My girlfriend will teach with EPIK. Will the school “freak out” if I live with her? (11 Answers)

Living with girlfriend EPIK housing

Question asked –

My partner has been hired to teach English in Korea with the EPIK public school program. We are both Canadians. They have given her an apartment (not sure of the size). I plan to go with her to Korea for a year and we’ll live together.  I don’t have a university degree, so obviously I can’t teach there. Will EPIK object to me living with her in her employer sponsored housing?

Read 11 Answers

“Have your girlfriend check her teaching contract. Does it say anything about sharing the apartment, subletting it, couple teachers, etc? If it doesn’t say anything, I doubt they will care, or have never encountered this type of issue before. Not saying they would approve. Why doesn’t your girlfriend just ask them if it would be okay for you to live with her?”

“I don’t think you have to disclose your living arrangement to EPIK. They might come back and want to charge your girlfriend extra money for you to live there. After all, you are basically living “for free” and EPIK is enabling you to live and possibly teach or work illegally in Korea. You can’t tell me you’ll sit around all day and not earn your keep.”

“Best to tell the school what you’re doing. You can’t keep this a secret for 12 months. Either someone at her school her students, a neighbour, or the landlord of the apartment will eventually find out. EPIK won’t be pleased and she could get (a) fired, (b) asked to pay back part of her salary for having you live there for free in EPIK sponsored apartment, or (c) they kick you and/or your girlfriend out entirely.”

“Sounds like you’re just trying to get free rent from EPIK. Don’t be at deadbeat! Your girlfriend should just tell EPIK and the worst they can say is no. In that case, she tells them that she can’t teach without her boyfriend coming with her. Then let them decide. They may say it’s okay, but want a little rent money from her. Either case be honest about it.”

“Sine you’re Canadian, you can stay 6 months on a tourist visa in Korea. I say go for it. If immigration asks you why you are coming in to Korea, just say you are visiting your Canadian girlfriend, who works in the EPIK public school teaching program in Korea.”

“Be straight up with EPIK. It’s her employer. She’s not getting off on the right foot by hiding YOU for a year in her apartment.”

“Your girlfriend had better be sure she has single housing, not shared with a room-mate. Is she getting a one room or two bedroom apartment? Be certain about this, because if it’s a two bedroom, EPIK may try to give her a room-mate. Maybe not permanently, but for a short time while they are searching for a house for a new teacher. It can happen… even though it may say in her contract she has single housing. Koreans will  bend the rules in contracts, you know.”

“Yes, this is possible. I’ve heard of some EPIK English instructors sharing an apartment. Of course it was a two bedroom and spacious, but shared nonetheless. If you don’t reveal to EPIK that your staying with your girlfriend and they announce she’s getting a teacher room-mate for a few weeks, then what?”

“I don’t think EPIK would have a problem with your living arrangement. They may deduct extra utilities from her monthly pay because of the extra water, electricity and heat you’ll be using, but that’s insignificant. They’ll also tell your girlfriend to keep it a secret, because unmarried people don’t normally live together in Korean culture, and you they don’t want her students to know.”

“You could always say the two of you are married. That would give you justification for living with her. The school would accept that and so would the kids and their parents from an “image” perspective. Although, would you or your partner want to live with that label the entire time you’re in Korea. I’d think that’s a bigger lie than NOT telling the school that you are living there.”

Now might be the perfect time to propose to your girlfriend, no? :)”


Can I teach English In Korea with a 2 year degree? I’m a Gyopo.

Question asked

I’m a Korean American living in Korea. I want to teach English at a hagwon, but don’t have a degree yet. In fact, I’ve only completed two years of my 4 year degree so far. I’ve applied at many hagwons, but don’t even get a response. Should I just lie and say I’ve got a 4 year degree from the US? I don’t need to get an E-2 visa since I’m a Gyopo but on a tourist visa  and could probably transfer to an F4 visa to get a teaching job. Any advice?

Read 10 Answers

“You definitely can’t teach at a hagwon or through EPIK because you need to show a 4 year degree. They’ll most likely ask for it and send it to immigration to get verified. What about the TALK program. It’s a good opportunity for anyone who hasn’t graduated college yet. The only downside is you’ll be shipped to the rural areas outside of the cities… Can you handle country living?  Also, to apply for the TALK program, you’re going to need to do a Criminal background check. That wold need to be processed back in the US. Since you’re already in Korea, I’m not sure how that would work with the fingerprinting and all. There must be a way to do it from Korea.”

“Hagwons are getting smarter and saying you have a university degree to get a job, will lead to the school needing proof of it. What are you going to do next – forge a degree? One lie leads into the next…. I’d apply for the TALK program, or just cut your losses and go home and finish your education. Sure there are teachers working illegally, and you’re Korean so you won’t stand out like a white face walking into a hagwon illegally. But if you get caught, you could face deportation, just like any illegal English teacher would.

“Korean nationals who teach at hagwons are asked to verify their degrees from Korean immigration in order to get you an F-4 visa, so why do you think you won’t be asked?Let’s say…. for the sake of argument you lie about having a degree and the hagwon hires you to teach English. How will you get paid if you’re not on their books with a legitimate F-4 visa?  In cash? And what about income tax?”

Have you considered another occupation besides teaching English?”

“Nah… my Korean reading and writing skills aren’t good enough to work in an office. I can speak Korean fairly well, but I’m not fluent.”

You never know. You could get yourself a company recruiter and have them get you a job working in a Korean office, but teaching English in the mornings, lunch and evenings. You’d be classified as a company employee, but teaching English and helping staff with their English emails and presentations, mostly…” Here are 12 questions to ask your recruiter before taking an English teaching job in Korea.

“That idea sounds practical, but NOT doable. The moment a company attempts to hire a foreigner, they get screened by immigration. What kind of visa is he/she holding? What type of job is it? Why can’t a Korean national do the job? If the company says, you’ll be teaching English, then it will come back to the qualification requirements again like having a 4 year degree. Back to square one!”

Before you get ahead of yourself and start applying for jobs, are you a dual citizen? If you were born in Korea, did you renounce your Korean citizenship before you were 18? You don’t want to end up in the Korean military for two or more years do you? It actually happened to a guy I know who moved to South East Asia with his parents when he was young and applied for a job in Korea. He was shipped off to boot camp a month later. He couldn’t even speak Korean. Here are the requirements for an F-4 visa in Korea….”

“I’m on a 3 month tourist visa in Korea right now, but I was born in the US. The military service question is not an issue.  I haven’t even applied for an F-4 visa, since I don’t have a job yet.”

“Your best bet is the Talk Program. You’ll be 100% legal to apply, assuming you meet all the other qualifications like completed enough college courses, and you’ve got a clean CBC done and are of sound mind and body…  Don’t try to cut corners by teaching illegally. Don’t read all the crap online about what a handful of illegal teachers are doing to game the system. It’s terrible advice and could land you in jail and/or get you deported.”


Is Teaching English in Seoul impossible?

Question asked

I’ve been trying to find an English teaching job in Seoul since last summer. It’s really hard. Recruiters tell me they have jobs in Suwon, Ansan, and Incheon but nothing in Seoul. It might be easier to get hired in the new year, but I was hoping to secure an ESL gig now in Seoul. Are recruiters just trying get me to work outside of  the city, so they can fill their quotas, or are positions that hard to get in Seoul?

Read 13 Answers

What’s your experience in ESL?

“I have a fine arts degree and a TEFL certificate, but no ESL teaching experience, unfortunately.”

So, you’re just as qualified as 90% of the foreign English teachers in Seoul then…

“If you want Seoul, then stick it out. Draw your line in the sand and tell recruiters you only want Seoul. That way, they’ll know they can pawn you off to a smaller city, or worse, a rural location. You’re qualified to teach English in Korea so they can probably find you a school in Seoul. If they’re willing to work for it.

“Find other recruiters that recruit specifically for Seoul. Can’t think of many right now, but SeoulESL comes to mind.”

“Did you ever think you might get better pay, a bigger apartment and quality of life outside of Seoul? Sure, it’s a big city and has everything, but you may also end up teaching in Gangnam, which is a nice neighbourhood, but the school might plunk you in an apartment 45 minutes away (each way. That’s too far to go home, so you’ll be stuck at school all day, if you’re teaching any split shifts with adults, for instance.”

“Seoul, all the way. I’m with you. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. Hold out. I’m sure a recruiter will come through for you. Keep bugging them!”

“Build a list of 20 or 30 recruiters in an excel spreadsheet and start emailing recruiters on a weekly basis. You have to be methodical. Every time a recruiter gets a new applicant, your application becomes stale and they tend to forget you. They are always living “in the now” and focus on whatever teacher’s resume is in front of them that looks appealing. You have to keep pushing your resume and photo to the top of their email landfill. Good luck!”

“You’re not exactly in the peak hiring season for Korea. Keep applying but don’t expect to get hired at a hagwon until the new year. There’s always the chance that a teacher could bail on a school and they need somebody right away, but the chances are slim.”

“Do the recruiters you’re using have a strong roster of jobs in Seoul? Take a look at all their listed jobs. Does it consist of a lot of locations you’ve never even heard of? If so, skip them. They’ll tell you  they’ll find you something in Seoul, but you could be waiting a very long time. A recruiter’s whole existence is to string teachers along, until they get so desperate you’ll end up taking any teaching job in Korea. Just remember that fact, and be smart about it!”

“Korea isn’t that big of a country. You can get from Seoul to Busan in 4 hours on the KTX so teaching in Bundang, Suwon, or Ilsan, which are all satellite cities of Seoul wouldn’t be bad. I’d say 45 minutes to an hour to each of those suburbs by Bus. Not in the heart of Seoul, but you’ll have everything you need and could even boot into Seoul on a day off or on weekends.”

“I remember living in Seoul. On the weekends it was such a hassle to get out of the big city. With all the traffic, I ended up just staying in the concrete jungle. I never got to the East Sea, or Jeju, or Gwangju because it just too long to get there. It was easier just to hop on a plane and go to the Philippines or Thailand then travel around Korea. Not saying going on trips to Southeast Asia was a bad thing, but I wish I could have seen more of Korea than I did in my 3 years there.”

“If you’ve decided you only want to teach in Seoul, wait for it to happen. I was offered countless teaching jobs in Ulsan and Daegu, but I was hell-bent on Seoul and never looked back. There are just so many teaching and some non-teaching opportunities here at hundreds of hagwons and corporations. Not to mention an un-comparable selection of apartments for foreigners, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. I wasn’t from a big city in Canada (in fact a fraction the size of Seoul), but I’m glad I chose Seoul, cause it has everything I had back home. Costco Korea for starters!”

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