Working in a Hagwon in Korea has positives and negatives to it. Depending on the Hagwon you end up in the positives could outweigh the negatives or vice versa.
As for the Positives:
The Pay: The pay is better than other first time teaching jobs. There are exceptions to this, but generally for first time, teachers with little to no experience, the hagwons pay the best really. For new teachers without experience you can expect a salary of 2.2 – 2.3 million won, which equates to just over $2000 US roughly. Add the price of your apartment and the fact that living expenses are cheap means you have the ability to live quite comfortably.
The Schedule: The Hagwon schedule is normally quite teacher friendly, you work normally 20-25hrs per week. A typical work day doesn’t begin until 2-3pm in the afternoon or you could have evening classes to attend also.
Co-Workers: Your fellow teachers in the hagwon will more than likely be other foreigners just like you, working to pay bills and survive safe and sound while in Korea. They can be a great support for you when things feel like they are getting to you while here. Korea has a different culture to what your used to. A fellow foreigner you can relate to is invaluable here.
Teaching Material will be provided: So you get the job in the hagwon and wondering how and what to teach your students. Well your in luck, Since most hagwons follow a curriculum. This means that preparing for class is relatively easy. You review at the start of class, think of a game to bring to class and have some supplement worksheets to hand out.
No Experience required: All you really need to start teaching an English job in Korea is an accredited Bachelor’s Degree. Nothing more, Nothing less. Classrooms are small. Since it’s a hagwon and all. Class numbers are quite low so therefore it’s easy to make a connection with your students. You can notice progress in each student’s English ability. And obviously less numbers means an easier time managing the classroom, unless you have absolute devils.
As for the Negatives:
Vacation time and Sick leave: Since the Hagwon is more a Business than a School, The holiday system is pre-determined. Normally you get about 10 vacations day and national holidays. If your sick, you’re expected to work through it. Koreans normally just work through the illness until they are better again.
Job Security: Since a Hagwon has nothing to do with the Goverment. Your job can be gone in an instant. Hagwon Bosses can be a fickle bunch sometimes.
Higher chances to end up being screwed out of cash: Anyone with the means can open a school as their own personal business venture. Some of these people really are scum and will do whatever they can to capitalize on every penny you work for. Therefore, If they close shop, your very likely to end up out of pocket or fighting tooth and nail to see something from your hard work.
Lack of Training: In most cases, Teachers are thrown straight into the deep end. In a public school, you are with a Korean teacher but in the Hagwon you are on your own.
Teaching Hours: Your teaching schedule can really shift around a lot. Some teachers might have 3 classes per day, others could have up to 8 classes. It all really depends on the size of the hagwon and what the director wants from you. You may even at times find yourself filling in for other teachers. You are not obligated to do this. It is techinally illegal.