Is Teaching in Korea a scam?

by Jacob on May 12, 2011

So, you’ve seen the posts on Craigslist or some other job board offering what seems like the impossible. No experience necessary. All you  need is a four-year degree and you can teach English in South Korea. They say they’ll pay for your airfare, help you get a visa, and give you a free place to live. They say they’ll pay you a couple thousand dollars a month, plus a bonus at the end of a year and then they’ll pay for you to return to your home country.

At this point the alarm bells may be going off in your head. This must be too good to be true. After all, what’s the disadvantage? What do I have to do? In fact, you may have passed up those ads numerous times assuming it can’t be true.


So, is teaching English in Korea a scam?

On January 18th, 2004 I woke up in my friend’s Chicago apartment. I’d taken a greyhound bus to Chicago a few days earlier in order to visit the Korean Consulate and secure my visa. Fortunately, for me the process went smoothly. It doesn’t always, but we’ll talk about that another time.

My friend readied for what to him was a regular work day, while I packed my suitcase. Panic began to set in. What the hell am I doing? I’m about to board a plane and for a land I have never visited to work a job for people I’ve never even met.

Horrors stories flashed through my head. Was I about to be sold into the sex trade? I mean, a 6’1″ 210lbs guy isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there must be a few shifty people looking to take advantage of me.

“What the hell am I doing?” I shouted to my friend. “Nobody just wakes up in the morning and goes to Korea.”

“Sure, they do.” he said, “They just don’t come back alive.”

He didn’t know any better than me, but at least his humor helped to ease the tension. But, still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that I was falling for a trap that would soon be a segment on Dateline or 60 minutes. Like the get-rich-quick Nigerian Prince scams, surely this teach English in Korea thing is a set-up.

Well, let me say to you now; it’s probably not. A set-up or a scam I mean.

Depending on whose numbers you look at, there are close to a million foreign-born English teachers working in South Korea. The desire to learn English in Korea cannot be understated. It’s almost become a national obsession.

There are many reputable schools to work for that will provide you with airfare and housing along with a decent monthly salary. If you recieve a job offer from a company, have a look at our company profiles, where we look at different companies to see how reputable they are.

While it’s not a scam there are dishonest people in every profession. I hope on Teach Korea HQ we can provide you with the most reliable and honest information to help you make your decision about teaching English in Korea. Read through the rest of the Teach Korea HQ Newbie Guide to get the best information possible and let us know if there are any questions we haven’t answered.

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