Living in Korea long-term can be tricky for expats; especially if you don’t want to teach English. The Korean government does not give visas out generously. Unless you’re an ethnic Korean, you’ll need to find a profession or marry a Korean citizen. To make your job-hunting easier, we’ve compiled a list of 5 non-teaching jobs in Korea.
Note: The Korean working culture is completely different to Western companies and you may not enjoy the Confucian hierarchy. For this article, we will assume you are already in Korea on a valid visa or will be there soon.
The US military has taken an active role in helping expats adjust to life in South Korea. They also offer jobs in sales for those that wish to stay in Korea, but don’t want to teach. Via the organization Military AutoSource, you can apply for sales positions on US military bases around the country. The sales positions offered are mainly in the automobile and motorcycle industries. Also, you must be a US citizen or be a spouse of one to apply. Both full-time and part-time positions will be available.
Being multi-lingual is helpful in most countries including Korea. Companies are always looking for people who can translate documents or serve as interpreters for special events. For example, this winter, the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics hired hundreds of translators to work full-time.
If you’re more interested in writing, publications such as 10 Magazine are always looking for energetic and passionate scribes.
Note: Some of these positions may require Korean language certification, which is provided via language tests (TOPIK) or completing courses at a Korean language institute.
Editor / Content Development
If teaching isn’t your thing, but your Korean isn’t up to par, there is a compromise. Instead, you can become an editor/content developer for companies that create English textbooks. It’s the perfect way to utilize your English abilities without teaching a loud group of kids.
However, since you are developing course material for students, having some teaching experience may help in creating more enriching material.
Some people don’t function well in an office and prefer to work with their hands. Fortunately, even if your Korean isn’t completely fluent, there are jobs in the food service industry open to foreigners. Many restaurants and bars, in the English speaking neighborhood of Itaewon, employ expats. As long as you speak English fluently and some basic Korean, it’s not difficult landing a job.
It’s critical to remember that most restaurants pay their staff minimum wage (6,470 KRW). Also, tipping is not customary in Korea and shift hours can vary.
For those who love Korea, but also want to travel, becoming cabin crew for a major Korean airline is perfect. Companies like Korean Air and Asiana are always looking to diversify their employee pool. However, Korean fluency is a major requirement for all airlines. If you can’t understand or speak even the most basic Korean expressions, I recommend enrolling in intensive Korean courses first.
Note: Korea’s main international airport is located in Incheon (40 minutes from Seoul). This is where you will most likely be based, although you may travel to Seoul on off days.
Entertainer / Celebrity
The last profession in this article is probably the most exciting, but least stable. With the emergence of K-Pop and K-Dramas, Seoul has become a hotbed of the entertainment industry. However, you don’t have to be Korean in order to be a Hallyu star. Many foreigners such as Sam Okyere (Ghanian) and Tyler Rasch (American) have debuted as actors, singers, comedians, models, etc.
As long as you have a marketable talent, most Korean entertainment companies open their applications to all nationalities. Speaking Korean fluently is a plus and the better you speak it, the more gigs are likely to come your way.
Regardless of your talents or interests, there are plenty of opportunities to thrive as an expat in Korea. It’s all about how hard you’re willing to work and the sacrifices you make along the way. For more information regarding visas and job-searching sites, please follow their respective links. If there’s a job we missed or you have a comment, don’t be shy to send me an e-mail!
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