When I was in elementary school, my Korean soccer coach was like a second father who shuttled me to practices and games, told me I should eat more meat, and liked to yell, “Tuck in your shirt,” from the sidelines.
On trips to faraway tournaments, we listened to powerful Korean ballads, and for my birthday, his daughter gifted me traditional Korean hair clips. As a kid, these hair clips and songs were all it took to imprint a fondness for South Korea I couldn’t shake even in my 20s.
After graduating university, deciding to go overseas to teach English in “The Land of Morning Calm” was a no-brainer.
Navigating the job market and finding the best teaching opportunities in South Korea, however, was a different story. With so many options, it took me days of research just to find the top programs. To make your own search easier though, Go Overseas has rounded up some of the best programs in 2023 based on their high rankings and unique attributes.
Keep reading to get inspired by a few of the fantastic programs to teach in South Korea and read reviews from real alum.
Great for flexible recruiting: Korvia Consulting
Age groups available: young learners, K-12, adults
Contract length: varies by location (EPIK vs. private academy vs. private school)
Benefits included: varies by program but the majority of positions include paid housing, health insurance, one-way flight reimbursement, and visa support
- Applicants for the EPIK program receive pre-orientation to set up a bank account, SIM card, and Korean lessons. This is before the EPIK orientation.
- If you're unsuccessful in applying to EPIK, Korvia will help you secure a position in a private school or academy (hagwon).
- Private school or hagwon teachers don't receive an orientation.
- Despite being a recruiter, Korvia can't guarantee placement in EPIK.
Korvia Consulting is the program to choose if you want flexibility in job placement. Korvia Consulting has connections to government teaching programs EPIK and SMOE, as well as hagwons (language academies) and private schools. This range of programs offers different benefits, salaries, and levels of responsibility. Korvia will work with teachers to determine the best fit.
The government teaching programs in public schools are very competitive and Korvia can't guarantee that your application will be successful. They will however help you find another position in South Korea or China! You won't walk away empty-handed with Korvia.
“They work as your best buddy as you go through the process, they support you every step of the way. You can find an English teaching job in Korea without Korvia, but why would you want to?”
Great for support: Korean Horizons
Age groups available: K-12 in public schools
Contract length: 12 months
Benefits included: flight reimbursement, housing, health insurance, paid vacation and holidays, sick leave
- Recruiters work tirelessly for you to give you the best chance at success including interview practice ahead of your official interview.
- The support doesn't stop after you begin your teaching journey in Korea -- your recruiter will check in on you to see how you're getting on in your new role.
- Because Korean Horizons only works with the government programs (EPIK, SMOE, etc.), placement is not guaranteed if you don't meet the qualifications.
- The government programs require a longer, more selective, and more thorough application process
Another great opportunity to find a teaching placement through the EPIK program is available through Korean Horizons. Korean Horizons scores exceptionally well across all of the variables we ask alumni to rank them on.
Across the board, their alum have all appreciated the support provided by Korean Horizons. Their recruitment team is there with you every step of the way to provide assistance as you navigate through your teaching journey and guarantee a response to your questions within one business day. From helping you with paperwork, the application process, and interview prep before you leave, to providing advice if you experience any teaching problems while abroad, Korean Horizons is readily available to support you!
Plus, they even go above and beyond and offer their teachers an interest-free supermarket credit service to make adjusting to life abroad a breeze.
"If you want to apply to teach in Korea, but don't know how to begin, Alistair and Korean Horizons will make everything a breeze. He breaks down the overwhelming process into bite-sized chunks. I couldn't recommend their services more."
Great for jobs across Korea: Travel and Teach Recruiting Inc.
Age groups available: most jobs are for kindergarten and elementary school-aged students
Contract length: varies by school
Benefits included: free job placement (contracts include housing, and reimbursement for either one-way or roundtrip flights), 24/7 support once in Korea, discounts on TEFL training, visa support, airport pickup upon arrival
- Responsive recruiters answer all of your questions, no matter how small, promptly via email.
- Jobs with varying start dates are available throughout the year.
- Travel and Teach Recruiting Inc. only places applicants in private schools or academies.
- Not many jobs are available for older children and adults.
Travel and Teach recruiting earned its spot on this list with its “Travel and Teach Teacher Guarantee.” From the time you first apply to your school in South Korea, until your very last day, this program provides recruiting services totally free of charge. And unlike many programs, Travel and Teach places prospective teachers in locations all around Korea, from small villages to big cities.
Highly rated for its support services, Travel and Teach Recruiting Inc. is your gateway to a streamlined application process and substantial assistance abroad.
"Travel and Teach helped with finding jobs to my interest (and degree), completing paperwork and most of all providing traveling guides to introduce me to the country and program. Travel and Teach made sure I was prepared for the trip and even did a follow up after I arrived.”
Great for connections to EPIK & SMOE: ESL Consulting
Age groups available: K-12 for EPIK, younger learners through adults for private academies (hagwons
Contract length:1 year
Benefits included: housing, flight reimbursement, settlement allowance (for EPIK participants)
- ESL Consulting is an official partner of the Korean government, providing them with strong connections to EPIK, SMOE, and GEPIK.
- The organization also partners with businesses that offer a discounted rate for the FBI background check and apostille with a guaranteed turnaround time of a week.
- Response times can sometimes be slow.
- Being placed in your preferred location isn't guaranteed.
ESL Consulting - SeoulESL partners with the Korean government teaching programs so they can be trusted to know how to best approach the application process for the notoriously competitive EPIK and provincial programs. Alums who have worked with ESL Consulting have been very happy with the support they've received from their recruiter and have ended up at welcoming and friendly schools that have helped them get settled.
If you prefer to work with smaller groups in a wider variety of age groups, ESL Consulting can also place you in a private academy known as a hagwon. Depending on the age groups you work with, you may either be working from the morning through the evening or even as late as 9 or 10 pm. Those who work later at night start later in the day, though, so you'll have time in the mornings and afternoons to run errands or pursue hobbies.
"I quickly and easily found a very good school to work with where my commute is a little over five minutes each day. The staff is friendly as I try to gain my footing in this new environment, and I am overall pleased with the transition. The lovely children are the best part!"
Great for quick interview set-up: EnglishWork
Age groups available: K-12, adults
Contract length: 1 year
Benefits included: job placement with housing and airfare reimbursement included, airport pickup, visa support
- EnglishWork recruiters work hard to match you with the perfect school quickly.
- You will be supported completely during the long visa process.
- No opportunities to be placed in a public school through EPIK.
- Most jobs are with kindergarten and elementary-aged students.
EnglishWork gets high scores across the board, from fun to facilities, and will help you find the best ESL jobs in South Korea (that offer free housing and airfare, of course!).
EnglishWork alum reported that they received personal attention from their recruiter who set up interviews with potential employers very quickly after their initial meeting with the organization. This means EnglishWork will help you get the ball rolling to move to Korea ASAP once you decide to teach abroad!
"Michael is an extremely honest, efficient, and professional recruiter. He set up an interview with a school within a few days of interviewing me. He answered all my questions related to the employment contract, mandatory quarantine, airport pick up, provided housing, etc."
Great for placements in Seoul: Gone2Korea
Age groups available: mostly kindergarten, elementary, and middle school-aged students
Contract length: 1 year
Benefits included: job placement with housing and airfare reimbursement included, visa support
- Gone2Korea doesn't charge any fees for working with them.
- Jobs are available in both public and private schools.
- Jobs with EPIK aren't guaranteed to be located in your geographic area of preference.
- Most jobs available are with younger age groups (elementary and kindergarten).
If you have your heart set on teaching in Seoul and nowhere else, Gone2Korea can help with their placement service specifically focused on private school teaching jobs in Seoul and the metropolitan area. They of course work with schools across the country, too, in case you want to consider another city or small town!
Gone2Korea has a perfect 5-star score on GO so you can be sure you'll get quality support and fabulous opportunities.
"When I started applying with recruiters way back in November I wasn't sure which one I was going to use but Gone2Korea quickly came out as the front-runner. My coordinator always got back to me within a few hours and was candid, even blunt at times, about the realities of working in Korea."
Great for TEFL and teaching placement: CIEE
Age groups available: elementary students
Contract length: 52+ weeks
Benefits included: job placement with housing, one-way flight reimbursement, contract bonus, health insurance
- CIEE is an established and trusted company within the teach abroad industry.
- The level of support offered is ideal for first-time teachers or those inexperienced in teaching abroad.
- If you choose to go with the placement-only option without the TEFL, you still have to pay a program fee.
- For those wishing to teach older teens or adults, be aware that most positions in both private and public schools are with kindergarten and elementary school-aged children.
Many teaching jobs in South Korea require teachers to have TEFL/TESOL certifications, which can be pricey and time-consuming. With CIEE, complete your 150-hour certificate before interviewing for public school positions or receiving expert guidance on your public school EPIK application.
Past CIEE participants raved about the continuous support, both before arrival and in-country. New teachers find the safety net that CIEE provides to be a comfort when moving across the world.
"I am a first year teacher with a degree unrelated to education. The program provides you with plenty of useful information that will help you build teaching skills."
Great for private school and academy placements: OK Recruiting
Age groups available: K-12, university students, adults
Contract length: 1 year
Benefits included: job placement with housing and airfare reimbursement included, airport pickup, visa support, dedicated recruiter offering personalized help
- Teachers are recruited year-round for private academies so apply whenever it's convenient for you.
- Your recruiter will walk you through the entire process and works hard to find you the job in the location you want.
- If you are set on applying to EPIK, OK Recruiting does not help teachers with the application process.
- Opportunities to teach adults are very limited.
OK Recruiting works with over 900 private academies across Korea and consider themselves "hagwon specialists". Hagwons are private language schools that are preferred by many teachers due to their small class sizes and more laid-back environments. Working hours for these jobs typically begin in the afternoon and run as late as 10 pm. Great for night owls!
OK Recruiting offers jobs in over 100 cities and towns and works with you to find your perfect location. They will also help you throughout the visa process, ensuring that everything goes smoothly before your departure.
"Jay Suh(OK Recruiting) was extremely helpful. I am very happy with the job he found me and it was in the area I wanted. Thank you Jay! I am really enjoying Songdo and I live close to my school and got a really good apartment. Jay was always available to help and made the process run very smoothly and efficiently."
Which teach abroad program in South Korea is best for you?
Regardless of the program that you choose, teaching abroad in South Korea in 2023 is an incredible opportunity to gain international work experience and make a difference in young people's lives. Whether you have your eyes set on South Korea for its rich culture, remarkable mountains, or barbecue and soju, your transition to teaching in Korea will be seamless with the right program.
Read more to help plan your South Korea adventure: