Whether you like mountains, beaches or just enjoy the city-life, Korea can offer it all! You can travel to Busan in a couple of hours via train and relax on the popular Haeundae beach or take the bus to Seoraksan mountain and hike! With so many sights to see and areas to explore, you’ll have plenty to do in Korea.
South Korea is a relatively small country as it only has 50 million individuals living there with approximately 10 million of its citizens residing in Seoul. South Korea boasts an amazingly efficient transportation system, so combined with the size of the country, it makes traveling around Korea quite easy and affordable.
Here are a few fun facts about South Korea:
- Jeju Island was a finalist for the ‘7 Natural Wonders of the World’ competition. It houses Mt. Hallasan, the tallest mountain in South Korea, Seongsan Ilchulbong (a volcanic crater) and is also quite famous for their Black Pig Barbeque!
- South Korea is considered a technological leader as it’s well known that they have one the fastest internet connections in the world!
- Food delivery is quite popular in South Korea. Fast food places such as McDonald’s can be delivered to your door or you can hang out at the park and have pizza and chicken delivered to you!
- Koreans have a lot of fun themed cafes. For example, they have a racoon café, a Hello Kitty café and even a poop-themed café!
Teach in South Korea
South Korea holds a lot of pride knowing that it has one of the top education systems in the world which is why they continue to put such an emphasis on their studies and school life. As they have such an established ESL market, South Korea has become a popular destination for individuals looking to go abroad and teach ESL for a year! Most beginner teachers/fresh graduates will start teaching ESL at a private academy also known as a hagwon (학원).
South Korean hagwons are after school programs to help develop and strengthen the child’s skills in the subject area where they may need improvement. South Korea has an abundance of English hagwons, but they also offer hagwons in other subjects such as soccer, math, music, etc. Children who are ages 5-16 typically attend these hagwons, so you’ll have a chance to work with a wide variety of students.
Hagwons are not the only place where you can work in South Korea. Many individuals also work with various government education programs, public schools, do free-lance work, or private tutoring.
Compensation & Benefits
Korea is one of the most competitive markets for ESL teaching. As they offer a great compensation package, it becomes a desirable country to travel to for prospective ESL teachers. Depending on the type of school you’re at, beginning ESL teachers can expect to start off making 2.0 million Korean won or more.
A typical package will also include:
- housing assistance (either apartment provided or a housing allowance)
- flight reimbursement
- visa sponsorship
- health insurance (50% covered by school)
- enrollment in the Korean pension plan (employer will match what you put in)
- severance pay which is equivalent up to 1 month’s salary.
Another perk about working in South Korea is that many foreign instructors are subjected to a low tax rate. Teachers can expect that about only 3%-5% of their income will be taxed.
Cost of Living in South Korea
The cost of living in South Korea depends on the area you’re living in. Depending on your lifestyle as well, the range of how much you can expect to spend can vary.
In general, most expats can expect to spend around 1,300,000 KRW ($1,150 USD) or more per month which is based on a simple lifestyle.
The currency unit used in Korea is called ‘Won’ or KRW. It can be easily exchanged for USD or any other major currency.
Language in South Korea
Korean is the most spoken language in South Korea, with varying dialects depending on the region you’re in. The written language of Korea is called Hangul (한글) which is a language system created by Sejong the Great in the 15th Century that is quite easy to learn. Hangul was created to help commoners learn how to read and write and has greatly improved the literacy rate in Korea.
When learning Korean, it’s important to note that Koreans have a hierarchical system, thus speech levels and honorifics must be followed. When meeting someone, you should learn their age/status so that you know how to address them properly. Koreans will have different endings depending on the age and status of the individual they’re speaking with. ‘Jondaemal’ (존댓말) refers to formal language and is used when speaking to someone of a higher rank than you or to an older individual (grandparents, parents). ‘Banmal’ ( 반말) is known as informal language and is used when speaking to someone who is of similar age/status than you or to someone younger than you.