FAQs PDF Print E-mail
Jan 07, 2017 at 12:00 AM

Frequently Asked Questions 

1. Is my experience in Korea going to be perfect? 

No. And anyone who tells you they can make it so is either lying or a fool. But what we can and do promise you is that a) we do not deal with schools that are not completely fair with their teachers, and b) we will be here to support and assist you throughout your entire stay in Korea. There is no bull and no hype with www.TeachEnglishInKorea.org. [a.k.a.: T.E.I.K.] We tell you the straight facts and nothing else. We would rather bring over 10 teachers who knew EXACTLY what kind of job they were signing on for and were very happy because they got EXACTLY what they expected, than bring over 100 teachers who were disappointed and disenchanted with Korea and T.E.I.K. because they were fed a bunch of hype about their job/school. 

2. Can I teach English with a 2-year technical degree? 

No. Korean law states that teachers MUST hold a 4-year university or college degree. On the degree must be the words “Bachelor of (education, english, history & etc.)”; 2-year technical degrees, 2-year nursing degrees, and other specialized course certificates do not qualify. 

3. What benefits will TEFL / TESOL certificate bring me?  

For normal, private school positions in South Korea, specialized training in teaching English as a second language, while usually not effecting salary, is a definite advantage on an applicant’s resume and will place him or her far above those without any teacher-training, generally enabling them to find work far easier. However, when it comes to public school and government positions, TEFL, TESOL, CELTA or any other kind of formal teacher education is almost always a requirement, and unless teachers have a significant number of years of experience teaching ESL in South Korea, they will not even be considered. At T.E.I.K., we strongly encourage anyone considering coming to teach ESL in South Korea to invest in some form of teacher training, either in person or by online education. 

4. How much should I pay T.E.I.K. for helping me find a job and preparing me to come to South Korea? 

Absolutely nothing! Many recruiters charge their teachers money or a portion of their salary or benefits, but this will NEVER happen with T.E.I.K. You pay us nothing for placing you with a great public or private school. 

5. What everyday living items will I need to bring with me to South Korea? 

Despite what you may think or may have heard, South Korea is highly developed and has the 12th largest economy in the world. Aside from western supermarket food, anything that you need for daily living can be found without too much trouble. Quite a few black-market stores operate here and sell items and food they acquire from the US army bases, so certain things will be very easy to find, though you may have to pay a little more than you would normally expect. One thing that is hard to find out here though is under-arm deodorant. Koreans generally do not sweat as much as foreigners and so it can be difficult, though not impossible, to find. 

6. Will I need any vaccinations before coming to South Korea?  

Vaccinations (For more info visit: http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/destinationSouthKorea.aspx) Korean government regulations do not require any vaccinations of travelers except for those arriving from a plague, yellow fever or cholera-infected area. Some physicians recommend vaccinations against such diseases as hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, typhus, cholera and polio. A physician should be consulted before deciding whether or not to obtain these or any other vaccinations before coming. The following vaccinations are recommended by Dr. John Linton, MD, a U.S. Board certified physician at the Yonsei University College of Medicine and Director of the International Health Care Center in Seoul, South Korea:  

6.1 Very Important:  

Diphtheria, Tetanus: Updated every 10 years with a single booster. If not updated in the last ten years, it is necessary to start the series over. It is VERY IMPORTANT to do this before leaving the U.S., as reliable serum is in short supply in Korea.  

Hepatitis B: Three shots over three months (1 month interval between the first two). A booster every five years should be administered. Hepatitis B is common in Korea. ETAs should try to receive as many of the shots as possible before leaving the U.S. The series can be completed in Korea.  

Influenza: Annually. Available in Korea.  

6.2 Sometimes Recommended:  

Hepatitis A: A new vaccine does exist and has been approved in Europe. It is available in Asia, and some doctors recommend it for foreigners living in Asia.  

Japanese Encephalitis: Two shots, separated by one or two weeks with a booster every three years. This disease exists in Korea although it is extremely unlikely that a foreigner will contract it. Since the consequences are serious, immunization is sometimes recommended. It is possible to be vaccinated after an epidemic is reported.  

6.3 Vaccinations Not Considered Important For Korea:

Typhoid- Cholera- Pneumonia All of these can be obtained in Korea in the unlikely event that there is an outbreak of the disease. Although it is best to obtain vaccinations before departure, most vaccinations are readily obtainable in Korea. To avoid unnecessary discomfort while traveling, it is recommended that vaccinations obtained be completed at least one week prior to departure.  Also, those planning to travel outside of Korea during their stay should check the health recommendations for those countries. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States provides this information. 

7. What are the living accommodations like?  

All standard contracts in Korea include semi-furnished accommodations paid by the employer. This is usually in the form of a studio or one-bedroom apartment, may be private or shared with another teacher and is usually within walking distance of the place of employment. If the accommodations are shared, each teacher will have his/her own bedroom with the kitchen, bathrooms and other living space being shared with one or more other teachers.  The living quarters are always semi-furnished and usually supplied with items normally required for daily living in Korea; a fridge and gas range, washing machine, TV, fan, table and chairs, telephone, bed, wardrobe and basic kitchen items such as pots, utensils etc. Teachers may also be provided with a VCR, air-conditioner, desks, sofa and personal bedding, but this is not a rule. Visit our Contracts section for detailed information on general contract terms and conditions in Korea. 

8. How much are the utilities?  

Though schools provide furnished apartments, the utilities are the responsibility of the teacher. Utilities include gas, water, electricity, phone, cable and internet. Gas, water and electricity together range from a total of $40-$70 USD per month, depending on usage and the season (in winter the gas bill is higher because of heating). Phone depends on usage of course, while basic cable is very cheap, under $10 USD in most locations. High-speed cable internet varies by company, usually between $35 and $45 USD per month. Installation is free. 

9. What is cost of living like in South Korea?  

Generally, the cost of living in Korea is much lower than most Western countries. Here is a short list of some common everyday goods and services (1000 won roughly = $1 US):-  

*1 liter of milk: 1200 won

*12 eggs: 1500 won

*bus fare: normal - 850 won

*express - 1400 won

*subway: 800 won

*taxi basic fare: 1900 won

*a movie ticket: 8000 won

*a bottled beer in a bar: 5000 won

*beer bottled from a store: 1300 won

*a bottle of soju (Korean vodka) in a restaurant 4,000 won

*a bottle of soju in a supermarket 1,200 won

*dry cleaning a collared shirt: 2000 won

*a standard load at the Laundromat: 5000 won

*basic Korean meal (rice, soup and side dish): 5000 won*Korean meat dinner (for one): 6000-25000 won

*one month utilities in a small apartment: 15000-70000 won.

10. How much money will I need to get me by until my first payday?  

You should not need more than 500,000 KRW to tide you over until your first payday, unless you plan to do a lot of going out and site-seeing. However, should you run low of funds, most school directors will be happy to give you an advance on your first month's pay. 

11. Do I need to worry about crime in South Korea?  

Although the crime rate in the Republic of Korea is very low compared to most western countries, in major metropolitan areas, such as Seoul and Pusan, there is a higher incidence of pick-pocketing, purse snatching, assaults, hotel room burglaries, and residential crime, and foreigners can be targeted.  Travelers should exercise caution when traveling alone at night and should use only legitimate taxis or public transportation, such as subway or bus service. As when in any foreign country, travelers should always stay alert, be aware of their surroundings and exercise caution. Travelers may reduce the likelihood of encountering incidents of crime by exercising the same type of security precautions they would take when visiting any large city in the United States.  The emergency number to reach the police anywhere in South Korea is 112. English interpreters may be available. Dial 1330 on any public phone for English service or for emergency, police, fire department & ambulance. 

12. Will it be easy to get in touch with other foreign teachers once I am over there? 

You bet! If you are in any populated area of Korea, meeting another foreigner is just as easy as walking down the street. Whatever city you are working in, just go to the downtown area on a weekend afternoon and walk around for a while and you will be sure to meet other foreigners going about their daily grind. And don't be shy about approaching another foreigner on the street! Everyone has been new at some point and most are more than willing to give new-comers info on where the teacher hangouts are, where the good shopping is, etc. If all else fails, remember that you are part of the T.E.I.K. family, and we will be happy to help you make connections with other adventurers just like yourself. 

13. Will I have access to the Internet in South Korea? 

South Korea is probably the most Internet accessible nation in the world. Internet cafes (called PC Bangs in Korea…bang in Korean means room) are literally everywhere. Internet is extremely cheap; usually about 1000 - 2000 won/hour ($1-$2 USD), and the computers are usually state of the art, capable of playing the latest games, and have speakers or headsets for your use. 

14. Will it be easy for me to remain in contact with family and friends back home?  

Extremely easy: As stated above, Internet is easily accessible throughout Korea (highest dsl cable density in the world, 70% of Korean households have dsl cable or higher), and if your family and friends are accessible by Internet, you then can remain in constant via email, online chatting or even voice chat (all for free), using programs such as Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, Google Talk or even just Windows Messenger. For those whose friends and family are not Internet savvy/accessible, Skype is a great and very cheap way to make PC to Phone calls, usually about 2 cents per minute to a land line, more if calling to a cell phone. With Skype, PC to PC calls are also free.  For those who prefer to remain in contact by phone, international calling cards are very easy find at many convenience stores and newspaper stands, and give great rates. The best calling cards are available at COSTCO stores in Korea; 69 won/minute to Canada/USA, 79 won/minute to Australia, 89 won/minute to New Zealand and 120 won/minute to the United Kingdom.

DO NOT USE NORMAL INTERNATIONAL CALLING! Korean international phone rates are incredibly high, sometimes 20-30 times the rate of a calling card.  Another option for those who plan to get a cell phone and who make a large amount of calls overseas every month is a Korean phone service called OnePricePhone. Subscribers can make unlimited calls from their cell phone to participating overseas countries for only 10,000 KRW per month. The website is only in Korean so teachers will need assistance from a Korean friend or co-worker to set it up. For those who enjoy the personal touch of a hand-written letter, or who wish to send parcels or gifts at Christmas time, the Korean Postal Service is extremely reliable and very cheap. Letters usually take about 10 days to reach North America, while packages will take longer depending on the season. 

15. My friend (spouse, significant other) and I are thinking about going to South Korea together. It is possible to get jobs close to each other or at the same school?  

There are plenty of couple-positions available in Korea, though their frequency is less than single positions. Couple positions will be a one bedroom instead of a studio normally. If it is two friends then there usually will be single or shared housing in a two bedroom unit. Also, in couple situations, accommodations can be a factor, as double apartments are harder to find than single accommodations. If you and your partner are set on shared accommodations, then that may extend the job search, but if you are flexible, it will make things much easier. Regardless, if you are patient, we can find you what you are looking for. 

16. What is the dress-code for teachers at schools?  

Every school is a little different in how they require their teachers to dress, but none require formal attire. Casual pants and a shirt for men and pants or a long skirt or dress with a blouse for women is common classroom attire. T-shirts are usually not allowed, but most often jeans are as long as they are not ripped or torn. Teachers should be sure to check with their school before arriving to be sure. Koreans are a little more conservative than westerners when it comes to fashion and Koreans tend to dress smartly. 

17. Will it be a problem if I decide that I can't go at the last minute? 

Definitely. By this time in the hiring process you have already signed your contract and are about to jump on the plane and head out to South Korea, and you are probably scheduled to begin classes in two or three days. To this point, the school, based on your promise to come out (the signed contract), would have already purchased your airplane ticket, rented your apartment, and accepted student fees for the upcoming education session. Canceling at this point could very well prove devastating for the school...they (and the students) expect a teacher to be in class to teach them within just a few days. If a teacher backs out at this point, the school has absolutely no way to get a replacement teacher before their classes are due to start, which means that they would have to refund all the students' fees.  

In this highly competitive environment of English education, the sheer number of schools out there means that students will not wait for a school to find a replacement teacher when they can literally just walk down the block to the next school and begin classes there. And those students will probably never come back. If you are considering coming out to South Korea, think long and hard about the commitment that you are making. Make sure that this is what you want to do, and stick by your promise after you sign the contract. School owners invest a lot in a person that they have never met because they have no choice. Their competition has a foreign teacher, and so then must they if they wish to attract students. But if that teacher backs out on their promise at the last minute, the school has absolutely no protection against the financial backlash that will unavoidably result.  If, for whatever reason, a teacher has no choice but to reverse their decision to come, they must do the responsible thing and let us at T.E.I.K. or their employer know directly as soon as they can so that preparations to hire another teacher can begin as soon as possible. 

18. What if I don't like my job or the school I am at? Can I just leave? 

 99% of teachers immediately love the country, the food, the culture and the rush of a new adventure, but there is that 1% that, for whatever reason, be it culture shock, home sickness or personal problems, do have a rough time fitting in. Every teacher should wait at least 12 weeks before they consider giving their 30-days notice to quit to their employer.  

18.1 There are two reasons for this:  

a) To give yourself a chance to settle in: Coming to a new country where the language, culture, food and everyday lifestyle is vastly different from what you are used to is definitely unsettling to even the most seasoned traveler. Sometimes new-comers can be overwhelmed by it all, so be sure to allow yourself time to settle in and get used to the changes before you make any rash decisions.  

b) To give the school time to get something back on their investment in you: You have made a promise to the school to come out and give it your best shot. They have invested considerable time and money and deserve at minimum a valiant effort from anyone they bring out. They also deserve the chance to find a replacement teacher so that their students and business do not suffer.  If you are having a tough time getting used to things, do not be afraid to tell us at T.E.I.K.

We have been through it all before and know just how to help. If, after 3 months, you staunchly believe you are unable to continue, give your 30-days notice. By this time you will have made an honest effort at it, and the school will have enough time to find a replacement teacher. Regardless, T.E.I.K. is always here for you throughout your contract to provide mentoring and counseling on absolutely any issue or problem. There is no problem that we have not experienced first-hand and we know exactly how to address any issues or problems that may arise. Be sure to let us know as soon as you are experiencing any discomfort, no matter how small. You won’t be disappointed. 


Please note that you will be required to pay back the money for your one-way airline ticket (around $1000) to your employer if you do not complete the first 6 months of your 12 month contract. This is clearly stated in the employment contract and in the terms & conditions of T.E.I.K. user agreement. 

19. Can I get a second job or teach privately to make more money? 

Getting a Second Job: Teachers are permitted to take on additional employment at other schools under the condition that they have written permission from their employer.  

Teaching Private Lessons: While many full-time English instructors teach part-time in businesses or homes, private instruction is illegal in South Korea and is not permitted even if the instructor has the permission of their employer. Teachers that are caught working other jobs without prior consent of their contract employer or teaching privately outside the bounds of their contract and work visa will face fines and deportation and will not be permitted to leave Korea until they have paid the required amount.  

Immigration authorities will insist that those who do not have sufficient funds to pay their fines arrange for money to be sent from home, and violators will be held in jail until the funds arrive. When considering second jobs or private teaching, instructors must make sure they know the law and understand that they are taking a serious risk if they choose to teach outside the bounds of their contract and work visa. You can think of it like this, if you teach piano lessons in the United States and you do not pay taxes on the income it is illegal, same as in Korea. 

Most English teachers do teach private classes, so I suggest that you wait 2-3 months after arriving in Korea before you pick up any private classes after you have had time to adjust to ‘Korea life’ and have been able to feel comfortable with teaching. Then after that, start asking your fellow English teachers about their private classes, how they got them, how they are paid and etc; then make your own educated decision as to if you wish to pick up private classes. 

20. If I have problems at my school, who can I contact to get help?  

Throughout your entire contract, T.E.I.K. will continue to be available to you via Internet, email, telephone or even in person for advice and counseling on any issues, concerns or problems that may arise. It should be noted that normal work related issues such as work schedules, holiday time, working conditions, problem students or personality conflicts with students or staff are all employment issues and should first be addressed directly within the school, either with school management or the owners themselves.  As employment agents, it is not our place to become involved in the day-to-day issues of the school, and school owners and management frown upon our involvement in these matters. However, we are always here to advise you on such matters and help you to settle these issues yourself, and can advise you what options you have if problems become more serious. And of course, if questions or concerns arise concerning any other issue such as your pay, legal status within Korea or the terms and conditions of your contract, we are always here to help you out and make sure that you are being treated fairly and in accordance with Korean law. 

21. How should I do my banking? After arriving in Korea ask one of the Korean English teachers or your Director to take you to the bank and help you set up a savings account with an ATM card.

I suggest Shinhan or Kookmin bank because they are large and are all over Korea. You can then deposit your pay into the account every month and then use your ATM card to pull out cash when ever you need it. You can also then wire transfer money back home to your American bank and use Internet banking to pay your bills back in America. If you have student loans or any other recurring bill, have the bill make an automatic with-drawl from your American checking/savings account and transfer money from Korea to your American bank account. Another method is to open a CitiBank account in America and then when you get to Korea open a CitiBank account at the CitiBank in Seoul. This will allow you to transfer funds between accounts. 

22. What should I pack for my one year trip to Korea? 

Bring a WARM winter jacket (but in general clothing is much cheaper here-go to Itaewon for western clothing and western sizes). If your feet are over size 9 for men, I would bring a few pairs of shoes and most women & if they are a size 7 or bigger you will want to bring more clothing because unless you go to Itaewon, you may have trouble finding clothing that you like that fits you well. Most department stores (LG, Hyundai, Shinsaegae have mostly small sizes (sizes 0-7). Bring clothing for strong 4 seasons, but try to pack lightly because shopping here is great. Bring underwear & bras-Korean women have narrower shoulders and smaller chests than western women, so stock up at Victoria’s Secret before you go. Bring a couple towels for showers (the ones here are hand towel sized). 


Bring a year's supply. It can be found here if you search hard enough, but you'll pay a premium ($5-6 bucks a stick).Bring your favorite cologne--it'll be expensive here (or buy a bottle duty free on your way to Korea) Bring your favorite toothpaste, I bought a 3 pack of Crest that lasted me a year from COSTCO, also they have several COSTCO stores in Seoul now. Bring bars of soap & shampoo if you really need a certain brand, but Korean stuff works fine. If you are used to your OWN brand of anything, bring loads of it! Bring lots of bras are difficult to find C or D cup or well fitting bras for western women)  Good, moderately priced shampoo in Korea- Elastine/Kerasys/Mise'en scene brands are good as well as Shiseido (Aquair).They have many higher-priced/luxury hair product lines. The Body Shop has many stores in Seoul. L'Occitane and Lush have stores in Seoul as well Neutrogena, Nivea, Clean and Clear products are also widely available. You can find lots of products and different types of food not in dept. stores on the Namdaemun & black markets on the street behind Shinsegae (main store-near MyungDong). Make a friend that’s in the Army on post and they can get you any American product that you need.  


Plug converters can be found here for cheap, but you might want to bring a couple with you to get started. Leave the cell phone (hand phone in Konglish) at home; you can ask your school director to set up a phone for you and pay them a $200 deposit and they’ll set you up with a phone that your friends back home can’t get for another two years.  Bring a laptop from home; it will be your entertainment center thanks to the internet; you can buy a laptop here, but Windows will be in Korean, unless you go to Yongsan technomart (it’s a huge 4 story building that sells every electronic device on the cheap and near it you can buy software in English, but it is recommended to bring your software with you.)  Set up a Skype Account or Windows Live Messenger/Yahoo! Messenger to call home from PC to landline for dirt cheap or you can call PC to PC for free with good quality connections or you can go to Itaewon in front of the Hamilton Hotel and buy phone cards for $20 bucks that will let you call home for 10 hours from a cell to cell phone and about 15 hours for land line to land line phones.  

22.3 FOOD 

Bring spices from back home and packages of spices (taco seasoning, & etc) bring your Bisquick and maple syrup and other favorite stuff or have Mom send you care packages. 


Bring Nyquil & Dayquil or what ever cold medicine that you like with you to Korea. I prefer the original and not the reconstituted stuff. Actifed is also good. Bring diarrhea medicine as well because it happens to everyone when you start eating different foods and are traveling. Bring any allergy medicine that you normally take. If you are diabetic then bring a years supply or medication and you can get a note from your doctor to be able to purchase it and to get it through customs. If you are into weigh training bring your No2, Ce2, Dhea, protein powders & etc because you will not find it in Korea


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Last Updated ( Jan 06, 2017 at 06:57 PM )