The world is an ever-evolving place and the changes that happen in society are now occurring at the fastest rate ever! One of the random changes that has occurred is the proliferation of English as the world’s language. Whether you think this is a good or a bad thing, it’s apparent that English (for now at least) is the most global language that exists. While this inevitably comes with a slew of pros and cons, there is one incredible advantage for any adventurous person who comes from an English speaking country: the opportunity to teach English abroad. And, in just about every non-English speaking country on Earth, there is some desire to learn English and, with that, a demand for English teachers.
If you’ve done a bit of research, you’ll know that while you may be able to find a job in every single continent, benefits and salaries vary drastically from certain parts of the world to others. For example, Southeast Asia may be an enticing place to live, given its plethora of screensaver-esque beaches and cheap food. But its salaries are low and most teachers there barely break even. Farther east, many teachers are wowed by Japan, with its iconic cuisine, world famous pop culture, and fast-paced vibe. Unfortunately, school benefits have diminished there thanks to a sharp increase in teacher supply. Also, Tokyo’s cost of living rivals cities like New York and London.
Why Search for English Teaching Jobs in Korea?
In between the latter two destinations (figuratively and geographically) lies South Korea, which not only offers some of the best teaching benefits in the world (competitive salary, one-way airfare, and free apartments), but is also a highly developed country with a low cost of living! This makes saving money and paying back student loans an easy thing to do. If you needed any more convincing, look no further than South Korea’s delicious and diverse cuisine and the growing international craze over K-pop and Korean dramas!
Unfortunately, there is still one more geographical decision you must make in order to teach in Korea. For such a small country, there are a surprising number of urban cities to choose from when teaching English in South Korea. Most everyone applying has heard something about Seoul and Busan, but are there other decent cities with English teaching jobs in South Korea to choose from?
Here are the 5 Best Places to Teach English in South Korea:
One of Korea’s best/worst kept secrets is Daegu. Ask anyone who has been to Korea and there bound to speak positively of Daegu, a mid-sized city located in southeastern Korea. Its population of 2.5 million ensures that Daegu has every major city amenity without the maddening chaos of Seoul. Additionally, the nightlife and fun areas are all located in one area, which means that you’ll never spend hours on a Friday night navigating a metro or bus line; you can easily walk from restaurants to bars to parks. Also, Daegu’s geographical location means that you will be only an hour away from some of Korea’s most popular beaches, including Haeundae Beach in Busan. What better way to combine traveling and teaching in South Korea?
Another fantastic option for English teaching jobs in South Korea is Incheon, located in between Seoul and Korea’s largest international airport. From a national and international perspective, it is by far the most convenient city for traveling. There is a massive bus terminal in Incheon, so you can easily travel to any corner of Korea in several hours. Additionally, it is right next to the airport, so weekend trips to China or Japan are a breeze. Lastly, Incheon is connected to Seoul by subway, so you can easily go there on weekends, while maintaining your sanity and a calm lifestyle during the week.
Incheon also offers its residents a surprising amount of diversity. You can check out one of the most advanced “smart cities” in the world in Songdo, which is built entirely on reclaimed land and home to a miniature Central Park and Venetian Canals. If you’re interested in history, head to Chinatown, where you can find the best Korean/Chinese hybrid food and learn more about the Korean War. And if you want to live like the locals, checkout Arts Center, which is a bright and bustling section replete with barbeque joints, karaoke rooms, and countless other bars and restaurants.
If you’re interested in technology, culture, or the outdoors, then Daejeon might be the spot for you to find English teaching jobs in South Korea. It is located in the center of South Korea and is the midpoint between Seoul and Busan. Dubbed “Asia’s Silicon Valley,” it is home to the extravagant Daejeon Expo Science Park, which hosts countless museums.
If you’re in the need of nature, you can go on any number of hikes around Daecheongho Lake or jump in to cool off! Over the past few years, hiking has become an increasingly popular Korean pastime and the locals take things very seriously. If you want to fit in, you’ll need to get some proper boots and hiking poles! To get an amazing view of the city (and some exercise), you can hike up Mt. Sijkangsan, whose peak sits 623 surrounded by Korea’s famed cherry blossoms.
If you’re in the mood for city life meters above sea level, at the mountain’s foothills, there are picturesque Buddhist temples. You can also shop forever and eat your way through countless stalls and street vendors at Eunaengdong and the traditional Jungang Market. For some fun nightlife and partying, go to the bustling neighborhood of Dunsan-dong. Finally, weekend getaways are convenient, because Daejeon has a KTX hub, which is Korea’s speedy bullet train.
Due to its immense size and continually increasing population, the outskirts of Seoul have swallowed up many smaller towns. Accordingly, the Gyeoonggi-do province has several comfortable and fun places to live and teach in Korea. Much like Incheon, living in one of these cities means that you can enjoy a quieter lifestyle while still being in a great position to explore Seoul on the weekends. Depending on where you get a teaching job, Korea’s capital is only an hour or two by bus or subway.
If you end up in Suwon, you can take advantage of rich history by exploring the old fort at Paldalmun Gate or traversing ancient city walls at Hwaseong Fortress. There are also royal tombs and palaces and several historical museums.
Ilsan is home to a beautiful lake and an equally gorgeous promenade, which is great for walking, skating or biking. Additionally, its smaller size means that it has an overall more convenient infrastructure than Seoul.
Lastly, Anyang is like a miniature Seoul, with numerous parks, which are great for picnics and relaxation, markets with delicious food, and fun student hubs with many delicious restaurants and busy bars.
Last, but not least is Seoul, the nation’s capital and probably the most popular destination for international English teachers in Korea. Like many other sprawling, metropolitan, mega cities, there is SO MUCH that can be said about Seoul and countless different opinions on it. Whether you’ve heard good things or bad, they’re probably all true.
You will never be bored while teaching English in Seoul, as it has the most extensive nightlife in all of Korea and hosts some type of concert, event or festival every weekend. There is an amazing amount of diversity, from the beautiful, hikeable mountains on the outskirts of the city to the foreigner haven of Itaewon to the swanky cafes and clubs of Gangman to the fun and quirky university neighborhoods of Hongdae. Unfortunately, all of this comes with a price.
Traffic can be nightmarish, subways and buses are almost always packed, and standing in a crowd is a daily occurrence. Additionally, the city is so sprawling that it can take up to three hours to go from one end to the other! Many Seoul residents end up spending the majority of their time in their neighborhood and venturing out only every once in awhile to different areas. This shouldn’t dissuade you from choosing to teach English in Seoul, but you should definitely know what you’re up against!
With so many varied and fascinating options, choosing a city to teach English in South Korea might seem like a daunting choice. But to be honest, it shouldn’t scare you at all. If you’re open-minded enough to want to leave your home country and embark on an adventure in a completely different corner of the world, then you’ll surely be able to cope with whichever Korean city you end up in!
This article was contributed by Teach & Travel Recruiting, a company dedicated to placing teachers in awesome schools in Korea since 2001.