Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

‘Advice’ from another recruiter in Korea

with 9 comments

Found this interesting post from another recruiter in Korea on Esl Teacher’s Board.  I’ll give my point of view for each of this recruiter’s in BOLD.

[Note: The writer of this article is a recruiter for Korea called Recruiter 45 who posted in our Discussion forum. Recruiter 45 was answering a reply of someone by the name of Hangul who was replying to an ESL teacher in Korea with some difficulties with his employer. You can find the message at this link in our dicsussion forum:;read=1351]

I want to add that jobs in Korea that look too good to be true e.g. 2.5 million won, one late afternoon shift, 5 days a week, middle of Seoul, single apt, etc…., most of the time are just a bait from low-life English language centers to attract naive teachers.

My 2 cents:

* Beware of schools hiring directly without a recruiter in between. Most schools are too busy (if they are making wons) to spend much time screening and hiring teachers. The reasons some schools do this is 1) because they don’t have $ to pay the recruiter and 2) because recruiters know them as a non-reliable school (if the teacher goes to a bad school and quits, then the recruiter does not make any $. Most schools now ask between 3 to 6 months of money back from recruiters in case the teachers quit or are fired. In other countries like Japan, Taiwan and Thailand, the money back from the recruiter to the school is sometimes a full year).

This could be true for smaller schools but a shady recruiter will just about work with anyone and step over their mother to get the recruiter fee.  However, bigger chain schools such as YBM, Chungdahm, and Poly have central recruiting offices that recruit only for their respective schools.  Just because a school wants to recruit on their own, doesn’t necessarily mean that they can’t afford a recruiter’s services or are up to no good.

* Follow the advice of Hangul and talk ON THE PHONE with other ESL teachers at the school before you sign or agree to any contract. Try to talk to more than one ESL teacher. Scumbag directors are scumbags all the time and everywhere, so the other teachers at the school will know this.

Couldn’t agree more.  Sometimes email communication will suffice but beware of shoddy English.  Of course the Director will put you in contact with the instructor that is having the best experience at their particular school.

* Try not to get jobs while you are in Korea where you have to work in more than one different school.

Not only is this illegal, unless it’s explicitly stated on your visa, who wants to work at more than one place especially if it’s further away?

* Be careful when any school tries to fly you in quickly to Korea without the E2 visa procedure, promising a Japan visa run after. Most of the time there is no E2 visa at all during your contract with the school.

Again, this is illegal.  If the school is willing to do this, who knows what else they have up their sleeve. Also, visa runs are impossible unless you were previously issued an E-2 visa.  You have to get it in your home country now.

* If you have the bad luck to be working in a bad school, that threatens you with a breach of contract case if you quit, be diplomatic instead of fighting legally (you will lose anyway). If the school owes you money, then settle for a good letter of realease and reference and FORGET about the money. It would cost you more money being without a job or working illegally because of the breach of contract case. Do not help the school to get a replacement teacher: you don’t want another ESL teacher to go through the same bad esperience you had.

Have to disagree.  If the school’s in the wrong, then by all means, go to the labour board.  However, I’ve seen cases of disgruntled instructors trying to get something that they don’t deserve and their case was promptly dismissed.  Make sure you’re getting screwed before making a case.  I do agree that if the amount is small, just cut your losses, get a letter of release, and move on.

* Try always to make around the same salary than the other ESL teachers at your school. If you make alot more than the others, your chances of problems with the school and the other ESL teachers will increase (source of most of problems and physical fights).

Hell no.  If you get paid more it’s probably because you deserve it.  You shouldn’t talk about salaries with co-workers anyways.

* If you are already in Korea, be aware that you don’t have much of an advantage over other teachers in Canada and elsewhere who never went to Korea. Good schools often ask for teachers abroad; they prefer newcomers to teachers that have already been teaching in Korea.

True.  Schools that recruit a lot would prefer newbies over domestic guys with experience.  Why?  Cheaper for the most part.  Of course there are some schools that specifically want experienced instructors in Korea, namely the ’boutique’ hagwons.  Also, guys with F-series visas.

* Listen to your ESL teachers friends for advice, but follow your own instint and heart choosing the right job. This point is important because the more you wait for a “golden job” to appear, the more money you lose.

Couldn’t agree more

* If you have a MA, lots of experience etc. do no look at other esl teachers as inferior; you are just the same: a temporary worker.

* Open your mind and look at other places than central Seoul close to the other ESL teacher’s gangs and the bars. Try other cities and towns in Korea. Always go to work where YOU ARE WANTED, even if that is any of the towns of the south where there are no ESL teachers.

Absolutely right.  Flexibility with location=more options.

* Looking for an ESL teaching job in Korea is a FULL TIME JOB, so please don’t sit waiting for an email or phone call from a recruiter or school. You have to GET IT, contact as many schools and recruiters you can.

Yes, be proactive!

* Happy teachers in Korea are not always the best paid, but the ones that are in good schools.

My thoughts exactly.

Best to you all.


Written by recruiterinkorea

January 12, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

9 Responses

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  1. I am 2 1/2 months from contract completion. Is it too early to look for jobs?

    What is the visa process like for someone switching from public to hagwon? Ideally I would like 2 weeks in the U.S. in between contracts. Is this realistic?


    January 12, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    • Nah, it’s perfect timing (2-3 months beforehand). Switching from public to hagwon is pretty much like switching between any jobs. Expect less vacation though but I’m sure that you already know that. A break in between contracts is quite typical too. Make sure that you get airfare in though with your new gig since you will be coming from overseas before starting work. Some places may try to say you were hired as a domestic candidate though…


      January 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

  2. Cool. Yeah I will be telling recruiters that up front because it’s really important to me.

    Just been having some slow/non-replies from recruiters this week and wondering if I’m not a priority or if they’re really just that busy.

    Or maybe it’s me…


    January 12, 2010 at 2:52 pm

  3. Have a question and can’t find the “correct” answer, if it even exists. After your contract and visa expire, how long can you stay in Korea before you have to exit. Is there some sort of “grace period”.

    Thank You


    January 12, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    • Once your visa expires, you have 30 days to either:

      1. Have your current employer extend your visa
      2. Get a tourist visa
      3. Leave the country


      January 13, 2010 at 1:12 pm

  4. What’s your opinion of Chung Dahm Learning?


    January 13, 2010 at 9:53 am

    • Like every school out there, you will hear good things and bad things. Due to Chungdahm’s sheer size, you’ll read a lot of negative opinions on Dave’s and other cafes.

      No school is perfect but I personally think that Chungdahm has the best overall package for a chain school. From what I heard, it’s definitely not a babysitting position and hard work but the pay is above average compared to other schools. Vacation times suck though and you may have to work on some weekend days. Of course some may disagree with my stance but again, no perfect position.


      January 13, 2010 at 1:17 pm

  5. I have to disagree with you on CDI (Chang dahm) If they are willing to violate labour law by only offeringg 7 days vacation as opposed to the 14 days, then what else are they willing to break?

    Also, I would like to add if a recruiter is recruiting for known bad schools or districts, than I would avoid that recruiter even if that school that they are offering is not known to be on any blacklist. The reason for this is two-fold; if they arelying about the blacklisted schools, what else are they lying about. Secondly, if that recruiters supply of teachers dries up, this might force them to act reputably. I happen to know of one recruiter, who specfically refuses to deal with a certain school board, just for that reason.

    My own personal experience was when a recruiter offered me a job in a school district where I wanted to go, then took it away because my qualifications would get me in easier where they where having a shortage of people with the ‘necessary qualifications.’ They kept trying and trying to push that on me. The result was I went to a different recruiter and ended up with the job I wanted. I would also suggest canidates prioritize what they wanted in the job and also look introspectively at what they can offer their employers.


    January 14, 2010 at 5:29 am

    • I know for a fact that the Chungdahm vacation issue has been challenged in labour court more than once and the cases were promptly dismissed. It looks like Chungdahm hires instructors as independent contractors which allows for the loophole of 7 days. If it was illegal the company would have been forced to change the vacation policy by now. Again, this is a negative aspect of this particular contract.

      To anyone, if there are specific instances where any chain schools violated labour law, please let me know.


      January 14, 2010 at 10:53 am

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