Where to live in South Korea?

Sep 14th, 2010, 08:22 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 120
Where to live in South Korea?

Hi. I'm applying for a position to teach English in South Korea. The description says "Recipients will be placed at schools in rural areas in need of greater exposure to English". We can put a preference of where to live, and have several choices. Currently I'm looking at the southern provinces, particularly Jeju, Busan (outlying region), Gyeongnam and Jeonnam. Can anyone give me some pros or cons of these places? Opinions?

I don't really need a large city, but hope to travel on the weekends and go to several temples, festivals, etc. Also, I hope to travel to Japan, Thailand and China at some point as well.

Any advice, opinion or information is helpful... THANKS!
ab10 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 09:28 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 683
My son has taught English in Korea two different times, once in Masan and the other in Incheon. He just got home from spending his summer break from grad school in Incheon taking Korean business classes and language classes.

Are the schools you are applying to hagwons (private school) or are they public schools? My son has taught in both. He preferred the public school. The hagwon was at times difficult to deal with. As far as cities go he preferred Masan over Incheon. The Incheon Seoul area is very large and extremely busy. But that being said they have a very good transportation system.

From Korea he has taken trips to Taiwan, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and Manilla. The Hagwon (private school) didn't have much time off and he had to basically fight for the time he did get. The public school had scheduled days off and they honored them.

He just happens to be home for a few days and I just talked to him about your questions. He said that Gyeongnam is like a providence which Masan (where he taught at the Hagwon) is located. He really liked that area. He doesn't think he would have liked the Jeonnam providence because it is in the middle of Korea and isolated. The Busan area is nice and there is a beach there. He actually surfs at the beach there. JeJu is an island.

He also said that he liked teaching in the public school and the public school was very fair, he did get his time off and he got all of his pay. At the Hagwon they over worked him, he had to fight for the time off he was suppose to get per his contract and they did stiff him on some of his pay at the end which does happen in some hagwons. But that being said he said he was much more isolated in the public school as he was the only English teacher. In the hagwon there was a group of them (English teachers) and they all became good friends.

He loved the experience of teaching in Korea. It was a good was to save money and see the world. He is engaged to a lovely Korean girl now.

We have gone to Korea twice in the past to visit him. My husband and I really liked the country. The people were very warm and inviting. In Masan our son was like a rock star, people would come out of their shops in the morning to greet him as he walked to his job. Groups of school kids would follow him they all loved the Blond hair blue eyed American.

If you have any more questions he is home for a few more days and I will check back.

It was a life changing experience for him in a very good way.
hester is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 06:13 PM
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Posts: 120
Thank you so much for you reply. The program I am going through is a set contract for all applicants. I believe they place us in public schools, but am not 100% sure. I think this program is more of a "get your foot in the door" type program, only 6 month contracts at a time and you can renew if you want.

If you don't mind to ask him, does he think that it is practical to hope to travel to different temples and festivals and such on the weekends if locatted in Gyeongnam? Also, for his travels to other countries, did he use the airport in Busan?

Thank you again for the information, I really do appreciate the response! Hope to hear back again! Please thank your son as well!
ab10 is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 683
Hello this is Joe. You really need to find out if it is a public school or a hagwon this is pretty important, if it hasnt been made clear it is a public school i would assume it is a hagwon. What are your hours? if they are two to ten then it would a hagwon. I have never heard of a 6 month program, that sounds kind of odd. I suggest a public school, because you have way more time off and you teach way less classes but you are a little more isolated because you are the only Westerner. Start learning to read korean now, it is easy and will make your life much easier. Really learning korean is a huge task and to really do it you would have to commit yourself to studying and not having a life for a year or two, it's hard.

I really liked living in Gyeongsangnam-do, I think the people are nicer there (and the kimchi and fish is better, but the people tend to drive crazier and spit more) but if you are living in a smaller city there it might be much harder to get around than you think. It was a good experience living there because it is more foreign than the Seoul area, so you'll learn more. I really love Busan, its great, but I like to go to the beach. Daegu seems like it would be nice to live in too. Changwon is nice. Subways make things easy, especially when you are new to an area. You will probably travel less than you think but if you make it a priority you can see a lot, just after a week of teaching sometimes you dont feel like riding on a bus/train for 10 hours. Furthermore on lots of the days you will have off the rest of korea has the same days off so everything is super super crowded. I never traveled using gimhae airport next to Busan, but there are international flights, you can also use the ferry to Japan.
hester is offline  
Sep 16th, 2010, 07:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 683
You can check out Dave's Esl cafe forum, though most of the people there are bitter. The blogs The Marmots Hole and the Grand Narrative are both good.
hester is offline  
Sep 17th, 2010, 04:39 AM
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Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 120
Like I said, I think this is a beginner's program. You don't have to have experience teaching or TEFOL certification. The program website doesn't say what kind of schools they are, but they are elementary schools that I will be working with after class, only 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. Again, beginners

Thank you again for your responses. It really has helped. I have checked out Dave's ESL cafe, and have posted a thread, but you are right, people there are a little bitter haha. I will definitely check out the blogs though.
ab10 is offline  
Sep 25th, 2010, 06:28 PM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 66
If Busan is also spelled Pusan, there was a US military base in the area. Its also a beach area. Very nice place.l
jonbarb709 is offline  
Jan 12th, 2011, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 171
My opinion would be Busan. Most convenient for getting around/transportation to other areas.

(My travel writing blog)
librarychica85 is offline  

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