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Applying to Teach ESL in South Korea Amid Covid-19 Outbreak - 5 Things You Should Know

During this unprecedented and unusual time, we receive many questions about the current status of the ESL market in South Korea. While we can only take things a day a time and we can’t predict what tomorrow will bring, we wanted to address some of the questions as they currently stand.

Here are the top 5 FAQs we are currently receiving from our applicants:

1. Is South Korea still hiring English teachers?

Yes, absolutely. Many schools in South Korea do not plan too far in advance when hiring new teachers, so the COVID situation definitely snuck up on them at one of the worst times. Many schools did not manage to hire all of their staff for the spring semester and are still trying to fill those positions. This means: 1) There will be many ASAP positions available even though this is usually a slow time for hiring. While schools can hope to have a teacher arrive tomorrow, the reality is that visa processing can take time and unless your documents are in hand, you will likely not arrive in Korea for 4-6 weeks (or longer) after accepting a contract. You can’t arrive in Korea until your visa is in hand and we currently can’t predict what delays you may encounter during country/province/state-wide lockdowns and restrictions.

2. Are schools in South Korea open right now?

Public schools are currently shut down until April 9th as they are government regulated by the Ministry of Education. Online lessons will resume until the MOE allows students to return. Private schools can decide when to open and many are open now. Some private schools are also following guidelines set by the MOE and are opting for online lessons at this time.

3. How has visa processing been affected?

Visa processing will depend on your country of origin and sometimes the specific state or province. South Africa is currently under lockdown until April 19th and both the SAQA and DIRCO have ceased processing documents until then. In the UK, the FCO is also not issuing apostilles at the moment. In the US, our recommended FBI channeller (Accurate Biometrics) and apostille company (Monument Visa) are both still in operation, so it is possible to work on your documents if your state is not under mandatory quarantine. In some Canadian cities, police stations are closed for fingerprinting at the moment, so you will have to wait to apply for your RCMP check once they reopen, unless an alternative site is available. Please check with your province. Many consulates have reduced their hours and are no longer accepting walk-ins, but are still able to provide serviced by mail or courier.

4. Do I need to have all documents in hand to interview and accept a position with schools?

No, you do not need to have your documents in hand, especially when planning in advance. If you don’t plan on starting until late summer or fall, you can accept a position and start working on your documents as services re-open.

5. Will I have to self-isolate when I arrive in South Korea?

Currently, South Korea is testing all foreign arrivals at a facility near the Incheon airport. When you arrive at the airport, you will be brought to a facility and given the test. Once the test is complete, you will need to wait 1-2 days for your results and will be provided with your own private room and 3 meals plus snacks for the day. If you test negative, you’ll be able to continue to travel to your destination city, but will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days in your apartment provided by the school. This only applies to teachers arriving in the immediate future and as things settle around the world, requirements are likely to relax.

The current situation should not deter you from planning your teaching adventure in South Korea, especially if you're planning well in advance. The important thing to keep in mind is that at any time, the job planning and process can take time and you will not be arriving in South Korea overnight. We are happy to help with any questions or concerns you might have, so please don't hesitate to contact us at

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