So this is a question we get asked A LOT A LOT. And so we’re gonna try to answer it to the best of our abilities, based off of our experiences of trying to find a visa in Korea, to setting up our own business, to speaking with people who have non-teaching visas.

To begin with, we don’t work for Korean immigration, so if you have detailed questions about getting VISAs and getting hired in Korea, we really can’t help you at all, and I’m sorry if we don’t reply to your email! We get so many emails about how to get a job in Korea, but we have no answer to give besides, “I don’t know”. We only know what we’ve learned from friends who have different jobs, and even the jobs they got are very specific to their education, the country they’re from, and what they’re doing in Korea. There isn’t a single answer that can cover a question about jobs and vacationing in Korea because the VISA laws change even country by country. So for example, if you’re Canadian, you can vacation in Korea for up to six months, but if you’re from the USA you only have three months. Even basic steps regarding hiring teachers has changed in the past four years, so the steps we went through to be hired are totally different today. Korea is constantly updating, tweaking, and changing its laws towards foreigners, so I’m sure this TL;DR will become outdated within a year!

So most of the foreigners we meet are, yes, teachers. They’re either working at an after school tutoring centre, an elementary – high school, as professors at University, but there are exceptions. Most of the unique jobs we’ve experienced are from people who work in Korea for a year or so and then move to another country with their company, but it isn’t like they got the job by themselves; it’s a big company kind of deal. They usually have a family that comes with them, and kids that attend International schools in Korea.

To be totally honest, unless you’re married to a Korean or Korean born in someway, it is really difficult to just get an average job. You need to fit one of the categories immigration has laid out, and each category has specific regulations regarding qualifications. You need a company to sponsor your VISA and they have to prove that you are needed at the company and fit all the regulations, and that you specifically can do the job while a Korean person can’t. In order to do anything important in Korea (like get a bank card, a cell phone, get paid into your Korean bank account) you need to get your Alien Registration Card (ARC), and in order to get that, you need to be approved by Korean immigration so you can get the correct VISA status. You ARC number is your access to living in Korea (we’re not talking about just vacationing in Korea because you won’t get an ARC number for that), since even Korean citizens have their own number that they use to register for everything.

Our honest advice would be that in order to get a unique job in Korea, you have to be in Korea already. Attending a Korean university to learn how to speak Korean while having a part-time job would definitely help, if your school allows it, since you could build contacts and show why you’re valuable to a company. We know a couple of people who are students in university and interning at, for example, YG.

It would also give you the chance to really get to know Korea for real and to decided if you do really want to live here or not. We’ve heard from people who enjoy watching korean dramas and following kpop that they were surprised at what everyday life was really like in Korea: while some of them loved it, some of them left after a year. We’re not saying that you’re gonna come here and hate it. Clearly, as is our situation, we came here and loved it and want to make a life here. But our situation isn’t common. We don’t know anyone else blogging as a living here in Korea. We also don’t know anyone as weird as us, so maybe that’s why.

ps-> While we were registering Eatyourkimchi as a business in Korea and we made our announcement video for the Studio Fundraiser, we stumbled upon some angry threads from foreigners who are living in Korea. When they applied for their businesses the cost was lower and the rules were different, yet rather than thinking that, hey, things change constantly and maybe the process they went through is different than what’s current, they called us liars who didn’t know what we were talking about. Considering we JUST went through weeks and weeks of application at Korean immigration, actually yes, we do know what we’re talking about, but that’s just for now. If someone has a different story a year from now, we wouldn’t be surprised.

I’m not bringing this up to complain even though those people suck donkey farts for a living; I’m bringing this up to say be wary of advice from forums! There are lots of foreigners who have been living in Korea for a while and who are giving advice about VISA status and other things, but sometimes this advice is coming from someone who is comfortably living in Korea and has not recently had to go back to immigration to update anything. Thus, they might not know about all the changes in the laws. Even simple laws about traveling with cats and dogs to Korea have just recently changed, so don’t trust what someone says in a forum; look up the information for yourself from a real Korean government site or go to your local Korean embassy. You don’t want to risk getting into trouble because someone on a forum gave you outdated advice :D

So, TL;DR on this whole post: we’re just relating our experiences with Visas in Korea. Our word isn’t gospel, as the word on Visa regulations is likely to change. We can offer you an idea of what the process is like and what to expect, but we’re not the ultimate source. What can be said, for now, for sure, though, is that getting Visas in Korea is not easy. They’re not given out to everyone, so finding jobs in Korea that aren’t related to teaching is not a simple process.

If you have different experiences, please share them. We’re not even sure if we’re just talking about the Seoul area or Korea as a whole. Or, if you would like to ask some questions while we’re active on this thread, shoot away! Hopefully we can get a somewhat interesting discussion about a very boring topic going on. Woot!

  1. Hello Martina and Simon,

    My name is Olivier and I moved to Seoul to live here with my beautiful Korean wife (yes I have a valid working visa).

    I have been looking for a normal job (normal income and if possible not being considered as a slave) for a while but so far without success.

    I speak French, English, good German and I am currently learning Korean (almost intermediate level) with a business management background.

    Do you have any suggestions that could help me to find a job?

    I thank you guys in advance for your help.

    Enjoy your kimchi and have a nice day.


  2. Hello,
    I am Claire a Ugandan and i love Korea so much that i would love to live and raise my family from there please advise.

  3. Hi! I am moving to Seoul this summer becuase my husband will be stationed at Yongsan. I would really like to find a job while we are there for two years. Am I delusional if I think I can find a job with a Korean company that is a non-teaching job? I’m in Business Development for tech staffing now and I really enjoy it, but I don’t know if I can do anyting like that over there.

  4. you guys are totally nuts. :-) I’ll be coming to Korea in early 2014 to join my husband who has taken up a (non teaching ;-) job over there. I’ll have a resident visa which will allow me to live there but I believe I won’t be able to work unless sponsored by an employer and while I have teaching experience (if teaching scuba diving counts) teaching is not what I am hoping to end up doing there. I am sure I’ll find something to keep myself busy. Learning Korean will be one of them for a start. I have already started here in London and I am enjoying it. Very informative thank you.

  5. People keep telling me it’s practically impossible for a foreigner to get a job in Korea. It’s depressing. And dampening my desire to live there little by little. I guess Korea isn’t as warm and inviting as I’d like to delude myself into thinking.

  6. I would like to find a job in korea. Unfortunately, I am 38 years old Singaporean with a diploma in Engineering holding a senoir position to procurement. But i dun speak korean.
    It there any apportunity to find a laid down job in country side.

  7. Wow, I found this video doing a google search and I have to say that this was one of the most difficult/uninformational videos I’ve seen. Too much nervous energy and I could barely follow what you were trying to say (which could have been done in about 2 minutes, not 7).

  8. You’d really need to be posted by a multinational company to Korea, already with a job.

  9. Do you know anything about coming to Korea with Working Holiday visas? Would it be possible to find jobs? Even something like waiting at restaurants?

  10. I’m Australian and getting a visa to work was pretty easy for me HOWEVER i’ve been here for four months and have no idea what i could do so i’ve been bumming on my savings.

  11. “When they applied for their businesses the cost was lower and the rules were different, yet rather than thinking that, hey, things change constantly and maybe the process they went through is different than what’s current, they called us liars who didn’t know what we were talking about.” How dare they?!! > . <
    I appreciate your work! (even though some don't…. I guess you can't have a world full of wizards…you must have muggles as well
    – . -')


  12. Well if you don’t want to join the military there are always US Department of Defense jobs and State department jobs in Korea. If you speak Korean you might have a better chance at getting a State Department job at the embassy. There are also teaching jobs at the DoD Schools on various military bases. Korea is quickly becoming an assignment where people are bringing their families rather than unaccompanied so I only see the teaching jobs increasing. There are also government contracting jobs but those are hard to come by as they are very popular and they usually taken by people with previous experience.

  13. What about interns? I will totally work for you guys without money…^^

  14. How does Korean citizens feel about American military being stationed there? Because I am scheduled to go into the Army soon and my job says after AIT I will be stationed in S. Korea, so I wanted to know if they feel like dislike or something to us being there.

  15. I’m moving to Korea on an E2 visa to teach and be closer to my partner (who is a Korean national). While we’re both not financially secure enough at this stage – we have talked a lot about getting married, and starting a family. Can I stay on an E2 visa and still teach if and when we get married, or is it better to go on the F2? I read that you have to apply to renew it every year if you have no children together, but what happens once you do have kids? Can I apply for permanent residency and/or be a stay at home mum in Korea?

  16. I’m hoping too attend university too do a degree in Korean culture and language which will include living and studying in South Korea for a year . I already know how too read and write in Korean and I know a lot about the culture and customs due too studying and observing it a lot . Do you think having a degree in Korean culture and language would help in getting a visa ? As I’m looking into living in Korea for at least a couple of years in the future and also do you by any chance know how hard is it too get an intern position at one of the entertainment agencies ? Like YG or SMent for example , as I really want too work in the music industry . Thanks :).

  17. Talking about living In Korea, getting a job… I’d like to know how did you guys learn the Korean language ??How long did it take to learn the basics ?? Is there any difficulty you had to face ?? Thanks ;)

  18. Just as an extra tidbit of information on the topic Korea actually has a Working Holiday Visa if you’re under 30 and have sufficient funds to support yourself for 3 months. I havn’t done it myself but in my search to travel I’ve found that it’s an option for several countries. http://www.exploringkorea.com/working-holiday-visa-korea/

  19. Talking about living in Korea, getting a job… I’d like to know how did you guys learn Korean ? How long did it take to get the basics ? What is (are) the main difficulty(ies) you had to face ? Thanks ;)

  20. A few weeks back, I was watching a Music Core video, and what went through kinesiology student mind was “Wow, they’re gonna need some spine/back interventions when they get older,” and then “heyy, maybe I could get a co-op job in Korea for Kpop artists!” (a dream that is unlikely to come true, but still possible… maybe :’D)

  21. You guys give me hoooope! I’m not kidding!
    I’m about to graduate from High School, and probably going to either France or the U.S. and major in something very specialized… and new… So by the time I get my Master’s degree there’s the tiny possibility that job offers might be waiting for me in Korea!!! :D
    Thanks for finally doin’ this TLDR, I’ve been seriously waiting for like a year and a half for it :3

  22. Ok so…my hope is to learn some Korean before I go to Korea. I’m going to graduate with my bachelors degree in a science field (and I can get a job right after school and after I take a board exam)…after that happens I’m probably going to work and maybe get a minor or major in Korean somewhere (if I can find a school that offers it)…so…do you think I’d stand a chance at getting a job in Korea in that science field that way? I think that if I went I’d probably keep going to school there to learn more Korean and more science stuff, but…I don’t know if they’de even hire me in the first place since I’m not Korean…I’m not even Asian…though I want to learn the language really badly and I’d love to live there for a few years…maybe life I don’t know…

  23. Hey I’m a high school student from the Uk and Im wanting to start a website for kpop fans in the UK as we really dont get that much information over here, no magazines, hardly any blogs that relate to the UK and recently alot more people here have started getting interested. Do you have any suggestions on how I can get started?

  24. Annyeong! I am a student (17 years old) and i’m interested in becoming an english teacher in Korea. However, since i’m from Romania, Europe, would it be possible for a person who is not from an english speaking country to be hired?
    I would be very grateful if you answered ^^
    Thank you!

  25. What do u know about sasaeng fans? Have you had any of your own or come into contact with idols sasaeng fans? >scary horror music in the background lol

  26. At home do you guys still have more american habits or have you gotten korean habits? For example, at home, do you eat more korean food or the food you used to have in Canada? And do your families, when you visit them, think some of the habits you guys got from Korea are strange?

  27. Does anyone know what the opportunities are like for an interpreter/translator in Korea? Or in what employment areas in Korea an interpreter can enter? I was wondering because I’m going to university next year to get a bachelor of arts majoring in Korean to become an interpreter and I’d like to get a feel for employment opportunities in Korea. Thanks!

  28. I just wanted to say that Martina is wearing an awesome sweater. Sweater love.

  29. Hi Simon and Martina! Thanks for your insights about foreigners and getting non-teaching jobs in Korea. I have never really been to Korea except for their older airport during a stopover to the Philippines years ago. All I remember is that the people who worked at the airport didn’t really speak English and their money has different colors, unlike US bills, which are all green (lol). On a serious note, I would love to go to Korea and vacation. Have you both vacationed in Korea prior to living and working there?

  30. The advice / comment about studying Korean at a Korean university is a good step for people who would like to live in Korea and get involved beyond English teaching. If you read the blogs and messageboards you’ll find a lot of negative reviews about life in Korea, though most of this comes from English teachers or former English teachers, many of whom unfortunately didn’t go beyond that clique and never have meaningful relationships outside that world. That’s not to discount some of their gripes, but learning the language and meeting a wide variety of people (not just English teachers) will give you a broader and more authentic look at the country. It’ll also let you meet people doing the things you want to do. In my experience the smartest, most interesting people aren’t the ones active online; they’re too busy living in Korea to brag (or complain) about it.

    Also, it’s important to have a skill or a talent. Sounds kind of silly, but what exactly can you do, what exactly can you offer that can’t be done by hundreds of thousands of people already here? If you don’t have a skill or an area of expertise, start building one. Practically everyone thinks they can write, proofread, edit, and translate (tip: they can’t), so unless you’re exceptionally good and have a long track record of it, you’ll need a skill in another field, and the talent and drive to set yourself apart.

    Diligence is important as well. You’re not going to walk off the plane and into a job. You’ll need to spend months and years working for it, and for some people that’s a shock.

  31. So… Simon said you can’t get the job unless you’re born in Korea or you’re marred to someone there…
    You wanna see the list of my 169 celebrity husbands in Korea? :3

  32. At like… exactly 7:26 when the fram changes… Martina is pulling the most random face imaginable

  33. so long story short i think all 200,000 likers on Facebook would love to work for Simon and Martina but as they said they have to hire 5 Korean’s first before the hire a foreigner. Plus think about this if they did hire someone not who wasn’t from Korea they would go broke just trying to get the person to Korea to work for them. With paying for the Visa, maybe finding a place for them to live, paying for them and flying them there.

    However on another note, I hate how it has to be university only thats the only way you can get a job in korea is with university and or if it what they said. like a flim student could be the best in his class at a college but if someone in korea wants him or her they can’t work they have to go to university. it’s bloody stupid. and Korean’s can’t go to canada or the usa to study in college they have to go to university other wise the country wont give them a School Visa. I just plan to marry a korean even thought i am koreanized already i just need to marry one to prove it. Simon and Martina my question is if you know any some what smart and not to bad looking korean guys let me know. I’ll fly to korea to go on a blind date :P

  34. Instead of this, I need a “How To Get A Job With Simon & Martina But You Don’t Live In Korea” tutorial please. :3

  35. Some countries have Working Holiday agreements with Korea, which allows young people to obtain a one year open work visa. For example, Canadian citizens can get a one year Working Holiday visa (which actually specifies you can NOT teach English). This visa would allow those interested in just experiencing life in Korea and seeing the country to work to support their travel. It is not meant for career experience or as a path to stay in Korea long term. Just for those interested in traveling around Korea for up to 1 year. However, how easy it is to get casual work in Korea without speaking the language I don’t know…perhaps there are jobs in Tourism where languages other than Korean are useful?

    As a side note – Korea is a wonderful country, the people are friendly, good food, wonderful sights etc. but I think people considering locating there for the long term should do their homework. Just like North America is not like ‘Gossip Girl’, Korea is not like K-dramas.

  36. lets say that im a veterinarian and i want to go to Korea would it be hard for me to get a job as that over their?? would i need to gain citizenship first??

  37. Oh man, I had been wondering if you guys would ever tackle this question. I got into the film business because I wanted to travel the world (well thats obviously not the only reason) but things change. Now I get to hear stories from all of my seniors about all of the places they’ve been but in reality it doesn’t happen anymore (just like shooting on actual film doesn’t happen anymore). Its easier to hire a local crew (plus tax breaks) unless you’re working on a documentary they just don’t spend the money to travel. For instance, I worked for 14 days in Toronto on Kickass 2 but the rest of it is being shot in England. So now, only the highest members of the crew get to work at both locations (because of their specific qualifications).
    I’d love to experience the life korea (and other countries) but I know deep down it just wont be a reality. It’s not worth it to step away from my real dream that I’ve been working so hard towards (unless I fail which could still happen at this point!) to try working vacations plus I’m already 27 and most of them only work until 25!
    I’m grateful to your videos, specifically the non-k-pop ones for allowing me to second hand experience this culture from a Canadian perspective and just hope one day I can save up enough money to visit. I’m sad that I’ll never get to see the simularities and differences between a kdrama crew and our Canadian ones though! That interests me more then anything and it’s something that is impossible to show only experience first hand. :(

  38. This is awesome. Very informative. Thanks guys!!

  39. LOL u guys got a brick wall! CONGRATS!

  40. I would also add, it’s not that easy to move to a different country period. Not just South Korea. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Montreal, but you Canadians also won’t just hire an American if a Canadian can do the same job. OF COURSE you can find a Canadian who can do the same job. So even though many of us threaten every four years that we are “Moving to Canada!” it’s too much of a hassle to actually do it (and the Canadians all give each other a knowing nod as if to say, “and that’s why we keep it complicated folks.”)

    • Agreed, moving to another country is a massive life change. Generally you’re leaving your friends and family behind, and either going alone or with a partner. Simply the social aspect of building a new group of friends can be difficult, if you’re unlucky. Add to that a country that doesn’t speak your native language? It’s a tough thing ><

    • In many provinces if you go to university there you can apply for Permanent Residence, which makes you almost a citizen. I’m not sure if you are in uni or finished, but just an idea :)

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