The small print: what you didn’t read about teaching in a Korean public school

You know how every contract has “the small print”? Korea is no different. And I’m not talking about the job contract. That thing is pretty airtight (if you work for the government, at least). The “contract” I’m referring to here is that little blurb you see on every recruitment website. Everything looks very appealing (and trust me, it very much is!), but of course, there’s the stuff they don’t tell you.

One of the absolute perks of the public school system, is that native teachers have hours and hours of free time every day. And so it was, on one of these days, that a friend and I had a back-and-forth about the small print.

Here’s what we came up with:Magnifying glass lying on a legal contract

  • Free rent!

(Excludes utilities and security fees, so pay up or freeze your butt off in winter.)

  • Enjoy Korean culture!

(Kinda racist.)

  • Korean food is the best!


  • Be a teacher!

(You’re not a teacher.)

  • Work with great kids!

(They’re only great when there’s a Korean teacher in the room. The rest of the time, they’re just kids.)

  • You don’t need to know any Korean

(Never know what’s going on around you, even when you hear your name being used in conversation.)

  • Only 50 weeks of classes a year!

(We reserve the right to define “classes”. Also, have you heard of deskwarming?)

  • Accommodation 20 minutes walking distance from the school!

(In winter and summer, this’ll feel like 3 hours.)

  • Cheap living costs!

(Until you crave red meat or fruit.)

  • Great travel opportunities within Asia!

(Always during high season.)

  • Experience ancient traditions!

(Aegyo. Aegyo everywhere.)


***Disclaimer: I don’t hate Korea. Every country has its quirks, and as an outsider, I get to observe Korea with a different frame of reference. And despite the small print, I’m having a ball. And there’s plenty of positives, which I’ve gushed about in pretty much every other post. All of the above is meant completely tongue-in-cheek. If you don’t have a sense of humour, go away.***


Oh hey! When searching the interwebz for images to put into this post, I came across the following blog entry. See, I’m not the only one!