What to Do When Leaving Korea (ESL Teachers)

What to Do When Leaving Korea (ESL Teachers)


Once your contract ends, you’re probably ready to leave Korea. There are a lot of things to consider. From ending your cable bill to packing enough socks to selling your furniture, there are many things to consider. While this list may not cover every single thing that you have to do for your specific situation, it’s a good place to start checking things off your list!


Phone Bill

Depending on your length of stay in Korea, you may have anything from a Wi-Fi egg to a completed phone contract that you’re now on a month to month basis with. For the Wi-Fi egg, you’ll need to check your email for the drop-off location (usually the same place you picked it up at). For a phone plan, you can cancel it over the phone with relative ease, although you may need the help of a Korean friend for translation. Most contracts state that upon early cancellation, you must pay the remainder of fees for the original time period you signed for, regardless if you are continuing your service or not. Some companies will work with you, however, especially if you had to cancel for unforeseen reasons. If you bought a new phone in Korea, then you will also have to pay for that. Thankfully, most companies seem fine with continuing month-to-month payments as long as you set up automatic payments with an online bank.


Cable/Gas/Electric Bills

These contracts are also rather easy to cancel, especially if they are not in your name. If it is in your name, you will have to notify the company directly that you are moving, and opt into electronic alerts about the last bill or have them forward the last bill to your new address. If it is not in your name, you can have the landlord or your school request the money from you once the final bill arrives, or have your school withdraw it directly from your last paycheck. 




Depending on your visa, this may vary slightly. However, if you are leaving permanently (or for any period of time not covered by your visa), you always have to return your ARC card to the immigration office. If you fail to do so, this may result in a fine. Just make sure that your visa covers you after your contract ends. If it doesn’t, apply for an extension at least 30 days before the expiration of your visa so that you have plenty of time to make sure your extension is approved. 

Obtaining a Letter of Resignation or a Completion of Contract notice is extremely important if you are hoping to teach in Korea or any other foreign country, as this is the only thing that legally proves that you didn’t break a contract. You may also want to ask for a Proof of Employment Verification Form and a Letter of Recommendation as well, especially if you are looking to apply to any other teaching jobs *foreign or not) in the future. As most Koreans don’t feel comfortable writing in English, it may be possible for you to have the document translated, or for you to write the letter and go over it with them before signing. 

Make sure to check your contract thoroughly before you leave, as most schools pay out a contract completion bonus (aka severance), time bonus (depending on how many times you renewed your contract), and flight allowance. These should be sent immediately to your bank account at the time of your contract completion. 

Depending on your nationality, you may be eligible to receive your pension back, provided that you actually paid into it. If you are eligible, you can apply to have your pension returned to you, but you must bring your passport, flight ticket (with departure date indicated), ARC (if you still have it), your bank account number, and a request form. This form may be procured online or at the airport as you are departing. For more information on this, click here. 

While this may not be something necessary, getting a criminal background check in Korea may be advisable for future employment, especially if you want to work for the government, with children, or in other sensitive jobs. You can get this at your local police department (not a small branch) by requesting a 범죄 수사경력 회보서. Make sure you bring your ARC and passport. 



Due to COVID19, you may need to obtain a health check-up before and after leaving Korea, depending on your destined country's policies. As this varies from place to place, make sure to check this before you go. When leaving Korea, you don’t have to meet any specific health requirement besides wearing a mask, sanitizing your hands, and passing a temperature check. 



If you have a pet that you wish to take with you, you must check your airline regulations for their travel laws, as it varies from airline to airline, and destination is also a factor. Keep in mind that while most taxis don’t require your pet to be in a carrier, trains, buses, and KTX may require it or ban the boarding of pets altogether. If you must rehome your pet, be aware that most shelters in Korea do not have a no-kill policy. If rehoming your pet is unavoidable, searching for a new home online may be the best option, as most large cities have online forums (such as Facebook) where you can advertise this need. 



Items Left Behind

For those of you who own all the furniture in your apartment, getting rid of your items may seem like a huge task. Your options primarily depend on how much stuff you have. If you only have basic things like a bed, a couple of bookshelves, some cookware, and a few other odds and ends, selling it online may be the way to go. With Facebook Marketplace and craigslist reaching many foreigners, and apps like Karrot reaching the Korean populace, you’ll likely be able to get rid of your furniture without having to pay your landlord for removal (even if they decide to keep it!). However, if you have a lot of things such as living room sets, bedroom sets, armoires, and especially complimenting decor, finding a new tenant that wants your furniture will be the least hassle. Many expats don’t have any furniture when moving into a new place and don’t mind paying extra for moving into a place that is even partially furnished. There are new expats routinely coming in every six months, especially in February, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find someone - especially if you live in a main part of town!

If you happen to have clothes, shoes, or small items that you want to get rid of, donations are also an option for most larger cities. There are Goodwill’s, Korean Unwed Mothers Families Association (KUMFA), and other similar stores that accept donations, so that is always an option if some of your things don’t sell as you would like them to.


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