Working in a Korean University-You have to get the timing right
One topic that my book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea: The English Teaching Job of Your Dreams didn’t really touch on but perhaps should have is what to do if your timing is bad when you want to work at a South Korean University.
The semesters start in September and March, with March being the start of the academic year. A recent trend in the past few years is that schools have started to try to hire most of their English teachers for a March start, when in the past the hiring has generally been divided pretty equally between the two (that said, I got both my jobs as a September start so don’t despair if you find yourself in this position).
The Best Case Scenario-Extend your current contract
Anyway, what should you do if your current contract does not finish at an ideal time, such as in October or April and you’re interested in teaching English in a Korean university. The best case scenario would be to stick at your current job until you can finish at an ideal time.
This will probably involve asking your employer to extend your contract, but not for a full-year, maybe something like 3 or 4 months. In my experience, most employers will be willing to do this if you are a good employee since it saves them the hassle (and expense) of hiring a new person for a bit longer. The additional bonus of this one is that you can hopefully transfer your visa from your old employer to your new one, which is much easier than getting a new visa. If you aren’t a good employee, of course nobody will go out of their way to help you and you shouldn’t expect this.
Remember! In Korea, relationships are everything so do whatever you can to avoid burning any.
Find Some Temporary Employment
The next best idea would be to finish your current contract, but then find temporary employment such as at a summer or winter camp. Or, you could study Korean for a few months and switch to a student visa. It’s kind of unclear whether or not you’d have to submit new teaching English paperwork for either of these options. Perhaps give the immigration hotline a call to find out the details for your specific situation.
Remember! Immigration policies in South Korea often change, depending on who you talk to so always get the full name of the person who told you X,Y or Z.
Switch to a D-10 Visa
If you only have a month or two between your old contract finishing and the new uni one starting, you could switch to a D-10, “looking for work visa” in which case you probably wouldn’t have to submit new paperwork when you sign a new contract.
Take a Few Months Off
Alternatively, you could also take a few months off to travel or hang out in Korea on a tourist visa (you will probably have to leave and come back). In this case, you will definitely have to submit new paperwork, which could be a significant hassle and expense.
Don’t Even Consider This Terrible Option
The option that you should put out of your head is starting anytime besides September or March. It just isn’t possible. I know it maybe doesn’t seem fair, but that’s just the way things work here. There is a faint glimmer of hope, perhaps, if you can find a job at a unigwon, but even most of them start at the standard times.