Internships in South Korea
Guide to internships in South Korea
Want to live and work in a fast-paced culture vastly different from home? From bustling Seoul to seaside Busan, South Korea has a lot to offer its interns. Learn about how to find and secure the perfect internship that is sure to give you a competitive edge in the job market.
Top industries in South Korea
South Korea, one of the world’s wealthiest nations, ranks 13th for GDP and has one of the fastest-growing economies globally. As a developed country with a thriving market, South Korea is a major Asian business hub with a focus on science and information technology.
Most internship opportunities are located in Seoul, the capital of South Korea. The second largest city, Busan, also has jobs for interns looking for a more relaxed coastal environment. Sme NGOs are located in places like Gwangu, a smaller city with just over a million people.
Interns can find a wide range of positions in these popular fields:
- Engineering: Korea is a major manufacturer of automobiles and auto parts and has a large shipbuilding industry. Hyundai Motor Company is headquartered in Seoul.
- Electronics, technology, & gaming: Potential interns may find themselves interested in South Korea’s electronics and gaming market, or working in information technology and telecommunications.
- Human rights: Aspiring activists can work alongside NGOs defending the human rights of vulnerable groups including women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, andNorth Korean defectors.
- Marketing & communications: Many potential employers are looking for interns with English language skills to help improve their organization’s global reach. You may copy edit ad campaigns or provide insight into cultural points of English-speaking countries.
- Teaching English: Korea is a thriving location for TEFL teachers, whether they want to work in public schools through EPIK or at private schools known as “hagwons”.
How to get an internship in South Korea
1. Decide on your field
In order to narrow down your options, you will need to decide what field you would like to intern in. You should consider not only your skills but which fields appeal to you most and will benefit you professionally.
2. Update your resume
It’s important to have an updated resume tailored specifically towards your desired internship program in South Korea. It should highlight your skills, achievements, and include links to your portfolio, if necessary.
3. Search for positions
Once you have your sights set on a field, you can begin your search. You can use the assistance of internship providers to help locate placements, or you can search independently for positions.
Placement providers, like the ones you’ll find here at Go Overseas, are more accessible to those who are searching online. They will help facilitate your internship by pairing you with suitable companies and providing assistance throughout the application process and while you’re abroad.
You can also apply directly to roles that catch your eye, on our internships job board.
4. Ace your interview
You should research the questions related to your industry and be prepared to explain why you want to work in South Korea and how it will benefit you both personally and professionally. You should also be prepared to ask your interviewer questions about the workplace and responsibilities.
Read more: Tips for Acing Your Interview for International Internships
5. Apply for your visa
Following your interview and your congratulations letter, you’ll receive information about the visa process. Interns who are getting paid work will be able to go on the working holiday visa, or their employer will sponsor their visa. Those who are working on an unpaid visa will be able to apply for a tourist visa. However, it is important to ask your employer for information.
Cost of living in South Korea
The cost of living in South Korea can vary greatly depending on where you choose to live and how you spend your money. The average intern can expect to pay between ₩600,000-1,400,000 ($640-$1,270 USD) for rent and food per month.
Many people choose to save money by finding roommates, cooking meals, and minimizing luxuries like coffee, which can cost up to $4 USD a cup! However, some things in South Korea are cheaper than in Western countries. For example, dinner at a nice restaurant may cost roughly $7 USD per person (or ₩9,000.00.)
Cities like Seoul have great public transportation, reducing your need for taxis or a car. A monthly public transport ticket in the capital costs around ₩55,92 ($41 USD).
If your internship is unpaid and you need to make money, you can try to find a job teaching English at a local Hagwon. Hagwons are afterschool English learning centers that often hire foreigners to teach classes to children. Just be sure you’re working on the correct visa, or you may be deported!
Etiquette, Language, and Networking in South Korea
Work culture in South Korea is vastly different from that of the US and Europe, and interning in South Korea is a great way to become accustomed to Asian business practices.
The relationship between employers and employees is formal and a strict hierarchy is observed. Employees are expected to dedicate themselves completely to their work and respect their boss’s authority without question.
Be sure to give a slight bow to your office superiors or anyone that is older than you. Your language
will also reflect this respect. For example, when you say “hello” informally, one may say annyeong haseyo to a friend, but annyeong hashimnikka to address someone formally in the workplace.
While some competitive internships may expect you to speak Korean fluently, others may only request English fluency. Many organizations in South Korea speak English, so you should be able to communicate effectively with your coworkers.
It’s always advisable to learn a little bit of the language though, so you may want to take advantage of Korean language classes at a local language academy.
Foreigners will have success networking in South Korea by attending job fairs and also spending time with their co-workers. Since there is emphasis on spending time with colleagues outside of the workplace, interns will have plenty of opportunities to connect with professionals in South Korea who work in an array of fields.
Work and labor laws in South Korea
Interns in South Korea are allowed to work on any type of visa as long as they are unpaid. This means that a study abroad student can hold an internship while at school, as long as they don’t receive any financial remuneration.
If you are looking for a paid internship, companies may sponsor you for a short-term (fewer than 90 days) or long-term working visa.
Citizens of 25 countries, including the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, can also seek paid internships through the Working Holiday Program. This 1-year visa allows eligible holders to work or intern up to 25 hours a week while traveling around Korea.
Internship Programs in South Korea
Frequently Asked Questions
When is the best time to find an internship in South Korea?
Job fairs are frequent, and many providers hire interns year round, meaning that there are flexible options for those looking for opportunities online and in-country.
How much does it cost to live in South Korea for a year?
You can expect to pay around $1,300- $1800 per month, including transportation, food, entertainment, and rent. Your highest expenses will likely be housing, but teachers in South Korea will often find programs with accommodations included, or monthly housing stipends!
Can you travel to South Korea this year?
Yes, all are welcome to visit South Korea and study, teach, work, and more in 2023!
What visa do I need to intern in South Korea?
There are a few visas that will provide you with work rights in South Korea. You can be sponsored for a short or long-term visa by your employer, you can apply for a working holiday visa, or you can intern on a student visa.
Can I get a paid internship in South Korea?
Yes! Paid internships in South Korea are possible to find, however, you will need to be sponsored by your employer.
How can I get an internship in South Korea?
First, narrow down your desired industry and city within South Korea before starting your internship search online. Go Overseas, Seoul Global Center, and KOPRA are a few resources where you can find internship opportunities. If you're already in South Korea, you can also attend job fairs at local universities.