South Korea is an extraordinary country filled with beautiful beaches, thriving cities, ancient temples, remarkable natural scenery and most importantly, friendly people with desire to learn English. It's a great place for western teachers, because it offers the perfect blend of familiar convenience and exciting new culture.
Job Overview in South Korea
22 – 30 teaching hours per week
1 year contract
Pre-school to middle school students
Compensation & Benefits
$1,700-2,000 USD per month
10 days of paid annual vacation
Furnished housing provided
50/50 contribution for medical insurance & pension
South Korea is a country with 5000 years of long and rich history. It is a highly developed country with world's 11th largest economy. It is renowned for having one of the best internet connection speed and healthcare system in the world. South Korea is a global leader in many technology and innovation driven fields, and is well-known for its globally influential pop culture such as K-pop and award winning films. The climate in South Korea is temperate with four distinct seasons. The temperature ranges from 30°C in the summer and -15°C in the winter.
Language & Culture
Korean is considered one of the phonetically correct languages in the world, and it is relatively easy to learn, albeit difficult to fully master. It consists of 14 consonants and 10 vowels that can be combined to create a letter. There are many free online resources where you can learn basic Korean, such as this one.
Korea is, while being a modern country in many ways, still a place where people value tradition and loyalty. It has ethical code of conduct that involves showing respect to the elders and family. Here are some basic Korean etiquette to be aware of.
Food & Entertainment
Korea offers a wide variety of cuisines. Korean cuisine is largely based on rice, vegetables, meat, and fish. Typically, kimchi is served with every meal. Food delivery service is also highly developed, and there are several English apps you can use. Whether you are craving a Korean dish, fried chicken, pizza, or sushi, you can get it delivered to your doorstep.
Koreans are avid movie fans and there are many high quality movie theaters. Large cities like Seoul have concert venues that attract many popular artists from all over the world. Koreans love to sing, and going to noraebang (Karaoke room) is a common leisure activity. Korea is also home to some of the most vibrant and dynamic nightlife scenes in Asia with many bars and lounges.
Teachers will have housing provided by their schools as part of their one year contract. Typically, they are given a studio (one room) apartment. Rent is paid by the school, but teachers are responsible to pay for utilities. (usually around 15~30 USD / month)
Your apartment will typically come furnished with basic appliances such as refrigerator, stove, bed, and washing machine. Sometimes it may include other provisions such as a sofa, TV, desk, microwave, etc.
The two most important holidays in Korea are Seollal (Lunar New Year's Day) and Chuseok (Thanksgiving). Seoullal is the first day of the year in the Lunar calendar, which usually lands in late January or early February. Chuseok is celebrated on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month, which usually lands in late September or early October. During these holidays, many businesses are closed, and people visit their hometown to be with their family.
Other national holidays include:
New Year's Day (January 1), Independence Movement Day (March 1), Children's Day (May 5), Buddha's Birthday (May 12), Memorial Day (June 6), Liberation Day (August 15), National Foundation Day (October 3), Hangeul Day (October 9), Christmas (December 25)
Salary & Taxes
All teachers working in Korea pay income taxes. It is your employer’s responsibility to file taxes on your behalf, and it will be automatically deducted from your monthly pay check. The income tax rate will vary depending on your salary, but it is typically between 3.5%~7%.
Also, all foreigners working in Korea must be enrolled into national health insurance. Your employer will pay for half of your health insurance, and you will be required to pay for the other half (3.5%) which will be automatically deducted from your monthly pay check.
Similarly, your employer will pay for half of your national pension, and you will be required to pay for the other half (4.5%) which will be automatically deducted from your monthly pay check. Thankfully, Americans, Australians and Canadians will get their pension payments reimbursed when leaving Korea at the end of their contracts. South Africans do not pay into the national pension plan at all. Unfortunately, New Zealand, British and Irish teachers do not receive reimbursement unless they have worked in Korea for 10 or more years. Some schools may be able to bypass paying into the pension plan.