Coming to Korea Without a Job

Samsung Town

Someone had asked me about their options for coming to Korea without first having a job.  Though I wouldn’t really recommend it unless you had special circumstances, there are some things to keep in mind that will be helpful.

If you are interested in teaching English in Korean public schools (EPIK), you are better off trying to get a job from home.  There is so much back and forth with the documentation you need, doing it from Korea would only hinder the process in my opinion.  That would leave the following English teaching options for you to consider:

  1. Teaching at a hagwon (or private academy)
  2. Private tutoring
  3. Finding a University job teaching English

Teaching at the University level does typically require you to have a Master’s degree in an English-related field of study and relevant teaching experience.  These jobs are more difficult to come by for those interested.

If teaching English is not your thing, then it all comes down to what your degree and expertise is.  South Korea is a well developed country now and there are many industries that are flourishing and looking for qualified people.  That said, after speaking with many other professionals of other industries, it seems that being able to speak Korean is pretty essential.  Daily activities such as meetings, communications with other departments or companies, and general deliverables will only be possible if you can speak Korean.  There are some very specialized circumstances where this is not the case, but by and large speaking the language is a must.  I have two friends from America who work here and they do not speak Korean, but they are very much the minority cases.

Also, to stay in Korea for any extended period of time will require a visa of some sort.  In my case, I would likely get an F-4 visa which is designed for people with Korean parents.  This visa allows you to come and go as you please, and stay as long as you wish.  Other visas I can’t speak to, but you will need one nonetheless.

Once you get here, if you don’t have a place to stay, either with friends or relatives, you’ll need to get a place.  This, plus all the day-to-day expenses will need to be taken into consideration.  Finding quality work in line with your experience is a job in itself, and it’s impossible to know how long it could take.  Make sure you have sufficient funds prior to coming to Korea.

South Korea has blossomed into one of the more prosperous countries economically, even given their size and population.  With companies such as Samsung Group, Hyundai, FILA, and Hanwha, Korea demonstrates it’s ability to enter an industry and carve out their own market share.  The same is true for opportunities in teaching English.  This means good things for those seeking work or who are already employed.  Jobs are plentiful here in Korea.  Securing one for yourself coming from another country and culture is another thing altogether, but if it’s what you’re looking to do, be prepared ahead of time and you’ll be good in the end.

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