If you’re considering South Korea as a destination for teaching English, you’re probably wanting to find out more information about the various teach English programs on offer there. From highly sought after public school teaching programs to private language institutes (hagwons), there is sure to be one that suits you.

With competitive salaries and excellent perks (including paid airfare and accommodation), it’s no wonder South Korea is a popular destination for ESL teachers.

Read on to find out about the 5 best teach English programs in Korea:

EPIK – English Program in Korea

EPIK is a teaching program sponsored by the Korean Ministry of Education. Teachers are placed in public schools (either elementary, middle or high schools) in urban and rural regions across South Korea. Prospective teachers can indicate a preference for a specific province, but locations are ultimately determined by EPIK. It’s best to be flexible when applying for EPIK, as you could end up anywhere in South Korea!

Being South Korea’s most well-known government teaching program, EPIK is competitive to get accepted to. EPIK hires in accordance to the public school calendar, with contracts starting 1st March and 1st September. The application process is strict and extensive, so it’s recommended to begin applications for the program as soon as doors open – February for the September start and August for the March start.

Job Summary


For a more in-depth insight into the program, including eligibility, benefits, the application process and what it’s really like teaching for EPIK, read our Complete Guide to the EPIK Program in South Korea.

SMOE – Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education

SMOE places teachers directly into public schools (usually Elementary level) around the bustling city of Seoul. It’s also referred to as EPIK-Seoul, as SMOE now recruits through EPIK.

Prospective SMOE teachers apply through EPIK, specifying Seoul as their location preference on the application. If successful, teachers are guaranteed to be placed in Seoul. It’s a very popular and competitive program, so applicants must make sure to apply as early as possible.

Job Summary


Find out more by reading our Complete Guide to the SMOE Program in South Korea.

GEPIK – Gyeonggi English Program in Korea

GEPIK places teachers in public schools (typically Elementary level) around the Gyeonggi region, either in urban or rural areas. GEPIK recently merged with EPIK, so applicants wishing to teach in this province now apply through EPIK, stating Gyeonggi as their preferred location. Its close proximity to Seoul makes it pretty popular, so positions fill up fast.

Job Summary


For a more in-depth break down of the program, check out our Complete Guide to the GEPIK Program in South Korea.

TaLK – Teach and Learn in Korea

TaLK is an educational scholarship program placing teachers in elementary public schools in rural areas of South Korea, with the aim of supporting their English education. TaLK, often referred to as EPIK’s sister program, is one of the few options for teaching English in South Korea without holding a full Bachelor’s degree. As long as you have completed two full years of university education you can apply.

The application process is comprehensive and TaLK hires in accordance to the public school calendar, with contracts starting 1st March and 1st September.

TaLK offers all the similar great perks to the other public school teaching programs, including free accomodation, reimbursed round airfare trip and paid vacation. The salary is less, but teachers receive a pretty decent monthly stipend to live off.

Job Summary


Check out our Complete Guide to the TaLK Program in South Korea to find out more!


Hagwons are private education companies that cater to students ranging from young children to adults. Essentially, hagwons operate like businesses, separate to the South Korean public school system. Their purpose is to offer additional English lessons outside of normal schools/jobs, so they tend to operate during the evenings and weekends.

Unlike the public school programs, teachers have autonomy over the exact location and hagwon where they work. There are a huge number of hagwons operating in the country, meaning there are ample ESL jobs in Korea and a wide variety of establishments to choose from. Hagwons typically hire all year round, with the visa application process taking approximately 2 – 3 months. The government has no hand in employment decisions, it’s down to individual hagwons.

Job Summary


The above are the essential requirements to work in a hagwon. It’s important to note that each hagwon is different and may set its own additional application requirements on top of these. The following may be preferred by some hagwons:

To find out more about hagwons, including the benefits, downsides and suitability, read our guide on What Is a Hagwon and Should You Work at One?

4 Responses

  1. Good day, Your feedback will be much appreciated which programme does one qualify for if she/he hold a 3-4 year Diploma with Postgraduate Certificate in Education (equivalent ti Degree) plus a TEFL Certificate. Thank you.

    1. If you have a bachelor’s degree + post grad degree (am I understanding that correctly?) you are qualified to teach pretty much anywhere, including these programs.

  2. Hi! My name is Filipa Carvalho, 25 years old, from Porto (Portugal).
    I would like to know if you could help me get an english teaching job in Seoul, even though I’m from a non-native speaking country. I know it’s not impossible!
    I have a master degree in landscape architecture, a clean criminal record, worked 2 years for an irish airline company, my english is very fluent and I’m currently doing my TEFL Course.
    Would like to hear from you!
    Thank you in advance!

    1. Hi Filipa – unfortunately we don’t do any hiring or recruiting so we can’t help with a job, but we do think it’s quite unlikely a non-native speaker can get a teaching position in Korea. They are notoriously strict with their requirements and English ability is high up on that list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *