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This has to be one of the most asked questions about Korea that you can find.  For so many people all around the world, they want to move to Korea and start a new life.  They look at different companies who need help, and know that they have the skills to be a great asset to a company.  But many job postings make it clear that they will only look at someone who is already in Korea and legally authorized to work in Korea before.  Unless you want to teach English, or work for a company that has a headquarters in Korea, getting a work visa is very hard.  But why is it so hard?  What should you know about employment in Korea that would give you an advantage when it comes finding a job in Korea.  Here are a few things to think about.

Knowledge of Korean Language

It goes without saying that speaking Korean is an important thing to do when working at a Korean company.  Yet many foreigners, #waygookins, that want to move to Korea do not know how to read of write in Korean.  Some are not even sure of the tools to look up words and phrases in Korean, or why many translators do not work correctly when going from languages like English and Spanish into Korean.  Knowing how to make people feel comfortable in Korean is a huge thing that will give you an advantage in the Korean job market.

Knowing Korean Work Culture

While many people have studied Korean culture, they are not as familiar with Korean work culture.  Korean work culture can be different than the work culture in other countries.  Not being able to adapt to work life in Korea has left many people discouraged and caused them to leave their work contracts early.  When someone leaves their contract early, it makes it harder for the people who come after them.  Being able to understand general Korean work culture will help you to make a good decision about if you should keep your jobs search going.

Korea’s View of Education

Education is very important to many in Korea.  This has cause stress for many younger Koreans, as well as an alarming suicide rate among young Koreans.  Unless you have a special skill that very few people possess, or a number of years of job experience, you will probably need to have some kind of degree from a well known college.  If you do not have this, look for some kind of training that will allow you to offer yourself as a fluent speaker of a foreign language who can help a company right away.

It’s Hard For Koreans To Find A Job

Even many Koreans have trouble finding a good job.  As mentioned before, education has caused a ton of stress in Korea.  But why is that?  In Korea, there are three top universities Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University, that are known as SKY Universities.  If you graduate from one of these universities, you are viewed as being guaranteed a good job at a good company.  Young people are trained early in life that they have to get into one of these universities.  If not, than their life is over.

You may think that is extreme, and you are right, but this is why there are stories of many young people who will commit suicide during their college exam.  They know they will not score high enough to get into a SKY university and just quit.  Others have given up on life.  This is not the story for the majority.  There are plenty of good universities in Korea, and you can have a good job without going to a major university.  But it does become harder to find a top level job if you are not coming from a top level university, even if you are Korean.   You will have to work hard to overcome this, if it is an obstacle for you.  But if you look hard enough, you will find stories of people who have overcame these obstacles and have careers in Korea.

It’s A Hard and Expensive Process

Without going into too much detail in this blog, it cost time and money to get a visa from the Korean government.  You need to have a company do most of the work for you, so they will need to hire you before they can do anything.  The government has to give their approval for a visa, and you will have to deal with the Korean consulate in your country  before coming to Korea.  This is important to know since you don’t want to move to Korea and have to leave 90 days later because things didn’t work out.

Because of the time and money involved for a company to get you a visa, they will expect you to stay with them for at least 1 year after you arrive.  They will want to do their best to make sure that you are going to fulfill your end of the contract before they start the visa process.  Also, they don’t want to do all the work for you to get a visa, and then lose you to another company within a few months.  The laws are made up this way so that most Korean companies will hire a Korean for their position instead of a worker from overseas.

Hopefully this gives you more insight as to why it may be that a Korean company will not hire you right away, even if you are the most qualified person that has applied for a job.  It is not always an issue of someone being racist.  It is sometimes a lot easier for a company to hire someone who is already in Korea than to import a new employee.  If you are in this position, I hope it gives you the motivation to keep looking for your dream job.

If you have found a job in Korea and are not Korean, please post about your experience in the comment section.  Thanks again for reading my post.  And as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to #askthewaygookin.