What’s it really like teaching and living in Osan, Korea?
Question asked –
Hard to find info about teaching English in Osan. I know the US airforce base is there. Are there any decent hagwons and foreign teachers working in the area to hang with?
Read 21 Answers
“Osan is about a 1 hour bus ride from Seoul and buses leave every hour I think. In Osan you can shop at E-Mart or Lotte. Fast food options include McDonald’s and Dominos pizza. I’m sure there are others, but that’s what I remember seeing there. There is a fabulous sports complex in Osan. The sports complex has a huge pool, gym with weights and treadmills, an indoor basketball court, and outdoor soccer field with artificial turf. Not sure of the monthly fees. Here’s the link to Osan Sports Complex.”
“There’s also Songtan, and Pyeongtaek nearby which are near the American base. Plenty of Russian and Filipino women who reside there because they work in menial jobs and at the local watering holes catering to the soldiers. The American forces base is actually in Songtan. Plenty of foreign restaurants in Songtan. Most of the US forces personnel buy their groceries on the base because groceries are so much cheaper and there are also restaurants there for them, but you won’t get that privilege. If you’re teaching English there, don’t expect to get on the base to shop unless you befriend AFB personnel and they invite you on for a nice all American meal.”
What are the start up costs for teaching English in Korean cities like Osan?
“There’s an Osan Facebook page for foreigners and teachers living there. It’s called the Osan English Teachers and there are 582 members. You could probably get all your questions answered there.” Most of the posts are spammy ads for Korean related travel and stuff, but if you ask a legitimate question the members will most likely give you some good answers.
“Osan is only 30-40 minutes (because of the express bus lane) to Gangnam, Seoul. Friends and I go up to Seoul on the weekends and just rent a cheap hotel room for the 4 of us. A little crowded but we get to hang out in the big city. Beats teaching in Daegu or Daejeon, where it takes you several hours to get up to Seoul depending on traffic.”
“The presence of US military in Osan may be good or bad for you. Most of them are posted for a couple of years and spend most of their working days on the base or doing training exercises further away. If you want a truly authentic Korean experience, Osan wouldn’t be my first choice because you’ll constantly see reminders of the US military presence there.” If you’re an English teacher expecting to soak up a Korean vibe, Osan may not be the place for you.
“The only good thing I can say about Osan is that it’s close to Seoul. A bus is 45 minutes and if you’re out late and miss it, then you can grab a taxi back. It’ll cost you probably 80,000 won, but if you’re splitting the cost with a few buddies, they’ll get you home cheaply and fast.”
“Osan has Home Plus department store which should cover your grocery needs. As for meeting other foreign teachers, you can cruise over to Suwon. Plenty of teachers there who have regular meet ups. You can also find a good shopping area just outside the main gate of the AFB. You can pick up black market US groceries there. If you want Kraft Dinner or anything you can’t buy in Korean grocery stores, head over there. You might be shocked at the prices though. 5,000 won for a box of KD. It’s where the US soldiers go to pawn their groceries for a higher price if they need a bit of extra money. English teachers like you and me pay the premium.”
“Yes, buying groceries off base isn’t cheap but it’s nice to get a special brand of salad dressing or your favourite cookies when you’re craving something from back home. You can’t eat kimchi and rice every day of the week!”
“There is also a Pyeongtaek Facebook page.
“Plenty of foreign teachers living in Seojeong. Seojeong is between Osan and Pyeongtaek.”
“Just to clarify… the US air base is in Songtan and Osan station is in Osan. I had a friend who lived in Songtan. I used to party in Songtan with him sometimes. He worked on the US base as a civilian employee. Personally I’d just get a job in Seoul if I were you. You’ll find yourself heading north to Seoul more often than not, so why bother with living in the American trodden Osan, Pyeungtaek or Songtan area ?”
“If you’re living or working near downtown Pyeongtaek check out Monkey Papas bar. It’s a popular place for a mixed bag of foreigners – teachers, soldiers, and their Korean partners”
“I don’t think anybody has mentioned the Camp Humphrey’s US military base. Hop on the bus from Pyeongtaek station. Mostly military types though and a sprinkle of other foreigners.
“I spent the weekend in Osan. Came down to see a friend who was teaching there. A bunch of western style fast food restaurants and other foreign restaurants. Lot’s of juicy bars where Russian, Filippino and Korean girls will loosen up your wallet for you. There is a comedy club I’ve heard about which is outside the main gate in Songtan. Expect to see a lot of US soldiers in the juicy bars chasing the hostesses and pouring back soju and Korean Bacus cocktails getting totally wasted. I don’t think they are legally allowed to be in these juicy bars, because the US military police will go in and ask them to leave. The US military deems these juicy bars to be homes of human trafficking and have banned soldiers from frequenting these establishments.”
“As for hagwons in Osan… I’ve seen SLP, Helen Doran English, and Topia there. It’s hit and miss whether you’re school will be a decent place to work. Most are just franchises of the head office and every hagwon manager is a different. Best to talk to the foreign teachers already working there (if there are any).”
“Seriously, living and teaching English in Osan? That’s the equivalent of teaching in Itaewon, isn’t it? It’s full of US military walking around in their uniforms. Nothing wrong with military personnel and they deserve utmost respect, but do you really want to move from Canada or Australia or even American and be in that kind of environment. The whole place is just a daily reminder of the ever looming threat of North Korea.”
“There’s a new Korean immigration branch opening up in Pyeongtaek. If you’ll be living Osan or Pyeongtaek, you can go there to do your E2 visa processing. If you normally went to Suwon, to do your immigration processing, you can now do it in Pyeongtaek. Here’s the address:
3rd & 4th floor
CK Tower 1375
Gyeonggi-daero (814, Seojeong-dong)
(The office is in the Shinhan Bank building)
“The Pyeongtaek immigration office is open Monday to Friday from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm. Get there 30 minutes before it opens because the line up starts fast. And if they’re like any other office in Korea, they break for lunch from 12:00 to 1:00 pm, so if you get there after 11:30 there’s a good chance you’ll be waiting in line until at least 1:00 pm or even longer. I’ve heard of teachers being there up to 7 hours to get their visa processed, so plan for the whole day!”
“Here’s the FB page of the Pyeongtaek Living group. If you want to understand the cost of living in Pyeongtaek, check out this page that lists all of the things you’ll need. Groceries, beer, utilities, rent transportation, restaurants and more… Not sure how many English teachers belong to this group, but worth checking out.