Why I Started Teaching in South Korea
Like many students, Beth struggled with financing her university life. During studying for her degree in education, she had gained some teaching experience and decided to dive into teaching abroad. After completing her TESOL course in Korea, Beth started teaching at a hagwon in Gongju. Today, Beth shares with us what it is like to teach in South Korea and why she got started.
Why did I come to Korea?
Hello my name is Beth and I am currently a teacher in a small city called Gongju in Korea. I thought I would tell you why I started to teach and also why I am so glad that I was brave enough to come here and stay in this country! Hopefully this article might help you if you are trying to decide if you should come to this country or not.
Why did I choose to teach in South Korea?
I knew that I needed to do something that made me feel excited about life again. I needed a job as university had put me into a lot of debt but I also wanted to travel and have an adventure. I looked at so many different options and countries and it was a little overwhelming. I just knew that I didn’t want to be bored anymore.
I did a lot of research and decided that to teach in South Korea was the best option for me. It’s a safe country with so many fantastic things to see and do. Did you know there are 14 UNESCO world heritage sites in Korea? They also hold the world’s oldest Buddhist scriptures. I thought it would be great to teach somewhere which offered a chance to gain so much cultural insight. From a financial standpoint, teaching in South Korea also offers the chance to save a lot of money, which would really help me fund my travel and save some cash.
I had made my decision and promptly applied to be a teacher in Korea. Over a year later and here I am, writing this article from my paid for apartment in Gongju!
What is it like to teach in Korea?
Everybody’s experience will be different. I work in a hagwon which is a privately run English school that children go to after they have finished their normal school day. My hagwon is very small. There are only 4 teachers including myself and my director and I’m the only foreign teacher.
On a side note, my students are very amused by my accent as Koreans are so used to hearing American accents. When we are doing spelling tests, my pronunciation never fails to cause a little confusion which is always funny. My working week is as follows; Monday to Friday 1:30pm-10pm and Tuesdays and Thursdays 1:30pm-9pm. I primarily use textbooks in my lessons, which means my lesson planning is very short. This allows me to complete other tasks like help students who are struggling or have missed lessons. The students I teach in South Korea are aged from about 8-16 years old so my day is always varied and there is never a chance to get bored.
What is it like living in Korea?
Life in Korea is so different from living in the UK! At first, I had culture shock, but now I’m getting used to life here. I would highly recommend to do your homework and do some research into the culture before you arrive as things are so very different to the West.
When I’m not at work, I like to explore the country as there really is so much to do. So far, I’ve visited beautiful Buddhist temples hidden in the mountains, I’ve been a proper tourist in Seoul walking around museums and bustling markets in the city centre, and I have also spent a few nights in noraebang– karaoke rooms- which is an absolute must do! I’ve made some wonderful friends in this country- both Koreans and Foreigners from all over the world- and we go for drinks, try Korean food together, take day trips, and we have even been to the theatre in Seoul together. One of my favourite experiences was when a friend who has lived in Gongju for many years took us to a tiny pottery studio for the day and we painted pots together. The owner was playing Korean versions of traditional Christmas carols and it was just so cute!
I try my best to do as much as possible and make the most of living in this fantastic country, but when I do become overwhelmed and home sick I make sure to look after myself. Self care is incredibly important when you live abroad and there is no shame in getting a Korean facemask on, eating some crazy snacks and just taking a time out!
Why I am glad I applied
The process of applying to be a teacher in Korea is long, exhausting and frustrating. There is so much to do and in my case there were some paperwork complications. There were times where my friends and family thought I wouldn’t be able to get here and that I was actually a little crazy for trying to do this. Sometimes, I secretly thought that I was a little crazy too. Despite the stress, I am so glad I was brave enough to apply and patient enough to go through the process and get my job. Moving to Korea was one of the best decisions I have ever made! I am clearing my debts back home which is really important for my future and is such a huge weight off my shoulders. I am also growing as a person and I am learning so much. When you live in a foreign country, you have to really rely on yourself and your own intuition. This opportunity in Korea is just the first step on my new journey and career and I can’t wait to see where it takes me next.
If you’re interested in starting your journey in South Korea, check out the full program page on our website As well as offering an internationally accredited TESOL teaching certificate, we offer lifetime support in finding placements in six different countries. Additionally, our support network doesn’t close when the certificate is handed over to you. XploreAsia supports clients for life, meaning that if you are struggling with anything, a member of the team will always be there to help you out. Teach English in South Korea with XploreAsia now and start the adventure of a lifetime!
Catch up with Beth and her fascinating journey as an English teach in Korea via her Instagram!