Monthly Archives: February 2009

Leaving Korea this weekend

I’ve only got a day or so left in Korea, so this will be my last post for SafKorea. Unfortunately I haven’t found anyone to keep this blog updated while I’m travelling, so it’s going to be pretty dead from here on. Sad, but true.

I just wanted to say thanks to all those people who helped me put all this information on the internet, and all the people who visited the site and found it useful. As of today I’ve had just under 13,000 hits on this site, which I think is not bad considering that there are less than 2,000 South Africans teaching English in Korea. At least, that’s as far as I know.

It’s been a tough year here, but a really good one. I’ve met a lot of great people, and done some interesting things. The one thing that has stood out to me is how amazing the South Africans here in Korea are. All the Saffers I met are really intelligent, wonderful people who love SA, and there’s a great sense of unity, despite our different backgrounds (and dare I say it, colour). It’s given me a great sense of pride in my country and its people, and a lot of hope for our future.

Anyway, I’ll be keeping this blog live until August this year (until I finish all my traveling), and then we’ll see what happens. Since no-one will be keeping it updated, please add a dash of salt and some of your own research to all the information you find here.

Good luck to everyone going to Korea for the first time, and sterkte for all those already in country! I’ll see you all back in SA!



Are you a South African English teacher in Seoul, Gyeonggi or Incheon? Win an Apple Ipod Nano.

I’ve been contacted by an academic at the National University of Singapore who is conducting research on the experience of English teachers in Korea. He’s specifically looking for South Africans. Check out his advert below:

Are you a South African English teacher in Seoul, Gyeonggi or Incheon? Win an Apple Ipod Nano.

I am currently conducting research on foreign English teachers in the Seoul Metropolitan Region (including Incheon and Gyeonggi Province). The research aims to investigate the lives of foreign English teachers, their experience of living in Seoul and their contribution to the urban environment.

As part of this research I am conducting an online survey of teachers. There are 55 questions and it will take 10-15 minutes of your time. If you complete the survey you will go into the draw for an Apple Ipod Nano. The survey can be found here:

I am particularly interested in getting responses from South African English teachers as I would like to find out about experiences beyond those of Americans and Canadians. I will also be conducting interviews in April and May this year. If you are interested in taking part in these feel free to send me an email (again, interviews with South African teachers are particularly important).

Many thanks,

Francis Collins

Asia Research Institute National University of Singapore

Extending your stay after your E-2 visa expires


I was super enthusiastic about coming to Korea in early 2008, and I figured the sooner I got here the better. So I arranged to arrive in Korea about a week before I had to start to work, so that I had enough time to settle in and get myself sorted out before I had to start work.

The jury is still out on whether this was a good idea, but one of the unintended consequences is that my E-2 visa expires before my contract ends. This is because the work visa is valid for 1 year after arriving in Korea, not from your first day of your employment. As such, my E-2 visa expires on 26 February, but my contract states that I have to stay until 28 February. Uh-oh…

Extending your E-2 can be a task of Herculanean….nay Schwarzenegger…proportions, and not worth the effort if you aren’t staying for another year. Definitely not if it’s only for a few days. So what to do? You’re in luck. There is an answer, my friend.

It’s called the “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”. Basically you can get yourself a tourist visa once your E-2 visa expires, without having to leave the country first. This is pretty cool. You can stay in Korea for up to 30 days after your E-2 expires, as long as you have a flight ticket showing that you will leave the country within that time. You aren’t allowed to work during this time, though, no matter what your boss says. It’s purely for tourism purposes.

But wait! It gets better! It’s free! And you don’t even need to go into an Immigration office to get this extension. You can apply online. All you need is a jpeg image of your flight ticket.

Here’s how to do it (just make sure you’re using a Windows PC, with IE6 or higher):

1. Go to this website: (If the website isn’t in English, you can change the language by clicking on “English” on the menu to the right of the page.

2. If you aren’t already registered on the website, do so. You can join under the “Log-in” page to the left of the screen. You’ll need your ARC number and some personal details.

3. Once you’ve registered (or logged in), look at  the top menu bar. Click on “E-APPLICATION”, and then “File an application”.

4. A list of available applications should appear. The 8th option under “Sojourn”, titled “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners” is the one you want. DO NOT use the 2nd option, titled “Extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”. It’s something else.

5. Click on the little mouse next to “Temporary extension of stay for departure of registered foreigners”.

6. Read through all the requirements and administrative procedures. All you need to know is that you must have a jpeg file of your flight ticket, and that this visa extension is FREE.

7. Click on “I agree” at the bottom of the page, and then click “APPLY (PRINCIPAL)”. This will take you to another page where you fill in some personal details and upload the jpeg file of your flight ticket. You will also need to state how long you need to extend for (until the date of your flight) and why you need to extend (for me it was “To visit some tourist sites in Korea before I leave the country”).

8. Once you’ve filled in all the compulsory fields and have uploaded your flight ticket, click “Submit”. That’s it. You’re done. You should get an email confirmation of your application.

9. It takes about three days for Immigration to process your application, and you will receive an email saying whether you were successful or not. You can check the progress of your application by logging-in on the HiKorea website.

10. When you get the email stating that your application was successful, you can log-in at the HiKorea site and print out a copy of this confirmation.

11. Take a copy of this confirmation with you to the airport, and hand it to the immigration official. After that, you’re homefree!

I found this to be pretty easy process, and far less pain than having to go all the way to an Immigration office. Now if only they could make the E-2 visa application this easy…

Free trip to Southeast Asia

Beach in ThailandOne of the nicest things about teaching in Korea is the free flights. The schools usually pay for a one-way flight to Korea from South Africa, as well as a one-way ticket home at the end of your contract (unless you are renewing, in which case you get a free return flight home and back to Korea).

The oddest thing about this, though, is that the schools tend to insist that they will only pay for one-way flights, and will only reimburse half the price of a return flight, even if the return flight is CHEAPER than a one-way flight. I still can’t wrap my head around this one.

In any case, I’m in the last three weeks of my contract and I can now start getting excited about my trip home. I’m not renewing, so it’ll be a one-way flight for me. But I’ve managed to organise myself something interesting. Because there are no non-stop direct flights to South Africa from Korea, you usually have to stop over somewhere, usually in Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Dubai or Qatar. I like Asian airlines, so I decided to see if I could arrange a flight on Singapore Airlines. Last time I flew with them, back in 2006, it was awesome!

Luckily for me Singapore Airlines had some decently priced one-way flights (about 1,100,000 won, one-way). So my school was willing to pay for this. “Hang on,” I thought. “Hmmm…Singapore…close to Thailand and Cambodia…” and then it hit me. Beaches! Sunshine! Cheap food! Fresh fruit! Yes! Maybe, just maybe, I  could arrange to stay over in Southeast Asia a bit on my way home.

And wouldn’t you know it, the Singapore Airlines flight home was pretty much the same price whether I flew straight home or stayed for a month. So I decided to try and arrange a month-long stay in Southeast Asia, and my school had no problem paying for the ticket. In fact I have already been reimbursed. Awesome!

So on 1 March I’ll be landing in Singapore, and on 3 March I’ll be in Cambodia enjoying Angkor Wat. After that it’s off to Thailand’s beaches for a nice dose of sea and sand. I have a grin on my face already. The best part is, because of the free flights, I should be able to get away with less than R5,000 for my accommodation, transport and food for more than a month in Southeast Asia. Un-be-lievable!

So long, Korea, and thanks for all the flights.