The Pros & Cons of Working at a Hagwon

Teaching English in Korea offers the opportunity to earn well, especially when you take into consideration the fact that housing, round-trip airfare, and partial health benefits are all covered by your employer.

When considering teaching in Korea, there are two possible routes: public schools or hagwons (private after school academies). Here is a look at the pros and cons of teaching at a hagwon in Korea:

Korean student in the classroom
Korean student in the classroom


The pay is higher. Private academy jobs pay considerably higher than public school teaching positions. This makes it easier for you to save a large part of your paycheque to travel, pay off your student loans, or save for the future.

Classes will be smaller. Class sizes are much smaller than those at a public school. You may just have 1 student in your class, or you may find yourself teaching 15. Either way, these numbers are easier to manage for a first time teacher.

Teaching material will be provided. Most hagwons follow a curriculum, which means preparing for class will be relatively easy. With a textbook in hand, all you’ll need to do before class is review the lesson, think of a game to bring to class, and perhaps bring in some supplemental worksheets. No lesson planning to worry about.


Vacation time is almost non existent. Most hagwons provide 10 days vacation per year, but these days cannot be taken consecutively, and some of these days are also pre-determined by the school. This means that it can be very difficult to plan a little getaway, particularly if you’re considering travelling abroad during your time off.

Working hours can be a bit strange. This won’t be a 9-5 job. Because children attend hagwons after their regular schooling, you can expect to start working in the early afternoon and finish late at night. This schedule may work nicely if you’re a night owl, but it isn’t the most conventional.

You won’t have a co-teacher in the classroom. Most public schools in Korea have a Korean co-teacher in the classroom who is there to help the English teacher keep control of the classroom. This will not be the case at a hagwon. You will be solely responsible for commanding the class, and because you don’t speak the language, students may purposely try to be difficult.

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