Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Non-Teaching Positions in Korea and Visas for Wives

Here's the question:
My girlfriend is fluent in English and has a master's degree, but is not from an English-speaking country. Is there any chance she could get a job as an English instructor in South Korea? If not, and we were to marry, what difficulties would we face in her being here? Could she find any kind of work, not knowing how to speak Korean?

My follow-up question: Where is your girlfriend from? What is her master in?
She's from Hungary with a master's degree in sociology from a Hungarian university. I think she's passed the English language exam but I don't know enough about it to say for certain. She has to write her thesis in English, I think, and her undergraduate degree was in American studies.

I touched on something similar to this in a previous post. First of all, there is very little chance for her to get a standard language education visa (E2) since she is from Hungary. If she were to speak and teach another commonly taught language in Korea, then perhaps she could find a job here, but I'd say her options are limited on that front.

So, I would suggest you take a look at some of the other visa options. Perhaps she would be able to get a job in one of those fields. Take a look at this site and this site. Here's a forum discussion which also has a few links. They're mostly related to English, but might give you a couple ideas at least.

You mentioned getting married and if you do, then you'll have the option of obtaining an F-3 visa which is for accompanying spouses of visa holders. That gets her into the country, but it doesn't get her a job. If you decide not to get married and she does not have a job that provides a visa, then she will have to apply for a tourist visa at a Korean consulate in Hungary. The consulate is in Budapest, but even then her visa is only good for 90 days. If you're heart is really set on coming to Korea with your girlfriend (or soon-to-be wife), then marriage is the easiest way to do it since it gives her an automatic visa.

There are other things to consider though. If she does come here and isn't working (which is a real possibility), she could get bored and feel isolated. (However, a few people over at Ask a Korean think that Hungary and Korea are strikingly similar.) Furthermore, the apartment provided to you will most likely be small and pretty cramped for two people. There is also a stigma that some Eastern European women must endure as well.

I'm not trying to dissuade you from coming as I'm sure you and your girlfriend/wife will enjoy your time, but I think it would be better if you knew what you might be getting yourself into. Good luck!

If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at or leave a comment


Anonymous said...

It took me a while to track down the right web address, but I do have the contact info for a Hungarian woman who worked for her country's embassy in Korea. She may have suggestions on possible jobs if you want to pass along her email.

However, this is not someone that I'm in contact with (i.e., a friend), so an email would be the equivalent of a 'cold call'. Still, it can't hurt, right?

Her email:
Her blog:

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