It started quickly, almost out of nowhere. I asked my main source of South orea knowledge, John Bacon, what channels he would recommend I go through and he recommended GEPIK or EPIK, two government-sponsored programs that focus on finding English teachers for public schools. GEPIK hires mostly for Seoul and the surrounding area while EPIK places teachers primarily throughout the rest of the country. He said it is the easiest way to go and the best way to avoid being scammed.
While looking these up I found a few websites that help you through the process of applying, review your documents, and hold your hand through the process. I sent out a few resumes, heard back from the companies, and decided to go with Reach to Teach. They work to place teachers in schools throughout Asia and are based in Taiwan. They do additional screening on all the schools they send teachers too and their employees are mostly people who have taught English in Asia before. The fact that they actually spoke English was a big plus; I got a few emails from companies that were in such broken English that I didn't really understand them.
So far Reach to Teach has helped me fill out my EPIK and SMOE (a branch of EPIK which does placements for Seoul) and answered countless questions about what the hell it is I'm actually supposed to be doing. We've had Skype conferences and they've also called me a few times when they wanted to check in with me but I wasn't online. They're super friendly and anxious to help out, BIG PLUS!!! I highly recommend going through one of these agencies, it takes a lot of the guess work out of the process and their help is 100% free, though you do need to interview.
RtT (Reach to Teach) has assured me that, with my qualifications (master's degree in Education and a year of teaching under my belt) that not only will I most likely be offered a job, but I will probably get to choose where I go. So far I'm torn between Seoul and Incheon, but I'll get more into that later.
So my application for EPIK and SMOE have both been submitted after RtT checked them over and made sure everything was A+. At this point I begin the waiting game as the bureaucracy wheels screech into a slow, but steady movement. During this time I'm just getting my paperwork together for my Visa and for my hiring information. I'm also working on learning some Korean (I'm sure there'll be a bunch of posts about that) and figuring out what to expect once I move.
It feels like nothing is happening, that's how slow this process is, but I just need to be patient and keep working on the things that need to be taken care of.
Next post: The Horrors of Visa and Employment Paperwork.