Teach English in South Korea

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  • Overview

    Questions or concerns about the coronavirus? Please read our blog about it here!

    South Korea offers some of the highest salaries and best benefits packages of any ESL position in the world! Program-at-a-Glance:

    • Paid English teaching positions throughout South Korea
    • Public school placements
    • One year contracts
    • Guaranteed minimum salary of 2.05 million KRW per month (~$1,500 USD)
    • Paid Vacation, Flight Reimbursement, Contract Completion & Renewal Bonuses
    • Settlement allowance of 300,000 KRW within the first month of first teaching contract
    • Personal attention and support from an experience Greenheart Travel program manager

  • Program Dates

    Fall 2024

    • Program Dates: Main intake positions in late August and late intake positions in September and October.
    • Applications open: March 1, 2024.

    Spring 2025

    • Program Dates: Main intake in late February and late intakes in March and April.
    • Applications open: August 1, 2024.

    *This is a general reference and expected dates and details are subject to change.

    Looking to go to Korea sooner?

    We also offer an in-person certification course in Incheon. Get certified and score a private school job! Start dates as early as May 2024.

    Read up on that program here.

  • Costs and Inclusions


    Application Fee: $75 USD

    This fee is waived for all Greenheart Travel alumni!

    You will be refunded the $75 deposit if you are not accepted onto the program by either Greenheart Travel or a school in Korea. The deposit is non-refundable should you decide to withdraw your application at any time for any reason.

    This fee includes:

    • Personal support and guidance from Greenheart Travel program manager throughout the application process
    • An experienced program manager will personally review your application to make sure it’s correct and ready to be submitted to the schools in Korea
    • Exclusive tips and prep questions for your job interview
    • Personal reminders throughout the process to ensure you are on the right track
    • Tips and resources to expedite your documents

    Upon acceptance on the program:

    • Comprehensive and in-depth pre-departure support
    • Continued support throughout your contract in Korea
    • Greenheart Travel Alumni Program
    • Discounts for future Greenheart Travel programs.
  • Benefits

    Greenheart Travel has been an official recruiter for EPIK for over 10 years! We continue to be selected by the South Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the South Korean National Institute of International Education to offer this program to qualified candidates. This program is run by the South Korean government in support of its goals to foster international education and cross-cultural understanding. The benefits will include:

    • Paid English teaching positions throughout South Korea
    • One year contracts
    • 8 day orientation upon arrival
    • Free furnished studio apartment
    • Salary of about $1,500 to $1,800 USD (2.1 – 2.5 million KRW)
    • Approximately 26+ days of paid vacation
    • Flights Reimbursement
    • South Korean National Health Insurance coverage with 50% of your insurance premiums paid for by the EPIK program
    • Personal attention from Greenheart Travel to ease you through the application process
  • Eligibility

    • Citizen of the U.S., Canada**, UK, Ireland, Australia, or New Zealand (no exceptions)
    • ONE of the following:
      • Bachelor’s Degree in Education OR
      • Bachelor’s degree plus valid teaching license
      • Bachelor’s in any subject with a TEFL/TESOL certification* (Minimum 100 hours)
    • 62 years of age or younger
    • NO criminal record including underage drinking charges, DUIs, misdemeanors, etc. (besides very minor traffic offenses like speeding)
    • Must have studied in one of the above citizenship countries since the 7th grade until university, for a minimum of 10 years
    • You have a strong desire to learn about other cultures

    *Take your TEFL/TESOL Course through Greenheart Travel and we will waive your $75 Korea application fee.

    **For Canadian applicants who received their education in Quebec school letters proving their English education must be submitted

  • Placements

    Teacher positions are throughout the country so you should remain open-minded about where you could be placed. Your students’ ages, class sizes, and their English proficiency will also vary from school to school.

    Here is a list of possible public school placements locations:

  • Why Greenheart Travel?

    Greenheart Travel has been sending teachers to South Korea for over 15+ years and we have supported thousands of people through the complicated application process as well as prepared them for life in Korea prior to departure. Along with our extensive experience sending teachers to South Korea, here are some other advantages of applying for through us:

    • Greenheart is located in Chicago – we are available to answer questions during US business hours
    • Friendly, responsive, and professional support from program manager
    • An experienced program manager will personally review your application to make sure it’s correct and ready to be submitted to the schools in Korea
    • Hands on support and personal attention every step of the way including:
      • Preliminary practice interview with Greenheart Travel
      • Exclusive tips and prep questions for your interviews
      • Tips and resources to expedite your documents
      • Comprehensive and in-depth pre-departure support includes cultural and logistical training
      • Continued support throughout your contract in Korea
      • We will keep you on track to make sure you have the best possible chance of getting a position in South Korea!
    • Discounted document processing services through EPIK-approved vendors
    • We are a non-profit, mission-based organization

    Want to know more?

    Read about our past participants experiences here!

    Greenheart Travel Reviews

    Connect with past and current Greenheart Travel EPIK teachers in our Facebook group

  • Accommodation

    You will be provided with a single, furnished, studio apartment. Teachers are responsible for paying for utilities (~$20-60 USD per month). Apartments will come furnished, and typically with a washing machine, refrigerator, and stovetop.

    As one of the most wired nations in the world, Korea has Internet access readily available for reasonable rates. Your co-teacher will assist you with setting this up for your apartment if you would like. South Korea also has PC bangs (internet cafés) on nearly every corner.

    Check out what our current teachers’ digs look like!

  • Orientation

    There will be a 10-day orientation when you first arrive in South Korea. During orientation, you will be grouped into classes and activities with all of the other new teachers that will be placed in the same location as you. The orientation includes Korean cultural tours, social events, performances, tips for adjusting to life in Korea, guides to effective lesson planning and much more.

    Typically EPIK orientations are broken into two groups, depending on where you’re placed. Orientations are very large and you will likely get the chance to meet 300-500 other teachers during your first 10 days in Korea. Orientation is usually held on a campus at a university, and you will stay in the dorms with a roommate of the same sex (unless you are married). Accommodations and meals are included throughout the orientation.

    Transportation from orientation to your placement will be arranged for you. You will receive your placement information at the end of orientation.

    For a full in depth account of EPIK orientation please check out our teacher Sarah’s blog.

  • Private School Option

    Not yet TESOL-certified and looking to got the private school route? We also offer an in-person certification course in Incheon. Get certified and score a private school job!

    Read up on that program here.

    Note that we do not currently offer direct private school job placement for already certified teachers. The TESOL course in Incheon is a separate program.

    Have questions for a program manager about these two program options? Email us at travelapplications@greenheart.org

    Take a look at a bit more program specifics regarding our South Korea TESOL Course and guaranteed job placement:

  • FAQs

    Will I receive a refund if I’m not accepted onto the program?

    You will be refunded the $75 deposit if you are not accepted onto the program by either Greenheart Travel or a school in Korea. The deposit is non-refundable should you decide to withdraw your application at any time for any reason.

    What is EPIK?

    EPIK stands for English Program in Korea, a program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. The EPIK program was established in 1995 with the mandate to improve the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea and to develop cultural exchanges.

    What is the difference between EPIK, GEPIK and SMOE?

    In the past, EPIK (offers placements throughout South Korea) , GEPIK (offers Gyeonggi province placements only) and SMOE (offers Seoul placements only) were three separate programs. Starting Spring 2016, all three programs will be run under EPIK which means that you can fill out one application and be considered for a placement anywhere in South Korea, including the Gyeonggi province and Seoul. As always, you will be able to request one specific placement location on your application.

    I heard EPIK is no longer working with recruiters. Does this mean I can't apply through Greenheart Travel?

    While not working with recruiters,  they still work directly with universities as well as Greenheart Travel. We are a non-profit organization which is why we were lumped in with the universities and EPIK still accepted applications from us.

    Can I talk with alumni or current participants from the program in Korea?

    Of course! Please join our Facebook community specifically for teachers in Korea, or check out our reviews on GoOverseas!

    I don’t graduate until December, can I apply before I have my diploma?

    Yes, you can submit a “Letter of Intended Graduation” from your university’s registrar that will serve as your diploma until you receive it. You must submit your diploma to Greenheart Travel with the rest of your documents after you’ve been accepted

    I don’t have my TEFL/TESOL/CELTA yet, can I apply while in the process of obtaining it?

    Yes, you can submit a “Proof of Enrollment Letter” from your course provider. You must submit your TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate to Greenheart Travel with the rest of your documents after you’ve been accepted

    How likely is it that I will get my preferred city or province?

    That all depends. There are limited amounts of positions in each city and province. The positions are filled on a first come, first served basis. Teachers are only referred to their preferred location once all of their documents have been completely and correctly submitted. Some locations are more popular than others, and fill very quickly. Metropolitan city provinces fill the fastest. If you have your heart set on a specific location, it is important to submit your documents as early in the process as possible!

    How competitive is the program?

    This program becomes more and more popular each round, and has become pretty competitive. It is recommended that you strengthen your application as much as possible with a strong (preferably in-person) TEFL certification or teaching experience. We will also send you over 30 sample interview questions, to help prepare you for your interview with EPIK staff.

    What can I do to increase my chances of being accepted?

    Because this program is increasingly popular, it’s important to do everything you can to strengthen your application. Applying early and getting TEFL certified as early as possible so you can submit a well-organized lesson plan are two of the biggest things you can do to help your chances of being accepted. Read more about what you can do here.

    How do I get a visa?

    Once you receive your contract and notice of appointment, you will need to apply for your E-2 Work Visa at the nearest Korean Embassy or Consulate. You will be able to download the application from the consulates website. It will only take a few days to get your visa once you apply. We will provide all of the documents and instructions for applying for your visa then.

    What is an apostille?

    You may have noticed that a couple of the required documents for the program require something called an “apostille”. An “apostille” is a form of authentication issued to documents for international use. It looks like a certificate with a seal that is attached to your document with a staple. Applicants must get an apostille for their criminal record checks and Bachelor’s Degrees.

    Can I bring my children?


    Can I bring pets?


    Will somebody meet me at the airport?

    Yes! If you arrive on the recommended date, there will be an EPIK registration desk once you exit customs. EPIK representatives will be waiting for you to sign you in and direct you to the transportation to orientation. Transportation to orientation will be arranged for you.

    What are my startup costs?

    You will need to pay for your one-way plane ticket to Korea up front, which averages about $700-1,000. You’ll also need to bring living expenses for your first month (around $700 to $1000). At the end of your first month’s work, you’ll receive your first month’s paycheck, flight reimbursement and for EPIK teachers, a settlement allowance.

    When will my flight be reimbursed?

    EPIK teachers are given an entrance allowance of 1.8 Million KRW (~$1,300 USD) to cover the cost of your flight to Korea. This payment will be paid to you in your first month’s paycheck. Every EPIK teacher receives the same flight allowance, regardless of pay scale level or the actual cost of the flight.

    I am already teaching in Korea, is the application process any different for me?

    If you are working for a hagwon and would like to apply for the EPIK program, you will still have to apply the same as everyone else and follow all directions here. We will require all of the required documents, as the program can’t count on your hagwon to have screened you in the same way that they screen their applicants. EPIK will want to see all documents if they will sponsor your E-2 visa with their program.

    I am a vegetarian – will this be a problem in South Korea?

    You will be able to find a lot of fresh vegetables, fruit, noodles and tofu in your local grocery store. It may be more challenging, as it is anywhere, to get vegetarian meals when you go out to restaurants. Vegetarians should be aware that most Korean dishes are prepared using fish sauce or other seafood. Strict vegetarians or vegans should expect to do their own grocery shopping and prepare most of their meals at home.

    Is South Korea safe?

    South Korea is a very safe country. However, just like in any country, you should exercise some caution: be aware of your surrounds, keep an eye on your belongings, don’t walk alone late at night, etc.

    Is there a threat from North Korea?

    Although there are tensions between North and South Korea, there is no threat to South Korea at this time. For more information about relations between North and South Korea, please visit the U.S. Department of State website.

    Can I use my credit card in Korea?

    You will be issued a Korean debit card when you open your Korean bank account which can be used almost everywhere. You will also be able to us major credit cards at most stores, hotels and tourist locations.

    Will I have a bank account in Korea?

    Your school will help you set up a bank account at a local bank that you will get your paychecks directly deposited into. Your paychecks will always be in Korean Won (KRW).

    Is it expensive to live in Korea?

    Living costs in South Korea can be reasonable or expensive depending on your lifestyle! For example, a bowl of bibimbop for dinner will run you around $4-5, a bottle of water costs about $ .30, and toothpaste costs about $ .80.

    What will my apartment be like?

    Your apartment will most likely be similar to what you picture as a studio apartment. You will have all the basic amenities you need including a kitchen, kitchen table, bed, dresser, washing machine, etc. Check out some pictures of our current teachers’ apartments to get a better idea!

    Will I pay Korean taxes?

    If you are American, you are exempt from Korean taxes for the first 2 years you live in Korea, but you will have to provide an IRS form 6166 to your school. Instructions on applying for this will be provided once you have been accepted on the program. For all other nationalities, the taxes will depend, so ask us for more information.

  • Application Process

    1. You Can Start the Application Here. You will be sent more information as well as the link to our application portal to begin your formal application.

    2. Submit Basic Program Information: The first step in our application portal will be basic things like your chosen start date, etc.

    3. If you do not yet qualify, start your TEFL/TESOL certification.

    4. Submit your $75 Deposit. A deposit is required in order to apply for the program. We only have the resources to interview serious applicants for this program, which is why we require the deposit ahead of the interview. We get thousands of applications each year, and while we wish we could meet everyone, we only have the time to interview those who are committed to participating.

    5. Complete Application: Provide more detailed information about yourself in Part 2 of the application. In this section, you’ll tell us more information like your work history, motivations for joining the program, travel history, and emergency contacts.

    6. Wait for your intended round’s application to be released and send the completed file, letters of recommendation, and photo to Greenheart Travel via email (NOTE: the files needed to apply are large, so please follow up and make sure we have received them)

    7. Interview with EPIK representative in Korea via Skype webcam

    8. You’re accepted! Woohoo! Acceptance decision timelines range from 1 week to 4-5 weeks following completion of both interviews.

    9. Send in completed hard copy document package to Greenheart Travel in Chicago. This includes criminal record checks, diplomas, transcripts, etc.

    10. Placement process in Korea. This can take 1-3 months, so patience is key!

    11. Receive your placement and contract, apply for your visa, book your flight and get ready for your adventure to South Korea!

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