Where in South Korea should I teach?
Asia is without doubt the most popular region for teaching English abroad and there are many different countries to choose from, each offering its own attractions. South Korea has many reasons for attracting teachers from all over the world and one of the most important is the huge number of potential jobs available all over the country. As well as an abundance of jobs, Korea is also a highly developed country with excellent infrastructure, a relatively low cost of living, a low rate of crime, and some of the best average salaries in the region. Many jobs come with extra benefits such as paid accommodation and airfares, which means that saving a good chunk of your income is not only possible, but actually the norm. However, to help you decide which part of the country would be best for you, we have put together the following list of cities that we think offer the best all round options.
As Korea’s capital and largest city, Seoul has to be on this list as it has more potential teaching jobs than anywhere else in the country. However, as it is very popular with foreign teachers the competition for the best jobs can be fierce, so first-time teachers often look elsewhere until they have gained some classroom experience. Whatever your experience you are unlikely to get bored between classes as there is always so much to see and do, with a big festival or event running every weekend. The regular night time scene is also vast and diverse, with seemingly endless options no matter what you are into. However, it is important to realize that due to the vast nature of the city, it can take several hours to get from one end to the other using public transport that is often packed tight!
Despite the crowds and the busy transport system, many people love living in Seoul as the city is alive 24/7, with something new to explore every single day. And if you ever feel you need a break from the hustle and bustle you can head out of town and spend some quality time in the majestic mountains that form the city’s backdrop. Financially, Seoul offers the highest average salaries for teachers in the country, but the cost of living is also the highest, so the extra you can earn is often canceled out. However, most teachers living and working in Seoul can expect to earn a very generous salary, with many able to save around $1,000 per month, depending on your lifestyle.
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If the constant go, go, go of Seoul is not really your thing but you still want the attractions of a good sized city, Daegu could be for you. The city is a fraction of the size of the capital, but it still has a thriving entertainment district that has everything you could need all in one convenient setting. No long journeys on crowded public transport required here! The city’s location in the Southeast of the country is also a bonus as you are only an hour away from some of Korea’s most popular beaches and tourist resorts. After a long week of classroom teaching, what better way to unwind than spending a weekend by the sea?
As with many areas away from the capital, the cost of living is significantly less in Daegu, and the average salaries are still relatively high, making it possible to save even more each month if you are really determined. Of course, it is not necessary to live as frugally as possible for most teachers as you can save a substantial amount each month and still enjoy plenty of fun and excitement during your stay. Daegu has something for everyone, whether you are an extrovert who likes to be out and about among the city’s many bars and restaurants, or an introvert who prefers quiet cafes and local markets. Daegu also has a thriving expat community that organizes a wide range of activities and get-togethers for English speakers from all over the world.
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Located less than an hour from Seoul via high-speed train is the city of Daejeon which is known as the country’s center of technology and as a havan for outdoor enthusiasts. Conveniently located close to the center of the country, Daejeon’s status as a transport hub is also well known and it is a great base from which to explore every corner of the country. When you are not traveling around experiencing all that this magnificent country has to offer, you can spend some quality time in and around the city where hiking in the great outdoors has become a very popular way to spend the weekend. Exploring natural wonders such as mountains, lakes, rivers, and hot springs is surely the best way to relax after a long week in the classroom.
As the country’s center of technology, Daejeon is home to the popular National Science Museum and sports lovers can enjoy a visit to top-level football and baseball games without having to travel. You will also find plenty of temples and other buildings in and around the city where you can get a real insight into the history and culture of the country and its people. Food lovers are also well catered for, with countless street food vendors on hand day and night, wherever you happen to find yourself getting a little hungry. Jungang Market is another popular place to hangout, with a huge selection of stalls offering every conceivable product you don’t yet know you want.
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Although Incheon might look like it is a part of Seoul when looking on a map, it is very much a city in its own right, with plenty of reasons for attracting ESL teachers. As Korea’s third largest city, Incheon has a huge number of potential teaching jobs and plenty of things to see and do when you are not working hard in the classroom. Incheon Grand Park, Sinpo International Market, the Korea Traditional Cultural Experience Center, and the local Chinatown are just a few of the city’s most popular attractions. And if you find that you still want more things to do on the weekend, your nearest metro station will provide access to all the delights of Seoul, just a short ride away. Although Incheon is still a large built up area, it is much less hectic than the capital, making it a good compromise for anyone who is not used to big city living.
One of the attractions of Incheon is its status as a main transport hub, with trains, buses and planes all easily accessible. The country’s main airport is located here, so weekend trips to China or Japan are certainly realistic. If you prefer to explore closer to home, excellent domestic transport links mean you can be in any part of Korea within just a few hours. Is there a better way to unwind than by heading into the country, to the coast, or to another country all together?
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Jeju City offers something a little bit different for ESL teachers in South Korea as it is a relatively small city located on the country’s largest and most famous island. Jeju Island is a genuine hub of tourism in Korea, with large numbers of visitors from across the country and farther afield flocking to its beaches during the summer months. Teachers who choose Jeju can also enjoy the quieter months where the weather is still warmer than the rest of the country and the streets and beaches much less crowded. As it is a small city compared to others on this list, the number of potential jobs is understandably lower than elsewhere. However, as the island is quite isolated it doesn’t attract the huge numbers of teachers you will find in every other city in the country.
Despite being located over 80 km off of the mainland, Jeju Island still has good transport links, with affordable ferries running back and forth on a regular basis. However, if you are lucky enough to live on a resort island with miles of stunning beaches and a wide range of popular attractions, why would you want to leave? Another benefit of living on Jeju is the wonderful local cuisine that includes some of the most amazing seafood dishes to be found anywhere in Korea. If you want to come to South Korea to live and work, but are not so keen on huge bustling cities, Jeju City could be perfect for you.ENDBODY