10 Benefits of Teaching in South Korea
Moving overseas to teach English in a foreign country isn’t always an easy task to undertake. There are many challenges that come with it, as well as benefits. I’ve put together my own personal top 10 reasons to become an English teacher in South Korea.
Although I worked as a public school teacher with the EPIK program, and am American, some of these may not apply to those teaching in private schools, or those who are from countries other than the US.
1. National Health Insurance
As a public school teacher in Korea, 50% of the cost of insurance was taken out of each paycheck, the other 50% was paid for by the local Office of Education. Healthcare in Korea is extremely affordable compared to America, (I had to have hand surgery in Korea, the full cost before I was reimbursed about $150, was only around $700 USD!) and the quality is excellent! There are hospitals, and doctor’s offices literally everywhere, so it’s not hard to see a doctor if you need to. If you live in a larger city, there are chances that there will be someone on staff who speaks English, or a doctor that speaks English.
Each month money was taken out of my paycheck, and placed into a pension account for me. At the end of my time in Korea, I had to go to a local office in order to apply to receive it. You must show proof that you’re leaving the country in order for them to deposit the money into your account. A one way plane ticket out of the country is required, and it takes about a month for the pension money to be deposited. This money definitely makes for a nice little nest egg when returning home, or to your next destination.
3. Severance Pay
For the last paycheck I received in Korea, there was my regular monthly salary, along with an additional month’s salary. Upon completion of your contract, public schools, and most private schools will include severance pay with your last paycheck. Who doesn’t want an extra month’s pay?
4. Flight Reimbursement
Initially, you will be responsible for paying for your flight to and from Korea, however, you will be reimbursed afterwards. Most provinces/cities in Korea will reimburse you in about a month’s time. The city that I lived in, (Busan) won’t reimburse your flight money to Korea until 6 month’s time. Reimbursement for your return flight will take about a month.
Flights to and from Korea vary depending on the time of year, and where you’re flying from. Cheaper routes will usually have more layovers, and take longer for you to reach your destination than ones that are more pricey. I have friends who don’t mind going the cheaper route, and spending less by traveling more. Since it took about 24 hours to go from Florida, to Korea, I did not chose this option.
5. Experience a Different Way of Life
I got to experience different food, language, and culture, that is completely different than my own. Living abroad stretches your worldview, and is a reminder that the world is a big place, with many different people living in it. Korean society follows Confucianism, and there is an order to the way things are done, (even if it doesn’t seem that way). Immersing myself into a different way of life, was both challenging, and rewarding.
6. International Friends
I went to Korea with the mindset of not wanting to only make friends with other Americans, (that’s just boring to me!) I made Korean friends, as well as English speaking friends from other nations. Before leaving for Korea, I was highly concerned about making friends. Truthfully, for me, it wasn’t too hard, once I got out of my apartment and made an effort. I went to church, joined a free Korean class, joined a gym, and went to language exchanges, among other activities. If you’re intentional about finding friends, you will!
Traveling is one of the most popular reasons as to why people decide to teach English in Korea. Once in Korea, traveling is quite affordable for both inside, and outside of the country. Working a 40 hour a week job doesn’t leave too much room for traveling, but if you plan your time and finances wisely, you can make it happen. I’ve known people to have taken weekend trips to Japan, or Taiwan.
8. Find Your Passion
Some come to Korea, and realize that they have a passion for teaching, and want to continue teaching in their home country. Others come, and realize that teaching is not for them. Whether teaching in Korea will be a gap year for you, or you’re making a career change, you will get to experience what it’s like being a teacher in Korea. Teaching is a highly respected profession in Korea, whether you decide to stick with it or not, you may get a clearer understanding of where you want to go in life.
9. Renewal Allowance
If you decide to extend your stay in Korea, and renew your contract for another year, you will get a renewal allowance of about $1,800! Unfortunately, this does not apply to EPIK teachers in Seoul. Every time you renew your contract, you’ll get a renewal allowance, plus an extra 5 days off for vacation that you must use within 6 months time.
10. Fascinating Social Media Pics
This one is just for fun! Most people enjoy taking lots of pictures while they’re living abroad, and posting these on social media will not only make your life look that much more interesting, but it will give your family, and friends back home a glimpse into your life. If you’re having a bad day, post a cool picture of the temple, or traditional market you visited, show your life to the world in pictures. It might make you feel better if you’re down, and having those memories is something that will be priceless.
This is a link to a video that I’ve done about my 10 benefits of teaching in South Korea:
By Rachelle Anderson
You might also like to check another article from Rachelle with useful information about what to pack for teaching in South Korea.