OFW Guide to Living and Working in South Korea

Koreanovelo and K-pop music are taking the world by storm. This is why it’s not surprising to see many Filipinos wanting to go to South Korea to experience the culture, see the places where Koreanovela you fell in love with were shot, taste the food, and hope to bump into one of popular K-Pop artists. More than that, there are many Filipinos who are aiming to work there.

If you are one of them, then here are the things you need to know about this proud country:

General Facts

  • South Korea is located in the Korean Peninsula with China, Japan, and Russia surrounding its borders.
  • The capital of South Korea is Seoul.
  • The country is a democratic republic with power centralized in a president.
  • Main language is Korean, but the people are slowly learning the English language. They also have their own alphabet known as Hangeul.
  • South Korea has among the strongest economies in the world. Over the years, the country is among the leading shipbuilders and among the top manufacturers of electronics, automobiles, and semiconductors.
  • Its currency is Korean Won.


Majority of the population has no religious belief. Nonetheless, there are still Koreans who practice Christianity, so practicing your faith and fulfilling your Sunday obligation won’t be a problem. Some also practice Protestanism, Catholicism, and Buddhism.

Weather / Climate

Korea has four seasons – winter, spring, summer, and fall. Make sure you pack your clothes appropriately for the weather, with January being the coldest month. Despite the typhoons visiting the Pacific region, only few, usually two to three, are actually making a landfall in Korea.


Going from point A to point B won’t be an issue because transportation system in South Korea is excellent and efficient. You will find lots of buses, trains, or taxis, but Korea’s subway rail system is among the best in the world. Ferry services are also available, so make sure you take time to give it a try for experience.

Culture / Way of Life 

Did you know that almost all places in South Korea is wired? They have the best and fastest Internet service in the world as well. This means connecting with your family won’t be an issue because you can talk to them anytime, anywhere.

When it comes to food, you will find lots of kimchi and bulgogi, but they have a lot to offer as well. Korean food consists mainly of rice, noodles, vegetables, tofu, meat, and fish, so getting hungry are less likely. You can try street food as well, which you will surely love.

Working in Korea

There are tons of job opportunities in Korea. You can also find work in one of the many top companies in the world like Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and ExxonMobil among others. English teachers are among the highest paid foreign workers, regardless of work experience, so you might want to give this career path a try.

Don’t get too excited yet. South Koreans are welcoming to foreigners but when it comes to foreign workers, they tend to be strict.

Since August 2005, foreign workers are mandated to take the Employment Permit System – Test of Proficiency in Korean (EPS-TOPIK) before recruiting. When you pass, you will be offered an Employment Contract, which will be coursed through an accredited agency in the Philippines.

Appropriate visa is likewise required to be able to work in Korea legally. Non-professional employment (E-9) visa is usually given to foreign workers, which is good for three years. Otherwise, there are corresponding working visa for each specific profession (E1 to E7).

Since Korean is the primary language, employers expect that you know few words and phrases. You might be required to take Korean Language Proficiency Test to check and assess your practical communication skills. This is not required by all employers, but it is best to learn Korean before you apply for job. TESDA offers free language courses with priority given to OFWs, so make sure to take advantage of it.

Work Culture 

Working long hours in Korea is normal. Despite the mandated 40-hour work week, majority of the people render 52 working hours per week or 40 normal working hours and 12 hours overtime. This means you need to be prepared to put in longer working hours if you plan to work in this country.

Don’t worry. Public holidays are 10 to 16 times per year, which means you get some rest. Recognition is important for many Korean companies, so you will find regular staff awards night as part of the annual agenda.

When it comes to working relationship, trust is crucial among Koreans, which is something they truly value. This explains why majority of Korean companies are into company events and staff lunches or dinners to develop that relationship. Nonetheless, avoid getting too personal especially on your bosses since this is considered disrespectful for them.

Given this information, are you willing to give South Korea a try? Go ahead.

31 Replies to “OFW Guide to Living and Working in South Korea”

  1. Hi Ms. Lara,

    Thank you for sharing your knowledge regarding the things expected for people like me who are aspiring to work in South Korea.

    I would just like to ask if you are given holiday leaves as well? Like for instance, are you allowed to go back to the Philippine for a Christmas vacation?

    Your response will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Hi Jason! This is something you could coordinate with your employer. Some employers will allow that and indicate in the Employment Contract while others may not 🙂

    1. Hindi lng naman filipino hina hire nila. Mostly din sa ibang southeast asian countries and india ata. May eps exam din dun na kino conduct yearly.

    1. Hi Irish! That would be your advantage kung medyo marunong ka to speak their language but at least, you should know the basics like greetings 🙂

      1. makakaipon ba talaga ako? wala bang HIDDEN na babayrin jan?talaga bang ung sweldo ko na 40k+ above eh akin lang ba talaga yan na walang ibang babayarin? at bukod sa sahod eh sagot ba nila yung ACCOMODATION, FOOD, and ETC?

        1. Hi Kyle. That would depend sa terms ng contract. If indicated na covered ang food, accommodation, etc., then dapat sundin po ito ng inyong overseas employer. As to kung makakaipon, it will depend narin po on your commitment to saving, which we believe na kaya naman 🙂

  2. Greetings;

    Hello admin, i just want to ask, i am having a job offer to korea as a helper, i am currently here in hong kong, do i need to take the test of Proficiency in Korean (EPS-TOPIK)? well, i just want to know some information about this, although the employer said they will do the process of the visa when it’s final.

    thank you.

  3. Hi, just want to ask do they also hire Filipino’s sa mga F&B or retail? Like may job opportunity din ba tayo sa ibang field aside sa factory related jobs? I’m planning to work there, currently nasa Singapore ako. Thank you.

    1. Hi Joyce. It depends on the company po. If there is a job opening for your preferred industry, then you could apply naman.

  4. Good Day maam/sir:
    Ask lang po ako, pinapauwi bah ang mga worker na bumagsak sa medical jan sa south korea na ang reason ay sa pagkakaroon po ng syphilis kahit na treat na ito ng mga around 1 year na. At may waiver pa po ako sa doctor, binibigyan ba ng korean doctors ito ng honor or halaga para ma declare ka na fit to work? thanks po. pa advice po….

    1. Hi Rodge. If you are considered as fit to work and nakumpleto naman po lahat ng requirements, then maaari naman po kayo makatrabaho sa ibang bansa.

  5. Do you know if there are other works in SoKor aside from factory workers for filipinos? If there is, where to apply in Manila? Thank you.

  6. hindi na po ba indemand ang pinoy ngaun jan sa korea.. kasi po every massive selection pakunti ng pakunti ang ang naseselect/nabibigyan ng EPI?? thanks po….

    1. Hello Rey. Depends po. We’re not familiar sa mga job openings sa Korea kaya we suggest na i-check ang postings sa mga agency. Salamat!

  7. Hi! i just want to ask mainly saan mura and convenient housing na pwede sa seoul? preferably sana yung maraming filipino community, or else saan madalas naghohousing mga pinoys for sharing? I have been hired kasi by korean company and i plan to live out sana. Please help and advise thanks!

  8. Hi. My korean friend has a business and he invited me to work with him and stay in korea for 1 year. What type of visa do I need to apply?

    1. Hi Irish. We’re not particularly sure with that. You can check out the requirements in their embassy, but we assume that you will need a work visa and necessary documentation to prove your employment.

  9. Hello Ms. Lara!

    Ask ko lang po if allowed po ba magkaroon ng part time job aside sa job na inapplyan ko if ever? Thank you!

    1. Hi Kath! You can ask your employer regarding this. As long as it won’t interfere with your main job, then okay lang naman siguro.

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