Coming to Korea- F.A.Q’s

Someone I know very well is getting ready to come to Korea for a year. This means that there are many questions so I thought I’d do a blog on the most useful.

DISCLAIMER; This information as to the best of my knowledge. Rules and regulations change all the time. Be sure to speak with your recruiter to confirm any queried you might have.

This blog is written with Irish people in mind.

Q1. What documents do I need?

The following are the required documents for an E2 visa application

  • Signed Contract
  • Original Degree (Apostilled)
  • Sealed  University Transcripts
  • Copy of the information page of your passport
  • 4 colour passport pictures*
  • Signed copy of your C.V.
  • Apostilled Criminal Check.
  • Personal Health Statement

Apostille – http://www.dfa.ie/home/index.aspx?id=268 I’ve just gotten my documents reapostilled in the run up to my renewal (long story about what happened the first time) and they came back within the week so it’s a pretty speedy process.

Q2. When should I start preparing my documents for Korea?

This depends on the country you’re coming from and every situation is different. For Irish people, I would say 4 to 5 months. The Garda check must be recent (within the last 6 months) so keep that in mind. After that the transcripts and apostille vary from university to university so getting them organised 5 months in advance is no harm. The last thing you want is to receive a job offer and not have your documents ready. Be prepared!

*The contract is the last document you need to collect and you will get it upon receiving a job offer.

Q3. How do I contact a recruiter?

So many choices here. If you know someone who’s already here, ask them. If they’ve had a good experience with their recruiter, chances are you’ll have a good experience also. If you don’t know anyone, then do some research. Read other blogs from expats teaching in Korea and see what they say.

It might be a good idea to know what you’re looking for in a job. Do you want to be in Seoul, a suburb, the south, the east, where? Do you want public school (EPIK, GEPIK, SMOE) or an academy? Do you want to work mornings or start in the afternoons and finish later? Think about what you really want so you can make it easier for the recruiter to find you a suitable position.

This is a list of recruiters from a popular expat website here, http://seoul.angloinfo.com/af/605/seoul-esl-teacher-recruitment.html

Q4. After I’m offered a job, how do I get a visa?

This is something your recruiter will take you through. When you have all your documents ready, DHL or FED EX them to your recruiter ( so you can track them). You recruiter checks them and sends them to your employer who brings them to immigration. Your employer will be given a visa issuance number and will send it to you via email.

You then make an appointment at your local Korean embassy. Bring your passport, do your interview and you will be given your visa in a number of days.

Then you’re good to go!

 Q5. Do I need to get vaccines to go to South Korea?

If you want to you can. If you don’t want to, you don’t have to. It’s a completely personal choice.

Q6  What are the holidays like?

Again, it depends school to school. Public school and private schools have different vacation allowances. In my school, for example, I get approx 10 days in summer, 10 days in winter and 2 or 3 at the end of the term. That’s just my school though. You can read about vacation allowances in your contract or ask it when you do your interview. There are also public holidays….http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/AK/AK_EN_1_5_2.jsp

Q7. What is an alien registration card, when do I get it, how do I get it and why do I need it.

If you intend to stay in Korea for longer than 90 days you must apply for an ARC.  The card has a number on it that you need to open a bank account, get a phone in your name, get cable, visit the hospital or anything like that.

Once you arrive in Korea, you school will bring you for your health check and when they receive the results of that, they will apply for the ARC.

When you get it depends on the immigration office and how quick you can get the health check done. I waited just 2 weeks for mine but I heard my friend say that she waited 5 weeks for hers because of some backlog so just ask at immigration and they’ll know.

Q8. Is it difficult to get a phone and bank account?

Once you receive your alien registraion card, head over to your chosen bank and ask to open an account. Most banks have someone who speaks enough English to understand what you need.  If you want to save and send money home, I recommend KEB. Here is an article about banking in Korea, http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/GK/GK_EN_2_8_1_3.jsp

For a phone; Once you have a bank account and an ARC, head to a phone store, choose your plan and phone and they will set you up. It’s pretty easy and most of the time someone speaks enough English to get the message across or you bring someone Korean with you. It’s up to you but don’t be afraid to try it by yourself.

Q9. What should I bring?

Remember you are coming for a year and you only have about 23kgs to pack it in to. So pack wisely. Winter here is super cold and summer is hot.

  • Base layers,a down jacket and a pair of boots for winter
  • 1 or 2 towels to get you through until you can buy more.
  • A super big bath towel.
  • You’re favourite shampoo/hair dye/perfume/ makeup or whatever. At least enough to get you through until you figure out how to get more.
  • Pictures of your family and friends or some things that you can bring to remind you of home.
  • International Plug
  • Work clothes
  • A good attitude

Q10. How do I get involved in expat life?

The Irish have a strong community here.  The Irish Association encourages Irish culture in Korea. Their website is www.iak.co.kr . The Seoul Gaels are a sporting organisation http://seoulgaels.weebly.com/  There are also plenty of meetups happening for every interest. Check out meetup.com and search for your interest in Korea. Check out seoul.angloinfo.com for expat living in Korea.

My best piece of advice is “over prepare, then go with the flow”

Feel free to leave questions and comments!

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2 thoughts on “Coming to Korea- F.A.Q’s

  1. I’d also always emphasise to insist on talking with the other teachers in the school before you start. And even then take into account how many teachers there are, what’s the ratio of Koreans to NEI. And how many students – less than a hundred sounds lovely but it’s not enough to keep paying the bills. The last thing you want is a horror story.

  2. Include in your things to bring an open mind, a smile, and very very very strong liver (if you’re inclined that way).

    And from a guys perspective lots of underwear, and condoms (did you know when lost in the desert a condom can reliably carry several litres of water?)./

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