand. Listed below are some of the websites that post job listings.

You can also choose to use a recruiter to find a job. We have received mixed reviews about many recruiters and Pusanweb in no way endorses any of those listed below.

Where do I find a grey list of Korean language institutes?

For those eager to post good and bad reports about specific institutes, there a few active gray lists

Pusanweb does not have a gray list or allow grey list types of postings. If you are interested in creating your own Grey list website, please do so and contact the Pusanweb Manager. We will be glad to link to well managed blacklists. (This does not include sites that target only one employer or school)

Do I have to register with the government even if I have an E-1 or E-2 visa in my passport?
Yes, you must register at the local immigration office and get an Alien Registration Card . The Busan Immigration office is located near the Chungangdong subway stop. For more information about immigrations policies and district office locations, visit the immigration website 

What should I take with me to the immigration office?
You should take your passport, photographs, verification of employment from your employer, and ten thousand won (plus sixty thousand won for a multiple entry visa) for the fee. 

What should I expect?
At the office you will be expected to present your passport, fill out a form, pay a ten thousand won fee, and be fingerprinted. 

When do I get my passport back?
Immigration will return your passport within five days when you pick up your Alien Registration Card. 

What can I do if I have a problem with my employer?
Try to work it out first.  If it fails to work in a rational manner, then perhaps these links can help.  

Association of Foreign Workers' Rights - Advocacy group for foreign workers - mostly for industrial employees, but willing to help teachers as well

Ministry of Justice Republic of Korea : including a " The Reception of Foreign Worker's Complaint", and VISA Issuance procedure.

Ministry of Labor :   Good site with info and telephone numbers to their offices including these below.

Ministry of Education - Worth contacting if your employer is violating any policies governing educational entities

In order to change employers before your contract expires, you must obtain a 'Release Letter' from your first employer. You can find more information about obtaining a release letter at: http://www.geocities.com/baxterautry/releaseletter.html


Pusan Regional Administration

(051) 851-7410


Dongnae Local Labor Office

(051) 552-5243


North Local Labor Office

(051) 304-3215∼6


Changwon Local Labor Office

(0551) 89-6605∼6


Woolsan Local Labor Office

(0522) 71-4800


Yangsan Local Labor Office

(0523) 387-0803∼4


Jinju Local Labor Office

(0591) 52-0026


Tongyeong Local Labor Office

(0577) 44-2741

Is severance pay mandatory?

In most cases, it is. Some universities are not required to pay severance if they offer use the National Educators Pension Fund instead.  According to the labor office in Seoul, you are entitled to severance pay regardless of whether it is mentioned in the contract. However, if it is not mentioned, you are not eligible to receive the severance pay at the end of each contract but only when you actually leave the company. The amount is one month's pay for each year worked.  Receiving the severance pay when you quit has one advantage: you get it in a lump sum.  There are local labor offices in areas such as Seoul, Gyeongin, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju, Pohang and Busan. 
For more information, visit the National Pension Corporation website or the How to Collect Severance Pay website. 

What is the income tax rate in Korea?

For teachers, the amount deducted from your income for taxes should be around 3%. 
For more information visit the Korean Ministry of Finance and Economy website.

Are private lessons illegal?

Under Korean law a foreigner must obtain permission from immigration to work at any given site. 
In the case of English teaching, the only places allowed by law to grant such permission are duly licensed language schools, public and private schools and universities and companies that obtain special permission. 
Those in Korea teaching on a tourist visa at any location and those with legitimate E-2 visas who are teaching at a second location without permission will in almost all cases be deported and may face fines of several million won if they are caught doing so. 
In the past, such violators were never charged under Korea's ban on private tutoring, but rather for violating the conditions of their visas, thus the declaration by the high court will have no effect on the legality of private teaching by foreigners. 

Types of Organizations that you can work for:

 -private foreign language institutes (hakwons)
 -corporate in-house language programs
 -government/private research centers
-editing/public relations, advertising companies

Private language institutes (hakwons) are found all over Korea.  Some institutes are well-known with many branches while others are small and short-lived.  The typical employee can expect to work about 30 hours per week.  The majority of classes are conducted early in the morning and in the evening, so many instructors have free time in the afternoons.  Most classes have about 6 to 12 students.  Pupils may be grade school or college students, or businessmen who are contemplating overseas assignments.  Salaries are currently about 1.8 to 2 million won per month with additional overtime (at w15,000/hr to w20,000/hr). Also, institutes will pay additional perks including round trip tickets, rent-free housing, severance pay, visa trip, and sometimes meals.

Most large corporate groups (chaebol in Korean) have their own in-house programs.  The typical instructor can expect to teach more than 30 hours per week, teaching all day from early in the morning to late at night.  Some employers provide the same benefits as hagwons including housing, but the instructor may be required to either live on campus or commute long distances from Seoul.  The average salary for these institutes is usually higher than hagwons.

Major universities in Seoul, as well as some provincial universities, operate foreign language institutes.  Some pupils are university students, but the majority of students are business people  These institutes tend to have the highest hiring standards in Korea; most instructors have MA degrees in TESOL, and years of teaching experience.  The pay, status and benefits offered by these institutes are among the best in Korea.  As a result there is very low turnover.
Most universities in Korea employ full-time English conversation instructors.  University classes tend to be large, with little personal contact with the students.  Most instructors teach between ten and 15 hours a week.  Monthly salaries currently tend to run about 2 million won (US $ 1,700) per month, with three to four months of paid vacation per year.

Many Colleges employ full-time English instructors.  They can teach a variety of classes including children, tourism, and regular conversation classes.  The hours tend to be less than Hagwons but they pay less than Universities.

Many government agencies and some private companies operate research institutes.  Most of these institutes hire foreigners who have degrees in the humanities, economics or business administration as full-time editors.  Editors proofread correspondence and research publications, write speeches, and occasionally teach.  Most institutes pay quite well, and some provide housing. 

Quite a few public  relations and advertising companies in Korea hire foreigners to work as copy editors, and occasionally as teachers.   There are also opportunities to appear on television programs, movies and radio.  Most of these positions pay quite well and some provide housing assistance.

This fairly new, Korea-wide, government-sponsored program places native speakers in every school district in Korea and presents a unique opportunity for the adventurous to live far from tourist routes and population centers.  While recruiting and training appear to be performed quite professionally, teachers'  living and working experiences vary considerably.  Housing, benefits, reliability of pay, and access to ombudsmen is slowly improving, but still has a long way to go.

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