Benefits of Choosing to Teach Abroad in South Korea

Programs for this blog post

Teach In South Korea Program

Authored By:

Kyleah P.

To make the decision to teach abroad is hard enough, but to also try to choose a country to do it in is even harder. Each country has its own charm that attracts people to the place, however teaching abroad is not JUST about what you will do on the weekends or holidays. It is also about the job and making money to do said traveling. So, when you make a decision about a country to go work abroad in, be sure to weigh all of your options and choose one that best fits your situation. I am sure you can make the most of your time in any of the countries that CIEE has to offer! 

For now, let me brag a little bit about South Korea to help you weigh your options! 

Financial Freedom 

First, one of the best perks to teaching abroad in South Korea (I think) is the fact that you can negotiate for your pay. Now, this is a perk associated with private academies and typically on your first try you will be making minimum wage. However, you may get lucky with a school that simply offers more pay. Or you may be able to negotiate higher on your first try if you possess a masters or doctorate or simply a lot of experience in education. 

If you are like me, where I came straight out of college with my fresh bachelor’s degree looking for a fun way to spend my gap year, then you can expect to make the minimum wage of about 2.2 million won (USD: 1,636). Now, this can sound a little daunting, but another perk is that upon renewal the foreign teacher holds a lot more power. For example, in my situation, before completion of my first year, my current school asked me to stay. I was able to sit down with my director and negotiate a significantly higher pay for my new contract and even given a bonus for staying. I was also able to get more vacation time off and have it paid. 

Pro-tip: Korean English academies are looking for good teachers who can stay long term and are willing to fight to keep you. 

With a significant pay increase, I was finally able to save some money and send it back home. On 2.2 million it is possible to save money (my friends were able to do so), but for myself personally and the life I wanted to live in South Korea 2.2 did not match it, but since I waited it out, I am finally able to have both. Although I will mention that when teaching abroad in South Korea, you live here rent free (which is typically rounded up to about 300,000 won per month for rent so, this could be money you could be saving or using for travel as I did.) 

However, even if you decide to not wait out the pay raise at the end of your contract and beginning of a new one, you can still look forward to some extra cash in your pocket. This comes from the pension and severance pay that comes with this job. Upon completion of your contract, your school will pay you your final paycheck and your severance pay (which is about a month's worth of pay depending on how long you worked there). Also, upon your departure from the country you can visit the pension office and receive your pension (kind of like tax returns for South Korea). 

Not only does Korea offer all the job related benefits above, but the country itself has a lot to offer travelers and teachers. Different things you can look forward to upon your arrival in South Korea are the food, meeting new people, healthcare, the cuteness overload, travel, and the beauty industry. 


Let’s start with the food! When you arrive in South Korea there are some foods you must try! First on that list would be, of course, Korean barbeque! They have pork, beef, and intestine style barbeque so be sure to ask beforehand if you have any dietary restrictions (or look for a picture of a cow or pig on the restaurant sign.) Another must try for meat lovers would be which is chicken stir-fry. This is one of my favorite dishes ever! You can adjust the spice levels, have add ons of vegetables, rice, cake, meat and cheese. At the end of the meal you can also add rice to your leftovers to have fried rice! 

Pork feet

If you are vegetarian or vegan, I would recommend trying gimbap or bibimbap! Bibimbap is also one of my favorites! It is basically a rice bowl mix full of rice, vegetables and sauce. Sometimes you do have to be careful because some places may put meat in the sauce or there may be eggs (if you’re vegan, but you can ask for no egg) Gimbap is a seaweed and rice roll full of basically whatever you want! Most places do spam or tuna or just a vegetable roll. This meal is also found in the convenience stores too! It is super quick, easy, and cheap! 


Speaking of cheap…in comparison to the USA, healthcare in South Korea is pretty affordable. When you work as an English Teacher you pay half of your medical insurance and your school pays the other half so when you go to the doctors or hospital your bill is cut in half. So far I have only been a couple of times but when I went to the dermatologists I paid 5,000 won ($3.72) for the visit and 15,000 won ($11.16) for the prescription. When I went to get my yearly checkup for my job, the visit to the hospital only cost 26,000 won ($19.35). So, don't be afraid to actually go to the hospital or doctor’s when you visit! The trip will not put you in debt!

Health & Beauty 

Another plus to living and working in South Korea is since they take health so seriously this bleeds into all areas including the beauty industry. Now, like any country, Korea can be toxic when it comes to beauty standards and we should try not to fall victim to peer pressure or insecurity. But, we SHOULD most definitely take advantage of the amazing skincare and makeup products produced by Korean companies. Some of my favorite brands would be Laneige, the Vegan brand Torriden, COSRX, and Numbuzin. I use these companies' products everyday and fall in love every time. 


Cuteness <3 

I also fell in love with the cuteness overload that South Korea has mastered. Most things and places in Korea are decorated with characters, idols, and cutesy things in general. From the themed cafes to the shops, from the restaurants and cafes to the museums and galleries. In Korea they have Studio Ghibli themed cafes, a Harry Potter Cafe, and animal cafes with sheep, meerkats, dogs, cats, etc. There are also many other “cafes” (Korea calls many places where you can do solo activities cafes) where you can do activities from slime making to ring making and decorating a phone case to customizing different trinkets. I have gone to a ring making and phone decorating cafe and I can say they are definitely worth it. The phone case is good quality and the glue lasts quite long. I have had my phone case for about 8 months now and I’ve only lost a couple of jewels (mostly due to dropping it on the concrete…) The ring-making experience was also amazing because you get to do everything yourself. You can even add some engravings, its also affordable and cleaning products for the rings are provided free with your purchase. It is a great activity for friends and couples alike :) 

friendship rings

Most of these places you probably have to travel to unless you live in Seoul or Busan. However, that shouldn’t deter you because traveling around South Korea is also one of the many perks! Traveling around Korea is one of my favorite things to do. There are many foreigners and English speaking Koreans in larger cities so it is easy to meet people in social settings such as, exchanges, cafes, bars, clubs, etc. Even going to more rural areas like the mountains, you are bound to meet nice people old and young who offer to take your pictures, give you a snack, or even some motivation to keep going forward! Be sure to check out my other blog post about the Top Trips to Take in South Korea, if you need some inspiration!

As you can see, South Korea has a lot to offer as a country and while on the job as an English teacher. If you decide to come, which I hope you do, be sure to try everything at least once and take advantage of the opportunities here! I promise it will be worth it!