Introduction to EPIK and SMOE - Teaching English in South Korea
EPIK & SMOE
Details of EPIK/SMOE Jobs
EPIK/SMOE is the English Program in Korea. They hire for
almost all the public schools in Korea and offer a fantastic
program. Reach to Teach and EPIK/SMOE have had a very
successful partnership for many years now-we provide
EPIK/SMOE hundreds of teachers every year!
EPIK/SMOE teachers get a wonderful and informative training
and introduction to Korean culture, teaching and lesson
preparation. EPIK/SMOE is very supportive of its teachers (as is
Reach To Teach) and offers what is likely the best orientation of
any teaching program in Korea. Each semester they hire hundreds
of teachers for all different cities and provinces in Korea.
Teachers continue to give us very positive comments on the
whole program and their teaching experiences with EPIK/SMOE.
● Every year at the end of August and the end of February are
most common. Exact dates vary year to year.
● Range from 2.0 – 2.7 million KRW/month depending on
experience, qualifications and location (see salary scale
● Airfare reimbursement up to 1.3 million KRW each way.
● 300,000 KRW settlement bonus paid after orientation. This is
to help you settle in, pay for your medical check (about 50-
70,000KRW), and any other incidental costs you may have
when you first arrive.
● Severance pay (equivalent to one month salary) upon
completion of contract.
● 2.0 million KRW renewal bonus (upon completion and
renewal of contract at same school) as well as 2 weeks leave
● Other bonuses for rural provinces and towns as well as
working at multiple schools.
For exact salary information visit the Reach To Teach EPIK
One full week of training with other EPIK/SMOE teachers as
soon as you arrive:
● Cultural lessons, field trip & basic Korean language classes
● Living in Korea orientation.
● Curriculum, teaching lessons, co-teaching tips, model lesson
● On-site medical exams.
● Cell phone & bank account set-up.
● Room and board provided for training.
The EPIK/SMOE orientation is invaluable. The support and
organization is astounding and the EPIK/SMOE staff are
extremely committed to the teachers and the orientation.
Everything is taken care of from the moment you step off the
plane. You are brought to the orientation, fed, given a bed, meals
for the week and you’ll meet hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of other
teachers just like you starting out on their Korean adventure.
You’ll have a chance to practice planning lessons, teach sample
lessons and get feedback from your peers and the staff. Learn
about Korean culture, language and even get a cell phone and
bank account set up all within the first week!! Afterwards you’ll
be taken directly to your placement, meet your co-teacher and
they will take you to your apartment and show you around the
area and the school.
● 1.3 million KRW for each entrance and exit allowance (1.3m
KRW for each flight to and from Korea- reimbursed within
first month in Korea).
● 18 day’s vacation (split between 8 working days during the
summer break and 10 working days during the winter break).
● 1.3 million KRW for each entrance and exit allowance (1.3m
KRW for each flight to and from Korea- reimbursed within
first month in Korea).
● 50% monthly medical insurance premiums paid by employer
You will pay 4.48% of your monthly wage as your
contribution to medical insurance. You will then be covered
for basically any health problem in Korea. You can read more
about the National Health Care plan in Korea at http://www.
● Monday to Friday. Standard 40 hour work week
● No weekends
● 22 teaching (class) hours/week with the remaining 18 hours a
week for prep and planning
● Always single furnished housing.
● Only married couples can apply for couples housing.
Studio/bachelor style or ‘one room’ apartments are the norm for
teachers. They will have basic furnishings including a bed,
washing machine, TV, table, chairs, cutlery, basic pots and pans
Housing is up to an individual school (not EPIK/SMOE). Each
school has a budget to find appropriate housing for you.
Sometimes you’ll be moving into a previous teacher's apartment,
sometimes you’ll be the first teacher in the apartment. Schools do
their best to find a good place for you to live. Sometimes that
means you are very close to the school (a short walk away), other
times they will find you an apartment in a more desirable area to
live (compared to where the school is located). This would mean
a little commute to the school by bus, taxi or even bicycle if you
Arrival in Korea
EPIK/SMOE and Reach To Teach support continues once you
arrive at the airport. EPIK/SMOE will have a booth at the airport
for you to check in, and Reach To Teach will be there to greet
you in person. EPIK/SMOE will then take you on their chartered
buses to the orientation site (yet to be determined for the next
Other Advantages of EPIK/SMOE
Teaching in the public school system offers other opportunities
that hagwons (private schools) can’t offer. Public schools have
positions like teacher trainers at training centers, area leaders,
MOE coordinators, orientation lecturers, and more all for native
English teachers. EPIK/SMOE also hires a couple of native
English speakers for their office each year. Working in a public
school also gives you a great advantage in going back to your
home country to teach as well.
Cities and Provinces that EPIK/SMOE
Hires Teachers For
Korea is divided into 16 distinct administrative zones. There are 7
Metropolitan cities (with over 1,000,000 residents) and 9
provinces. Each of the metropolitan cities has a Metropolitan
Office of Education (MOE) and each province has a Provincial
Office of Education (POE). The MOE’s and POE’s request
teachers from EPIK/SMOE each semester. From time to time the
MOE’s and POE’s also hire teachers on their own if EPIK/SMOE
either can’t provide them with enough teachers or last minute
positions become open.
(Not all areas are available all the time- popular cities will fill
early. Contact us to see what’s available when you apply).
Busan – 3.6 million people: Southern Korea. Large port city
with a very metropolitan feel. Very popular with foreigners and
Daegu – 2.7 million people: In central Korea- easy access via
high speed train (KTX) to Seoul, Busan and other cities. Great
Incheon – 2.6 million people: Just west of Seoul- connected to
Seoul by subway and home to Seoul’s international airport. Fast
growing international city.
Daejeon – 1.4 million people: Central Korea- known as the high-
tech centre of Korea. 1 hour to Seoul and 2 hours to Busan on the
high speed train (KTX).
(slightly higher base salary)
Gwangju – 1.4 million people: South-western Korea- lots of
history, not far from the highest mountain in South Korea
(Jirisan) and the coast.
Ulsan – 1.0 million people: Southern coastal city. Active foreign
community, growing city.
Seoul – [Limited availability due to budget cutbacks]
Gangwon – Mountainous north eastern province. Home to many
famous mountains for hiking and skiing. Cities include
Chuncheon, Gangneung, Sokcho and others.
Gyeongbuk – Large eastern coastal province. Home to famous
Gyeongju as well as Pohang, Andong, many coastal mountains
and surrounding Daegu.
Gyeongnam – Southern coastal with islands- Home to Masan,
Changwon, Jinju and not far from Busan.
Chungbuk – Southeast of Seoul area- Inland/central Korea.
Cheongju is one of the bigger cities.
Chungnam – South of Seoul area- On the western coast of
Korea- surrounding the city of Daejeon and includes Cheonan,
Asan (35 minutes to Seoul on KTX).
Jeonbuk – South-western coastal Korea- Home to some of
Korea’s big mountains and medium sized cities- Jeonju, Gunsan,
Jeonnam – Southern coastal area with many islands and fishing
towns. Home to Mokpo and Yeosu (host of 2012 World Expo).
Jeju – Southern island. Popular vacation destination for domestic
and international tourists.
It’s important to know how placements with EPIK/SMOE work.
When you are offered a position through EPIK/SMOE, you are
invited to submit your documents location preferences noted on
your application form. If there are positions available in your top
choice, your documents will be submitted to that MOE or POE
for approval. If your top choice has been filled, then you will be
submitted to your second choice. It’s important to think about
your choices and be prepared to accept a position in any of them
if needed. The best way to obtain a job in your top choice is to
apply as early as possible and send your completed documents as
soon as possible.
Placements within an MOE/POE
When you receive your notice of appointment and official
contract, it will only show a city or a province- not a specific
school or neighborhood. Each of the POE’s and MOE’s will work
to match teachers and schools only once they’ve confirmed most
of their teacher’s complete documents. You will be told of your
placement (within the MOE or POE) on the second to last day of
the orientation when you meet your MOE/POE supervisor. Be
aware that many of the MOE’s (big cities) have large
metropolitan areas that sprawl out beyond the downtown core
areas. This means even if you are offered a position in Busan, it
doesn’t mean you’ll be placed in downtown Busan. You could be
placed on the outskirts (but within the city limits) of Busan (as an
example). You have to be aware of this and accept that this is a
You will not be able to change schools after you find out your
placement, and you can’t request a specific neighborhood of any
city (unless you’ve got your own apartment in Korea already!).
The same goes for school levels. You can make your request
known of what age level you would prefer to teach (elementary /
middle / high school), however your final placement is up to the
MOE/POE. Sometimes an MOE/POE only has openings in a
certain type of school (all elementary one semester or all middle
school another semester). It just depends on what is available and
what the other applicants request and are qualified for or have
In the Schools
The Korean government has an initiative to place one native
English speaking teacher in each public school in Korea. There
are over 12,000 public schools in Korea, so this is a very
ambitious task, but the government is moving swiftly to make
this a reality. As an EPIK/SMOE teacher you will be the only
native speaking English teacher in your school. You will be
working closely with a Korean co-teacher who is an English
speaker. English levels vary amongst Korean co-teachers. You
may work with a few co-teachers in one school depending how
big the school is. EPIK/SMOE teachers are called either NET
(Native English Teachers) or GET (Guest English Teachers).
NETs/GETs and Korean teachers are equals in and out of the
classroom. Neither you nor the co-teacher is superior. Your co-
teacher is also your liaison between yourself and the school
administration as well as EPIK/SMOE or the MOE/POE.
Teachers are expected to dress in ‘business casual’ for the most
part. Shirts with a collar and respectable pants (not usually jeans).
Each school is different though. The principal will set the
standard, and some will be more casual than others. Be sure to
have some formal clothes as well for special occasions (meeting
your co-teacher and supervisor for the first time etc). The way
you present yourself will reflect the respect you get from the
students. Can’t hurt to dress to impress.
Classes are typically 25 - 30 students, and their English levels
will vary greatly. You are in the class with a co-teacher at all
times. Classrooms in Korea are likely more technically advanced
than you remember when you were in school. Huge flat screen
TV’s linked to the internet are the norm these days in the
classroom. Make use of multi-media lessons daily if you like with
Apply to EPIK/SMOE Program
1. When applying to the EPIK/SMOE program you can only
submit one application. In other words, you can't apply to the
EPIK/SMOE program through two different recruiters or
agencies. If you do, there is the possibility that EPIK/SMOE will
fail your application.
2. EPIK/SMOE has made some changes as to the requirements
for the program. You now need to have 1 of the following to
qualify for EPIK/SMOE:
● BA degree in Education with a major in Education
● Teaching license in your home country
● TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate 100 hours or more (EPIK
will now give preference to applicants who have a 20 hour in-
● 1 year of full time teaching experience with the TALK
*** Applicants who have a BA in any other discipline must have a
TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate 100+ hours to be eligible for the program.
3. The Korean government requires you to get an FBI
background check or CRC in your home country in order for
them to issue you a visa. If you have ever been arrested or
charged with a crime this will more than likely disqualify your
application. You will need to have the charge expunged,
otherwise you will not be issued a visa to teach in Korea.
4. For all of the applicants that will be graduating from
university, it is very important that you know when your
university will issue you your diploma. Some universities will
issue it on graduation day, but some will send it to you in the mail
up to two months after you graduate. You need to check with the
registrar's office at your university on the exact date you will
receive your diploma.
5. The EPIK/SMOE application process is long and time
sensitive. You need to pay very close attention to the dates given
to you during the process. EPIK/SMOE works on a first come
first served basis based solely on when you are able to send all of
your documentation to them. You will be provided with all of the
information you’ll need along the way, but you need to be able to
commit to the process.
6. EPIK/SMOE is no longer accepting joint applicants who are
not married. If you are applying with a friend or girlfriend or
boyfriend, you must apply separately. There is still a chance that
you may be placed close to each other, but EPIK/SMOE will no
longer guarantee this unless you're married to you joint applicant.