Before I apply to teach in Korea should I have my TEFL and docs done? (6 Answers)

Get TEFL done and then apply for Korea teaching jobs

Question asked – 

I’m in the middle of my online TEFL program as well as getting my E2 visa documents apostilled. Would it be wiser to get it all done first, before contacting recruiters?

Read 6 Answers

“Why wait? It can take 3-6 months from the time you apply for a teaching job in Korea, until you’ve actually got your boots in the classroom and you’re on hagwon payroll. An online TEFL takes what, 1 month max? Start hitting the apply button now on those language school jobs in Korea… That’s if you plan to go to Korea as soon as you’re done your online TEFL?”

Yes, that’s my plan. Once it’s done, I’m heading over. Nothing keeping me in the States right now. What recruiters would you suggest?

“Before you even read a single job description, just email them and ask if they have any jobs in (your preferred location). For example, if you want to teach in Busan, just send them an email. If they have jobs in Busan, they’ll reply and then you can ask them about the jobs details such as pay, working conditions and benefits. You can research the school later, but most have similar benefits and pay.The idea is for you to control the conversation, not them. It will also allow you to send out many emails fast and the recruiter will know you’re serious about Busan, not any other city where they have jobs.”

I never thought about doing it that way. I’ll give it a go!

“If I were you, in addition to what was said above, just let them know you have a 4 year degree, what country you’re from, and that you have a TEFL and all the required documents nearly ready to go. Many recruiters only want to deal with teachers who have all their paperwork ready. They don’t want to interview you and then find out you haven’t got your stuff prepared. Then they have to follow-up with you months later (which they forget) and you’ve moved on to another recruiter. They want someone they can hire ASAP, because then they get paid.”

“Recruiters are middle men. Even if you have your paperwork done, they’ll string you along until a hagwon is ready to hire you. You can do the same with them. Start applying now. Reach out to a bunch of recruiters, be firm with what location and benefits you want.


How much is the E2 teaching visa medical check up in Korea?

Question asked

Where is the best and perhaps most affordable hospital or clinic in Seoul to get this done and what does it entail?

Read 14 Answers

Korean immigration only designates some hospitals in Korea to carry out this type of foreigner medical check up. If your hagwon doesn’t send you to one of the approved hospitals, your medical check up will be void.  The cost is typically between 60,000 to 80,000 KRW for the medical test. You have to pay for it yourself, so make sure you are going to a hospital that immigration will approve of, other wise you’ve wasted your money.”

“The hospital in Jeju island charges 70,000 won. Ask your hagwon to cover the cost or at least split it with you.”

“My friend paid 70,000 won to have the medical test in Ulsan, while another buddy paid 100,000 won in Incheon. So, it varies by city or by hospital from what I can gather. Just get the medical check up NOT the dental check up, which you may be convinced you need done by the doctor so the hospital can charge you more. The quality of your teeth has no impact on whether you get a visa or not.” Although your students won’t like your bad breath!

“You’ll be tested for illegal drugs, TB, perhaps HIV, and a bunch of other stuff. If you’re on any type of anxiety or depression medication, it’s possible for the test to deliver a false positive. My suggestion is to lay off those meds for a couple of weeks before you take the test, if you are able to.”

“Funny, you mention HIV testing, because the Korean government did away with that testing in early 2016, so it’s not legal to test foreign teachers for it. Although I’m sure some hagwons force you to do it if you want to work for them.” Here’s an article in the Korea Herald about the HIV testing controversy.

“The medical test is to ensure teachers aren’t alcoholics, drug addicts, or have communicable diseases like TB… Although a good many teachers would be classified as alcoholics back home where they live, they pretty much blend in as normal here. Koreans love to binge drink and many foreigners go right along with it, unfortunately. More details about drug testing in this post.”

“Your medical check in Korea must be done within 90 days of arriving in Korea, but expect your hagwon to have you down there right away, because they don’t want to put you on the payroll if you don’t pass the health test.” If you don’t pass, you’ll be deported, but in a good way!

“Will they do a vision check during the med test? I have very weak (almost blind) in my right eye. It’s never set me back, cause I drive and have no issues. I wear strong glasses to make up for it.”

“You’ll pass the check up. They will test both of your eyes one at a time, though. Just be aware of that.  You have nothing to worry about because as it was said above… they are looking for the three diseases mentioned above.”

“In the contract I was sent, it said the health check up was 100,000 won, which also includes payment for the alien registration card. What is the breakout of these two costs?”

“It’s 30,000 won for the ARC card and about 70,000 won for the medical check up. The price for the medical check up is different depending on where you live in Korea and the type of hospital. Usually, only the large hospitals are equipped to handle this type of testing and have to be on Korea Immigration’s list of preferred medical institutions.”

“If it says 100,000 won for both the ARC card and medical check up, then your hagwon must know exactly what the cost is for the health check, then. Too bad they weren’t paying for it… Personally, I think that if you take the medical check up and are not eligible to teach in Korea because you have some type of disease, then YOU pay the costs, but if you are eligible, the school reimburses you for it. Seems only fair since they want you to work for them.”

Do I have to remove my clothes for the health Check?

“For the EKG you do, but women shouldn’t have to take any clothes off except their shirts. They can leave their bra on for the EKG. Just make sure you aren’t wearing any metal, otherwise that will interfere with the testing. And if you’ve got tattoos, but haven’t told your hagwon owner, they may find out from the person who tested you, but this is a confidential health check so, any body markings shouldn’t be disclosed. But this is Korea, so yah, never know….”


About to break my teaching contract in Korea. Whaddaya think?

Question asked

Thinking seriously about quitting my teaching job in Seoul. It’s a decent sized hagwon chain, but I don’t get along with the head teacher. She constantly monitors my classes, berates me in front of my students and tells me I’m not a good instructor.  Although she’s speaking Korean to them most of the time, I feel she’s saying bad things about me, judging from the students’ embarrassed faces. I’ve tried to talk to the Korean hagwon owner about how I feel, but he keeps avoiding me and can’t speak English anyway. I’m just fed up and want to go to a new school, where I’m respected. How hard is it to get a letter of release if I give them 30 days to find a new teacher and then go on a D10 visa and then get hired at another hagwon, who will give me a new E2 visa?

Read 12 Answers

“Even though it appears you don’t like it there and want to escape, you need to resign properly. Does your contract say 30 days or 60 days notice? If it’s 60 (because some are), then give them the two months. If you quit after 30 days notice, good luck getting the LOR. You must have the LOR to get a D10 visa, and you must have a D10 visa and an LOR to transfer your E-2 visa. Catch my drift?”

“Don’t get yourself fired before you resign whatever you do. This is because if you’re fired they don’t have to give you an LOR, which means no D10 visa and no E2 visa transfer to a new hagwon. You’ll likely have to leave the country and wait it out until your are “off the books” of your current hagwon. That could take months as your hagwon has probably played this game before and they’ll stall you for as long as they possibly can. I’ve seen it happen time and time again. It won’t be until they finally release you, that you can apply for a new teaching job in Korea.” How cash have you got saved to cover your costs while you can’t legally work in Korea?

“How many months are you into your current contract?”

I’ve been there for 3 months. It hasn’t been long I know, but I’m fed up. I have friends who talk about how much they enjoy their jobs, and I’m wondering why I was cursed with this one. Just want to get out now. I want to do it the proper way and make sure I get an LOR to avoid all the hassles of having to leave the country and go through the entire application process again with documents and the criminal background and health check.

Was your airfare paid to Korea by your hagwon?”

Yes, it was. Now that I look at my contract it says I must complete 6 months of my contact or I’ll have to pay back the entire reimbursement, which is 900,000 won. Yikes! It also says I must give 60 days notice if I want to quit.

Your best bet is to stick it out for at least 6 months. If you’ve completed 3 months and have to give 2 months notice, that takes you up to 5 months. I’d wait until you you’ve got 4 months of your 12 month contract completed and then give 2 months notice. That will be 6 months and you won’t have to pay back your airfare.

“The only problem with that is the hagwon may decide to fire him at 5 months or just before he completes 6 months if they’ve already found a new teacher. Then NOT only will he be fired, but he won’t get his LOR and can’t transfer his E2 visa to a new job.” Sometimes playing by the rules in Korea backfires.

“I’d just put in my notice now, and forfeit the 900,000 won plane fare. They’re probably going to take it off your last pay-check anyway, since you resigned after 4 months, even though you promised them 60 days notice and would work until the 6 month mark. I wouldn’t trust them to not ding you for that 900,000 won.”

“Yeah, you’re probably right about that. I should just cut my losses, and give them the 60 days right now at the 3 month mark and accept that I could lose the airfare.  I had no idea quitting a hagwon job would be this complicated.”

“Welcome to Korea! I’d just stick it out for 6 months then give your 2 months notice. That will put you at 8 months completed out of the 12 month contract.  You won’t have to pay back your airfare. I have a feeling that if you can stomach 8 months, then you’ll start gunning for 12 months so you can get your severance and return flight paid (if a return flight was also in your contract). See where I’m going with this?”

Lot’s to consider and thanks for your help. I’m more knowledgable but deciding what to do is even tougher now!

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