10 bad Reasons to become a teacher in South Korea

This is an uncharacteristically negative post, it’s not meant to be a rant or because of any personal reasons. The list merely provides some honest 3rd party advance. Most of the information online about teaching in South Korea, English ESL teaching and E2 sponsored stuff, is from recruiters trying to find people for their roles. At the end of the day a recruiter wants to get you a job in Korea because that’s how they make money not because they think you’ll love it here in South Korea.

Many (if not most) people reading this will think none of these ten reason apply to them, if so great. Take the next step in your ESL teaching in South Korea path. However other may benefit and not make a mistake by coming to South Korea on the wrong pretense. The reasons are also generalized and are not focused on any school or area.

Our 10 Reasons

These are our 10 bad reasons to start an English Teaching Job in South Korea, They are in no particular order;

1. Travel

This is a popular reason why people take E2 teaching jobs in Korea as they want to travel but for whatever reason they can’t do it backpacker / gap-year style. Traveling is for Travelers and Teaching is for Teachers. Yes you can travel a little when within Korea without much difficulty, however don’t expect to jet off somewhere new every month or so. Vacation (Holiday) time is low in Korea and international traveling is expensive, plus you have the pressures of a full time job to consider.

2. Love

You shouldn’t come to Korea because you think that Korean’s (as well as fellow Expats) are easy and will jump into bed with you without any thought. Even on the less sleazy side, dating with Koreans is not easy and so if you can’t get a date (or laid) back home you’ll have no more luck here.

3. The Easy Life

An E2 teaching job in South Korea is full time role, with teachers working 5 days a week and having office hours sometimes over 10 hours a day. Also most Hagwon (private schools) teachers have no co-teacher so you will be alone with a group of kids you need controlling, entertaining and (of course) teaching for upwards of an hour.  Then you have to do the same thing again. It is not an easy job.

4. Big Money

It is true you can save good money whilst working in South Korea however there is a limit to the amount of money you can earn and even the most qualified and experienced teachers don’t make tons of money. It can be a stepping stone to working as a teacher either back home or in another country, but ESL teachers don’t make a future.

5. To learn Korean

Although you’re in Korea, first and foremost you’re an English teacher and so every work day you’re expected to speak English even to your co-workers. So although you can study Korean in your free time, it will take much longer than if you were a student.

6. Full immersion of Korean Culture

This is similar to learning Korean, your environment will be very English focused and so full immersion is not possible. Having said that you can still dive into what Korea has to offer at weekends and on vacations.


Just because you’re a fan of Big Bang or Girls Generation doesn’t mean that teaching English is the best job for you. Also just because you’re in Korea doesn’t improve your chances much of finding a job within the KPOP industry. However most of your students will like KPOP so you’ll at least have something to talk about.

8. Japan (or other Asian countries)

If you love Japan, Japanese culture or the culture of any other Asian country that isn’t a good reason to come to South Korea. They are very different countries and if you love Japan you should focus on going to Japan. Don’t just come to South Korea because it’s easier or cheaper, come because you want to.

9. To join friends or family

Just because your friend from University loves teaching in Korea doesn’t mean that you’ll love it too. Social life in Korea can be great, however that’s just on the weekends. During the week you have a full time job.
Family refers more to couples, taking a job in Korea needs to be a joint decision. If one of you really wants to go live and work in Korea but the other doesn’t, forcing this situation could cause issues in the future and could create unneeded tension within the relationship.

10. To escape unemployment (because it’s a job)

Just because you can get a job as an English teacher in South Korea doesn’t mean you should take it. At the end of the day you could get a job at McDonalds back home just until you find your dream job. But moving 1000s of miles away from home and doing a job that you have no interest in is maybe a bad move. However life isn’t a sure thing and sometimes you need to take a risk or gamble. Maybe teaching is the career you were looking for. The point is this is that if you know what you want to do, do that don’t just settle for second best.


10 Reasons not to get an English Job in South Korea

If you’re still interested here is our guide to becoming an English Teacher in South Korea including E2 Visa Requirements.

Agree or Disagree? Any other reasons you can think of? Let us know, but please try not to take any of these 10 reasons personally. If you have any questions regarding teaching and working in general within South Korea, feel free to let us know.

*Update* Here is our new 10 Good Reasons to become a teacher in South Korea

Thank you

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