Go to contents

More Elite US Grads Teaching English in Korea

Posted January. 21, 2010 07:54,   


A consul in charge of processing entry visas at the Korean Embassy in Washington was surprised at a visa interview in July last year with a recent college graduate.

Elizabeth, 23, who graduated from Harvard University with a bachelor’s in human ecology the month before, applied for a one-year teaching visa to work in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

She said she chose to teach English in Korea as her first job rather than searching for work in the U.S. She was a stellar student who received A’s in most of her classes.

The consul said, “The educational qualifications of college graduates who apply for visas to teach English in Korea have significantly improved.”

James, 24, a political science major who graduated summa cum laude from New York University, arrived in Korea in February last year to teach at an English academy in Busan.

Three graduates from the University of Pennsylvania arrived in Korea in September last year to do the same. In their early to mid-20s, they majored in economics, humanities and ancient literature and left for Korea immediately after graduation.

Anna, 24, a Johns Hopkins graduate who minored in international relations, flew to Korea after a job interview last summer. She is teaching at a private English institute in Yongin.

Mega, 24, who majored in English at the University of North Carolina, came to Korea in last September after being hired by a private English academy in eastern Seoul.

In the past, many Americans who applied for Korean teaching visas were graduates of community colleges. The consul said, “Until early 2008, graduates of two-year colleges that were unheard of in Korea accounted for the lion’s share of wannabe English teachers.”

Few graduates of elite American schools expressed interest in teaching in Korea back then, given the hardly attractive salary of two million won (1,800 U.S. dollars) per month.

The situation has significantly changed since then. The consul, who conducts interviews for teaching visas Tuesdays, said one in four or five applicants is a graduate of an elite school.

The tough job market for college graduates in the U.S. is apparently a major factor for prompting them to seek work in Korea.