Teach in Korea – Papers, Please.

For this week’s blog post I’m going to talk about all of the paperwork you will need to prepare if you want to teach English in Korea. Not only that, but I hope to impress the obvious lesson of keeping your printer stocked with ink.

You see, my ink problem started back in my last semester of college. My printer was tapped out, so I thought to myself, “Why spend $20 on a cartridge if I’m leaving the country?”


(All that money could be going to fund my Spa Helmet!)

So I disconnected my printer, assuming I wouldn’t be using it for a while. And for the five months I was waiting for my school to print my diploma, things were fine. But then the diploma did come (and by come I mean I had to bum a ride and pick it up) and with that, all of the residual paperwork needed to be sent in as quickly as possible.

The reason for the urgency is that I’m teaching at a private school (or “hagwon” as it’s known in Korea) and they have rolling admissions. I must get my paperwork to them in a timely manner so they can process the visa and ship me out there. If I’m lax in my attitude towards the paperwork, I could miss out on the job, and since my current internship at NYC 311 is expiring the end of December, I’d find myself in an uncomfortable situation to say the least.


(He’s right: without money, how will I defend my family from ninjas?)

Now, on the one hand, I wasn’t worried because I had already handed in a decent amount of paperwork before my diploma came in, such as:

-My resume (CV)

-A Personal Statement about why I want to teach in Korea and why I’d be a good candidate.

-TWO letters of recommendation.

-A photocopy of my passport.

-Photos: both “passport” style and “lifestyle” uh…style.

-Short contract with CIEE filled with terms and conditions

All of the above I was able to either email directly from my computer or have my mom scan it at work and then send it to my PC which I then uploaded.

So again, still no reason to buy printer ink.

But that changed when my diploma came in. You see, it’s not enough to simply scan my diploma and uploader it to the recruiter, CIEE. No, no.

First I needed to make a photocopy of my diploma. Then I needed to take said photocopy and have it notarized. I went to 3 banks and 1 post office in Staten Island before I found a place that could do this, and I was lucky enough to run into a notary who was literally walking out the door when I stopped her.

The Sopranos (2006) Edie Falco

(“We gotta make this quick—the eggplant parm is gonna get cold!”)

Because my mom has an account with the bank, this service was gratis. From there, I went to the NYS Department of State in Manhattan for the Apostille only to be told (quite rudely, I may add) that I needed to head BACK to Staten Island and go to the county clerk to VERIFY the notary’s license (which cost $7).

After that I returned to Manhattan and got the Apostille for the photocopied diploma ($10). With the diploma all good to go, all I had to do was scan it and upload it, and for this, I used my dad’s printer / scanner / copier to do so.

It was a bit annoying having to go over his house to do it, but I didn’t mind because it was only once, and I figured there wasn’t much more paperwork.


(How wrong I was)

Next order of business was the FBI background check. What’s troublesome about this document is that it needs to be fairly recent, so this wasn’t something I could have gotten at the beginning of the year.

Now (and this is important) if you go to the FBI directly and request a background check from them it takes (to absolutely no one’s surprise) several MONTHS to get it back, and when I ordered mine originally back in January, it got lost in the mail, even though I paid ($18) for it.


(Oh…did I mention I went down to 1 Police Plaza and paid $26 for fingerprinting first?)

Fortunately, you can use a private company in San Jose California called myfbireport.com which will get you the background check in a matter of days. Because I want to start as quickly as possible I paid the $62.95 for this service.

Of course, the background check also needs an Apostille, and this is also quickly done by Proex Corp for the low price of $68. On top of that I had to visit my physician to have him sign a form after a physical exam ($50)


(“You don’t mind if I eat during this, right doc?”)

So with all that done, I had finally uploaded everything and said I was ready for them to start processing the visa, which they need to do so I can find out the specific dates of when I’ll be leaving.

But then came the real zinger: a day or so after I had uploaded everything I get an email saying that I needed to Fed Ex the following (which I copied and pasted) to the actual school in South Korea:

1. The original apostilled/ notarized photocopy of your diploma. ** DO NOT send a copy.** This is needed to obtain your E2 visa.

2. Photocopy of your passport

3. Four Passport photographs

4. Three signed copies of your employment contract

5. Resume

6. Signed & dated health questionnaire (attached)

7. Original FBI background check with apostille notarization **cannot be a copy**

When I read this I basically collapsed.


(“You win, I’ll buy ink!”)

I was telling this to my supervisor at work, and he was nice enough to print out the documents I needed. I was grateful, because I was able to cheat the ink sellers one last time (hopefully).

But the best was when I needed to print out one extra page that I had missed. I couldn’t do it at my father’s because his PC doesn’t have MS Word (hey, we can’t all be writers) and I couldn’t print the preview off of the email. We went to my cousin’s house in the great state of New Jersey for Thanksgiving, and after we ate she was nice enough to let me print the page.

The next day I handed my mother the documents and my credit card so she could go to the Fedex center in Staten Island, because I have to commute to the city and couldn’t go. This cost me $55.30.


(Getting sick of me posting all these dollar amounts? Same here.)

I hope this is the end of the paperwork, but even so, there’s a small lesson here: just keep your damn printer stocked with ink. Your nervous system will thank you.

That’s all for now. If you liked what I had to say please leave a comment below and as always be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you’ll be notified every time I post, which should be getting more frequent as I get closer and closer to departure.

Until next time,

J. F. Seegitz

P.S. In case you missed it, this post’s title is a reference to this.


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2 Responses to Teach in Korea – Papers, Please.

  1. Pingback: Teach in Korea – The Visa | SeegitzWrites.com

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