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What are the best hagwons in Korea? Or maybe you are wondering where the greenlist is? Have you read some of the horror stories about teaching English in South Korea? You don't want to end up on a blacklist somewhere right?

I get it I was there once.

I taught in Korea for 3.5 years after Taiwan and before China.

Do you want to know the truth?

I got to say that there is no "best" across the board. I know you probably want a simple answer, but it's not that simple and it's not that clear cut. 

I saw some TESOL course provider out there wrote some article on "the best" hagwons in Korea, but YBM, Chungdamn and Avalon are some of the "most popular". And I've been to branches of all three of those in Korea. 

But the "most popular" is not the best. Well, it could be for you, but think about McDonald's for a moment because it's served BILLIONS.

There are a few reasons why you probably won't find "the best" hagwon, but towards the end of this article I'll give you some advice for finding a good or at least decent hagwon.


Not trying to be Debbie Downer, but here's why you probably won't find the "best" hagwon in Korea

The best hagwon jobs are going to spread by word of mouth in Korea and less likely online. Teachers tend to work in those positions for a looong time. So when someone leaves they usually refer a friend to the position, so the school never has to advertise.

The other thing is you probably don't have experience. Most schools prefer teachers with experience and especially experience teaching in Korea.

But what about the companies???


So what are the "best" hagwons to work for in Korea?

The key to remember is that you have judge the hogwan or chain on an individual basis because they are run by different people. 

Do you want to teach in Seoul? Busan

There are many hagwons in Korea and most of them are hagwon chains. These are chain schools just like chains in your country. In the USA we have chains called Target, Pizza Hut, Ace Hardware, etc.

In Korea some of the biggest hagwon chains are called YBM, Pagoda, G'n'B, etc.

Don't assume any one chain is better than the other.

People have different experiences and all those chains are run by different people.

What about green or blacklists?

You can look at those things, but they aren't very reliable if you ask me.

Here's why:

  • You don't know who wrote the review.
  • You don't know the whole situation.
  • Maybe the teacher wrote it in an emotional state and exaggerated it.
  • Maybe the school wrote it pretending to be a teacher.
  • Maybe a competitor wrote it.

Maybe it's 100% true, but how do you know?

I read this statistic that said 30% of all online reviews are fake and here is a TEFL course review site that is totally fake.

Hagwons change hands and what was a bad hagwon last year might be a great one this year. The same can happen the other way around.

Are hagwons really that bad?

No, it depends. There are thousands of hagwons in Korea. They tend to vary as businesses do. Learn more about hagwons vs. public schools.

So if blacklists and greenlists don't work then what do you do?

Do you want to know the secret to finding a good job in a hagwon (that only experienced teachers know)?

Here it is...

How to get a good hagwon?

A far more reliable way to find a good job is by communicating with the foreign teachers who are working there in the school that you are applying to.

The real greenlist is a list of questions you ask the school.

But something you want to keep in mind is even if you find a decent-good hagwon it's not going to be the end of your problems. Teaching can be hard.

"Hagwon owners have complained about the challenge in finding truly qualified teachers. - source

Here's a couple resources that aren't free but will help you prepare or get more qualified.

  1. How to kill it teaching English in a hagwon in Korea (less than $20 for a list of questions to finding a good hagwon + a quick start guide to teaching in Korea).
  2. Take this course (if you really want to have a good experience in Korea).


Do you want to have a good experience teaching in a hagwon?

  • I can teach you how to avoid a bad hagwon
  • I can teach you how to find a good hagwon and...
  • Most importantly I can teach you how to teach English in a hagwon

If you get a full time job teaching in a hagwon then you will be spending about 33% of your time at work (unless you're lucky, 33% sleeping (unless you're a superhuman) and then 33% of your time doing other stuff.

If you don't know what you are doing in the classroom you are unlikely to enjoy your work. It can be stressful teaching in a hagwon.

This course is especially focused on teaching mostly children in Korea (who you'll probably be teaching) and it will make you feel more clear and confident in that classroom.