My first contracted job in Korea
I flew to Busan, South Korea to teach English for the first time in late 2007. I didn't have a job lined up or anything I just chose Busan as my starting place. I wasn't completely sure that I would stay there at first. I went out to Jinju to look at a job and then just decided to stay in Busan. Americans now get 3 months on a tourist visa. After that you have to leave the country. They will most likely give you another three months upon returning as long as you have a good reason.
Anyways I stayed in a hostel for around 15,000 Won a night in Seomyeon, Busan and I showed up with about $2000 total. After about a month I found a job teaching in a hagwon on Koreabridge. It looked pretty decent as the location and the housing was good. I also talked to the teachers that worked there and they had mostly good things to say about it.
I signed a contract and took a visa run to Fukuoka. Which is the closest place to Korea. It's only 2-3 hours by hydrofoil. I stayed at that job for a full year. At the end of the year I took some time off and did some traveling.
My second contracted job in Korea
In-between jobs and part time work
When I wasn't in a contracted job I worked part time on a tourist visa. Just so you know that's technically illegal and if they catch you they will kick you out of the country. They may not allow you back in for a few years and they could make you pay a fine. I found jobs and worked as a substitute teacher here and there. I found those jobs also on Koreabridge. I stayed in hotel rooms that I rented or in the jimjiban. It's not very easy to find housing in Korea for two reasons.
- Many rentals require key money for deposits. These deposits can be huge and upwards of $100,000 USD
- You're in a foreign country. Many people (especially the landlords) do not speak English.
But you can find housing on Koreabridge as well.
Flying to Korea to find a job
That's how I have done it in Korea, Taiwan and in China. It's how I would recommend it for most places too. However, in Korea it's pretty common to get hired outside of the country since the schools will pay for your airfare. So if you can go this way. But if money is not an issue then there are some benefits to going to Korea to look for a job.
- You get to see the school and meet your potential co-workers in person. This beats a telephone interview any day.
- You're more valuable to them since you are there in person. Which means you can negotiate a better salary/situation than you can over the phone. Since you are already there that makes it better for them as well. They don't have to wait and they don't have to pay for your flight there. Make sure they make it better for you too.
Don't forgot your paperwork
Korea requires a considerable amount of paperwork. Make sure you get that completed before you head over.
So that's how I got my jobs teaching English in Korea
Just about every single job I found in Korea was on Koreabridge. I found full time, part time and substitute positions there. That site is primarily good for Busan, yet it looks like it is expanding. Dave's ESL Cafe is a good one for jobs all over Korea. If you are in Korea you can also go out to the foreign expat bars and ask around. Someone is always heading back home, so there are always jobs.