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TOPIK vs KLAT

Sofia

Once you have started to learn Korean you will have to face the end of term exams, level transitions, and other language skill evaluations. Apart from each academy's own grading system, the Korean government also runs official tests to mark the Korean proficiency level of the applicants. For most jobs, degree courses and scholarships (except for exclusively international ones) you will need to provide a certificate stating your level of Korean. The two main tests are TOPIK and, somewhat less known, KALT.    What is TOPIK?   TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) is a test required for international students when taking undergraduate/graduate programs in Korean universities, getting a job or a permanent residency in Korea. It sets a path for those who do not speak Korean as their mother tongue. TOPIK first started in 1997 by Korean research foundation; however, starting from 2011, it is administered by the NIIED (National Institute for International Education) for international education purposes. The results of the test are valid for two years so you do not have to take the test over and over again whenever you are trying to transfer school.   Details of the test: TOPIK test is divided into two categories: TOPIK I or TOPIK II. TOPIK I: TOPIK I consists of level 1 and level 2 beginner class students. Test section is divided into listening (40 mins) and reading (60 mins). Both sections are multiple-choices and the total score is 0~200. TOPIK I is generally for students who are trying to take TOPIK II in the future. Therefore, students with only TOPIK I score cannot apply to undergrad/graduate programs in universities. TOPIK II: TOPIK II is for intermediate to advanced level Korean learners. TOPIK I only consists of listening and reading, while TOPIK II consist of three different sections: listening, writing and reading. The total score is 0~300. Generally, students with TOPIK level 3 up to level 6 (the highest level) could apply to undergrad/graduate programs in Korean Universities.   Where and when to take the test: Currently, the national institute holds TOPIK test in 72 different countries including Japan, China, Vietnam, Thailand, Uzbekistan, Russia, Europe and so on. In each country, there are accredited organizations to accept TOPIK test applicants, both online and offline. Also, the examination schedule is regularly updated on the official TOPIK website. Test results come up approximately a month after the examination. Once the results are released, you can always visit the official website to print out your score report for two years. TOPIK test is conducted held 6 times in a year – twice in Korea only (in January & July) and 4 times in Korea and overseas (in March, April, October, and November).  In most countries, the TOPIK I test is held in the morning and the TOPIK II test is held in the afternoon. Test is always held on Sundays (in some countries on Saturdays as well).    Test application: You can always visit the official TOPIK website and create an account to apply for the upcoming test. There will be a 40,000KRW application fee and photo registration to select your examination venue. You can always apply for the test individually or collectively. However, collective candidates should be in a group of 10 or more people in Korea (not overseas). In a group, the group representative could sign up for membership at TOPIK website for other applicants. Group representatives need to fill out the forms and send them to topik@moe.go.kr for TOPIK team to review the application and approve via email or SMS. In Korea: If you are in Korea, you can register for the test online on www.topik.go.kr. The registration fee is KRW 35,000 for TOPIK I (level 1-2) and KRW 40,000 for TOPIK II (level 3-6), which can be paid through debit/credit card, online banking or direct bank transfer. In Other Countries: In most countries, the Korean Embassies and Korean Culture Centres (한국문화원) administer the TOPIK tests. Some affiliate institutes also accept the applications. You can get the list of the affiliate institutions in your country on the official website. For registration, you have to visit the embassy or affiliate institution with 2 passport size photographs and the registration fee (which varies from country to country).   What is KLAT?   KLAT (Korean Language Ability Test) is an international Korean language test operated by Korea Educational Testing Service authorized by the Korean government (Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism). It has a more practical focus compared to TOPIK and was developed to assess systematically the Korean language proficiency of non-native Korean speakers in real-life situations. That is, the purpose of KLAT is not only to assess the level of non-native Korean speaker in performing their professional tasks but to help them understand Korean culture and learn Korean correctly. It functions similarly to TOPIK and can be used to apply for a job or a degree program in Korea.   Details of the test: KLAT test is divided into several levels, from basic to advanced. B-KLAT Introductory (grade 1 to 2) aims to assess the minimal proficiency of a Korean learner for 150 to 200 hours. KLAT Novice (grade 1 to 2) aims to assess the Novice proficiency of a Korean learner for less than 400 hours. KLAT Intermediate (grade 3 to 4) aims to assess the independent-linguistic proficiency of a Korean learner for less than 800 hours. KLAT Advanced (grade 5 to 6) aims to assess the mastery proficiency of a Korean learner for over 800 hours.   Where and when to take the test: Similar to TOPIK, KLAT can be taken in Korea and overseas. The schedule is updated on the official website of the test and is held 4 times per year in Korea and overseas, and an additional two time for Vietnam and Japan. A KRW 40.000 application fee will also be required. You can check for more details on the official website of KALT www.kets.or.kr.  In Korea: If you are applying from Korea, you can apply online. Transfer the application fee (40,000KRW) to the official bank account: Shinhan Bank (신한은행) 100-027-790082 / Holder’s name: KETS (재단법인 한국어능력평가원); go to the Application page and fill in the application form. You will be required to attach a JPG photo taken within 3 months of the application date to the form. After you submit the form, print it out and present on the day of the exam. In Other Countries: From other countries, you will have to email the application and make a wire transfer of the application fee. You can download the form from the official website, fill it, attach a photo and send it to kets@kets.or.kr. You can check the List of Test Centers to find the ones closest to your location.   Organization   Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology Organizer: National Institute for International Education (from 2011)     Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Organizer: Korea Educational Testing Service Purpose Academic purposes particularly for students to enter Korean graduate school Employment purposes particularly for non-native Korean speakers Evaluation Vocabulary & grammar, writing, listening and reading Listening, vocabulary, reading, grammar, and conversation Type of test Total 300 points 2 levels: Beginner and Intermediate-Advanced Classified: levels 1 to 6 100 questions, full score: 500 EPS-KLT: Specialized for migrant workers to Korea by Ministry of Labor Basic-KLPT: Basic grammar, vocabulary KLPT: For foreign students to Korea, etc Examinees Korean language learners International students who wish to study in Korea Jobseekers who wish to work in domestic and overseas-based Korean companies and public institutions Those who wish to work in Korea, Those who want to be able to carry out daily life in Korean  Those who want to communicate at work and advance their careers. Examination Centers     Registration  6 times per year 4 times per year Registration Fee  30,000 - 40,000 won  40,000 won Homepage http://www.topik.go.kr (Korean) http://www.kets.or.kr (Korean)   Useful links: http://www.topik.go.kr/usr/cmm/subLocation.do?menuSeq=2210105 http://oia.korea.ac.kr/listener.do?layout=dgr_4_3 http://admission.snu.ac.kr/file_down/2019spring_under_eng.pdf http://ipsi1.uwayapply.com/local/snu/?CHA=1 http://www.sookmyung.ac.kr/sookmyungkr/index.do http://en.snu.ac.kr/undergraduate-programs?cid=101

Jun 21, 2018

Visa Application for Language Program Students in Korea

Sofia

Majority of international students come to Korea for short-term intensive programs. While getting a degree in another country is a stressful and difficult task, participating in a several-week or half-year language or training program might be a perfect middle ground: you explore the culture, acquire new skills and go back home before the adjustment shock kicks in. For those who want to enroll in a university language program or get an internship, there is a special type of short-term study visa available - the D-4 General Trainee Visa. For those who want to study in a private language academy, another type of visa is issued - the C-3-1 Short-term General Tourist Visa.   D-4 General Trainee Visa   Students who are learning the Korean language at a university-affiliated language center or academic research center could get a D-4 visa. You are also viable for a D-4 visa if you are learning skills/techniques at a public or private institute or are on a job training program as an intern at a foreign investment company. With a D-4 visa, you could stay up to two years in Korea. The D-4 visa is also divided into several categories based on the type of program you are on:   Code Programs D-4-1 Korean Language Trainee D-4-2 General Training D-4-3 International Student at High School Level or Below D-4-5 Korean Cuisine Trainee D-4-6 Training at a Superior Private Educational Institution D-4-7 Foreign Language Trainee   Required Documents   1. Visa application form (available at Korean Embassy or Consulate), a copy of valid passport, and a 3x4 photo, application fee 2. Photocopy of Certification of Business Registration of an educational institution 3. Admission letter issued by the dean/president of the university 4. Proof of enrolment or proof of the final level of education Note: Proof of education should be a notarized copy of the original (do not send the original as it will be next to impossible to get it back from the immigration).  5. Financial statement (at least 9,000USD) Examples of financial documents: certificate of deposit balance, photocopy of your bankbook, scholarship certificate, bank statement of your parents etc. Note:  - Deposit balance should be issued within a month from the date of application  - Generally, the original copy is reviewed by the principle; however, a duplicate copy is also accepted after an official-in-charge compares the original copy and a duplicate copy to confirm authenticity.  - If parent’s financial document was attached, an additional document proving the family relations should be attached as well. 6. Training plan: lecture schedule, list of professors, training facilities and etc. 7. For Chinese students only: a copy of Chinese ID card and Family Registry (list of all family members)   Additional Documents    Documents for students who wish to study Korean at a University-affiliated language school: The admissions letter to the language school Proof of tuition payment A copy of school registration certificate The certificate of graduation or certificate of enrollment (once you have enrolled after acceptance) Financial statements to cover the school’s tuition and living expenses Note: If you don’t have financial records, you need a reference from school proving that the school takes responsibility for your expenses For Chinese students only: a copy of your Chinese ID Card and family registry (lists all family members)   Documents for students who plan to receive education/training in technical fields: The business or school registration certificate Proof of your study program (your schedule for training or course timetable) Agreement of academic exchange between universities in the case of undergraduate or graduate students The certificate of enrollment or certificate of graduation Your resume or records of employment Financial statements to cover the school’s tuition and living expenses Note: If you don’t have financial records, you need a reference from school proving that the school takes responsibility for your expenses. For Chinese students only: a copy of your Chinese ID Card and family registry (lists all family members)   Documents for foreign national students who want to attend elementary, middle or high school: The admission document Your certificate of enrollment or certificate of graduation Financial statements to cover the school’s tuition and living expenses or a reference from your sponsor or a document proving that the principal bears the expense   Documents for interns: Your certificate of enrollment or employment issued by the inviting institution Your résumé or records of employment A copy of school or business registration certificate Your training schedule, including your financial plan for living in Korea A reference letter For Chinese students only: a copy of your Chinese ID Card and family registry (lists all family members)   Documents for individuals who intend to work in a foreign investment company: A copy of the investment company’s registration An overseas investment declaration from the business’s bank (if applicable) A remittance confirmation by the bank (if applicable) The export permit by the customs (for equipment investment only) The local equivalent of business registration and a copy of the business establishment permit (confirmed by the local Korean embassy) The Chinese business registration – for those involved in Chinese investment   Visa Extension   If you want to extend your visa, you must apply for permission before your visa expiration date. The immigration office will accept requests two months before your visa expiration date. If the applicant fails to apply within the time period, the individual will have to pay a penalty (at least ₩100,000).  Required documents: application form photocopy of valid passport  certificate of alien registration  certificate of enrolment  notarized sponsorship letter to the immigration office If the student’s attendance rate was 50 percent or lower, he/she cannot extend their visa, also if the student’s attendance rate was 70 percent or lower, they will get one more chance of extension with an absence-paper. However, the second time their attendance rate was 70 percent or lower, they will not be able to extend their visa.   C-3-1 Short-term General Tourist Visa   C-3-1 is a visa that involves participating in daily business activities such as friendly sports match, business meeting, events and consulting. The maximum length of stay is up to 90 days. With this type of visa, it might be hard to study in a University; however, it would allow you to study in some private institutions. Required documents: Visa application form, a copy of valid passport, one 3x4 photograph, visa fee and additional documents to verify your purpose of visit Additional documents: Financial document to prove your financial abilities; however, it can be substituted into your parent’s financial statement if you are a student under the age of 30. If you are participating in any type of research, training or seminars you need to provide a document that proves your participation. Required documents for extension: an application form, photocopy of your passport, fee (60,000KRW), documents that prove the necessity of the extension   Spouse and Family Invitation   If you hold a D-2, a D-4, an E-1, an E-2 or an E-3 visa, and want to bring your family to Korea to live with you for over 90 days, you can apply for an F-3 visa for them after you and your family arrive in the country. Note that your family members must be your spouse or your unmarried children under the age of 20. You should submit the following required documents to your local immigration office when you apply for an alien registration card for yourself. After processing, you will receive an alien registration card, while your family members will receive both alien registration cards and F-3 visas. Required documents: Application form (available at www.hikorea.go.kr) Valid passport (returned right after the application)  One copy of your passport (1st page) Documents proving your relationship with your family members - Copy of certificate of marriage (for your spouse) - Copy of birth certificate (for your children) A certificate of incumbency of inviting parties and a certificate of tax payment (financial document) Application fee Two color passport photo (3.5cmx4.5cm) (taken within 6 months) Certificate of employment/enrollment   Korean Immigration   Once you arrive in Korea, you need to head to the immigration office in your jurisdiction. There, the immigration official will issue your Alien Registration Card (ARC) so that you may live and study legally in the country. The documents required are the same as the documents required if you are applying for a D-2 within Korea (see below). Sometimes, the international office at your university or institution will apply for all foreign students’ ARCs together. They will gather the documents for you and send a huge application package to be processed all together. Most students won’t be that lucky, so see the article An Introduction to Korean Visas for tips on visiting Immigration. All application documents can be downloaded from the HiKorea Immigration Website. Since February 2016, making a reservation for an appointment at immigration has been mandatory and you may not have your application processed if you have not booked an appointment. You must do this on the HiKorea website too, as it can’t be done on the phone. Immigration Homepage HiKorea Homepage Phone: 1345, press 3 for English- use this number to call for all visa or immigration inquiries. Do not call the individual branch offices.

Jun 21, 2018

Visa Application for a Degree Students in Korea

Sofia

Studying in a foreign country practically always requires a visa that is issued for the period of stay and often requires a list of documents you have to prepare in advance. There are different types of study visas available in Korea, depending on the academic program and length of stay - from private academies to universities, language courses to degree programs and short to long-term stay.    D-2 Student Visa   D-2 is the most popular student visa for those who are getting a degree or participating in research at academic institutions (community college or higher) in Korea. There are different categories of D-2 visa depending on the type of program:   Code Programs D-2-1 College bachelor’s program D-2-2 Bachelor degree program D-2-3 Master’s degree program D-2-4 Doctor’s degree program D-2-5 Research program D-2-6 Exchange student program D-2-7 Work and study program D-2-8 Short-term international studies program   Required Documents   1. Visa application form (available at Korean Embassy or Consulate), a copy of valid passport, and a 3x4 photo (taken within 6 months) 2. Photocopy of Certification of Business Registration of the educational institution (sent by email or downloaded from the official website of the university once you have been accepted) 3. Admission letter issued by the dean/president of the university Note: However, students under a scholarship from National Institute for International Education or Ministry of National Defense can substitute with the letter of invitation issued by the Minister of National Defense (letter of a government-invited foreign scholar) 4. Documents proving your family relations (only if you used your parents' bank account for financial statement) Note: Submit both original and translated versions of the certificate or any other document that states your parent’s English name (ex> photocopy of parent’s passport) 5. Certificate of tuition payment 6. Proof of final level of education Note:  - Proof of education should be a notarized copy of the original (do not send the original as it will be next to impossible to get it back from the immigration).   - Citizens from the 21 countries listed below or those who went to college/universities in those countries should choose one of the three options: Certification with an Apostille confirmation Proof of final education with a confirmation from country’s chairman or Korean consul Certification from the Chinese ministry of education or degree certification center (only necessary if you got your degrees in China) List of countries: China, Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Mongolia, Thailand, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Eran, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Nigeria, Ghana, Egypt, Peru     Student Visa Extension    If you want to extend your visa, you must apply for permission before your visa expiration date. The immigration office will accept requests two months before your visa expiration date. If the applicant fails to apply within the time period, the individual will have to pay a penalty (at least ₩100,000).  Required documents: application form  photocopy of your passport  certificate of alien registration  certificate of enrolment  notarized sponsorship letter transcript, financial document If any kind of personal information, passport information or school information has changed, you should report it immediately to the immigration office. If there is an approval that you are staying in the country to continue with your research/study, you can extend your visa. In this case, the immigration office will consider the situation and the schedule and prolong the visa expiration date till the end of the semester. If there is a reason why someone cannot carry on with their research/study such as an accident or a disease, then the immigration office will help change into another appropriate type of visa so that person could continue on and live inside the country.   Spouse and Family Invitation   If you hold a D-2, a D-4, an E-1, an E-2 or an E-3 visa, and want to bring your family to Korea to live with you for over 90 days, you can apply for an F-3 visa for them after you and your family arrive in the country. Note that your family members must be your spouse or your unmarried children under the age of 20. You should submit the following required documents to your local immigration office when you apply for an alien registration card for yourself. After processing, you will receive an alien registration card, while your family members will receive both alien registration cards and F-3 visas. Required documents: Application form (available at www.hikorea.go.kr) Valid passport (returned right after the application)  One copy of your passport (1st page) Documents proving your relationship with your family members - Copy of certificate of marriage (for your spouse) - Copy of birth certificate (for your children) A certificate of incumbency of inviting parties and a certificate of tax payment (financial document) Application fee Two color passport photo (3.5cmx4.5cm) (taken within 6 months) Certificate of employment/enrollment   Korean Immigration   Once you arrive in Korea, you need to head to the immigration office in your jurisdiction. There, the immigration official will issue your Alien Registration Card (ARC) so that you may live and study legally in the country. The documents required are the same as the documents required if you are applying for a D-2 within Korea (see below). Sometimes, the international office at your university or institution will apply for all foreign students’ ARCs together. They will gather the documents for you and send a huge application package to be processed all together. Most students won’t be that lucky, so see the article An Introduction to Korean Visas for tips on visiting Immigration. You can also apply for your student visa from within Korea. It’s easy to switch your work visa to a student visa, and you don’t need to go to Japan to do it. Documents Required (applying within Korea/arriving in Korea): Your passport + one copy Your ARC The completed visa application form The admissions letter from the Korean university you will be attending Confirmation of tuition payment from your university All application documents can be downloaded from the HiKorea Immigration Website. Since February 2016, making a reservation for an appointment at immigration has been mandatory and you may not have your application processed if you have not booked an appointment. You must do this on the HiKorea website too, as it can’t be done on the phone. Immigration Homepage HiKorea Homepage Phone: 1345, press 3 for English- use this number to call for all visa or immigration inquiries. Do not call the individual branch offices.

Jun 20, 2018

Language Programs in Korea

Sofia

For the last decade the K-wave has been sweeping the world, and many K-pop songs, Korean dramas and K-beauty products have gone viral on multiple SNS platforms. Since more people became interested in Korea, the number of foreign visitors has increased by 20 percent in 2017 compared to previous years. Along with the number of visitors, the number of international students who want to study Korean has increased as well. International students learn Korean for various reasons: to study in Korean universities or colleges, to watch Korean movies and dramas without subtitles, to talk to their favorite k-pop idols, to find a job in a Korean company and more. Korean language programs became the best way to achieve your Korean language aspirations as they offer a variety of programs tailored just for every possible need, level, and budget.    Korean for all levels: from beginner to expert   Learning Korean is a step by step process, which requires patience and practice. Generally, there are six levels of learning Korean. Level 1: You learn Korean alphabets called the hangul while using verbs and nouns to make basic sentences necessary in life such as self-introduction, ordering food or using public transportation. Level 2: You learn phonological rules for more complicated pronunciation and the difference between honorifics and informal speech. Level 3: You learn Korean idioms and create a more complicated sentence to communicate with your friends on different topics; planning for the holiday or going on a trip. Level 4: You improve your language skills for further studying or getting a job. You can discuss social, cultural and historical issues in Korean. Level 5: You learn the advanced level of Korean for research or business purposes. You can discuss political and economic issues in Korean. Level 6: You learn vocabulary and grammar that are necessary to participate in academia and business negotiations. You can use materials such as newspaper articles to develop your listening/reading/speaking skills. Approximately, it takes from one year and a half to two years for a person to get to level six and over 5 years to master the language to the advanced level in practice. However, for those who want to learn Korean just for communication purposes or want to improve their existing Korean skills, there are both short-term and long-term language programs focused on wither grammar, writing, speaking or reading, depending on the institution and the goals of the students.   University Language Centers     Although it requires a lot of effort and preparation to learn another language, in the end, the achievement is always worth it. There are several ways to learn Korean. However, studying Korean in one of the Korean universities might be the most organized way to learn the language, especially for those who would also like to experience some unique Korean culture alongside. University Language Centers provide their own materials, have a well-set structure and an established curriculum. Many private academies and smaller universities follow some of the more popular programs offered by the top universities, such as Yonsei, Sogang and Seoul National University. Before the classes start, students are usually expected to take a placement test to find out their level (unless you are an absolute beginner). If you have only some knowledge of the alphabet and basic conversation skills, you will still most likely be placed in the first level. Here are the most popular university programs in Korea:     Seoul National University Korea University Yonsei University Sogang University Overview For those who are willing to attend Korean graduate/undergraduate programs For general purposes, culture and language education For those who are willing to get a job in Korea For general conversational purposes or for research and academic purposes Programs Regular: 10-week program Special: 15-week program Short-term: 5-week and 3-week intensive program Regular: 10-week program  Short-term: intensive and summer program Regular: 7-week program Evening: 10-week program  Short-term: 5-week summer program 3-week introductory program  Regular: 10-week program Short-term: 5-week summer program and 3-week intensive program Cultural experiences Korean tea ceremony and traditional folk song classes, Korean cooking classes, trips Watching traditional art performances, making ceramics, and learning taekwondo, calligraphy, and samulnori Korean cooking classes, cultural exchange programs, and Korean movie screenings Culture classes, K-pop, movies, Danso flute classes Tuition (average for the regular program) 1,500,000 won 1,500,000 won 1,730,000 won  700,000~1,770,000 won  Scholarships Top 5% graders gets 200,000 won discount on the next semester Continuous registration of five semesters gets 200,000 won discount the next semester Volunteering for20 hours in a semester gets a 200,000won discount in the same semester KU students get 20% tuition fee reduction  Approximately 3% of all KLC students get a scholarship at the end of each semester Students who have completed at least one term and whose Korean language improvement and class attendance have been outstanding will be awarded a scholarship which consists of either a 50% reduction or 30% reduction in the tuition fee  There are scholarships that offer a 50% and 20% discount off of KLEC tuition available to two of the top students in each level. Dormitory/ housing On-campus housing available: - Shared house: approximately 500,000 won per semester - Individual house: approximately 1,600,000 won per semester On-campus housing available:  - Shared housing 1,200,000 won per semester On-campus housing available:  - Shared housing for 1~3 individuals costs approximately 500,000~1,400,000 won per semester On-campus housing available:  - Double and Quadruple rooms Visa D-4 D-4 D-4 or C-3-1 D-4 or C-3-1   Private Academies     Another option for learning Korean in Korea is using the help of private institutions such as private academies. Setting up the timetable is much more flexible and the fee is also cheaper than in universities. Preparation time is also shorter because it doesn’t require a study permit or a student visa to study in private institutions. These are the top private academies that provide Korean language classes.     YBM KLI Lexis Korea Seoul Korean Language Academy Overview Provides both group and 1:1 sessions from level 1~6 Provides both full- and part-time classes alongside with TOPIK prep class and 1:1 class Provides short- and long-term programs along with cultural experience class Registration Class opens every month Choice from three different locations Class opens every Monday and the full-time duration is 72 weeks Class opens every month and could get a free OT class before joining the regular class Documents Any type of ID card, colored photo No required documents No required documents Tuition (average per month) 150,000~200,000 won 150,000~300,000 won 200,000~440,000 won Work opportunities Not provided Provides work and study (internship) sessions for those who are working holiday visa holders Not provided   Free Programs   Lastly, anyone who wants to learn Korean but is on a tight budget could always use the language exchange programs or free centers providing Korean language sessions. Language exchange: Language exchange is learning language from a fellow student while teaching them yours. The strength of this type of learning is that it is more practical. You can focus on your speaking skills and the topics that you are interested in. However, what you learn might not be professional and might be practical in real life but not in academic or business areas. The Global Center: the Global Center Seoul provides various services for foreign citizens in Seoul. One of their services is Korean class that is going on a regular basis. They provide both regular course and TOPIK (Test of Proficiency in Korean) preparation class. Registration can be done just by visiting the center with your ID card and a colored photo. No other documents such as study permit or student visa are required. The tuition is completely free except for the 30,000won deposit, which will be returned to students with an attendance rate of 80% or higher. Local Government Offices: many local centers focus on providing information and Korean language classes to foreign residents in order to ease their transition to life in Korea. If you check the local Gu portals, you can find information on up-and-coming free language and culture classes that will cover levels 0 to at least level 4-5.     

Jun 15, 2018

Why Teach in Korea

Sofia

Working in Korea is a great adventure and an interesting career development opportunity. Before committing yourself to this life-changing experience, consider the following upsides of teaching ESL in South Korea.   Good and Quick Money   For many expats, teaching is an adventure – you travel the world, meet new people and learn about different cultures. But it is still a job, and it pays money. In Korea, that money is rather good. Typically, salaries start from around 2000 USD even for the first-timers. Those with some teaching experience or certifications can aim for 2500-3000 USD. University jobs pay even more. Demand for English teachers in South Korea is high, and schools throughout the country will arrange and pay for both accommodations and airfare – which takes a load off your monthly budget, and the generous salary will allow you to send money home, pay your education debts, or save up for travel. Tax is quite low (around 3%) and the cost of living is reasonable. Foreigners in Korea can also easily get extra jobs in modeling, movies and private tutoring to earn some fast cash (fully at your discretion: most schools do not approve of side activities). Taking into account the cost of living, English teachers in Korea can save up to 75% of their wages - often over 1000 USD each month!     Full Settlement: From Airfare To Accommodations   Just to get the material perks out of the way: standard Korean teaching job package also includes a full scale of bonuses, in addition to quite solid salaries - above the country’s average. When you sign the contract, you automatically get help in all immigration issues from the Korean side, a free plane ticket to Korea (and, in some cases, a return one as well), free housing, health insurance, severance pay and pension payouts. Teachers in Korea often live in brand-new apartment buildings, fully furnished with all Western comforts. Housing in Korea is notoriously one of the most expensive aspects of life, and, while the school-arranged apartment will not be luxurious, it will be spacious and fully-furnished with everything you need. You can check the specifics with your employer before you arrive, but generally, the housing includes all bedding, cooking utensils, a fridge, and a washing machine. You only have to pay the utility bills and personal expenses!     Anyone Can Do It: No Specialized Education or Certification Required   Any native speaker with a Bachelor degree in any field can teach ESL in Korea. The country puts a big emphasis on education, and practical conversation, cultural exchange, and communication with the natives are a big aspect of it. Although a CELTA / DELTA / TEFL / TESOL certification or a specialized teaching degree can make it easier to find a better-paid job, it is not necessary to have one in order to get a position at a private school. However, you do need to have a minimum of a 120 hour TEFL course in order to be employed by a government school, and having a teaching qualification may result in higher pay. You can always get the certification online or by finishing a TESOL course even when you are already in Korea.     Comfortable Lifestyle   Korea is a westernized country that still manages to maintain its individuality and spirit. Wherever the school is located – in Seoul, in other big cities, or even in the countryside, - you will get all the comforts of a modern lifestyle. Good roads, fast and cheap public transport (some of the best in the world), 24-hour convenience stores, big supermarkets and international chains (Costco and IKEA among others), clean and safe streets, gyms, parks, biking trails etc., – all this makes Korea one of the top countries to live in. With the reasonable cost of living and good salary, you will be able to enjoy your life to the fullest here. The expat community in the country is friendly and tight, but not too overwhelming.     Great Experience That Will Change Your Life   In the end, all it comes to is your personal experience. Korea sets a nice, comfortable lifestyle and offers a variety of unique opportunities, but it is entirely up to you what you do with them. It’s a beautiful country filled with wonderful people – cheerful, friendly and helpful. The nature and rich history of Korea give a lot to explore, while its vibrant youth culture and nightlife will fill your nights with fun adventures. Everyone can find something to fall in love with this country: be it its people, its beauty or its culture.You just have to try it for yourself!  

Jun 12, 2018

Top 5 Clubs in Itaewon

Amos

Itaewon has undergone a massive transformation over the past decade. What was originally a seedy area frequented by US troops notorious for its prostitution and overly rowdy bars has become a sort of multicultural mecca now known for its free, liberal atmosphere; a hub for underground and alternative cultures, home to many of Seoul's newest hotspots. While its clubs can't match the size nor glamour of Gangnam's, they've carved out their own niches and built some truly unique spaces that host some of the most cutting-edge DJs in Korea as well as numerous international acts. This is a list of my top five clubs in Itaewon, in no particular order, chosen mostly for their particular vibes and great music.   Cakeshop     Opening when Seoul was oversaturated with EDM clubs in 2012, Cakeshop brought a breath of fresh air to an otherwise stale club scene by providing a forum for Seoul’s then small but growing underground electronic scene. It quickly morphed into one of Seoul’s hottest clubs, with major foreign acts such as Nosaj Thing, Ryan Hemsworth, FKJ, DJ Rashad, and James Blake hitting its decks, and K-Pop stars such as G-Dragon, CL, and Jay Park popping in from time to time. DJs here play a multitude of genres, from future bass to grime to techno, making sure that every night brings a whole new experience for its guests. The club itself is situated in a basement with a very gritty, slightly industrial vibe to it, and it can get quite packed when major acts come to play here. Entrance to Cakeshop also allows you to check out the club/lounge Contra above on the 2nd floor. Location: 134 Itaewon-ro, Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Tel: 010-4765-6139 Hours: Thursday to Sunday 22:00 - 06:00   Soap     The growth of Seoul’s underground electronic music scene has led to a host of new clubs opening in both the Itaewon and Hongdae areas, one of the hottest being Soap. Opened in 2016 by members of one of Seoul’s premier DJ crews, Pute Deluxe, Soap regularly hosts both major international acts, with artists such as Yelle, Duckwrth, and Tokimonsta having graced its stage, as well as Seoul’s top DJ crews and artists, having hosted acts such as Changmo, Sik-K, and Uglyduck. The interior design of the club is next level, with the walls, bar, and seating featuring some beautiful curvature accented with soft pink and blue neon lighting, and it also boasts one of the best sound systems in the city. Location: 132-3 Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Tel: 070-4457-6860 Hours: Thursday to Sunday 22:00 - 05:00     Faust     Originally located along Itaewon’s notorious “Hooker Hill”, Faust is perhaps the best techno club in all of Seoul. It recently moved shop closer to Itaewon Station but maintains the bare bones minimalist interior that its original space was so famous for and continues to bring incredible international acts in every weekend. Faust also has a great crew of resident DJs that are always on top of the latest techno releases and put together some pretty eclectic and interesting sets that will keep you dancing all night long. The club doesn’t really have a closing time, usually staying open well into the morning when the sunlight peeks in through the shades behind the DJs, giving off an incredibly impressionable vibe. Exchange students and couples can get a 5,000 won discount on admission as well. Location: Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Itaewon-dong, 127-15, 3rd Floor Hours: Friday, Saturday 23:00 - 07:30     Club Toast     Hip-Hop’s popularity has exploded in Korea over the past few years which has led to the opening of numerous hip-hop clubs across the city. One club riding this wave towards success is Club Toast, which regularly books some of Korea’s top producers and rappers to hit its decks and perform. Palo Alto is a regular here, both on the decks and on the mic, bringing his Hi-Lite Records crew once every few months to DJ and perform. The owners, Jenny FTS and Steve, are two local DJs with deep roots and connections in Seoul’s underground hip-hop scene, which gives them the ability to put out great lineups every weekend. The club is situated in a basement just down the street from Itaewon Station Exit 3, with concrete walls dabbed in graffiti juxtaposed with an elegant bar area and well-kept bathroom. Address: 124 Bogwang-ro, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Hours: Friday, Saturday 22:00 - 05:00   Volnost     One of the newest additions to Seoul’s slowly expanding techno scene, Volnost has a reputation for being more of a DJ’s club, with many of its guests consisting of DJs from various parts of Seoul’s underground electronic scene. Volnost hosts a solid crew of resident DJs playing some fascinating techno tracks and regularly brings in foreign acts to hit its decks. The club is a bit on the smaller side, but there’s always a good crowd that gives off a very welcoming, community-like atmosphere, making a night out here very enjoyable. It recently moved to a more prominent location near the famous Itaewon McDonald’s but still retains the vibe of its former location nestled in the back alleyways of Itaewon. Address: 136-1 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Tel: 010-3389-6955 Hours: Thursday 22:00 - 04:00, Friday & Saturday 23:00 - 07:00, Sunday 22:00 - 04:00

Jun 12, 2018

Tips on Writing a Perfect ESL Resume

Sofia

First impression matters and this saying applied perfectly to the job application process. Even before you get to the interview and get the chance to show off all your best qualities - your charm, your wit and your expertise - you will have to get through the initial, most harrowing step: composing and sending in your resume. There are as many tips about creating a good CV or resume as jobs themselves. After all, your future job depends on how well you can present yourself in short, concise sentences on paper. Please, note that even though a resume and a CV both have some distinct features, especially concerning length and amount of detail, in Korea there is not much difference between the two as you will always be required to include personal information (your date of birth, country of origin, a photo - in most cases), educational background and additional skills. Here are our tips (based on our company's and my personal recruiting experience) that will hopefully help you put together a killer resume that will greatly enhance your prospects of getting the job you want teaching English in Korea.   Make a concise, well-structured resume template   The first step is to simply organize your various educational, personal and working achievements in an easily readable way. One-two pages will be more than enough. Wherever you apply to, the basic selection process is quick and simple. The person in charge of finding suitable candidates will not have the time to read everything you want to say and will most probably skip over your resume to get a better understanding of who you are and whether you have what it takes to work at the place you applied to. Set a chronological outline of your life, include all the experience you had - you can never know if a dance class you took in junior high will become the deal breaker for the job of your life. Also remember, that not everyone who will read your resume is a native English speaker - avoid difficult constructions and abbreviations.     Find and emphasize your strengths as a professional and an individual   While there is a number of contradictory advice about the structure of your resume - what should come first, what you should underline, and even what you should mention - probably the one thing all CV gurus agree on is that: include what makes you stand out. Think on your strengths as an individual and a professional. While you are creating your international resume, always remember that you are marketing yourself as an English instructor who is flexible, prepared to move to a new city/country, adapt to a new culture, and take on a variety of tasks that will not necessarily fall under your job title. Helping kids out with math problems? Check. Dancing, singing and doing art projects? Check. Discussing classical literature? Also check! Highlight not only your teaching experience but also your training, additional skills, and your international experience.      Tailor your resume for the job you are applying for   Once you have created a basic resume template, you might be tempted to start sending it out to all the positions just as it is (you have spent a lot of time making it, so the sentiment is definitely understandable). However, as was already mentioned, ESL jobs in Korea, as well as in many other Asian countries, include an element of entertainment and private tutoring. If you are sending your resume off to a recruiter without a clear position in mind, you can send the general resume and expect to answer additional questions or make additional changes later on. If you want to apply to a specific position - even when it is one of many - take your time to tweak your resume and underline some small details that might be related to the job or academy specifics. What for some schools will be irrelevant may become a great bonus for others. Plus, everyone appreciates some extra effort!     Include full educational background   Education is important in Korea, and recruiters, as well as schools, pay a lot of attention to teachers' educational background. In some cases, your education, training, and certificates may be more important than your actual teaching experience. Moreover, private tutoring is rarely considered as a proper working experience - so it is always a safe bet to add extra detail to your educational background part. Many good schools prefer their teachers to have a min of 120-hour TESOL/TEFL/CELTA, and do not easily accept online certificates.     Prepare to answer some personal questions   Applying to a Korean school, prepare to answer some quite personal questions, including your nationality, your date of birth, marital status and even height-weight measurements. Even though it has recently become not obligatory, most schools and recruiters will still ask you for a photo as well. Teachers have to look professional, so prepare a picture of yourself from waist up wearing a suit or an official attire. If you are applying for a more entertainment-oriented position, such as a kindergarten, sending some extra photos of yourself with the kids you taught before will also be very helpful. Note, that privacy laws in Korea are very different from those in the USA or Canada so even if might feel uncomfortable with some of those questions, it is considered totally normal here and you will be expected to answer before moving on to the next stages of the selection process.      To sum up, the basic format of your ESL resume in Korea should include the following:     Personal Information – add your name, contact information, citizenship/nationality, any work/residency visas that you may hold (particularly in the country where you seek employment), gender, age, and marital status. In your contact information, always add your city and country code, and add Skype id (important for the interview later on).     Education – include all programs, degrees, certifications, and other formal training programs that you attended in-person or online. Do not forget to add such information as the period of university attendance, major, the number of TESOL/TEFL /CELTA hours and courses taken related to the job requirements. List your highest-level qualifications first.     Skills – summarize your skills in education, foreign languages, computers, design, art, and any other areas. E.g.: HTML, Photoshop, CSS. Fluent in Korean, basic Chinese.     Career Experience – list your past employers, job titles, and dates of employment for each position you have held over the past 10 years. Be sure to highlight any relevant accomplishments as well as responsibilities, include activities related to teaching, i.e. teaching or working at a summer camp, tutoring, or even volunteering. List your work experience starting with the most recent or relevant assignment.     Extra Accomplishments – list the things you like to do in your spare time, particularly if they involve teaching, coaching, public service and mentoring others. Many potential employers want to make sure that when you come to a country you are outgoing, independent, and can find your own way.     References – while they are not mandatory, they are a good addition to your resume. Try to list at least a couple references that you know well from your previous employment. Provide their name, title, company/school name, telephone number (include country code) and email address.  

Jun 12, 2018

Top 5 Clubs in Hongdae

Amos

Hongdae is largely considered the center of Seoul youth culture and because of this, it's home to a massive amount of clubs. Unfortunately quite a few of them are trash, constantly blasting garish EDM music to crowds of college kids with little fashion or music sense, with hordes of grimy guys looking for an easy hookup. Luckily, I've compiled a list of the top five clubs in Hongdae, in no particular order, each with great music and atmospheres, and their own unique charms.    Henz Club     Opened by the owners of one of Seoul’s premier streetwear shops, Henz Shop, in the Summer of 2015, Henz Club has emerged as one of the hottest clubs in Seoul’s burgeoning underground hip-hop scene, regularly hosting some of the country’s top DJs and rappers as well as numerous foreign acts, such as Kohh, J $tash, Jay Prince, Smino, Yaeji, and Illa J. The club has a very gritty vibe, with stickers and graffiti all over the walls, giving it a refreshingly different atmosphere compared to some of the EDM clubs in the area. The crowds here have a genuine interest in the music here as well, creating a friendly, welcoming mood where it’s easy to make new friends. While it has certainly earned a reputation as Seoul’s top hip-hop club, it doesn’t confine itself to just a single genre. A wide variety of music can be heard here, from House and Disco to Bass and Grime, which attracts a diverse crowd drawn from Seoul’s various subcultures. Often times a stamp here will also get you access to Club Modeci on the top floor of the building as well. Address: 86-22 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu B1 Tel: 010-9247-0895 Operating Hours: Friday, Saturday: 22:00 - 05:00     Modeci     Located on the top floor of the same building as Henz Club, Club Modeci emerged in the wake of Henz Club’s success. Run by the same owners as Henz Club, admission into Club Modeci usually gets you into Henz Club as well. However, the design of the two clubs couldn’t be any more different, with Club Modeci boasting higher ceilings, cozy dim lighting, and a beautiful long wooden bar set up, as well as an immaculate rooftop, with a wonderful view overlooking Hongdae and Hapjeong. The club also hosts a more diverse range of music compared to Henz Club. While it books a good number of hip-hop DJs and artists, it also hosts plenty of house and disco nights. The rooftop is also a great place to take a break from the music, get some fresh air, and socialize. Address: 86-22 Sangsu-dong, Mapo-gu 5F Tel: 010-7154-1956 Operating Hours: Friday, Saturday: 22:00 - 05:00     Vurt     This hidden techno club is actually closer to Hapjeong then it is to Hongdae, but it’s nevertheless a must-go-to spot for people looking for a more alternative style club or any techno fans. It’s located in a basement underneath a noraebang, and has little in the way of signage, which makes it pretty easy to miss if not for some of the people outside. Vurt is at the center of Seoul’s often overlooked and fast-growing techno scene, and showcases some of the best up and coming local DJs, as well as international acts. It’s been featured in Resident Advisor and Boiler Room and was named one of the top 10 under-the-radar clubs in the world by Red Bull. The interior is very minimal, almost like a small concrete bunker, but it attracts an audience that truly cares about the music and the scene surrounding it, giving it a very friendly, laid back vibe compared to the larger clubs in the area. Address: 11 Dongmak-ro, Mapo-gu Tel: 02-3142-1356 Operating Hours: 23:00 - 07:00     Club Aura     Just a stone’s throw away from the infamous Hongdae Playground is Hongdae’s Club Street, packed with some of the area’s hottest clubs. The newest of these on this strip is Club Aura, which is best known for its immaculate sound system, wild light shows, and large dance floor. The club actually consists of two spaces; the larger space is the main building which hosts EDM, while around the corner from the main building is a hip-hop section. Aura also has a female-only section for any woman who’s tired of unwanted attention from the guys and wants to hang out and dance in peace. The entrance fee rises as the night goes on, but women can get in for free before 11pm. Address: 25 Hongik-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu Tel: 010-6667-6460 Operating Hours: Wednesday - Saturday: 22:00 - 06:00     M2     One of Hongdae’s largest clubs with a capacity of 1,500 people, M2 has been on the forefront of Seoul’s EDM scene for over a decade now, continuing to reach capacity every nearly weekend. It continues to be a favorite amongst Hongdae clubhoppers even to this day, regularly hosting theme parties that attract a crowd of mostly university students. While most clubs have begun to branch out from EDM and mix in a bit of hip-hop and K-Pop, M2 continues to blast electro music all night long to the delight of Seoul’s ravers. The club has two floors, with a balcony overlooking the dancefloor, as well as seating in the back and a stage for people to dance on and is open every night of the week except Mondays. Address: 20-5 Jandari-ro, Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-3143-7573 Hours: Sunday,Tuesday, & Wednesday: 21:30 - 06:00, Thursday: 21:30 - 07:00, Friday & Saturday: 21:30 - 09:00

Jun 11, 2018

Top 8 Rooftop Cafes in Seoul

Amos

Seoul is a sprawling metropolis of massive skyscrapers and mountains, a gray, hyper-dense urban space interrupted by patches of green parkland and hills, cut through by the Han River which provides a welcome relief from the intensity of it all. Seoul's unique urban landscape lends the city some pretty interesting views. The explosion in the number of cafes in the city has also led to a growth in rooftop cafes that provide patrons with incredible views of the cityscape. Below is a list of the top 8 rooftop cafes in the city, spread out in various parts of the city, each with their own special views and unique traits.   Mmm Records     Set up by local culture magazine Eloquence in 2016, Mmm Records is a two-story cafe/record store a bit off the beaten path down one of Itaewon’s highest points, Woosadan-ro. It has a very gritty, old-school vibe, with old TVs, boomboxes, and record players scattered all over the cafe. Mmm Records stocks over 80,000 records and has turntables situated all over the cafe for patrons to use, while regularly hosting DJs, pop-up events, and even DJ lessons. It also has a rooftop with an incredible view overlooking the Han River and Gangnam in the not-so-far-off distance as well as a close-up view of Itaewon and Namsan Tower. The rooftop has a very minimal setup, with a simple astroturf carpet, some plastic stools lying around, and Christmas lights lit up at night, keeping people’s attention focused on their friends and surrounding view rather than the frills of some extravagant decor. Mmm Records has a very unique menu. Its Vietnamese banh mi sandwiches, the cafe’s signature dish developed by local French Chef Gregoire Michot, are to die for. They come with three different types of meat; duck rillette, mortadella, or pate. It has the usual fare of coffees, complemented by an extraordinary Hanoi Coffee, a Vietnamese-style coffee, and the exclusive Egg Coffee, which is a version of the Hanoi Coffee with an egg whipped into a foam on top. There’s also a wide variety of imported beer and cocktails available. Address: 620-124 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Tel: 070-4001-0625 Hours: Sunday to Thursday, 12:00 - 24:00, Friday & Saturday, 12:00 - 02:00     Seoul Metropolitan Library Sky Yard     One of Seoul’s surprisingly best kept secrets is Seoul Metropolitan Library’s rooftop garden, with its great view over Gwanghwamun Square and the surrounding office buildings of Jongno District. Built in 1925 by the Japanese during the colonial era, the building functioned as Seoul’s City Hall until 2012, before being converted into a public library. The library has over 200,000 titles, along with exhibits on the history of the building. Right next to the entrance to the garden on the 5th floor is the Happy Bakery & Cafe, with a decent selection of coffee, tea, and juice, as well as a limited number of baked goods. Grab a coffee at the cafe then head out into the garden to relax and take in the views of Gwanghwamun, Gyeongbokgung Palace, the Blue House, Namsan Tower, and the surrounding area. Address: 110 Sejong-daero, Taepyeongno 1(il)-ga, Jung-gu, Seoul Tel: 2120 Hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 09:00 - 18:00 (March to November)     Eunpyeong-gu Library     Jutting up from the side of a hill is Eunpyeong-gu Public Library, a terraced, fortress-like structure with an immaculate view of the surrounding area. Its brutalist style design, with plentiful amounts of green ivy dotting its exterior, has received numerous accolades, including the 2001 Korea Architecture Award. It’s a far cry from the modern glass structure taking up the Gangnam and Jongno skylines; an incredibly unique piece of architecture. The terraced design leaves plenty of outdoor space for visitors to make use of, including parapet-like nooks equipped with tables and benches for friends to hang out and chat in over a cup of coffee while enjoying the beautiful view of the district below. While the library is much smaller compared to other public libraries in Seoul, it does boast the city’s first multicultural children’s library section, designed to create a better understanding of foreign cultures and the world at large amongst Korean kids, stocking books in a wide variety of languages. The library also hosts numerous cultural and educational programs for people of all ages, and visitors are free to check out books as well as films and other multimedia. Address: 13-84 Tongil-ro 78ga-gil, Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-385-1671 Hours: Weekdays 09:00 - 22:00, Weekends 09:00 - 18:00   Banjul     Originally opened in 1974 as a fine dining restaurant in the central Seoul area of Jongno, Banjul underwent a major renovation in 2012 and transformed into a cafe/art gallery with an incredible rooftop space surrounded by skyscrapers. The cafe takes up the top three floors of a five-story brick building, with the main cafe situated on the third floor, an exhibition space on the fourth floor, art gallery on the fifth, and finally an incredibly well laid out rooftop with a beautiful flower garden and wonderful views of the towering office buildings of the Jongno district. Banjul hosts monthly experimental art exhibitions, part of a series called ‘Drawing Relay Projects’ as a way to maintain a connection to the area’s roots, Jongno once being a major meeting point for Korean artists in the 1970’s. It also regularly hosts live jazz performances as well as various parties, events, and even weddings. The cafe has a very nostalgic, vintage interior design, with an extensive collection of vintage coffee grinders and teaspoons on display on the third and fourth floors, and plenty of vintage furniture for patrons to sit in. The cafe boasts an extensive menu, with over 46 menu items of various styles of coffee, tea, wine, snacks, and desserts. Address: 23 Samildae-ro 17gil, Jongno-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-735-5437 Hours: Monday to Saturday 11:30 - 22:30, Sunday 11:30 - 21:30     Gräddhyllan     Gräddhyllan is a shop specializing in Scandinavian furniture and lifestyle goods that also functions as a cafe. A bit up the hill in Gyeongridan, its rooftop has a great 360-degree view of the Itaewon area and Namsan Tower. The cafe has an array of different coffees, teas, juices, and desserts, as well as a small but exclusive collection of wine and beer. The first floor hosts the shop, which stocks furniture and lifestyle goods from a number of Scandinavian brands, such as Sjogren, Kosta Boda, and Orrefors. The second and third floors are home to lounges, while the fourth floor hosts a special meeting room that’s open to anyone when it isn’t reserved. The fifth floor is where the rooftop is located and it provides stunning views of the surrounding area perched from its vantage point up on the hill. Address: 60-1 Hoenamu-ro, Itaewon-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-797-9541 Hours: Weekdays 12:00 - 23:00, Weekends 12:00 - 24:00   Substance     Gyeongridan has experienced a boom in the number of bars and cafes over the last few years, especially on its rooftops, where patrons can get one of the best views of Seoul’s iconic Namsan Tower in the city. One of the more interesting and unique cafe/bars on this street is Substance, which boasts a more alternative style and vibe compared to its competition in the area. It has a splendidly designed white interior, complemented by a large number of plants, colored fluorescent lighting, and an array of unique custom-made furniture. Right outside of the main space is a terrace that wraps around the northern side of the building and a set of stairs from the terrace leads to the rooftop, which boasts an amazing 360-degree view of the area and an incredible view of Namsan Tower. The rooftop is decked out with tables made from plywood pallets and comfortable white plastic chairs, while canvas is hung over to provide cover from the sunlight. Substance also throws parties from time to time, inviting some of Seoul’s more alternative DJ crews to hit its decks. There’s an extensive menu of cocktails and a decent selection of beer as well as coffee for those who aren’t looking to partake in alcohol. Address: Seoul, Yongsan-gu, Noksapyeong-daero 46-gil, 1 4 층 Tel: 010-6835-5622 Hours: Monday to Thursday 18:00 - 01:00, Friday & Saturday 16:00 - 02:00, Sunday 16:00 - 23:00     Saisa     Ttukseom, an old industrial enclave right off the north bank of the Han River on the eastern side of Seoul, has transformed in recent years into a sort of hipster hotspot, with cafes and art galleries popping up in the midst of fully functioning industrial workshops, giving the neighborhood a very unique urban vibe. One cafe that stands out is Saisa, located on the north side of Ttukseom Station. Situated in an old jutaek building, it has an incredibly unique interior that effortlessly blends contemporary minimalist furniture with antique pieces and exposed brick walls. The cafe also features a very wide terrace and rooftop surrounded by a mish-mash of apartment blocks and older buildings, perfect to hang out at on a warm sunny day. There’s a variety of coffee, tea, and other drinks available, but the main attraction at Saisa is their brunch meals. Each meal comes with coffee or tea, with Double Cheese Toast, Kimchi Pilaff, and Beef Pilaff sets all available for a reasonable price of between 10,000 and 11,000 won. Address: Wangsimniro 14(sipsa)-gil, Seongsu 1(il)-ga 2(i)-dong, Seongdong-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-6339-4243 Hours: 10:00 - 23:00   S.J. Cho Korean Paper Art Gallery     Situated just a short walk away from COEX, S.J. Cho Korean Paper Art Gallery showcases a traditional style of paper art that uses a special Korean paper known as hanji. Founded by traditional paper artist Cho Su-Jeong in 2001, the gallery displays a number of exemplary hanji artworks. Hanji art uses an array of colorful hanji paper to create an image similar to a painting, without the paint and brushes. Paper can be torn, folded, or crumpled into different shapes to create a unique work of art. Besides the displays, the gallery also runs hanji art classes and workshops. One of the main attractions of S.J. Cho Korean Paper Art Gallery is its breathtaking rooftop. Located on the 12th floor of the building, it’s an oasis in the midst of the hustle and bustle of Gangnam. A picturesque hanok-style pavilion provides cover from the elements amid a beautiful garden. The gallery runs a cafe on the floor below, so feel free to purchase some traditional tea and bingsu and relax amidst the surreal juxtaposition of this traditional garden and the surrounding skyscrapers. Address: 14 Teheran-ro 92-gil, Gangnam-gu, Seoul Tel: 02-501-1505 Hours: Monday to Friday 11:00 - 21:00, Saturday 11:00 - 17:00

Jun 11, 2018

Plus-Sized Clothing in Seoul

Sofia

With the changes in nutrition, the typical Korean body type has also undergone noticeable changes. For many years foreigners have faced the same problem: most, if not all, of Korean street fashion (the dreaded "free sizes"), was available only for sizes XS and S. This trend has been changing, with young Koreans demanding more stylish choices for a variety of body types, including the so-called "plus size". In 2017, Korea's most well-known plus-sized models - Kim Gee-Yang (Instagram @plusmodel) and J Style plus-size modeling contest winners Yeom Yoon Hye and Bae Kyo Hyun - have taken the conservative Korean fashion industry by storm, landing modeling gigs with top magazines and partnering up with amazing brands. This means that more fashionable options are finally getting available to all the women and men who do not fit the one-fits-all typical Korean clothes.     Independent Stores   Itaewon Itaewon is easily the best place in Korea to buy plus-sized clothing. Just a short walk along the main drag, and you’ll be bombarded with shops advertising “BIG SIZES” on the windows. Some will even custom-make clothing articles, like suits or shoes, for foreigner sizes. OK BT: Walk straight out of Itaewon Station Exit 1, away from the Hamilton Hotel.  OK Big & Tall (OK BT) is located inside the New Plaza building and carries stylish clothes for US size 10-20 women. Address: 166 Itaewon-ro, Yongsan-gu, Seoul. Itaewon Mall: Great choice of men's clothing in sizes L to 4XL. The styles vary from casual to more official and can be checked out both online and in the store. Address: 34-22 Itaewon 1(il)-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul, South Korea 34-22. Dongdaemun Dongdaemun, for those who can fit into Korean sizes, is a shopaholic’s heaven. Like the nearby Myeongdong shopping district, this area is crawling with Chinese and Japanese tourists wanting to snag fashionable K-Style clothes for a cheap deal. While it’s unlikely that anyone over a US size 10 or 12 will be able to find clothes in the many malls that fill Dongdaemun, there are still places to find the latest plus-sized fashions. Pyeonghwa Market: With over 50 years of history, the Pyeonghwa Market in Dongdaemun has grown to become one of the biggest markets in Korea. Here you can find practically any type of clothing in any size, and many famous designers have been known to come here for inspiration. This is a great place to find something special and to spend a whole day shopping. Lotte Mart TE Many big retailers have started to launch their own casual plus-size lines, including Lotte Mart's TE. It has a wide variety of underwear, stockings, pants and everyday wear coming in big sizes from XXL to 4XL. You can check out their stock online as well as in the supermarket itself.  66100 One of the most stylish Korean plus-sized brands, 66100 offers great Korean designs available online and in the store's showroom. The showroom is open from 14:00 to 20:00 and requires an online reservation, reservation by email info@im66100.com or by phone 070-881-66100.   International Brands   H&M H&M+ offers a variety of styles in sizes up to 4XL, as well as bras up to 42D. You can either check the clothes at the stores or order online. H&M also often puts items on sale and is an overall great store to renew your wardrobe. Zara If not a genuine plus-size, Zara still can offer a variety of larger European sizes in their collections. Zara's online shop also has a selection of bigger sizes. The brand is also great for stylish shoes in sizes over 39 (Korean 250). Berschka The Spanish streetwear brand offers cheap and funky clothing that comes in standard European sizes. Their men's section tends to be unisex and can also serve as a great plus-size stylish option. Berschka has many locations around Korea and also offers online shopping option. Forever 21 This American fast fashion retailer has a range of sizes and fashions and can be a good fit for ladies who cannot find suitable clothes among Korean free-size streetwear. You can also check their stock online. Uniqlo The Japanese brand offers standard European sizes as well as big sizes for casual wear, underwear, and pants. If the size you want is sold-out at the store, you can always shop online. SPAO Originally a Korean brand, SPAO also offers basic casual wear in standard European sizes. Famous for cute designs and good quality, SPAO is a great alternative to Uniqlo and other international brands. You can also shop online.   Online Shopping   G-Market and Coupang G-Market (think “Korean eBay” or “Korean Amazon”) has big-sized clothing options for both men and women. Most merchants will also ship to your place in Korea, and also have good return policies. G-Market can be used in English or Korean. Coupang - G-Market's main competitor - also has a variety of plus-sized clothing that you can choose and compare. Unlike G-Market, Coupang does not have an English version - but you can type in "big size" or "XXL" in the search bar and it will show the options available. 11st Similar to G-Market, 11st is a large online shopping mall, offering everything from electronics to home supplies and snack foods. It features several clothing sections, where some online shops sell stylish garments up to size XXL. Some vendors even offer free shipping within Korea. 11st also has an English option, so you don’t have to try navigating the website in Korean.  I’m Fat  Well, if you’ve been in Korea for a while, you’ve probably noticed how open people are about pointing out other people’s flaws. Tales of students and co-workers making comments like, “Wow your skin is really bad today!” to “You look fat! Did you gain weight?” seem to be commonplace. Enter www.imfat.co.kr, a stylish website for (large) men. Like G-Market, the styles are good and the prices are low, but not a lot of English is used. It’s still pretty easy to follow, though, with a basic grasp of Hangeul. ASOS An all-time favorite of many expat women in Korea, ASOS offers great designs, high quality, and affordable prices. The store also offers men's wear and a choice of delivery - Standard or Express - which makes it an easy option for overseas online shopping. The import fees are usually taken for orders over 150USD (including shipping), so make sure to divide your order into several packages with a 5-7 day delay to avoid the tax (it is counted for all your parcels coming at the customs at the same period).  Gabig Korea online shopping brand offering women's clothes in sizes XL-3XL and shoes in sizes 235 to 280. The style is mostly Korean casual wear, but it has many cute pants and tops to choose from at their website.  Facebook groups Many expats face similar problems, and they often organize clothing swaps, sales and exchanges to help each other out. You can check out the local information boards and buy&sells. Most famous groups are HBC/Itaewon Information Board and Plus-size and Beautiful in Korea.

Jun 5, 2018

TaLK vs EPIK

Lindsey

If you have decided to opt out for a safer, more stable government position, you will need to decide which of the programs fit you better. Korean government offers two programs for foreign teachers that differ in terms of eligibility, pay, and responsibilities - EPIK and TaLK. EPIK stands for English Program in Korea and hires foreign English teachers to be placed in public schools over the country. TaLK (Teach and Learn in Korea) is more of a government scholarship aimed at providing a cultural experience for future teachers in Korea. It is a training as much aa s teaching opportunity, with less working hours and more organized trips, activities, and courses.   EPIK   EPIK is aimed at native speakers from the 7 designated countries - USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Great Britain and Ireland - who obtained their Bachelor degree and who might have some teaching experience. The placement can be both in rural and in metropolitan areas, but to land a bigger city public school job you will need higher GPA (at least 2.7 out of 4.0). Metropolitan areas are more competitive than provinces, and since many schools previously covered by GEPIK - Gyeonggi-do English Program in Korea - are now also covered by EPIK, provincial schools do hire more English teachers. The grades taught are usually elementary to middle school, with fewer positions in high-school level. Tip: EPIK is known for rejecting not only underqualified but also overqualified teachers. If you are confident that your experience and education are solid, try applying to private/international/foreign schools, universities or upscale hagwons. These jobs are usually better paid and allow for more freedom. Moreover, some provinces and Seoul prefer to hire more experienced teachers avoiding the EPIK program, so you can have a better chance even with a public school if you apply through a recruiter or send your documents directly to the school. Consider EPIK Jobs if you: Graduated from the university and want to explore the teaching abroad path Have good GPA and a passion for teaching Graduated with a Teaching major or have a teaching certificate (with over 120 hours) Are not over-qualified and do not mind following a rigid curriculum Do not know how to plan lessons and prefer having a Korean co-teacher Do not know much about ESL market in Korea and want to follow a tried and safe process of application   TaLK   TalK program is best suited for students who want to take a gap year and explore their career possibilities. TaLK places its teachers in underprivileged areas where English education is a rarity and would not have been available otherwise. Small villages, islands, and provincial towns may not be as glamorous as Seoul and Busan, but they do offer a full cultural immersion in Korean traditional lifestyle. TaLK is available for Incheon Metropolitan City, Gangwon-do, Chungcheongnam-do, Jeollabuk-do, and Jeollanam-do areas. It is a great experience and, with long orientation, serves as a good coaching opportunity. You will be placed with a Korean co-teacher and live with a Korean host family, while Korean government will organize and sponsor cultural trips for you. The working hours are short and are mostly in the afternoons. You will not be required to stay in the office outside of your teaching hours (aka "desk-warming").   Consider TaLK Jobs if you: Have an Associate degree or enrolled in year 2 and higher of college Have an interest in starting ESL career and training Want, first and foremost, to travel and experience Korea Do not mind living in a rural area Do not know much about ESL teaching Want ot have more free time  

May 24, 2018

TaLK Jobs in Korea

Lindsey

TaLK is a Korean government program started in 2008. It aims to bring ESL teachers to work in rural areas where English programs are underdeveloped and the language fluency is very low. The locations of these jobs make them undesirable for teachers with experience, but they are great for someone who is looking for a new cultural experience. Most of the time you will be living with a Korean family and your working hours will be afternoons only. You will have lots of time to explore your surrounding countryside and learn about Korea. The government also sets up cultural activities for TaLK participants. The orientation is four weeks long and you won’t only learn how to teach. You will go on trips, meet other teachers and engage with Korean culture. Contracts are either six months or one year, so you can do it as a gap year right after or during university. You only need two years of an undergraduate degree from an English speaking institution or an associate degree to apply. You will be teaching elementary students only.   TaLK is for you if: You are in the middle of your undergrad degree and need a break. You only have an associate degree but want to teach ESL. You want to learn about a new culture and be totally immersed. You don’t care about location. You are looking for a great gap year adventure.   Tip: TaLK programs start in September or March, like public schools. You need to apply by early May for September or early December for March.   

May 24, 2018