Working and Business > Teaching in Korea

Treatment of Teachers

Respect for Teachers
While it is true that teachers have traditionally been treated with great respect in Korea, foreign ‘native-speaker’ instructors (woneomin gangsa) are not necessarily viewed in the same way as a Korean teacher, nor is their social status the same.

Students will usually be respectful, however, and are likely to be very interested in you life in your home country, in your family and the reasons you came to Korea. Be circumspect in your answers and in the nature of the information you give, since given the somewhat conservative culture of Korea, their interpretation of your information may be different from the way it would be received in your home country.

Korean Employers
Korea is still a very hierarchical society. Employees do not question decisions made by their employers nor do they challenge their authority, especially in the presence of others. When discussing issues that might become difficult, do so in private and make sure that you do not lose your temper, raise your voice or use disrespectful language. Maintaining face and avoiding causing one’s superior ‘loss of face’ is one of the primary concerns of your Korean colleagues and superiors.

Communications Problems
Both the language and social customs of Korea are subtle and indirect. Many things are understood rather than stated.  Of course, foreigners are often at a loss. It is important that you understand what is expected and required, and that any misunderstanding be resolved immediately. Otherwise, problems may develop. Check out the Values & Norms information in this section (Working & Business) under Key Values and Norms. You may also want take a look at the contents of the About Korea section to learn more about the Korean culture, norms and values.

Getting an employment visa
Getting your teaching visa is best done in your home country these days as an apostille is required for both degree(s) and criminal record. (see apostille requirement in the list of topics below this page). The rules and regulations have been modified quite frequently (from the teachers' perspective) in recent years and the changes may take effect quite quickly after the modification decision is made. As such, information does not always reach either employers or employees/prospective employees in as timely a manner as either would like.

Note also that getting a job is not a guarantee that you will be issue a work permit - E2 or E1 visa. While much of the documentation for your application to immigration will be done by your employer, you are responsible for getting the necessary checks done in your own country. (see the various topics below this page and in the Working & Business section. Also use the search box for help finding more information on this site).

An Enriching Experience
If you do you homework before coming to work in Korea and are prepared to be living in an environment and conditions that may be totally different from what you have always considered to be ‘normal’ and ‘logical’, your experience is likely to be a happy and enriching one. You will possibly earn more money during your stay here than you might have in your home country over a similar period of time so your time here could be financially as well as socially and culturally enriching.

K4E Editor: tries to ensure that the information we provide is accurate and complete, so should you notice any errors or omissions in the content above please contact us at

Last Updated on 2010-10-16

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