In continuing my series on Teaching in Korea, I thought I would walk you all through the EPIK application for the EPIK program. In case you are new, EPIK is a Korean government program. It lets you teach in Korea and be pretty well compensated! I plan on teaching in Korea through EPIK if I am not a finalist for the Fulbright.

Let’s go through the different sections of the EPIK application and I’ll try to give you some tips and answer some questions you might have.

2 Recommendations

This part is actually a bit difficult if you’re not careful. This is because the guidelines for submitting your recommendations are a bit cumbersome. Korea does not really have a recommendation system so I don’t think they really know what they’re doing with it – goodness knows they’re very picky.

  • Recommendations must be dated
  • They must be signed in ink
  • They must be on university letterhead
  • Eventually you will need to send in physical copies of your recommendations

Yikes, but they really, really do care. They generally will not accept your recommendations otherwise. There are a few ways around this – if they’re not signed in ink or potentially if you can’t send physical copies, you can send a business card instead. I’ve read about people doctoring business cards because their recommendations are much older. Likely, no one is going to care if you do, and it’s highly unlikely you’ll be found out. However, it’s always best to go the proper route if you can.

Teaching Experience

It doesn’t matter if you have a current job and it doesn’t matter if you have teaching experience. However, if you do have teaching experience it can make up for areas they might find lacking otherwise. In this section you should put anything related at all to teaching. Camp counselor? Tutor? Write it down. It counts, even if it’s not the “traditional” teaching.

Placement Preference

This is why it is so important to get your application in as soon as possible. If you don’t care where you’re placed, wonderful, submit anytime, essentially. And placements are random no matter what, but you do have a much higher chance of being placed where you wish if you apply early. Particularly for Seoul, it’s almost at a first come first served basis (but it also depends how many spaces are available, Incheon didn’t have any for the 2017). However, teaching experience or qualifications could help boost you to spots like Seoul (although Seoul did recently add over a hundred new positions so fingers crossed!). But again, there is still a high chance you won’t be placed where you want.

Self Medical Assessment 

Just some general pointers. Even if you take medication, you’re probably best not to mention it if it’s something you can bring with you legally or you can handle it on your own. If you do take medication for something, do some research on what other people did. The EPIK application system is very wary of teachers who have any health conditions at all, especially mental health concerns, as they see it as a sign that you won’t make it in Korea. EPIK already has a problem with many teachers not fulfilling their contracts so it sort of makes sense.


It doesn’t really matter how much you put as long as it’s within the 0-3 range probably. Some people say that you shouldn’t put zero as it indicates you won’t participate in Korean culture. I don’t think this is an issue as long as you frame it as dieting/religious reasoning. Foreigners have an image of being fussy and picky and they could see this as a sign that you are. I personally don’t think it will matter to EPIK but I’ve heard some people do get denied for this kind of thing at some private hagwans.


If you are and you know you can handle Korea’s situation (many vegetables but a lot of meat too) don’t bother putting it down. This is another case of “You look like you can’t fit in.” Vegetarianism less so, but its better to be safe than sorry.


Most places won’t care if they ear piercings but I still wouldn’t put it down unless they’re very prominent. Industrials generally aren’t favored and you may be asked to take them out during the day. Facial piercings are a no-go, but small nose piercings are sometimes an exception. Anything else is nobody’s business.


Unless it’ll be visible, don’t bother mentioning it. It probably won’t matter if you do as Korea is getting more tattoo friendly. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you always wear long sleeves, it won’t matter. If you have a tattoo on your hip, it definitely won’t matter.

Past Infectious Diseases

Sadly you probably won’t be able to teach in Korea if these come up on your health records, particularly Tuberculosis. The argument is, they can find someone how is healthy so why would they bother?

Lesson Plan

I‘ll soon have a separate post up for this, along with a GOE application walkthrough, as it’s a lot more involved. Stay tuned!

I hope this could help some of you! The EPIK application may seem complicated but with a little research it’s not so bad!

Check out my other posts!

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