South Korea is one of the most popular places in the world to teach English as a foreign language. For a country so relatively small, every year, instructors come over in their masses to offer a hand teaching English and for good reason, too. South Korea has long been regarded as one of the best countries in the world for English teachers- especially those looking to make bank. That’s not to say that money is the only reason to teach English in Korea, though. Not at all! Keep reading to find out why so many young people are moving to this small Asian country for a life full of opportunities.
You Can Be a Millionaire…
…. in Korean won! Newbie English teachers can expect a starting salary of millions of won, and most schools offer perks like an apartment and airfare. The cost of living for English teachers in Korea is fairly low, so most find that they are able to save around half of their wages each month. Over the course of a year, you easily could accumulate enough money to put a deposit down on a property, travel long term, pay off student loans or even do a Master’s at university.
It’s one of the Safest Countries in the World
For first time expats, Korea is a great place to dip your toes into life abroad. The country is renowned for being safe and most expats feel like they can walk the streets with ease, even late at night. Of course, bad things can happen anywhere so you should always exercise caution in Korea but still, you can sleep easy at night knowing that you’re living in a culture whose central values focus on honesty and treating others well.
It’s Easy to Travel to Other Asian Countries
English teachers in Korea are free to jet off over summer and winter breaks as well as Korean public holidays. The length of your holiday really depends on your school: most private school teachers get a week while public school teachers usually get two. In this time, it’s easy to jet off to surrounding countries like China, Japan and Taiwan or even go further afield to tropical destinations like The Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam! Air Asia operates in South Korea along with a variety of other budget airlines so you don’t need to spend too much of your savings to explore the continent.
There’s a Huge Expat Community
There is a massive demand for English teachers in Korea – take a walk down any street in any city and you’ll be sure to see at least one private English school! In addition to plentiful jobs, this also means that there are lots of other expats to meet. So, regardless of whether you choose to live in a huge city like Seoul or a rural town in the countryside, new friends are never far away. Most towns and cities have their own Facebook group for expats, too where people can plan events and connect with one another.
Life is Prearranged for You
From the moment that you step off the plane in South Korea, your life has been arranged for you. All you need to do is slot yourself in!
Rather than worrying about staying in a motel until you can find somewhere to stay and communicating with landlords in a completely foreign language, your school will have set you up with a free apartment kitted out with all the things you need. Your job and visa will already have been arranged before you arrived so you don’t need to worry about any complicated paperwork. Plus, most teachers introduce their replacement to their friends, so you barely even need to worry about finding new people to hang out with. Your life is literally handed to you on a plate with a bit of kimchi on the side!
You Can Learn the Korean Alphabet Quickly and Easily
Korea’s alphabet system, hangeul, is a simple, phonetic system which is easy to learn. Each character corresponds to a sound, meaning you just need to memorise it to be able to read things like bus timetables and menus. New expats in China have a hard time trying to decipher Chinese writing because there are thousands of characters, all with different meanings. But, Korean has just 24 which you could even learn in one day!
Travel Around the Country on the Weekend
Because Korea is such a small country, you can easily travel to other cities at the weekend. Outdoor activities are in abundance in Korea with multiple national parks to choose from. If you love hiking, you’ll be spoiled by Korea as over 70% of the country is actually mountains!
But there’s much more to Korea than just its mountains: this is the place to see vibrant cities, beautiful beaches, historical villages and secluded islands. Since Korea is so small, it’s easy to travel anywhere in the country in less than 5 hours, meaning you can easily take trips on the weekend. The 2 largest cities, Seoul and Busan, are at opposite ends of the country but only take 3 hours to travel between by high-speed train! No matter where you want to go, the public transport is cheap, safe and comfortable, making travelling easy!
Life is Easy and Convenient
There’s a reason why English teachers end up spending much longer than planned in Korea: life is easy! Most teachers get ample time to plan for their lessons and enjoy stress-free working conditions. Outside of the classroom, teachers have few responsibilities or bills to pay, meaning they can spend their time doing whatever they want to do. As well as this, with such few overheads, it’s easy to eat out at restaurants a few times a week, travel or party every weekend and still have enough money leftover to save! There are few places in the world where you can enjoy such a high standard of living at such a young age.
Lots of teachers leave Korea and get a bit of reverse culture shock. One of the main reasons for this is because they’re so used to the convenience of Korea. After living there, you’ll complain that you have to walk for 10 minutes to find a convenience store when you’ve been used to there being one on every street! You’ll wonder why things shut at 10 pm when you’re used to almost everything operating for 24 hours. You’ll be especially dumbfounded at the lack of take out choice when you’ve been used to getting anything you like delivered to your door in record time!
There are a lot of reasons why teachers decide to live in Korea and I think it’s easy to understand why. Who wouldn’t want to live in one of the most technologically advanced countries in the world, have an extremely comfortable life, learn a new language and save money at the same time? For millennials today, the benefits of teaching English in Korea are difficult to resist!
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About the Author
Hailing from Scotland, Nicole is an eternal expat addicted to travelling and eating spicy food. After spending 3 years teaching English in South Korea, she’s now on an indefinite journey through Latin America. She spends most of her days hunting out the best coffee and strongest WiFi but will never turn down the offer to hike a volcano or find a hidden beach. You can follow her blog, Wee Gypsy Girl, where she writes about all her international adventures! You can also find her Instagram or Facebook.