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Teach English in Busan, South Korea

English teaching jobs in Busan

Busan, South Korea's second-largest city after Seoul, serves as a gateway to the world with its status as a major port city. Nestled on the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula, Busan effortlessly marries the serenity of coastal beaches with the hustle and bustle of urban life.

The city's picturesque coastline, with famous beaches like Haeundae and Gwangalli, offers a tranquil retreat from the daily grind. But venture a little further in, and you're greeted by a sprawling urban landscape, bustling markets, and a skyline adorned with modern architecture.

Yet, what truly sets Busan apart is its unique cultural flair. With its own dialect, culinary specialties, and vibrant festivals like the Busan International Film Festival, the city boasts a distinct identity within the Korean landscape. This cultural richness is evident in its traditional temples, bustling fish markets, and the rhythmic beats of Busan's street performances.

For ESL teachers, Busan offers a slightly different experience than Seoul. While it retains the urban amenities and modern infrastructure, it also provides a more relaxed environment, thanks to its coastal setting. The demand for English is steadily on the rise here, with numerous hagwons (private academies) and public schools actively seeking English educators. If you're seeking an environment that's a harmonious blend of the contemporary and the traditional, of the urban and the coastal, Busan might just be the perfect place for your teaching journey in South Korea.

Reasons to Teach English in Busan

Coastal Charm with Urban Sophistication: Unlike the landlocked cities, Busan offers teachers a unique opportunity to experience both beach life and urban excitement. After a week of teaching, you can relax on the sandy shores of Haeundae or go for a calming stroll along Gwangalli Beach.

Cultural Hub: Hosting events like the renowned Busan International Film Festival, Busan stands as a major cultural hotspot in South Korea. Teaching here means being at the heart of significant cultural exchanges and festivities.

Lower Cost of Living: Compared to Seoul, the cost of living in Busan is slightly more affordable. This allows teachers to potentially save more or indulge in various leisure activities without breaking the bank.

Warm Community: The expat community in Busan is tight-knit. Newcomers often find it easier to connect, share experiences, and form lasting friendships, thanks to various local expat groups and events.

Diverse Teaching Opportunities: Busan has seen a consistent rise in the demand for English education. From public schools to private hagwons and even universities, there's a broad spectrum of teaching opportunities awaiting in Busan.

Gateway to Travel: Busan's geographical location makes it a convenient starting point for travels across Asia. With its major port and well-connected train routes, weekend getaways or holiday trips become easily accessible.

Local Delicacies: For the food enthusiasts, Busan offers unique culinary delights that are hard to find elsewhere in Korea. From the freshest seafood at Jagalchi Market to the famous Busan-style pancakes, the city promises a gastronomic adventure.

Rich History & Natural Beauty: Busan is not just about modernity. Historical temples like Beomeosa offer serene retreats, while regions like Taejongdae provide panoramic views of the rugged coastline. As a teacher, these spots can be perfect for weekend explorations.

Dynamic Language Scene: With the increasing global interaction, Busan's locals are keen to learn English, making the city's language exchange scene vibrant. This not only gives teachers additional opportunities to earn but also to immerse themselves deeper into Korean culture.

Balanced Lifestyle: Busan provides a balanced lifestyle that's neither too frenetic nor too laid back. For those who seek a middleground between Seoul's rapid pace and a rural town's tranquility, Busan strikes the perfect chord.

Understanding Busan's Education Landscape

Busan, being South Korea's second-largest city, holds a special place in the nation's education sector. While it might not be as bustling as Seoul, its education landscape is diverse, dynamic, and ripe with opportunities for English educators. Here's an overview:

Public Schools

EPIK (English Program in Korea) is the primary recruiter for public school positions across South Korea, and Busan is no exception. Teaching in public schools often means handling regular hours, with vacation periods aligning with school holidays. Public schools in Busan offer positions for both elementary and secondary education levels.

Private Academies (Hagwons)

Busan has a plethora of hagwons catering to various age groups, from kindergarteners to adults. These are private institutions and often have timings that differ from the regular school hours, sometimes running into the evening to accommodate school-going students. The curriculum is often more focused on conversational English and exam preparations.


Several universities in Busan offer positions for English educators, especially those with higher qualifications or specialized expertise. These roles can range from teaching conversational English to more advanced subjects, depending on the institution and the instructor's background.

International Schools

Busan houses a few international schools, where the medium of instruction is primarily English. These institutions often seek highly qualified teachers with experience in international curricula.

Private Tutoring

With English becoming increasingly crucial for business, travel, and academic purposes, many adults and students seek private lessons. There's a significant market for private English tutoring in Busan, though one should be aware of the visa regulations concerning such arrangements.

Corporate English Training

Many companies in Busan, recognizing the importance of English in global business, hire trainers to teach their employees business English, both for verbal communication and written correspondence.

Language Exchanges and Cafes

Busan's vibrant language exchange scene allows for informal teaching and cultural exchange. While these might not be full-fledged teaching jobs, they provide an excellent platform for networking and cultural immersion.

Online Teaching Platforms

With the rise of digital platforms, many teachers based in Busan also take up online English teaching jobs, catering to students worldwide.

Government Initiatives

The Busan Metropolitan City government often launches initiatives promoting English learning, which may involve camps, workshops, and short-term teaching positions.

Specialized Programs

Occasionally, there are programs targeting specific groups, like North Korean defectors or multicultural families, aiming to enhance their English proficiency and integrate them better into society.

Eligibility and Requirements to Teach English in Busan

Teaching English in Busan requires certain qualifications and personal attributes to be successful. While the overall requirements to teach English in South Korea provide a general guideline, it's essential to note that specific schools, especially private institutions, might have their own set of additional criteria. Here's a comprehensive breakdown:

Educational Qualifications

Bachelor's Degree: Hold a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in any subject. Some prestigious institutions or specialized teaching roles might prefer candidates with a degree in English, Linguistics, or Education.

Nationality and Language Proficiency

Native English Speaker: Be a citizen of a country where English is the primary language, such as Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, the United States, or South Africa. Proficiency in English: Have an impeccable command of the English language, both written and spoken.

Health and Character Criteria

Mental and Physical Health: Candidates should be in good health and may need to undergo a health check. Criminal Background: Possess a clean national-level criminal record. This is crucial as schools prioritize the safety of their students.


TEFL/TESOL/CELTA Certification: While not mandatory, holding a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certificate can significantly increase your job prospects, especially if you lack teaching experience. Some institutions might require this as a standard qualification.


Preferred but Not Mandatory: Teaching experience is a valued asset, but many institutions in Busan are willing to hire fresh graduates or those without formal teaching experience. However, having prior experience might offer better salary packages or positions at reputable schools.

Cultural Adaptability

Openness to Korean Culture: It's essential to demonstrate a genuine interest in Korean culture and a willingness to integrate into the local community. This adaptability not only helps in the classroom but also makes the overall experience more enriching.

Contractual Obligations

Commitment: Most teaching contracts in Busan, whether with public schools or hagwons, last for a year. Candidates should be prepared to commit to the entire duration.

Visa Requirements

E-2 Visa: This is the standard visa for foreign language instructors in South Korea. The process requires submitting documents like degree certificates, criminal background checks, and health reports.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in Busan

Teaching English in Busan offers a competitive salary package, accompanied by numerous benefits that make the overall compensation quite attractive. While the remuneration can vary based on the school type, location, and individual qualifications, here's a general overview of what English teachers can expect:

Monthly Salary

Public Schools: Approximately 1.8 - 2.7 million Won per month. Kindergartens: Roughly 2.0 - 2.5 million Won per month. Private Academies (Hagwons): Around 2.1 - 2.6 million Won per month. International Schools: Typically 2.5 - 3.2 million Won per month. Universities: Can range from 2.5 - 3.8 million Won per month, depending on qualifications and experience. Private Lessons: Teachers can charge 30,000 - 60,000 Won per hour, but this can vary based on expertise and demand.


Free Accommodation: Many institutions, especially public schools and hagwons, provide furnished apartments for their teachers. If not, they might offer a housing allowance in addition to the monthly salary.

Flight Reimbursements

Schools often cover round-trip airfare from the teacher's home country to Busan. Some might offer an upfront ticket, while others reimburse the cost after the teacher's arrival.

Severance Pay

After completing a one-year contract, teachers typically receive an additional month's salary as severance pay.

Health Insurance

Employers generally cover 50% of the national health insurance fee, offering teachers access to South Korea's excellent healthcare system at a reduced cost.


Public Schools: Teachers can expect around 18-20 paid vacation days in addition to national holidays. Hagwons: Typically offer 7-10 days of paid vacation along with national holidays. However, the vacation days might be fixed based on the academy's schedule.

Contract Renewal Bonus

If a teacher chooses to renew their contract for another year, some institutions might offer a renewal bonus, which could range from half to a full month's salary.

Professional Development Opportunities

Some schools, especially international ones, might provide or subsidize training and workshops to further hone the teacher's skills.

Pension Contributions

For teachers from countries with a pension agreement with South Korea (like the U.S. and Canada), both the employer and employee contribute to the national pension scheme. Upon leaving Korea, teachers can receive a lump-sum pension refund.

Living in Busan

Nestled between verdant mountains and azure waters, Busan is South Korea's second-largest city, offering a distinctive blend of urban hustle and coastal tranquility. Living in Busan presents both unique challenges and exciting opportunities. Here's a snapshot of what life in this vibrant coastal city might entail:

Cost of Living

Accommodation: While many teachers receive free housing from their employers, the general rental cost is lower than in Seoul. A one-room apartment in the city center might range from 400,000 to 700,000 Won per month.

Transportation: Busan boasts an efficient and affordable public transport system. The Busan Metro covers most parts of the city, and buses complement routes not covered by the subway. Taxis are also reasonably priced.

Food and Dining: Whether you're buying groceries from local markets or dining out, food in Busan is generally affordable. Street food stalls, traditional Korean eateries, and upscale restaurants offer diverse choices to fit any budget.

Utilities and Internet: Utility bills can vary based on usage and apartment size, but they're generally affordable. High-speed internet and mobile data plans are competitively priced, given South Korea's technological advancement.

Cultural Attractions

Beaches: Busan is famous for its beaches, with Haeundae Beach and Gwangalli Beach being the most popular. These beaches are hubs of activity, especially during the summer months.

Temples and Historical Sites: The Haedong Yonggungsa Temple, perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean, offers serenity and stunning views. Additionally, the Gamcheon Culture Village showcases colorful houses and artistic murals.

Lifestyle and Entertainment

Busan boasts a dynamic nightlife with a range of bars, clubs, and lounges. The Haeundae and Seomyeon areas are particularly known for their vibrant scenes.

The Busan International Film Festival (BIFF) is a significant event held annually, drawing cinephiles and industry professionals from around the world.

Nature and Outdoor Activities

Hiking: The city is surrounded by mountains offering hiking trails for all levels. Jangsan and Geumjeong Fortress are popular spots for both locals and expats.

Water Activities: The coastal location means you can engage in various water activities, from yachting to paddleboarding.

Local Communities and Expat Scene

With a growing number of foreigners teaching and working in Busan, there's a thriving expat community. Many groups and events cater to expatriates, helping newcomers integrate and make friends.

Language and Communication

While Korean (Hangul) is the official language, many younger residents and those in the service industry speak basic English. However, learning some basic Korean can be incredibly beneficial and is appreciated by locals.


Busan experiences milder winters compared to other parts of South Korea, but summers can be humid. The city's coastal location offers refreshing sea breezes, particularly during warmer months.

Teacher Stories: Teaching English in Busan

Sarah from Australia

"When I first landed in Busan, I was instantly drawn to its coastal beauty. But what really captured my heart was the warmth of its people. In my hagwon, students were eager to learn, making my teaching experience deeply fulfilling. I spent weekends exploring the local fish markets, hiking in the nearby mountains, and learning traditional Korean dance. My two years in Busan were truly transformative, giving me not just teaching experience, but life lessons that I carry with me."

Michael from the UK

"I initially chose Busan because I wanted a different experience from the hustle of Seoul. And I was not disappointed! Teaching at a public school gave me a structured environment where I was able to connect deeply with my students. The best part was joining a local football club. The camaraderie, combined with the magic of Busan's beaches, made my time here unforgettable."

Aisha from South Africa

"Busan was a city of contrasts for me. The juxtaposition of the urban landscape with the serene beaches was mesmerizing. My teaching journey at a private academy was challenging at times, especially with the long hours. However, the friendships I forged, both with locals and expats, made it all worth it. The highlight was attending the Busan International Film Festival - an experience that broadened my horizons."

Carlos from the USA

"I was a seasoned teacher when I moved to Busan, having taught in Latin America before. But teaching here was a whole different ball game. The dedication and discipline of the students were commendable. Living near Gwangalli Beach, I often conducted classes on the beach itself, making learning fun and interactive. The city's nightlife, especially in Seomyeon, added a fun element to my stay."

Ling from the USA:

"Being Asian, I thought adjusting to Busan would be easy. But the cultural differences were stark. What helped was the support of my fellow teachers and the kindness of my students. I taught at a university, and the academic rigor was intense. But the joy of seeing my students excel in English was unmatched. My free time was spent exploring local temples and relishing the delicious Korean cuisine."

Moving Towards Teaching English In Busan

Busan, with its scenic coastal views, vibrant culture, and ever-growing educational sector, presents itself as an enticing destination for English educators worldwide. If you're considering a teaching stint in Busan, here are some steps to get you started on this exciting journey:

Research and Decide

Start by understanding Busan's local culture, traditions, and the general lifestyle to ensure that it aligns with your personal preferences. Decide on the type of institution you'd like to work in, be it a hagwon, public school, university, or an international institution.

Secure Necessary Qualifications

As mentioned before, you will need at least a bachelor's degree and be from a country where English is the primary language. A TEFL or TESOL certification will give you an edge, especially in more competitive positions or higher-paying roles.

Job Hunting

Utilize online platforms dedicated to teaching jobs in South Korea, like Dave’s ESL Cafe or WorknPlay. Reach out to recruiters who specialize in placing teachers in Busan. They often have ties with local schools and can help streamline the process. Attend job fairs or Korean cultural events in your home country, as schools sometimes recruit directly through these channels.


Be prepared for interviews via Skype or other online platforms. Schools often want to gauge your teaching style, so you may be asked to provide a demo lesson. Ask the right questions about working hours, curriculum, support for foreign teachers, and other essential factors to ensure it's the right fit for you.

Document Preparation

Organize all your required documents like degree certificates, TEFL certifications, and criminal background checks. South Korea is stringent about documentation, so ensure everything is accurate and timely.

Arrival and Adaptation

Once you secure a position, it's all about adapting. Join expat groups, participate in local events, and engage with your new community. Busan has a significant expat population, so you're bound to find support and companionship. Utilize orientation programs if your school offers them. They can be invaluable in understanding the Korean education system and your role within it.

Continual Growth

Engage in professional development opportunities. There are often workshops, courses, and conferences available to educators in Busan. Learn the basics of the Korean language. It will not only help you in day-to-day life but also enhance your rapport with students and colleagues.

Embrace and Explore

Teaching is just one facet of your experience. Make the most of your time by exploring Busan's rich culture, scenic spots, and delectable cuisine. From the Busan International Film Festival to hiking in the nearby mountains, there's always something to do.

By taking these steps, you'll not only secure a position teaching English in Busan but also enrich your life with unique experiences, relationships, and memories that will last a lifetime. Dive in and embrace the myriad of opportunities that await in this coastal gem of South Korea.