FAQ: Teach in South Korea
What is EPIK?
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.
Application Process and Requirements
How does the application process work?
To apply, you must fill out the current round’s official EPIK application, and submit it to Greenheart Travel (email@example.com) via email along with a passport style photo and two professional or academic letters of recommendation.
Please refer to our Greenheart Travel Guide to the EPIK Process.
Once your documents have been reviewed by the team at Greenheart Travel, and you have passed the first round of interviews with a representative here, you will be scheduled for a Skype interview with an English speaking interviewer in Korea. Greenheart Travel will send you a list of questions to prepare for the interview.
Once your documents have been reviewed by the team in Korea, and you have passed the first round, you will be scheduled for a phone interview with an English speaking interviewer in Korea. Greenheart Travel will send you a list of questions to prepare for the interview.
If you pass your interview, you will be asked to submit the rest of your documents. For a full list of documents, please refer to our Greenheart Guide to the EPIK Process and the Required Documents list.
It is very important to pay attention to detail while filling out your application and gathering your documents. EPIK does reject documents if they are not submitted correctly. This can slow down your application process immensely, or disqualify you.
See Timeline for Korea Application Process
When does the application process start?
For Fall (August) Start Dates: April 1st
For Spring (February) Start Dates: October 1st
It is highly recommended that you start gathering your documents several months before the start dates of the application period. The Fall application typically becomes available in late March, and the Spring application typically is available in late September.
Am I eligible to apply?
You are eligible to apply if you meet the following requirements:
• You are a citizen of the US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa (no exceptions)
• You have studied in one of the above 7 countries since the 7th grade (no later)
• You have a Bachelor’s Degree in any subject
• You are between the ages of 20-55
• You have NO criminal record, besides minor traffic offenses (disqualifying offenses include underage drinking charges, DUIs, misdemeanors, etc)
How likely is it that I will get my preferred province?
That all depends. There are limited amounts of positions in each province. The positions are filled on a first come, first served basis. Teachers are only referred to their preferred province once all of their documents have been completely and correctly submitted. Some provinces are more popular than others, and fill very quickly. Metropolitan city provinces fill the fastest. If you have your heart set on a specific province, it is important to submit your documents as early in the process as possible!
Do I need to have TEFL/TESOL certification?
If you have a Bachelor’s degree in Education, English, Literature or Linguistics, a Master’s degree in any field, or at least one full time year of professional teaching experience, you will not need a TEFL certificate. Starting Fall 2013 EPIK will require a TEFL certification of at least 100 hours that is either an in-person course or has 20 hours of student teaching (practicum) included. Read more information on Greenheart Travel’s TEFL options that fulfill the EPIK requirement.
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. Let them know that you are a successful EPIK applicant and then ask what documents are required. 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.
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 apply with my friend/spouse/significant other?
You can apply as a “joint application” with your friend or significant other, but placements near each other are not guaranteed. EPIK only provides guaranteed joint applications and shared apartments for married couples.
Flying to South Korea
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). Along with your first month’s paycheck, you’ll receive your flight reimbursement and settlement allowance.
When will my flight be reimbursed?
EPIK teachers are given an entrance allowance of 1.3 Million KRW (~$1,100 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.
Will there be orientation when I arrive in South Korea?
Yes, there will be a 10 day orientation when you first arrive in South Korea.
What is taught during orientation?
During orientation, you will be grouped into classes and activities with all of the other new teachers that will be placed in the same province 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.
Is housing included?
Yes! You will be provided a single, furnished, studio apartment. Teachers are responsible for paying for utilities (~$20-60 USD per month).
Can I bring my children? No.
Can I bring pets? No.
Will the internet work?
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 internet cafés on nearly every corner.
Will I have access to a phone?
Your co-teacher will assist you with purchasing a cell phone after orientation.
Where will I be placed?
The amount of positions available in each city or province varies depending on the hiring round. On your application, you can preference whether you prefer a metropolitan (large city) or regular province (more rural) placement.
What should I bring as a gift for my co teachers?
It’s a great idea to bring a few small gifts with you for your co-teachers. It would be nice to bring something that represents where you are from. Common gifts are chocolates, wine, coffee mugs, t- shirts, etc.
Living in South Korea
What is the weather like?
Korea is located in a temperate climate zone and has four distinctive seasons. During summer, which is July and August, the average temperature is around 25 °C (77 °F), and the temperature can rise up to 38 °C (100 °F) when it is hot. A rainy spell usually falls from late June through mid-July, and during this period the humidity is very high. In winter, which is December through February, the average temperature is -5 °C (23 °F) and the lowest point can be around -15 °C (5 °F).
What if I don’t speak Korean?
Don’t worry! Most new teachers do not speak Korean. In the classroom, you are expected to only use English, which forces the students to use their English as well. Many signs in Korea are written in English. However, it is definitely recommended that you study a few phrases before you arrive.
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.
What is the length of a contract?
This program is a twelve month commitment but you are free to extend your contracts once there.
What age group will I be teaching?
The grade level you will be teaching varies, you will teach Elementary, Middle, or High School leveled students. You will find out your age level at orientation.
What are the schools like?
You will be working as a guest English teacher at a public school five days a week. Classroom hours are limited to 25 hours per week, and you are expected to be at school for 40 hours per week. These extra hours at school are to be used for lesson planning. You will be working alongside a Korean English Teacher as a teacher’s assistant. Experiences will vary by school, but you will be expected to create lesson plans, lead lessons, and work with students to improve their level of English. You may also be expected to participate in some extra-curricular activities at the school, and go to outings with other teachers.
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.
How much will I be paid to teach in Korea?
Teachers are paid a salary of 1.8 - 2.5 million KRW per month (about $1,600 to $2,200 USD, tax-deferred), depending on location, experience and qualifications.
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 bottle of water costs about $ .30, toothpaste costs about $ .80 and a bottle of wine costs about $6.