9 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known About EPIK

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English Program in Korea EPIK What I wish I known

We constantly have people contacting us, asking for information about EPIK (English Program in Korea). In order to answer the most commonly asked questions, debunk some myths and share our very personal insights, we have put together a list of things we wish we would have known during the application process.

I will start by saying that this article might seem to have a negative tone. It is not our intention to discourage people from applying to EPIK or considering South Korea as a place to teach English. There are so many fabulous things about this country and perks to this job. Umm, we saved $22,000 each in just one year! That’s a huge perk! 

If you want to see just how great it can be, watch our award-winning EPIK Life video that shares about life as a teacher in South Korea

Coming to Korea to teach English was such a good decision for both Ben and myself. That being said, there were a lot of things we didn’t know coming into this.

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It is my hope that this blog post can help people considering applying to EPIK weigh both the pros and cons, and make an informed decision. Hopefully after reading this, you will come to Korea much more prepared than we were.

So here it goes… 


If you’re considering teaching overseas, you MUST read this. Most bloggers and TEFL providers don’t like talk about these 13 things, because they’re not fun to hear. 

But taking the leap to teach abroad is a big, life-altering decision, and we think it’s important to know exactly what you’re getting into. The good, the bad, the UGLY. All of it. 

1. Everything Depends

I can’t tell you how many times I heard this dreaded phrase uttered during our week-long orientation. 

To say it was frustrating is a drastic understatement. 

I had given up my life at home and traveled across the world for this job, and they still couldn’t tell me what I should be able to expect? It seemed ridiculous to me that there were still so many unknowns.

Now I know why this phrase kept being repeated. It’s completely true. Your workload, your co-teacher, the number of schools you teach at, and even the distance you live from school can vary. A lot.

Everybody I know teaching English in Korea has completely different situations. Like black and white different. And all shades of gray in between.

I have a pretty good situation here. I teach at one school and live less than a ten minute walk away. My co-teachers are really forward-thinking and allow me to do a lot of what I want in the classroom.

Not everybody’s situation is so pleasant.

Most of my friends in my province teach at more than one school – I know two people who teach at four different schools each week. Additionally, co-teachers can be difficult to work with, or may not even show up to your class at all. You could also be making a rather long commute each day – sometimes more than an hour.

As much as I hate to say it, everything about your situation really just depends. And you won’t know your fate until you’ve signed your contract, packed your bags and have arrived in Korea.

2. Placement is RANDOM

My friends and I like to joke that EPIK put our names on darts and threw them at a map of Korea. I’m sure there is a bit more that goes into it than that, but from what I can tell, not much.

It seems that all of the qualifications and experience you scribble down on your application are not even given a glance.

Take my province for example. One of my friends and I both have experience teaching high school English. We were both placed in elementary schools, while two others in our province who have degrees in elementary education were placed teaching middle and high school. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?

Well, apparently there is some reasoning that goes into it.

One of them was told by another teacher at her school that they chose her because she is pretty

I’ll be the first to break it to you: there are a lot of things that don’t make sense in the Korean education system. Though it certainly isn’t the only country with flaws in this area.

3. You have NO control over your location

For some reason when I was applying, I disregarded this point. 

We sent in our application the very minute the system opened, with our preferred location clearly marked “Seoul”. 

I have two years of teaching experience and Ben has a master’s degree. They will be fighting over us, I convinced myself.

Not the case.

Well, when we finally received an email containing the region in which we would be living for the next year, I saw that Gyeongbuk – a region I had never heard of, was in the line where “Seoul” was supposed to be. Now, four months later, there are many reasons I’m thankful we aren’t living in Seoul, but that doesn’t change my initial disappointment.

If you are very adamant on where you want to live in Korea, this might just be a deal-breaker.

Related: 8 Unique and Fun Things to do in Seoul

4. You really won’t know ANYTHING until you arrive in Korea

I tried to embrace all the unknowns as an adventure, but it’s more difficult than you’d think. Especially when curious family and friends ask all sorts of questions in the months leading up to your departure.

The questions they asked were the same ones I had myself, and when I answered with, “I don’t know,” they seemed to make me freak out more. “How are you moving across the entire world without knowing where you’ll be living or what age you’ll be teaching?!”

Yeah, at that point we were already committed. Jobs were quit. Flights were booked. Contracts were signed. We just had to trust that everything would work out. And it did.

I’m not sure why EPIK doesn’t just give more information a tad earlier than say, the very day you have to meet your principal for the first time, but that’s just the way it is.  

5. Get familiar with “desk warming”

I’m writing this blog post from my school computer. And before that, I was catching up on the news, and before that, browsing Facebook.

It may not sound all that bad, but this is something that I’ve really struggled with getting used to. I value being challenged in my work, and when I’m not, my days drag by.

Again, it depends on your school situation, but I have a lot of free time on my hands. I’m at school eight hours each day, but teach for less than four. The rest of the time is spent lesson planning and doing my own thing.

So depending on how you look at it, you are either getting paid a lot to be able to do whatever you want, or it can be a point of frustration.

6. Applying as a couple makes things tough

It’s not impossible, but it sure does make things harder, and drags out the process quite a bit.

Let me start by saying that if you are applying with a friend or boyfriend/girlfriend, do not count on being placed in the same location.

There’s a pretty good chance you will not be anywhere close to each other. Two sets of people I met at orientation came all the way to Korea together, and found out on the last day of orientation that they would be living hours apart. 

If you are married though, you’re guaranteed to be placed in the same city with shared housing. For some reason though, they insist that finding positions for married couples is difficult, and took longer than the typical applicant to place us.

I’m not quite sure why this is, because other than finding an apartment for us both to live in, our schools have not communicated at all. Not even about making sure our vacation dates coordinate. Which brings me to my next point… 

7. Vacation dates are NOT flexible

This topic is one of the biggest frustrations we have encountered so far.

One of the major reasons I think anyone teaches in a foreign country is to be able to travel. I know that was a huge factor for us.  

Vacation time in Korea works much differently than it does in the United States as well as many other countries. I’ll do my best to give you a basic overview of how the system works in public schools in Korea.

During your contract year, you will get 10 days off in the winter, and 8 days off in the summer  – a good amount of time to be able to explore neighboring countries. 

My school has roughly four weeks off for winter break, but I need to be there at my desk or leading English Camp for two of those weeks. No exceptions. The other two weeks are mine to do with as I wish. Same rules apply for the summer.

So even on days when there are no students, you still have to come into school and sit at your desk. Watch Netflix, take a nap, Skype friends at home, write blog articles – do what you may, but your butt better be warming that chair.  

We are extremely lucky that our vacation time matches up. At first, it looked like we would have different dates, and our schools weren’t overly willing to coordinate them. We finally got our way, but it wasn’t easy.

Another frustrating part is that you can’t just take a day off here or there. It makes it difficult to have visitors (unless you want to stay in Korea during your school breaks, or unless your visitors don’t mind you being at school all day).

Both Ben’s and my parents were hoping to visit us in Korea, but considering we wouldn’t be able to take any days off, we told them not to come. We would feel awful having them make the (long and expensive) journey here if we aren’t able to spend time with them.

8. You can’t use your sick days

Although you are allotted a certain number of sick days in your contract, it is common knowledge that you just don’t take them. Unless you are laying in a hospital bed dying. Seriously, teachers will come to school hacking up a lung and still teach their regular classes.

And if you do decide to take a sick day, expect someone to stop by your apartment and check on you. I’ve heard stories of people staying home hung-over and having their principal make a visit.

9. EPIK is cutting back their numbers

A few years ago, the city we live in had a busload of EPIK teachers arriving each February and August. There was a South African-run bar in town, and from what I’ve heard, the expat scene was buzzing.

Ben and I were two of three new teachers for our intake last August. The South African bar is now closed, and the expat scene here in Gumi is on the decline.

This is a trend across the country as the government has cut back on funding for Native English Teachers.

This doesn’t necessarily mean you will have trouble finding a job. What it does mean though, is that you may be one of the only new teachers in your city. There will likely be other expats who’ve been living there for a while, or those who teach at private schools. But don’t expect a clan of other EPIK teachers living on your block, as you may have found five years ago.

Teaching English isn’t for everyone

No amount of money is worth being miserable. Honestly, we really enjoyed being teachers in Korea. But there are definitely some frustrations to the job (i.e. read #1 – 9!) 

There are many hours you need to be at school without having classes – the beloved “desk warming” time! And sometimes we felt more like “game teachers” than actually being able to do the types of lessons we wanted. When living in a different country, you have to adapt to their culture and you can’t necessarily do everything the way you think it should be done. 

If you are interested in working overseas and saving a ton of money, but teaching just isn’t your thing, don’t worry. There are plenty of ways you can earn money while still being able to experience a culture different from your own. For instance, here’s a breakdown of how to get a job in Australia. It’s quite easy if you know the right steps, and you can save a ton of money if you plan ahead!

I hope this article isn’t too much of a bummer, so I will let you in on some of the good surprises too: 

  1. We are making and saving more money than I expected we would – a huge perk! We were able to save $22,000 USD each in one year!

  2. We’ve made a lot of really good friends.

  3. My students are pretty awesome. They seriously make me smile every day.

  4. There is so much to do and see in Korea, and we’ve been able to travel on many of our weekends. Check out our Korea Bucket List.

  5. Once vacation dates are all sorted out, it is pretty nice to be able to take a 14-day trip in the winter to the Philippines and a 10-day trip in the summer to Bali. (Plus lots of little weekend trips, like our trip to Japan!)

  6. Flights to other countries in Asia are really cheap, making Korea a great hub for exploring!

  7. There quite a few Korean holidays throughout the year (a.k.a. no school).

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Read more about our first months in Korea:

We’ve Got Some Big News – sharing our decision to teach overseas

Why Korea? – some of the reasons we chose to teach in Korea as opposed to other countries

Korean Surprise – EPIK orientation and our first couple weeks in Korea

Korean Struggle – some everyday tasks that have been a big struggle in Korea

Korean Apartment Tour – come on a tour of our Korean apartment

EPIK Life Video Contest Winner – watch a video we created about our life here in Korea

Are you interested in teaching English abroad

Teaching English in South Korea was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. Be sure to check out our Teaching English Abroad homepage for resources on everything you need to know from how to get started to moving abroad. Or you can read some of our favorite articles about teaching English below. 

If you’re planning a trip to South Korea, be sure to check out our Ultimate Guide to South Korea for answers to all of your most burning questions!

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Things to Know About EPIK
Things to Know About EPIK

We want to hear from you!

What do you think about EPIK? Do still have any questions? Comment and we’ll do our best to get back to you!

Comments (43) on “9 Things I Wish I Would’ve Known About EPIK

  1. George_C@gmail.com says:


    I’ve been there many times. The "South African" bar was run by a white South African dude, and his Korean wife. I traveled back to that area after being absent many years, went to go stop in, and thought I had the wrong location, turns out it’s not there anymore.

    Good memories, large ex-pat community, now, not just because of EPIK, it’s virtually gone.

  2. horselover9992@hotmail.com says:

    Hey Ben and Katie! So you mentioned in point 3 that there are a few reasons why you’re happy that you ended up not being placed in Soeul. Could you name a few of them? I’m doing as much research as I can, but it’s alwasy best to hear from people wioth actually experience haha. Thanks for writing and running such and amazing blog!

  3. jjjrok@gmail.com says:

    Hi, there, Ben and Katie. I enjoyed your article about things you wish you’d known about EPIK. I’m an experienced English teacher, but I have a couple of questions I’d like to ask.

    Secondly, I have also taught in hagwons, and found that I was able to cope better than expected with the faster pace. I saved money from these jobs and still have cash in my Korean account. I can point to real successes in class. But I needed to transfer jobs, and ended up coming home to the U.K.
    This week, I applied to several hagwon jobs and got replies like: "Oh, please send your most recent photo." (But I had sent it). And "do you have your apostilled criminal record check?" (YES, I have it, and it was mentioned in the title line of my first e-mail to that recruiter). What’s with these people? Some people now require a teaching video. Any tips? Also, would I now need to actually be physically in Korea to apply for hagwon jobs. Thank you for reading, and I look forward to reading your other articles.

  4. Eileen says:

    Did they pay for your airline fare before you left the states or are you expected to fund yourself until you reach Korea?

  5. sabrinappowell@gmail.com says:


    I was wondering with teaching experience already under my belt. What did you guys feel more comfortable with: working with EPIK or hagwons? I know everyone has different stories but which one would you guys recommend?

  6. roselee says:

    Hi. I was wondering if i would be able to bring my boyfriend without him joining the program. Can he live with me if i join EPIK and he doesnt?

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Roselee, you have to think about his visa in Korea. If you do the program, you’ll have a year-long visa, but he will not. He will have to do visa runs which some countries really frown upon. You’ll also have to check with EPIK if they allow additional people to stay in your apartment, or if your contract is just for one person. I would hate for you to get "caught" and lose your job. Best to check with EPIK.

  7. cesarecarmilla@gmail.com says:

    I know this was awhile ago, but about how many long weekends did you get off? I’m hoping to do a lot of traveling and I feel like so many places are close enough that I’d love to see them! Of course I plan on exploring Korea as well, but I’d like to make it to 2-3 additional countries (outside of teh normal winter and summer vaycays)

  8. holewinskijared@gmail.com says:

    Hello, I am a new EPIK teacher who is leaving for Korea on August 18th and I too got selected for the Gyeonbuk province. I really like this blog as these are all good things for me to know.

    And yea, I have heard the ‘It Depends’ phrase alot in my research into this program. It is kind of stressing me out, while at the same time making me more excited to go. Its a really strange mixture of emotions.

    Do you have any details on what this province is like? Is it really rural? Or is it more suburban, with cities but not in the main drag or downtown areas. Essentially what I am asking is how hard will Gyeonbuk be on a foreigner like myself? I am kind of a suburbanite myself who likes to be able to go to downtown areas occasionally.

    Also how hard is it to get used to teaching in the Korean education system? The only teaching experience I have is the 30 hours I did for my TEFL Course where I taught as a volunteer at LaAmistad and only had four adults in my class. So that, and the two classes I took in college on the subject of teaching English are the only levels of teaching experience I have.

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Jared, believe me, we had the same thoughts when we heard we were in Gyeonbuk, but honestly being placed in Gyeonbuk was the best thing that happened to us in Korea. Yes there are rural spots in Gyeonbook but most placements are in cities. We were placed in Gumi, and we told it was a small city but it was 300,000 people. I think you will always find some thing to do. And as for teaching, the EPIK orientation is pretty good and will get you prepared for your first day. So don’t worry too much. Hope you have a wonderful time in Korea and reach out if you have any other questions.

  9. Dion says:

    Hey there, What an informative blog! My question: I have a degree and a GradDip in TESOL/ TEFL But my major was based around Japanese. Japan is quite hard to get into, so i want to begin my career in Korea until i have enough experience built up. Will i need any Korean language skills in order to get by daily? Going overseas is quite frightening for me, as I’ve never actually been…

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Hey Dion, Great question! You’re definitely fine going to Korea without knowing any of the language ahead of time! (Most people who teach there don’t know any of the language before moving.) In orientation you’ll have a short course on the language, and there are tons of apps and websites that are helpful for learning basic phrases. Korean is actually a very easy language to learn how to read, and it takes some people only a few days (took me longer though!).

      Best of luck!

  10. meganhardman@hotmail.co.uk says:

    HI. I have experience in teaching and was wondering if this was dependent on having a degree?

    • hello@twowanderingsoles.com says:

      Hey Megan. You can apply for EPIK without having a degree, but I think they take that heavily into consideration when hiring teachers. Everyone we knew in EPIK had a degree. You could apply to teach at the private school (hagwon) because they have less strict requirements.

  11. clickit725@gmail.com says:

    Glad I’m reading this before applying!!
    Do you know why it’s necessary to be at the school for the entire school day, at times when you’re not teaching? Do they truly think it will always take 1 hour of prep for a 1 hour lesson? I mean, maybe for the first month, but after that… Do they have a curriculum or books you can follow?
    Is it ever required to work after-school hours?

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Kayla, these are great questions. “Desk warming” is unfortunately just part of the job. During that time you can either prep for your next classes, work on your own projects, catch up with friends or even sometimes watch Netflix.
      As for a curriculum, it all depends on your school, but you will most likely follow a series of Korean/English text books.
      You typically never have to work after hours. Unless there is a school/teacher get-together, which you’re expected to go to, and you probably won’t be told about it until the day of.
      Hope this helps. Let us know if you have any more questions!

  12. Veronica says:


    Great blog post! My husband and I are thinking of teaching in south korea, but noticed you mentioned vacation days might not align. What did you two have to do to ensure the days aligned? We want to get some traveling in during our time abroad. Thanks!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Veronica. We would recommend talking to your co-teacher early and often about when you want your vacation time. The tricky thing is your vacation time depends on when you have your English camps. Make sure both your co-teachers know you’re planning on going on vacation, and hopefully they can coordinate your English camps.

  13. Katie says:

    Hi! thank you so much for posting this, this is all soooo true! Actually my sister is currently there and struggling sooo much because of the complications above.

    I have a question… do you know if it’s mandatory for the schools to help you with the taxes? It seems that all the schools my sister’s friends are teaching at are helping them to do their tax on their behalf, yet the school my sister is teaching in doesn’t give a damn about it and told her to sort it out herself, with absolutely no guidance! She called Epik for assistance and they were no help and just told her to ask the unhelpful school or call a korean line that no one ever picks up!

    Have you heard of a situation like this before?? If so, would realllly appreciate some advice! My sister is literally pulling her hair out in stress and disbelief of the unhelpfulness of people around her!

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hi Katie, To give it to you straight, I don’t believe your school is required to help you file taxes (but it would be nice if they did). But don’t worry everything can be figured out. Did your sister file a 8802 form before she arrived in Korea? This is the form gets you the 6166 form which allows you to be exempt from Korean taxes (up to two years in Korea). There is a good explanation of the process on the Waygook site here:


      Let me know of that helps, or if you have any additional questions. We are happy to help.

  14. smaine0521@gmail.com says:

    So I know previous comments have touched on the possibility of married couples living together, even if one is not teaching. How about couples that are not married? My boyfriend and I were talking about the possibility of him staying with me while I teach for EPIK. He would not be teaching and we would not be married – do you know if this is acceptable over there, or would I get in trouble for doing this?

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Sarah, the one thing you have to really consider is the visa situation for your boyfriend. You will get a year long teaching visa but he will have to aquire a working visa somehow or do a tourist visa which only allows you 90 days (if you are a U.S. citizen). EPIK will probably not help you out much for finding the both of you a place (just the one place for you). I can’t exactly remember if the contract says whether or not you can have someone living with you.

      Have you thought about teaching at a hogwan? They tend to be more flexible and you could talk to them before you move to Korea and make sure you have a place lined up in a city you want. Maybe for your situation, a hogwan would be better, but it’s all up to you.

        • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

          Hey Sarah, I apologize for not making that clear earlier.

          EPIK is run by the Korean Government and the Department of Education. It places native English teachers in public schools to teach English during the school day. With EPIK, you can preference your location, but it is ultimately up to EPIK to decide where you will be placed based on the needs of the public schools. Benefits standardized for all teachers and you are paid through your school.

          A Hagwon (this is the correct spelling) is an after school learning center that students attend to get extra practice on their English. Hagwon English teachers typically teach afternoon and evening hours. You have more flexibility in choosing your location in Korea, but you typically have to negotiate your benefits and housing with your Hagwon school. Some Hagwons are really good and some hagwons are not so good and don’t teach their teachers fairly, but for the most part I have heard good things about hagwons.

          There are many Facebook groups that are city specific for hagwons if you know what city you want to teach in. That is a good way to get connected with them.

          Let me know if you would like more explanation or if you have any other questions.

  15. Sherry says:

    Hey there! Thank you so much for this blog post I found it extremely useful! My fiancé (will be husband in 4 months) and I want to go teach in Korea for the 2019 spring term. We are both not in the teaching field and will have to obtain our CELTA or TEFL before applying. Do you think it will be a lot harder for us to get a job in the current EPIK scene as a married couple with no pre-existing teaching experience? I have a Masters degree and he has Bachelors, but we are both science nerds. You mentioned it took you a bit longer to get placed, how long would be considered a longer wait time compared to norm? We also do not have any preference to which part of Korea we get placed as long as we are together.

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Sherry! As long as you have a Bachelors Degree and a TEFL cert, EPIK doesnt care if you are a science nerd 🙂 Ben was an engineer with no previous teaching experience before he became an English teacher in Korea. Getting placed in Korea is like throwing darts on a wall. You may get your placement right away or you may have to wait a while, that’s just how the program operates. To better your chances, besure to apply the earliest you possibly can, especially since you will be a married couple (congrats by the way!). I hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions.

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Technically, I don’t think there would be a problem with him living with you. However, he will have to get a visa that lets him legally stay in Korea. I would check with EPIK to see what they say about that.

  16. Steph says:

    Hi there, really love your blog it was super helpful! I do have one question though, I am planning on applying to teach English in South Korea with a friend of mine for the Spring intake next year. I’m stuck on what we should put as our preferred city/province. I’ve done a lot of research and there seem to be good and bad reviews on every option, I narrowed it down to Gyeonggi, Deagu, Ulsan or Busan. I just wanted to know if our preference really does influence where we stay in any way and if so then could you give a suggestion on what to put down? We don’t mind any of these places we just want to increase our chances of being of being placed together.

    • bwzweber@gmail.com says:

      Hey Steph. When we were applying to Korea, we preference Seoul, but we ended up being placed in Gyongsangbukdo in a city called Gumi. Honestly, I’m happy we were not placed in Seoul. Gumi was a great city to live in and we had lots of other expat friends there too. Out of the ones you listed, we enjoyed Daegu and Busan the best.
      However, one reason why we were placed together in the same city was because we are married. Only married couples are guaranteed to be place together. We knew many dating couples and friends that were placed in the same city, but then others that were placed far apart from each other. Even hours away from each other.
      I hope this helps narrow it down, and I really hope you two get placed in the same city. If it is really a big concern for you two to be in the same city, you may want to look into applying for hogwans (private after school programs). That way you have a choice in which city to live in.

  17. dylan.burney@live.com says:

    I’m planning on applying for the upcoming semester. I have 2 Bachelor Degrees and a CELTA Pass B. However, I have tattoos on my chest and a sleeve on my left arm. I’ve read that Korean Culture really opposes tattoos because they associate them with gang violence; therefore, I will not obtain a job teaching for EPIK. However, I have also read that that is completely false and it’s completely based off your performance in the interview. What is your take on it? Do you think I have anything to worry about?

    • dylan.burney@live.com says:

      Afterthoughts: Obviously I plan on covering them at all times while I am working. I already do that here in the United States. I just wonder if it will affect my chances considering they’re cutting back on the number of teachers they’re hiring for EPIK.

      • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

        In Korean culture, tattoos are a little taboo. There are many younger Koreans that have tattoos and walk around the streets clearly showing them. But the older generation still scoffs at them. I have a small tattoo on my wrist and I wore a watch during class to cover it up. In my interview, I was asked to show my tattoo over Skype for the interviewer to see how appropriate it was and if I was able to cover it up. There are many other EPIK teachers that have tattoos and I don’t think it would hurt your chances of getting accepted by having them. Just know that you will probably have to show them in the interview and sign a contact saying you will always cover them up at school.

        • Dylan says:

          Thank you for your response! I hope it doesn’t ruin my chances. I would love to start my TEFL career with EPIK. I feel like it’s a great way to gain experience and save so you can later go teach where ever you wish.

          I guess I will have to wear a tank top underneath my tie and and button up shirt! But my tattoos are pretty extensive; however, they are very high quality and are memorial tattoos for close family members that have passed. I think I could possibly spin it as a cultural aspect of mine due to their history.

          Anyways, thank you for your response. It makes me feel good to know that there are many other EPIK teachers that have tattoos.

          • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

            It sounds like you’re driven to become an EPIK teacher and if you show that drive to your interviewer, I feel like you have a good chance in getting accepted. Good luck with your interview and let us know if you have any more questions.

          • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

            You certainly aren’t the only one! Some schools aren’t super strict either, so after you have a good relationship with your co-teachers and administration, you may even be able to have some of them showing. Def depends on where in Korea you are placed. Seoul has a very different perception of tattoos than in rural Korea.

            And unfortunately, they won’t care much about the meaning behind it. If the school is strict about tattoos, they’ll want it covered up no matter what it means. (I know from personal experience lol!)

  18. Hope says:

    Really great info! I totally feel you on #2- I did an internship teaching in Korea with my university and we were all placed in 3 different schools. We later found out that a major factor in how the schools chose which teachers they wanted was by looks. That was the first time I truly understood how important looks are for finding jobs in Korea.
    I knew that Korea was cutting back on teachers, but this situation seems to be better than I expected. Personally my ideal situation would be to live in a city with only a few foreigners, haha.

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hey Hope, it’s fun finding people who can relate. There is just so much about the work culture I didn’t understand until moving there, as I’m sure you experienced as well. And yes, I think they planned on cutting more teachers than they actually have. It does seem though that jobs in high schools are increasingly rare. I enjoyed having a community of foreigners in the city we lived in so it was only a 20-minute bus ride to meet up with people for the night or weekend, but really liked the fact that we were the only foreigners in our “suburb” so we had an authentic Korean experience. Our friends live in a town with only 2 other foreigners and the nearest large city is an hour away by bus, which can be inconvenient sometimes, but they’ve really immersed into the culture. I hope you enjoy your time there! We miss it tons!

  19. Will says:

    hi Katie! You have a very informative blog! Thank you!
    I’m wondering when you had sent your complete package to EPIK? I’m also applying for Seoul too and I’m wondering if I am too late by mailing it last week.
    How far did it take to get to Seoul from your city? 🙂

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi Will, I’m so glad this article is helpful to you! Are you applying for the August intake of teachers? I believe the application deadline for the fall intake is May 30th, so you should be fine if you sent your package in last week. Know that the earlier you apply, the better chance you have at getting your desired location. (Not that this means you won’t get your first choice – you very well could get your top preference!)

      Like you, we applied for Seoul. We actually sent in our packages the very first day they were accepted in the beginning of February so we’d have the best chance of getting placed in Seoul. But, to our disappointment, we were placed elsewhere (it is harder to place couples, so this may be part of the reason). I would say that getting placed outside of Seoul was the best thing for us, and would tell you not to be too discouraged if you get placed elsewhere.

      Seoul is a great city and there are lots of pros to being placed there (and I’m sure you know many of them), but some great things about being outside of the capital are:

      -less pollution (Seoul can be very grey and smoggy at times)
      -more opportunities for outdoor activities (there was lots of hiking nearby our town)
      -smaller communities and a more "authentic Korean" experience
      -you’ll see SO much more of the country than most people who get placed in Seoul ever do

      Our city was about 3 hours from Seoul. Korea is super easy to travel by train, so even if you’re at the furthest tip of the country, you’ll still be able to get to Seoul in a day (some towns are more convenient than others for train transport though). I hope this helps!

      Also, we have loads of info here on this site you might find helpful as you prepare to move to the ROK!

      Let us know if you have anymore questions! Good luck and let us know how it goes 🙂

    • ktdieder@gmail.com says:

      Hi La, we created a very detailed article on how we saved $22,000 each in one year teaching English in South Korea.

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