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Work & Costs

If you need work and want to make cash, welcome to Korea. Many foreigners never leave for this reason: there is money to be made and saved in Korea. English schools are a dime a dozen and pay well. So are private classes that pay five times as much. Privates in Seoul may pay up to 50 dollars per hour and the average meal in Seoul costs three bucks. A bus is less than a dollar and taxis are real cheap. Foreign teachers from Japan like to come over and spend. This sometimes seems excessive to expatriate teachers in Korea, to see how much expats from Japan spend, but then this is because they’ve yet to comprehend the cost of living in Japan.

There are various ways to go about earning a living off of your English skills and white skin. The commonest way is through a hagwan, or a small private institute. These institutes can be good or bad but most pay well. Most require a year contract for a year’s visa. Then there are the public high schools and colleges, both varying in quality and pay but with good vacations and also coming with a year’s contract.

Finally there are various types of privates. House to house privates take time to accumulate but pay the best. Through agents one can find lower paying but higher quantity privates, what are referred to as babysitting gigs, where you don’t teach English so much as entertain the kiddies and get handed a wad of cash at the end of the day. These last two types of private jobs have one advantage. You are able to retain the freedom to disappear, visa and passport intact, every three months for adventures elsewhere.

Other work is available. There are those who sell trinkets in certain strategic locations. Some foreigners follow big movie producers and get paid to sit and chitchat all day as part of a film’s international background scenery. If you’re handsome and funny (acting skills are unnecessary) you may even get some bigger opportunities. Occasionally one finds groups of foreigners on the streets playing music for money, so this is an option if you’re up for it.

Mike Best