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Teaching in Korea: Questions to Ask Your Recruiter

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 0 0

What is my monthly pay? Is that based off the amount of hours I teach?

Most schools will require you to physically teach a set number of hours on a weekly basis. And if you teach over this set amount of hours schools should then pay you overtime. Be sure that if you go under a set amount of hours your monthly salary won't be deducted. Usually public schools are based on weekly taught hours and private schools are based on monthly taught hours.

Does the company offer a settlement allowance?

This is money that is given to you immediately on arrival for free or taken from your first month’s paycheck when you land in Korea. It is meant to assist you for your first month in Asia, so you’re not totally broke.

How is my flight reimbursed?

Most companies will reimburse you for your flight into Korea, but you have to pay for the flight initially. Schools won't pay upfront for the plane ticket because they could lose money should you decide to change your mind at the last minute..

Some schools will pay for your arrival flight in your first month’s paycheck and offer a flight home only if you finish the year contract. Other schools will reimburse you for your arrival flight and include that payment in your first month’s paycheck. But they won’t pay for a flight home.

Is my vacation time set for specific dates? Or can I choose the vacation days I want to take with proper notice?

Public schools usually give you a range of possible days you can take off and this is always when the students are off for winter or summer breaks. Private schools vary, some will force you to take a vacation a certain week and others may allow you to decide when you can take it.

Is my schedule subject to change? Will I ever be forced to work split shifts or weekends?

Sure your schedule looks nice now, but what will it look like when the semester changes? Some schools will change your schedules according to their needs and you will not be able to do anything about it. Check your contract carefully about the schedule. If the schedule can change, ask about some other teacher's schedules to see what yours could look like if it changes. Usually split shifts are for private schools that educate adults. They can be a nightmare for some, but could be good if you don't want to teach kids or are looking for experience in adult education.

Is it common for teachers at this school to be working over the set amount of hours? How much is overtime?

Some schools are quite happy to pay overtime if they have many students and are expanding their classes, but you might not be so happy to be working so much. Ask what the current situation at the school is, and how many teachers are working overtime.

What is the nearest subway stop? How far is it by walking?

It is important to ask where the nearest subway stop is because you won’t be doing much traveling by bus, unless your skilled in the Korean language.

Here is a link of the Seoul Subway system. It will give you the time it takes to go from stop to stop. http://www.smrt.co.kr/Train/Subwaymap/Eng/Subwaymap.jsp

Are holidays paid for? How is holiday pay taken out of my paycheck?

Public schools have paid holidays. Many private schools will not count the holiday hours. Since private schools go by a set of monthly hours, any overtime you think you might have will most likely dissipate due to a holiday.

How much money is taken out from my paycheck for deductions?

Americans get a very special deal on taxes 0% out of your paycheck every month. You must fill out a form titled 8802. How to fill out the form I have in my documents section. All other nationalities are expected to pay taxes.

Expect 4.5% to be taken out for a pension plan and your employer will put in an addition 4.5% for you. Your nationality will determine when you can receive these benefits. If you’re American you will get all this money back when you leave Korea.

Health insurance will cost you roughly 50,000 won every month. The health care system is pretty good and very cheap by American standards.

 How will a housing deposit be taken out of my paycheck?

Yes the housing is free, but you will have to pay a housing deposit that you will get returned to you at the end of your contract. This is to make sure you don’t destroy anything in the apartment.

It is a good idea to take pictures of anything (big or small) that is damaged in your apartment and show your school because the school will take this out of your deposit at the end of the contract.

The deposit at my first school was 900,000 won. The school took out 300,000 increments over three months.

 How far is the school from my apartment? Will I need to take the bus or subway?

This is extremely important because you don’t want to be taking multiple buses and the subway to work every morning.

 What is in my area? Are there many restaurants, department stores, government facilities?

Get a good idea of the area you will be living in. I didn’t ask this question for my second job in Korea. I discovered my new place was in the red light district of Seoul (Janghanpyeong), it wasn't particularly dangerous. Just very seedy and not a fun place to live around.


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