Types of Korean Schools

Private Schools

There are more than 70,000 private school in Korea. Korea spends more per capita on private education than anyone else. Students go to private schools or hagwons everyday after they finish their normal schooling. Sometimes children do not come home until late at night only to get up early the next day to go to their normal schooling. South Korea does not take education lightly.

Private schools are the most abundant kind of job available. Each hagwon is run independently (some are chains run by one big company) and can have it's own rules and atmosphere. Hagwons can have no foreign teachers and only korean teachers, one or a few foreign teachers and some Korean teachers (most common) or all foreign teachers (rare).

Since most of these schools offer classes for children after their normal schooling, they operate from early afternoon until night. Normal working schedules are 1-9PM, 2-10PM or various afternoon hours that change daily. 

Some hagwons also offer classes for kindergarten students. These hagwons have more of a 9 AM start and finish around 5 PM. Teachers have younger students who have not started first grade yet in the monrning and have classes with elementary aged students in the afternoons.

Some hagwons, especially ones for older students and adults, may offer a split schedule. You may work from 6-10AM and again 5-8PM. There is usually a little more money involved with these jobs because the hours are less appealing. 

There is a tremendous amount of variety amoung hagwons. When you are looking at a contract, all hagwons should offer the following.

  • A monthly salary of 1.8-2.5 million (experience, credentials, split shifts and rural schools pay more)

  • Working about 40 hours a week, teaching about 30 hours of that (varies)

  • Compensation for airfare

  • All Korean holidays off of work

  • Some vacation time (5-10 days, school may pick or you might be able to pick days - contract should specify)

  • An apartment or a housing allowance (with a bed - you might have to buy everything else, some apartments are fully furnished)

  • Contract bonus (one extra month of salary, paid upon completion)

  • Pension (They deduct from monthly salary and are supposed to match - worth checking up on a few months into contract)

  • Health Insurance

While most private hagwons are very stable and good places to work, sometimes they go out of business or have bad business and you have to go to the labor board to get paid. It's not a great situation, but it happens on occasion. You can kindly ask the school how many children are enrolled when you interview. Schools with poor enrollment are most liekly to have problems paying their employees.


Public Schools

Public school jobs are harder to get than private school jobs. The government has recently decreased the number of public school jobs, making the pool smaller. There is also more competition for public school jobs because they are more stable and look good on a resume.

The pay for public school jobs is usually a little less than private school jobs and they are more demanding in their hiring process. Candidates are often  required to have an English or related major, have teaching experience, certifications, or other things that make them stand out from the rest. 

Public school jobs require teachers to stay at the school all day long (8:30ish-4ish, it varies by school and area), but typically teach less hours than those at private schools. They have more time for creating lesson plans or other activities. 

The diffrent public school systems are:

EPIK - http://www.epik.go.kr/



University poisitions are the holy grail to many foreigners in Korea. They sometimes require as little as 12-15 hours per week teaching with a few additional office hours. University teachers have no standard working schedule and can have classes whenever their school sets them (usually set on a semester basis). 

University positions are usually paid 1.8 million - 3+ million, with most teachers earning about what public or private teachers earn, but most university jobs do not cover the housing or offer a housing allowance.

There are usually a lot of people who apply to university jobs, so landing one is difficult. While there are no minimum requirements (beyond the public and private standards) for university teachers, most universities have their own standards and will hire accordingly. 

The best chance to get a university position is to network with friends and hear about it before it gets publically posted. Most universities will only hire people who are already in Korea and can interview in person.