A lot of people have asked us, Why Korea?
Our answer is complicated.
I could tell you that we chose South Korea for its location. Its proximity to Japan, China and Southeast Asia certainly makes it a great hub for traveling.
I could also tell you that we have met countless people who have taught in this country and rave about the culture, the people, the food and the land.
This would also be true.
There are many aspects that factored into our decision to move to South Korea.
One of the biggest reasons, though, is money.
If we were super concerned about adding to our retirement fund, investing in the right places, and building our wealth, frankly, we wouldn’t have quit our steady jobs.
But at this point in our lives we want adventure. That might not be the most responsible priority, but that’s where we’re at right now. We want to make new memories and explore the world.
So here we are, moving across the globe.
Money is a concern of ours though because we have student loans to pay.
Lots of them.
After doing some extensive research, we discovered that without a license, teaching English in most countries is a difficult way to earn money. In fact, you may have a hard time just breaking even.
Once we narrowed down our list to countries in which we’d be actually be able to make money, we were left with China, Japan and you guessed it, South Korea.
One of the biggest perks of teaching English in South Korea is free housing – that’s right, we will be provided with a fully furnished apartment, free of charge!
(It probably won’t be the biggest place, but remember, we lived in hostels for three months, so I think we will be just fine.)
Additionally, we will be reimbursed for our flight to Korea, as well as our return flight home. It may not sound like much, but when you consider it can be upward of $2,000 for a round trip flight, it is definitely a nice perk.
So, factoring in the free housing and flights, we will be making a salary comparable to teachers in the United States.
We will by no means be getting rich, but we will make enough to live comfortably, travel, pay our loans, and save a little!
And that’s just what we need right now.
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.
TEFL Certification: The Complete Guide to Teaching English Abroad
How to Save $22,000 in One Year Teaching English in South Korea
Things I Wish I Would Have Known About Teaching English With EPIK
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!
Comments (8) on “Why Korea?”
Hi! Love the blog- loads of great info! I was wondering what happens when you don’t finish your year long teaching contract?
Hi Jess, I’m glad our blog has been helpful! If you are employed by a public school (through EPIK), and you break a contract, you WON’T receive the following money:
-your pension (about $2,500 USD)
-your return flight allowance (about $1,300)
-your bonus payment (an extra one month’s salary)
Also, if you leave during the first 6 months of your contract you will have to repay the flight allowance for your trip to Korea (about $1,300). I’m not sure all of the specifics of what happens when you break a contract at a hagwon, (I assume it can vary from school to school) but I would think it is similar to public schools.
If you are unhappy, there is always a way to go home (or leave your specific school and look for a new job). We have known people who’ve done it before, but there certainly are some financial consequences (listed above) to consider.
We had one good friend who stuck it out for 6 months so she didn’t have to pay the $1,300 flight allowance, and also so she could give her situation a good shot. But she ended up leaving after that because she wasn’t happy. There isn’t any point staying in a situation that makes you unhappy, after all!
I hope this helps answer your question. Let us know if you need any other info on Korea!
Thanks so much for replying! You answered my question perfectly! I’m looking into ESL teaching, and Korea sounds like a great place to do it, but I’m a little afraid of signing up for something and feeling trapped.
Thanks again for the info! You’ve got yourself a new follower!
Oops, sorry for the late reply, Jess! We did lots of research before choosing a country to teach in, and Korea takes the cake (in our opinion)! The money, the friendly people, the low cost of living and the ease of traveling to other countries in Asia are just a couple reasons I think you’ll love it there! I totally understand the desire to have an "out" of sorts, although I don’t think you’ll need it. It’s just comforting to know that if you’re not loving it, you aren’t stuck. Let us know if you have any other questions on the process – we’s love to help in any way possible! (And I’ll try to write back quicker next time!) Best of luck, and we hope to hear from you soon!
After working for 40
Years or so, government old age pensions AKA social security is very important to many. I often wonder if South Korea, has such pensions. Thank you!
Hi there, Joyce! Yes, we can understand why Social Security is so important. While working in Korea for one year, we did receive a pension from the government that was matched by our school.
When we completed our contract, we were able to withdraw that money. Just another reason teaching overseas for a year (or 2 or 3!) can be a great way to earn money, as well as a wonderful cultural immersion!
Out of curiousity, why did you choose a program rather than apply to jobs on job forums such as tefl.com.
Also how long are you planning to stay there? It sounds like this is a short term thing.
Hi Carly, we chose to go through a program because we wanted to know what we’d be getting into. Some jobs listed on forums can actually be deceiving and may not pay you what they promise, etc. (That said, some people have great experiences.)
EPIK is a well-respected program and provides an orientation where we were able to meet others doing the same thing. Plus, if we were to teach at a private institution in Korea, we would have had evening hours. Being employed by EPIK is the only way to work during the day (which is what we preferred).
And this post is from more than a year ago (when we began our contracts). We lived and taught in South Korea for one year – so it definitely wasn’t short term :)Hope this answers your questions!