Housing no longer free in Gangnam

Besides for the free flight to Korea, the convenience of not paying for housing attracts many native teachers to the country. But in Gangnam, one of the poshest areas in Seoul, native teachers are being given a 900,000 won (or $770) stipend for housing they say doesn’t cover rent in the area.

The Korea Times reported that the Ministry of Education isn’t hearing it. The Times also quoted Hwang Ji-hye a ministry official in charge of managing native English teachers as saying, “Schools don’t have to necessarily offer housing to their foreign employees and many employers just provide their workers with a housing subsidy.” True, but most employers provide a stipend that will cover rent in that city.

The Times goes on to tell how Korea provides the best housing deals for native teachers a hard point to debate. But the Times never discusses how much rent is in the Gangnam area. Are the native teachers actually justified in their complaint?

But this also brings up the question with everything the Korean government does provide native teachers: a free flight, excellent pay and money for rent. Should native teachers be complaining? At the end of the day how many native teachers actually deserve all of that?

But Brian in Jeollanam-do brings up a good point, why change this mid-contract? This is poor form on the Ministry of Education’s part. Let’s hope they rethink breaking their end of the deal.


  1. Brian says:

    Thanks for the link.

    The issue here is that the contracts are being changed halfway through, not necessarily that the government should provide housing.

    Living in Gangnam is something many teachers want to do, but considering how expensive it is, it's off limits to most Koreans as well, so if foreigners are actually complaining, it's true they'll look like they're being whiny. But the Times really doesn't address their grievances, nor give a forum for their side.

    The issue of how much Korea offers its NSETs is really beside the point. Supply and demand dictate that, and Korea had to up the ante if it wanted to attract people away from more attractive cultural destinations like Japan and Taiwan. However, with the benefits decreasing and the climate being more unwelcoming for NSETs, the “boom,” so to speak, looks to be on the way out.


  2. Kelsey says:

    I definitely agree with Brian that I think Korea's golden ESL age is waning. There have been an awful lot of incidents lately that seem to be making people think twice about teaching in Korea, and at the same time, its reputation as an “easy gig” seems to be on the way out as well, now that Korean schools are having better luck with applicants.

    In the meantime, other countries are beginning to gain in popularity. Thailand and Vietnam are gaining among the backpacker crowd, and European countries like Turkey, Slovenia, and Slovakia are becoming more popular as well.

    Honestly, I think this is a good change. As Korea becomes “just another country to teach in”, it will slowly attract fewer and fewer of the “teach/drink/teach/drink” crowd that often lowers the reputation of the ESL industry in Korea. I think that if Korea becomes less attractive as a country to work in, the folks who will work here are the ones who really want to be here, and that's a win for everyone.


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