From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

1 Comment

Questions Frequently Asked about Teaching in Korea

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I feel like I’m in zombie apocalypse. Everything has come to a standstill. My brain refuses to function when I try to organize my thoughts. I can’t figure out how to reply to all the messages and comments that have piled up from last year. My dear readers, I owe you an apology. Here’s a big ghost hug!


This time, I’m going to try to answer SOME of the most frequently asked questions in my blog about teaching in Korea.

Let’s start!

  1. Can a Filipino teacher work as an English instructor in Korea? 

My 5th graders performing a role-play

Yes, but if you’re applying for a teaching job here and you’re currently in the Philippines, there is only one way to obtain a teaching visa. It’s known as the E-1 visa, one that is given to lecturers and university professors. The other teaching visa, the easiest to obtain, which is the E-2 visa, is only given to citizens of one of the following English speaking countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or United States. No matter how fluent you are in English and how impressive your resume is, if you’re not from any of the countries mentioned, you won’t be given an E2. Yes, the requirement is racial bias and it’s BS… but this is Korea where getting a teaching job is not as easy as pie if you’re not Caucasian-looking.


There are also Filipinos who come here with a student visa (D-2) or training visa (D-4) and teach part-time. This is legal ONLY if you get a written permission from your school or one of your professors.

Other Filipinos who are in Korea under a missionary or religious worker visa (D6) try their luck on teaching, and they succeed; however, the D-6 visa is NOT a teaching visa. This means that if you teach here with a D-6, you’re not teaching legally. Some hagwons may hire you, but only as a part-timer. This is somewhat risky and temporary. I had a colleague who taught English in an academy while she was on a D-6. Eventually, they had to let her go, because she couldn’t be registered as a legal employee.

The easiest way for a Filipino teacher to teach legally in Korea is through the F-6 visa or the F-5 visa. This means that you’ll have to come to Korea as a spouse and/or attain permanent residency here. Most of the Filipinos married to Koreans I know teach in private institutions like hagwons (academies) or public schools. Some of them don’t even have teaching degrees. (They are graduates of other courses.)

I’ve written about this topic five years ago, and the rules haven’t changed. You can read more about it here.

2. How much is the salary?

In hagwons, monthly salaries range from 1.8 to 2.3 million won (around 1,589 to 2,031 USD) if you work full-time. A full-time teacher in Korea should work for at least 30 hours a week. The normal workload is 6 hours a day, 5 times a week. Note, however, that there are private institutions who require teachers to work from Monday to Saturday (for example, hagwons that have more middle school students). If this is the case, you should not work for more than 5 hours a day. Other private institutions will offer non-native speakers lower salaries, but do yourself a favor… don’t settle for less than what you deserve just to have a job. You can always find a hagwon that will treat you fairly.

In public schools, the average monthly salaries for teachers range from 1.5 to 2.6 million won (1,324 to 2,296 USD) depending on credentials. Those with no teaching experience can expect to get somewhere between 2 to 2.3 million won (1,766 to 2,031 USD) . Education majors or licensed teachers can make somewhere between 2.2 to 2.6 million won (1,942 to 2,296 USD). There are some foreigners who claim (or boast) that they are making 3 million won or more, but this is kind of hard to believe, because public schools have a certain budget for foreign teachers. They can’t just offer higher salaries. Universities offer the highest salaries starting from 2.3 to 3.5 million won (1,766 to 3,091 USD). There are even reports that university professors with outstanding credentials can get up to 5 million won (4415 USD).

Private tutors are usually paid per hour. The rate depends on you, of course, but just to give you an idea of what is acceptable, 30,000 to 35,000 won (26 to 31 USD) is good enough. In affluent areas in Korea, you can ask for 40,000 won (35 USD) per hour, 50,000 won (44 USD) for business English classes. I had a college student who agreed to 40, but I taught her for just a couple of months before she flew to London.

3. Is private tutoring legal?

If you’re on E-2 visa, NO. You can take your chances and do it secretly, but if you get caught, you might end up getting fined or deported. It is illegal for an E-2 visa holder to work as a tutor… unless his employer allows it and submits a written permission to the immigration. Also, the income from tutoring should be declared to the tax office, so that the tutor can pay the appropriate taxes.

On the other hand, it is good news for F-6 and F-5 visa holders. Being on a spouse visa or a permanent residence visa gives one more leeway to work any jobs in Korea, including tutoring; however, it is mandatory to report the income, just like with the E-2, and pay taxes.

For D-6 visa holders, there is NO legal way to teach privately.

I’m going to answer more questions next time and share with you how I manage to earn more as a teacher in Korea.



On Dating a Korean


1I have always known that my husband isn’t a pro on dating. When we were boyfriend and girlfriend, we would either go out to see a movie or have dinner in the same restaurants or bars. Our first date was memorable, because it was our first “official” date, and the first time ever that I saw him get nervous around me; however, that date lasted only a few minutes, because instead of bringing his own car, he borrowed his friend’s car which he had to return soon. On our first date as a married couple in Korea, he brought me to the zoo. Yes, the zoo! He was so excited about it that I didn’t have the heart to tell him that the zoo isn’t on a woman’s list of “the best places to go on a date”.

We have been married for five years now, and when it comes to our dates, I usually decide where to go. You know, to avoid going on a “zoo date” again or something similar to that. ^^

Here are a few of the things I have learned about dating a Korean:

  • Korean men dress to impress, especially on a first date. When my husband and I had our first official date, he made sure that he looked (and smelled) good. He was clean-shaven and his hair was gelled up. He looked like he was going to attend a wedding in his white collared semi-fitted shirt that matched the color of his sneakers. I was not only impressed by how seemly he was that day, but also delighted that he made every effort to look his best, which to me meant that our date was special.

  • Korean men will treat you like a princess on the first few dates. If you are one of those dreamy women who think that K-dramas can happen in real life, well, you will love it when the Korean you are dating opens the door for you, takes your hand, gives you his jacket when you are cold, holds an umbrella for you when it rains, offers to carry your bag, waits for you and follows you around while shopping, etc. Enjoy it while it lasts, because once you are already in a serious relationship (or if you end up getting married), he won’t be pampering you that way. Yes, there will still be mushy moments with him, but the K-drama fantasy will have to end at some point. My husband used to carry my bag for me even when I didn’t want him to, but now he won’t do it. He used to go shopping with me when we were BF and GF, and I actually thought that he liked it, because he never complained. After we got married, I found out how he loathes shopping, because he is always in a hurry to leave.

  • One of a Korean man’s most prized possessions has got to be his machismo. He feels good when his woman relies on him and treats him like her knight in shining armor. For this reason, calling a Korean man whom you are dating or in a relationship with oppa (오빠: older brother), even if you are of the same age or he is younger than you, is music to his ears. As your oppa, he feels obliged to pick up the tab everytime you go out and do little favors for you. While other men find confident, independent and outspoken women to be more attractive, Korean men may get intimidated by women who bear these qualities. No wonder most Korean men find women who do the aegyo (애교) more adorable. (For those who are not familiar with aegyo, just picture a young lady or a woman talking and acting like a child to look charming or cute to a man.) Most women I know who are married to Koreans call their husbands oppa, though there are other terms of endearment in Korean. As for me, I cringe every time I use the word oppa in referring to my husband, so I would never call him that.

  • Group dates are common in Korea. Although this is usually done by younger couples, older couples can sometimes be seen enjoying a night out with their couple friends in a hof (호프: bar) or a norae bang (노래방: videoke room).

  • I have read tons of articles that say PDA (public display of affection) is not so typical in Korea. Perhaps this is true several years ago, but not these days. Younger couples tend to be more expressive of their affection towards their boyfriend or girlfriend even in public. They have developed such thick skins that the glares of ajumma and ajossi (아줌마, 아저씨: older/married woman and man) don’t scare them anymore. I have seen younger couples in Korea kiss and embrace in public, but the most common PDA here is holding hands and doing side hugs. If you and your Korean man have been dating for a while, but he hasn’t held your hand or stolen a kiss from you yet, don’t you fret. Again, this isn’t K-drama. Give the man some time. Haha! ^^

What you have read from this article may be true about most, if not, some Korean men, but of course, everyone of them is unique, so the best thing to do is to not set a standard for the man you are dating. Let him be him, and from there you will know if he is the right person for you. After all, Korean men are simply MEN.  🙂

This gallery contains 3 photos