Teaching English in Korea and Japan

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Teaching English in Korea and Japan

Unread postby gigi116 » 09 Mar 2007, 00:18

I'm contemplating teaching in Japan or Korea. I hear Japan is nicer, more sophisticated. Korea pays more and the cost of living is cheaper. I really need to save money while teaching. Plus most jobs in Japan need certifiation and they don't pay for your airfare and they take the apartment fee out of your check. In Korea, they pay for your apartment. Could someone give me some insight if they have taught in both places. Thanks for any help.
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Unread postby sam » 11 Mar 2007, 07:45

"I hear Japan is nicer, more sophisticated." - sorry, that's a rumor! I've traveled to quite a few countries in Asia (including Japan), and the most missed memory is: KOREA! Especially talking about sophistication - Japan is nowhere close to Korea. Go for Korea, and I guarantee you, you are going to love it!
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Thanks

Unread postby gigi116 » 12 Mar 2007, 20:47

Thanks for the advice. Do you have any other resources I could use to learn more? Did you teach in these countries? If so where did you teach in Korea?
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Unread postby sam » 12 Mar 2007, 21:00

hi there...

no i did not teach, i just traveled asia for fun, and out of 9 coutnries i've seen in asia, korea is definitely number 1! i can't describe it, but korea is just fascinating. i was in seoul, and the city itself is kinda grey and ugly, but the people and the sophistication you see everywhere is so incredible. i have friend in seoul who teach english and they make at least $ 60 an hour, so it's definitely a good english-teaching market. anyway... i never tought, but i love korea! the food is amazing, and people are so cool... go check out, and don't waste your time on japan.

- sam
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Unread postby gigi116 » 19 Mar 2007, 05:21

Thanks for the advice. Do you think your friend would mind answering some questions about their time in Korea?
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Unread postby Solidsnake » 11 Jun 2007, 13:16

Put japan in your last option... I've been there (though not as teacher) and when I return to Philippines, I suffered from some sort of culture shock!!:D
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Thanks

Unread postby gigi116 » 11 Jun 2007, 17:23

Thanks for the input, most people have told me to go for korea.
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Unread postby Chopvac » 19 Oct 2007, 19:53

The four main destinations in Asia for teaching (considering wages and quality of life as the main criteria) are Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. Anywhere else and you can give up significant wages as well as having to live in a culture that is not western friendly.

If saving money is your main concern, the order of preference is Korea, Taiwan, Japan, and Thailand. Japan (4%) and Korea (5%) have the lowest income tax rates of the four while Taiwan is 10%, and Thailand is reported to be about the same. Japan pays the most, but its cost of living is very high. In the past (when I was there) Korean schools not only paid for the airfare but also the apartment rent; things may have changed, but even if you pay your own rent, it's not that bad (decent studio apts. in Seoul went for US$300-400/mo). If the rent is paid for, you can live on US$600-800/mo and save that much again.

Taiwan (where I am now) has higher wages (NT$60K/mo) and rents in Taipei, and lower wages (NT$54K/mo) in other cities where the rent is half the price. Thailand doesn't pay as much (US$700/mo) but is very cheap to live in.

In terms of quality of life, I would put Thailand first, Japan second, then Taiwan and Korea. The Thais are wonderful people, the food is incredible, and the country beautiful. Japan is a little too staid and formal, but foreigners seem to be treated well. Taiwan isn't a bad place, but it and Korea both subscribe heavily to confucianism, so they consider foreigners to be not worth as much as them. Korea's filth (the pollution, the smoking and the ever present street vomit) make it the least enjoyable. But the biggest difference between Taiwan and Korea is living outside of the big cities: in Korea, you can forget finding anything in English or food other than Korean. In Taiwan, most cities (even the smaller ones) have some foreigners and a wide variety of food and English newspapers are available. As well, the Taiwanese smoke as much as North Americans used to 20 years ago; almost all Korean men smoke, and a large number of Japanese do too.

And then there's the christianity...it's one thing to be one, and I don't knock anyone for it, but many Korean employers who are christian seem to think they can demand you join their church. Never again will I work there.

All of this, of course, is my experience only. To each his own, your mileage may vary, po-tay-to/po-tah-to, etc.
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