Before, to work in South Korea as an English Teacher all you needed was to speak English, be young, and look the part. It was super easy. Not only that, but you could make enough money to travel, have fun, and still save. These days, especially with many places closing down due to Covid-19, it has become a bit harder to find work at English hagwons. Many foreigners living in South Korea hope to make some extra cash working part-time jobs as tutors. But, that really isn’t quite as easy as it is in other countries. Tutoring in Korea can be a great way to become your own boss. However, the process of getting there can be full of pitfalls if you are not careful.
Many people talk about tutoring for some side money without realizing that unless you are on the correct type of visa and/or register it is illegal to tutor in South Korea. If caught, the punishments range from fines to deportation depending on the severity and how the immigration officers feel at the time.
Who can tutor
In America, becoming a tutor is as easy as saying “Hmm… I think I want to be a tutor” and putting yourself out there. True, becoming a tutor and becoming a successful tutor are 2 different things entirely, but it is definitely easier in other countries compared to in Korea. One of the main reasons? Visas.
Legal tutoring in Korea is only an option for people on very specific visas.
D-2 Visa– Students may tutor if through a company and must get permission from a) the department in their school responsible for international students and b) immigration.
D-4 Visa– Another student visa that follows the same rules as the D-2 concerning employment.
F-2 Visa- Residents in Korea can attain an F-2 visa if they meet the requirements. After obtaining the F-2 visa, they are free to work wherever they want. Good job!
F-4 Visa- This visa is given to people who are considered Korean but live overseas. Those on the F4 visa are free to work almost anywhere they want. Lucky you!
F-5 Visa– Long-term residents in Korea can attain an F-5 visa by jumping through multiple hoops. This is the upgraded version of the F-2. Way to go!
F-6 Visa- If you have married a Korean or are raising a child who is Korean, you are eligible for the F-6 visa. Those on the F6 visa are also free to work wherever they want. Lucky ducks!
Note that individuals on a Working Holiday Visa (H-1) are not allowed to tutor under any circumstances.
At the time of writing, these are the only visas allowed to tutor (according to the Donghae immigration office). As always, remember- YKMV. Call your local immigration office and ask them if you can tutor if you have questions.
Who can be tutored
While both adults and children can be tutored, who you can tutor depends on what steps you have gone through.
Adults– Adults are the easiest to tutor due to the lack of regulations. The amount you can charge for adults is completely up to you and varies according to where you are located, how many tutors you are competing with, etc. You do not have to register with the Ministry of Education. However, you do need to register as a business with the tax office and report your income.
Children– While many tutors gear themselves towards children, you are actually required to register as a tutor with the local Ministry of Education (MOE) and the tax office. You can choose to tutor in your house or at your student’s house, but you have to update the MOE on the locations you tutor at as well as your prices.
Please note, there is a lot of back-and-forth concerning the price of tutoring. In some places, the maximum price given by the local MOE is a requirement for hagwons but just a suggestion for private tutors (as in Donghae). In other areas, they will not let you charge more than the maximum no matter what. Laws in Korea are often enforced on a case-by-case basis. This is an example of that.
How to become a freelance tutor
Step 1 to becoming a freelance tutor is to get your tutoring license. However, this step is only needed to tutor children. If you are only tutoring adults, skip to Step 2. Getting a tutoring license requires going to the MOE and turning in a copy of your apostled degree, a criminal background check, and a resume with a picture.
Some MOEs also require a recent health check. If you have worked as a teacher recently, you can go to your local Immigration office and request copies of the documents used to register you as a teacher. Those copies can be used at the MOE. You will need to register any students you will be tutoring and come back to add any new students later.
Step 2 is to register with the tax office. This is necessary for tutoring both adults and children. You will need someone who speaks Korean to help you with this part. There are forms to fill out, questions to answer, and then you will need to deal with the bank after (to set up a business bank account).
Tutoring in Korea as a way to earn some extra money is very tempting, and many foreigners in Korea take it on as a side hustle. However, unless you do so legally, you are one angry parent or jealous Korean friend away from fines and/or deportation. Please be careful and if you have any questions, feel free to visit Tutors in Korea on Facebook to ask!
If you don’t meet the legal requirements to be a tutor in Korea, there may still be other options for part-time work in Korea that you do qualify for. >>Click Here<< to read Working in Korea: Essentials for international students!