Teaching in South Korea: The Process

In 2009 I boarded a plane to Korea – I almost missed my flight in Johannesburg and Doha – it was my first time travelling out of Africa. I had no idea what I was doing or where I was going. I remember packing soap, tooth paste, notebooks and more…just in case. I still don’t know “just in case” what…

I ended up staying for 3 years in South Korea in the most beautiful town in the whole country – Gyeongju. It was a unique experience – 3 years of falling in love with Asia, travelling non-stop, teaching English, exploring my own boundaries, making lifelong friendships, getting addicted to duck and losing umbrellas.


In October 2012 I said goodbye to South Korea , hopped on my bicycle and started with a bicycle journey in Indonesia. I was on my way back to South Korea again in February 2013, when got the chance to work as a copy writer in Knysna, South Africa at an advertising agency….but I missed travelling, I missed Asia and the world… so after a few months I quit my job and applied to the EPIK program in South Korea again.


So what is EPIK?

“EPIK (English Program in Korea) is a program to improve the English speaking abilities of students and teachers in Korea, to foster cultural exchanges, and to reform English teaching methodologies in Korea. It is affiliated with the Korean Ministry of Education and is operated by the National Institute for International Education (NIIED). Established in 1995, EPIK program encourages cross cultural exchanges while promoting the development of English language competence for Korean students.”

EPIK is EPIC, but it is a one long process – from first e-mailing your application to finally getting to Korea takes about 5-6 months if you apply early.


Here is a breakdown of my last 6 months with EPIK!

7 August – The Spring 2014 applications open up.

20 August – Go for fingerprints at local police station.

21 August – Receive Proof of Teaching Experience and Letter of Recommendation from previous school in Korea.

26 August – Receive the other Letter of Recommendation.

26 August – E-mail application for Spring 2014 to EPIK.

28 August – EPIK e-mails to confirm application.

31 August – Mail fingerprints to Docs for Expats in Pretoria (for Criminal Record Check).

10 September – Fingerprints arrive at Docs for Expats.

4 October – Get an e-mail from EPIK: Interview date 8 October 2013.

8 October – Interview.

8 October – National Police Clearance Check done (receive SMS from SAPS).

11 October – Get an e-mail from EPIK: Passed Interview.

17 October – Mail documents to Korea with DHL.

21 October – Documents arrive in Korea.

21 October – Docs for Expats send Police Clearance from Pretoria.

15 November – Receive Police Clearance.

12 December – Get an e-mail from EPIK: Placement made in Gyeongbuk Province.

15 January – Receive e-mail from EPIK: Online Orientation.

20 January – Start and finish the 15hour Online Orientation.

22 January – EPIK sends Employment Package (visa issuance number) from Korea with FedEx.

27 January – Receive Employment Package.

27 January – Mail everything (passport, photos, contract, visa form and notice of appointment) to the Embassy of Korea in Pretoria with Speed Services.

29 January – Embassy of Korea receives package.

5 February – Receive passport with Korean visa.

5 February – Book flight tickets: Port Elizabeth – Johannesburg (Mango), Johannesburg – Doha – Incheon (Qatar).

12 February – Fly to Korea.

13 February – Arrive in Korea.

18 February – EPIK Orientation starts.

26 February – EPIK Orientation ends.

* I already had my University Degree aspostilled in the beginning of 2013 (when I thought that I would return to Korea) so I kept those apostilled copies and used it for this application.

It’s a long process, but it’s worth all the documents, all the time and all the chewing of nails while waiting.

If you want to teach English in South Korea, apply directly with EPIK – direct applicants’ documents will be processed first!

Go on, give it a go and apply… Teaching in Korea is a wonderful experience!