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Moving to Korea

Who? What? Where? How? When?

Written by Oisin Feeney and posted in opinion

This is an opinion of a young person and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of It is one person's experience and may be different for you. If you'd like to write something for please contact

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My name is Oisin Feeney and next Friday I will be leaving my comfortable life in Ireland to move to South Korea to begin a year teaching English. I am 23 years old and studied Media and English in Maynooth. After Maynooth I did a graduate visa and spent a year living and working in Chicago. I got home about a year ago and since that point have been working in a call center for a bank.

Not exactly living the dream one could say! Of course I was very lucky to get a job, but as a young person in Ireland I really don’t feel everyone should celebrate because I got any old job, I want to LIVE and do things I feel passionate and excited about. After 10 months working in the call center I decided enough was enough and realized that I needed to find a way to press that giant red ‘evacuate’ button and get out of this situation as quickly as possible.


The problem was I didn’t exactly have any way out. I live at home with my family and had a job in a bank. To move out, I’d need to keep the job and to change the job I’d need to stay at home longer. One afternoon I noticed that a friend on Facebook posted that the school she worked at in South Korea were looking to hire a teacher within the next two months. “Why not” I thought to myself. I pressed the giant red button and sent off my CV.

As is turns out, you do not need a TEFL qualification to get a job teaching in many schools. Once you have a degree either in English or related to English that will be enough for many schools. I had my interview with the principal, a man by the fantastic name of Starcane, and within 3 days of applying I was offered the job.


I will be teaching in a Hagwon, which is a grind school for Korean kids. It is located about an hour North of Seoul (quite near the North Korean border!) The kids go there after their regular school for even more lessons. The school will look after my flights, accommodation and bills. They will even hook me up with my own bicycle, which is great. The hours are a bit awkward, from 12-8 Monday to Friday. This does not bother me it will just take some getting used to. The holidays are the one thing that are a bit silly. I get 10 days off A YEAR. Hagwon schools are easier to get work in without experience but if you value your holiday time and better working hours, a job in the Korean public school system is the way to go.


The most complicated part of the entire process is preparing the documentation. This all must be sent off about a month before you intend to travel. To be honest it isn’t that bad and can all be done within a week. Here is exactly what you need along with how to get them:

  • Original Diploma. This should already be somewhere in your house and needs to be posted off. You will get it back when you arrive there.
  • Two copied diploma with appostille stamp on the back. Just a simple photocopy.
  • Two college transcripts (sealed and stamped on the back). This you can get in your admissions office of your college. You can phone in a request and then collect it later but do not open it! I will talk about the appostille stamp later
  • Two Criminal Background Checks with appostille stamp (Not the local but the national level).
  • To get this you need to go in to your local Gardaí station. Bring a Photo ID and a print out of the email requesting a check. It could take up to three weeks but I got mine within a week.
  • Two signed contracts. The school will email you these
  • Five passport pictures. Just regular photos
  • One health statement. A statement sent to you that you fill out and return, if you are going to Korea you will undergo a full health evaluation upon arriving in Korea.
  • Photocopy of passport info page. Straightforward enough

Regarding appostille stamp:
Before you can get any appostille stamps each document will need to be notarized. This means that the documents need to be stamped by a solicitor who has notary authority. A quick Google of ‘Irish notaries’ will show you the ones nearby. Usually they will charge about 40 euro altogether.

Then you bring the documents in to the Department of Foreign Affairs and they can place the stamp on each document. It costs 40-euro PER STAMP so make sure you have the money.

That’s all there is. Once the school has all of your documentation, they will organize your visa number. Once you have a number all it takes is a quick trip to the embassy and then that’s it!

  • I have a lot of feelings about this trip; excitement certainly is one of them. So far this is all I know about Korea:
  • They use metal chopsticks instead of wooden ones.
  • They are the plastic surgery capital of the world.
  • Barber shops and brothels look very alike, so I need to be very careful when getting my hair cut.
  • They eat spicy cabbage for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

I will most definitely keep updating regarding my travels, I also hope to make video documentaries about the weird and wonderful things I experience over there. So wish me luck and if you are thinking of pressing that red button then please do. Life is short and the world is beautiful.

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Published May 28th, 2014
Last updated February 28th, 2018
Tags korea travel work
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