The Land of the Morning Calm…
Location: Northern Asia
Currency: Korean won (1 USD = approx 1100 Korean won)
Time Zone: GMT +9 (Your 6 pm BJT classes start at 7pm in the Korea.)
Population: 52 Million
Internet Speed: Korea consistently ranks among the fastest internet on planet Earth. Speed Test’s Global Rankings currently has South Korea in 3rd place with speeds of 151 down and 103 up. Finding adequate internet in SK will not be a problem. Phone companies, such as SK Telecom offer great unlimited data plans on their cell phone service, too. This makes using a mobile hot spot an easy choice without fear of excess data charges.
Visa: If you are American, you can travel to Korea without a visa for 90 days. If you wish to stay longer, you will need to do a visa run (likely to nearby Japan). This is fairly easy and can be done by ferry from Busan or by flying from one of two larger airports in Seoul (Incheon or Gimpo).
For those looking to stay in Korea long-term, an E-1 visa is a terrific option. It requires sponsorship from a Korean university where you will be required to teach. These jobs offer an exceptional opportunity, as the schedule is quite limited, the pay is usually generous considering the hours required, and they come with excellent benefits- including pension, access to universal healthcare, and four to five months of paid vacation per year. Check out our detailed blog for more on this topic.
Korea also offers F-class visas to those who have Korean heritage or those who are seeking to immigrate and assimilate to Korean society. The government utilizes a point system for those wishing to immigrate. Points can be earned for a variety of things, including knowledge of the Korean language, education, and community service within Korea.
Healthcare: South Korea offers an outstanding universal healthcare system. However, if you are not covered by national health insurance, costs are not cheap. While nowhere near American healthcare costs, it is advisable to ensure that you are covered by private or travel insurance prior to coming to Korea. Check out World Nomads travel insurance.
Cost of Living: If you want to live in Seoul, it can be very expensive. Even small apartments can run about 800,000 won (or about $750 USD). Outside of Seoul, Korea still offers excellent services and amenities for a far lower price. Smaller cities allow you to get a small apartment for half what it costs in Seoul. Many places in Korea offer studios (called one-rooms) for approximately $200 per month. For those really on a budget, there are goshiweons (very, very small rooms- often with a shared bathroom) for as little as $100-150 per month. Groceries and eating out in Korea is not especially expensive, so long as you avoid fancy restaurants.
The information provided in this article is provided purely as a matter of convenience and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Always seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney before making the decision to relocate.