The Complete Guide to the GOE Program in South Korea

by: Lara Dondello Lara Donadello | Last Updated April 4, 2020

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GOE stands for Gyeongsangnam-do Office of Education and it’s an English teaching program for public schools in the southern Gyeongsang province of South Korea, a beautiful region famous for its rural setting and natural scenery.

Even though it’s not as popular as some other teaching programs in Korea, GOE still represents a great option if you want to experience life as a teacher in South Korea. 

Now, before we delve into the knitty gritty of the GOE program, here’s a very useful video that will give you a good idea of all the programs offered, what they have in common and how they differ from one another.

Requirements for the GOE Program

In order for your GOE application to be successful, you will have to meet the following requirements: 

  • Native English speaker applicants need to hold a passport from one of the following countries: USA, Canada, UK, Republic of Ireland, South Africa, Australia or New Zealand. Non-native speakers who immigrated to one of these countries can also apply as long as they’ve been taught at English-language schools from junior high school up to the university level. 
  • Bachelor’s Degree or above (in any field) if you are still in university you have to complete your degree before starting your application process.
  • TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certificate – you must hold a 100-hour or above teaching certificate or be currently enrolled in a course to get one. This does not apply to candidates who hold a Bachelor’s or Master’s Degree in Education.
  • Clean criminal background check – all GOE applicants must obtain a national-level background check that does not list any past criminal record (misdemeanors and felonies will disqualify you). 
  • Meet the requirements to obtain a Korean visa – in order to start teaching in Korea you will need to apply for the E2 Visa, a permit specific for individuals traveling to Korea to teach.
  • Be in good mental and physical health – GOE will only accept candidates who are in good health and have no major health problems. As part of your application, you will need to fill out a self-medical check form and complete a physical when you arrive in Korea.
  • Be under the age of 62, the retirement age in Korea. 

GOE Salary & Benefits

Salary

The GOE salary is advertised by some recruiting companies as among the highest in Korean public school programs.

Your salary as a GOE teacher will depend on several factors such as your qualifications, level of experience and length of stay in the program and you can earn anything between 2.1 and 2.7 million South Korean Won (KRW) a month (that is between $1700 and $2650 USD).

Not bad, huh?

Well, there’s actually more. In addition to whatever you make, you may be eligible for the so-called rural allowance in case you are placed in a less centric area of the region, which is very likely through the GOE program.

Here is the guide to the GOE pay scale.

Teacher Benefits

GOE teachers are offered a wide array of benefits:

  • GOE orientation – teachers will be able to attend short orientation sessions (about 2 days) upon arriving in Korea and this way get a chance to get informed about policies and learn more about teaching English in Korea.
  • Entrance allowance (one-time only) – 1.3 million KRW (about $1000 USD) will be given to you in the first month after arriving in the country to cover the costs of your plane ticket.
  • Settlement allowance (one-time only) – new teachers will receive 300,000 KRW (around $250 USD) to help with the purchase of supplies and other furnishings for their new accommodation.
  • Housing – GOE teachers will most likely be given rent-free accommodation.  If this is not possible, they will receive a monthly housing stipend of 400,000 KRW (a little over $300 USD).
  • Paid vacation – teachers are entitled to 26 days of paid vacation per contract, which can be taken in August and January during the Summer and Winter school breaks.
  • Sick days – teachers are allowed to take 11 sick days per contract. A doctor’s note will be required for absences longer than one day.
  • Medical insurance – fifty percent of medical insurance costs will be covered by your employer and the other fifty percent will be deducted from your paycheck.
  • Severance payment –  for each contract you bring to completion, you will get a full month of extra salary pay which will be paid to you when leaving Korea.
  • Renewal allowance – if you extend your contract and continue working for the same school, you will get a 2 million KRW bonus (approx $1650 USD) – 700,000 KRW when renewing the contract and the other 1.3 million KRW upon completion.

If you want to take a look at the kind of place you could end up living in as a GOE teacher, check out this video!

Application process, Timeline & Location

GOE Application process

Contrary to many other Korean public school programs, new applications are accepted year-round, not just in fall and spring. 

Renewing teachers have the option to apply directly through the Gyeongsangnamdo Office of Education website, but first-time applicants will need to go through a recruiting agency to get their application started and, since GOE is one of the smallest English teaching programs in Korea, the number of agencies is quite limited – here are the main ones: 

A few other links are listed on the official website but they were not working at the time this article was written.

Timeline

You will first need to submit your application and a few initial documents to give your agency the chance to verify whether you meet all the requirements or not. If you do, GOE will schedule an interview and, if it all goes well, offer you a position in the program. You’ll then have to send the agency some final documents and apply for a visa. Once you get your permit, you can start looking for flights!

Location

The GOE program only covers the southern Gyeongsang province of Korea.

Teachers on the GOE program are normally offered a position in rural areas. Now, based on the comments found online in a few forum threads, it would appear that these areas are a lot less rural than we would expect. 

Although you won’t have the possibility to select a definite location, you can still express your preferences in your application and hope for the best. Here is a list taken from the Korvia website with a list of possible locations.

What’s it like teaching with GOE?

As a GOE teacher, you can expect to work up to 22 hours a week, Monday through Friday from 8.40am to 4.40pm and you’ll be in charge of preparing and delivering your lessons, supporting a co-teacher (usually a Korean teacher) and helping with extracurricular activities. Classes are quite small compared to other English teaching programs.

Want to know what a day in the life of a GOE teacher looks like? Then watch this video!

Reviews

“GOE is great. Less competition than EPIK so you’re more likely to get a nice city placing if that’s what you’re aiming for.”

https://www.reddit.com/r/teachinginkorea/comments/8ga8r2/gyeongnam_office_of_education/

“For me my experience with GOE was a great one. I think in general they have a higher turn around time compared to EPIK and they offer the same benefits, the only downside is that it’s quite far from Seoul and that a lot of the placements are more rural. With that said though, if you’re okay being in a smaller city then I’d say go for it! Most places like Daegu, Daejeon, Busan, etc. aren’t far from where you’ll be so if you’re craving something bigger it’s definitely feasible to go there on the weekends (which I did numerous times!).”

https://www.reddit.com/r/teachinginkorea/comments/b6cbyb/goe_experience/

“I think what deters a lot of people from applying for GOE is the fear of getting placed in a rural location. There’s nothing wrong with being a city mouse, but the “country” life isn’t so bad, either. Gyeongsangnam-do may not have everything a large metropolitan city has, but it’s not the deep-woods, either. […] I find the rural students to be more polite and the class sizes to be smaller. It’s so much fun to teach at my rural school that I sometimes wish I taught at all rural schools.”

https://meandna.wordpress.com/2016/10/14/why-you-should-apply-for-goe/

Here is also an interesting interview to a GOE teacher that can give you a good overview of what her experience was like.

https://travelbud.com/blog/south-korea/why-i-left-the-uk-to-teach-english-in-south-korea-reannes-story/

In conclusion, unless you’re a full-on city mouse and absolutely won’t contemplate teaching anywhere else other than in Seoul, the GOE program could be a great choice, offering plenty of benefits, a high salary and the priceless opportunity to explore all that the Gyeongsang province has to offer.

Lara Dondello

Lara Donadello

Lara is a CELTA-certified teacher, content creator and host of the English Vocabulary Booster podcast.  As a digital nomad, she’s learned she can make do without most things, except Netflix and good ice cream.

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