Hagwons vs. Public Schools

Hagwons vs. Public Schools

These are only the Generalized Pros and Cons and the choice is up to you! Therefore YOU should research the school thoroughly before signing a contract. Best advice is that you have to talk to the current/previous foreign teachers and find out if the pay is always on time, what the school and director is like and if they are happy in terms of both working and living there.

Hagwons (Private Language Academies)


  • More jobs than public schools and mostly central city locations.

  • You can start work at any time of the year. Schools do not start and end, they run continuously year-round.

  • Better salary (expect anywhere from 2 to 2.5 million won.)

  • Small class size (expect 10 or fewer students.)

  • You will have fellow foreign English speaking colleagues.

  • You typically will have a boss who speaks English, which is not usually the case in public schools.

  • Higher English level from students

  • Afternoon to evening work hours (good for night person)


  • Less vacation (expect 10 days or less.)

  • Bigger workload as gets paid much

  • It’s a business, meaning you are dealing with a “director” whose main concern is making money first.

  • Prefer Caucasian (foreign-looking) teachers.

  • Nonfulfillment of a contract (delayed payments of wage, pension/insurance, sick leave and etc.)

Public Schools


  • Better vacation time (18 days plus public holidays)

  • Smaller workload (You will only be teaching conversation and will therefore will not be grading papers or testing students on a regular basis.)

  • Co-teachers (You will have a Korean co-teacher to help you in the classroom. But some teachers want autonomy though.)

  • Stability (these jobs offer a worry-free one-year contract with medical insurance.)

  • Traditional work hours (Expect to work from 9 to 5.)

  • Morning to afternoon work hours (good for morning person)


  • Limited number of positions available due to the drastic budget cuts last few years.

  • Competitive and strict application process

  • You usually can only have two possible start dates: March, when the school year begins, or August, when the second semester starts.

  • Can’t choose preferred locations.

  • Less pay (expect around 2 to 2.2 million won.)

  • Large class size (expect to teach 25 to 30 kids at one time.)

  • Lower English level from students

  • You might be the only foreigner in the school.