Working and Business > Teaching in Korea

TFL Recruiters

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A great many, if not the majority of the people teaching in Korea, are hired through recruiters, who operate both in and out of Korea. Many simply set themselves up and operate from an e-mail address only.

Recruiting Commision:
It is important to recognize that recruiters are paid a commission, often a very generous one, by the companies with whom they place teachers. Some receive a one-time payment that can range from 30% to 100% of the teacher’s monthly salary to an ongoing income that can exceed the salary the teacher receives. This is another situation where the ‘buyer must beware’. From the perspective of many recruiters, the employer is the client, not the teacher.

Checking Out the Recruiter:
However, there are recruiters whose websites provide clear information, who offer contracts that are consistent with Korean labor and immigration laws, who follow-up on the teachers they place and help them resolves problems with the employer.  There are black lists, white lists and even grey lists you can check out on the Internet to find out more about the recruiter with whom you’ve been contacted (or that you have contacted). Go to reliable sources, check out the Forums, and when possible, try to confirm the legitimacy of the recruiting agent with whom you are dealing. The EFL-Law site, for example, offers information on recruiters and on steps you should take to reduce your chances of being taken in by someone out for a quick profit at the expense of the TFL instructor. See:

Korea-based Recruiting Agents:
According to the EFL-Law site: “Korean recruiting agents must be registered with the Korean Labor Board. If you choose to use a Korean recruiter or Korean Recruiting company to find you a position, ask them to forward to you a copy of their Business Registration License.
Ask them to answer the following questions:
- Are you registered with the Korean Labor Board? What is your license number?
- Have you personally visited the Employer and ascertained the working conditions?
- Have you personally seen the proposed premises and accommodation?
- Do you have authority to negotiate contractual changes, or merely convey them to the Employer?
- Most importantly, ask if the recruiter/company is actually part of an education Franchise, and are you being recruited for a school within their own franchise system, thus their independent objectivity may be biased.
- Some recruiters have comprehensive web sites, though some of the information is somewhat different to reality, however, these recruiters are to be preferred over those who hide behind mere e-mail address.

Home-Country Recruiting Agents:
Dealing with an agent who lives near you can have some advantages. You can meet her/him in person and find out if he/she has visited the school in question, what he/she has to say about working in Korea (these agents are often people who have taught in Korea). Check out their website and/or meet with them to get as much information as possible regarding as many details about the job as you can – how long the school has been in business, what the teacher turn-over rate is, what the accommodations are like, whether or not the employer respects contractual obligations, etc.

Get it in writing:
Regardless of where the recruiting agent is located, get everything in writing and make sure that you and the employer and the recruiter all have the same information. Avoid situations wherin the employer pays the recruiter, who then pays you - you may want to get that and other details specified in the contract. (See contracts in this section).
Once you have signed the contract you will not be able to change any of the terms and conditions, or to clarify those that are vague. Verbal agreements between you and the recruiter have no standing. If you want to quit your job, your employer has to sign a letter of Release that must also be approved by immigration before you can take another job. During that time, you will have to pay for your own accommodations (the employer is likely to want you to vacate the housing provide with the job immediately or earlier) and you may be facing a deadline as to when you must leave the country.

K4E Editor: We do our best to provide complete and up-to-date information so should you notice any errors or out-of-date information above, please let us know at

Last Updated on 2022-02-25

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