I‘m currently writing up my posts for NYC now so don’t worry – I’m back! But it’ll probably be a week before the posts are ready 🙂 In the meantime, some things on the Korea front have been developing (EDIT: I officially switched to the GOE program!)and there will be several more updates in the next few weeks concerning that venture as well! This is “Programs Besides EPIK.”
Programs Besides EPIK
Here’s the thing. EPIK is getting crowded and frankly they’re not handling it well. I’ve watched this program since I was 14 years old. As the years have gone by the interest in Korea on an international scale has grown tremendously. The interest in a well paying job just out of college has also grown. The positions that EPIK offers have been steadily dropping. It used to be that you could get high school jobs but now those are very rare (about 90% of EPIK positions are now elementary positions). It used to be a lot easier to get Seoul, now you essentially need to be in Korea for a year before that’s possible (if you’re not in a hagwon).
But all of that stuff is not the end all and be all. Soon I’ll be doing a post on some of the other areas in Korea besides Seoul you might want to give a go, but here are some programs besides EPIK.
EPIK has absorbed a lot of the older popular programs like GEPIK. While you can still do GEPIK you normally have to have a lot more experience and it’s highly preferable that you are already be living in Korea. But there’s many smaller programs besides EPIK you might not have heard of. Here is a list of some of the general ones I am aware of. If you are looking for information on EPIK, check out my EPIK Documents in a Month, and Bad EPIK Interview posts 🙂
Gyeongsangnam – a region in the south, filled with many islands and near Busan (Korea’s second largest city). This is actually the program I am considering switching to. Because it is a smaller program GEO appears to be more predisposed towards getting to know you and helping you out. Along with avoiding making you jump through a lot of hoops. The people I have seen teaching for GOE are probably the most content and generally happy set of teachers I have seen since GEPIK in the 2011-2014 era.
Of course, you are in a much more rural area. However, I think it massively makes up for it in the stunning scenery and better pay. All of GOE starts with pay at 2.2mil won, 100k won more than EPIK and most other programs. You will most likely be in an area considered rural so you can add another 100k as a bonus. You will also probably have more than one school, netting you another 100-150k. That’s quite a bit of extra cash. Of course, you will have more transport costs and if you are that desperate to be in the city every weekend this isn’t for you. Transport costs to Seoul every weekend will totally eat up that extra cash but if you can content yourself with a bus to Busan you’re probably good.
Additionally, flights out of Busan are just as cheap and, apparently, often a bit shorter to many destinations than from Seoul. I will be doing a separate post on the entire process of applying to GOE soon.
Incheon – This is the only other program that is closest to Seoul. So if you’re set on Seoul you might want to give this program a gander.
I will say, however, that I’m not sure it’s the most stable program. Over the years since 2014 jobs in Incheon seem to, well, not really exist. Some do, obviously, as some people work there. It has often come out that EPIK hasn’t placed a single person in a given hiring phase in Incheon. They had a scandal in 2014 where they cancelled all teaching contracts and everyone who had been hired was suddenly out of a job. Incheon is also probably a lot more rural than you might be expecting. Yes, it’s probably within an hour and a half of Seoul but a looooot of people seem to get placed in the sticks. If you’re wanting a good position in Incheon you’d probably want to have at least some experience and you’ll want to go through a recruiter like Korean Horizons. There really isn’t a whole lot of information (current) that is available on the internet.
Chungnam – This is the next closest place to Seoul. It’s pretty much directly beneath the area that surround Seoul (GEPIK, Gyeonggi) but it’s definitely going to depend based on where you are placed how easy it will be to get there. The average trip will still likely take you 2 hours. This is a similar situation to GOE. If I wasn’t so ensnared by the natural beauty of GOE I would probably consider applying here instead just because it *is* closer to the biggest city in Korea. As it is, the occasional weekend trip is still not at all out of the question in the GOE area.
CNOE cities are also closer to another popular city in Korea, Daejeon. If you’re not much of an outdoorsy kind of person, CNOE is probably a better choice. There’s more options for larger cities and things to do and it’s not bad in terms of nature either 🙂 If you want to live in a larger city, I think the options CNOE provides are a lot more interesting than the one big city GOE has (still only clocking in at a million people: ) and generally larger than the other cities in GOE (Jinju is the next largest at around 300k people, I believe)
Jeollanamdo – This area has a lot going for it. As far as I am aware it offers the highest starting pay for new teachers at 2.3mil won. I know I just said that GOE/CNOE had the highest but hold on, I’ll get to that. Combined with you generally being in a rural area and generally having more than one school you can bring in upwards of 2.5mil won! Additionally, unlike any other program as far as I’m aware, JLP offers a “super rural” bonus of another 100k . You can probably make the most starting out in this area. JLP is fairly eclectic in what the area has to offer. It definitely seems to be the most, most rural of all of them. Frankly this area feels like EPIK but on a smaller scale. You could pretty much be in any kind of situation with JLP.
Now, the reason why I probably wouldn’t bother too much with this program is because it’s probably going to be pretty tough for you to get into at this point. It’s not really worth the effort for what it offers. JLP is being absorbed into EPIK, just like GEPIK was. Frankly, if EPIK is going to keep doing this they really need to allow people to list more than just one preferred location. But that’s a whole other post. The two main recruiters I would trust/am aware of, no longer offer JLP program information on their websites (Korean Horizons and Korvia). You can try other recruiters that still advertise positions. However, be very careful to research and ask questions of people on places like Reddit. Cursory glances have shown some of them are clearly just trying to place you in hagwan positions.
Anyways, if perhaps you’ve been rejected by EPIK or don’t want *quite* the level of “up-in-the-air-ness” they provide, I hope this list has been helpful. Check out my post on why you might have been rejected by EPIK. Although I was accepted by EPIK I am probably not going to be going that route after all. This is due to some certain nonsense I’ll get around to explaining once things are a little more clear 🙂 I hope “programs besides EPIK” has been helpful!