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I'm an Irish citizen looking into the possibility of teaching English as a Foreign Language in Asia, but specifically South Korea.

I've read in a few places about certain requirements to live and work in Korea, but the answers are not all consistent. I know you have to get a police background check and a health check, but do I also need to conduct an interview with an immigration officer?

This informative website is good and says

All applicants are required to attend an interview at a Korean consulate by consul, except those who previously worked with an E1, E2, E3 visa in Korea without any illegal activities.

But some other teachers I know over there did not have to go through the interview process. What I want to know is - is it mandatory?

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Given the conflicting information, I think you should ask directly at the Korean consulate or embassy. You may phone at first and they will be able to instruct you or give you an appointment. In particular, I find it likely that an interview is not mandatory, unless they have reasons to double check on you once they have reviewed your application. (Simple example: were the other teachers you know invited by their employer in Korea before they applied? Perhaps in such a case an interview is not required.)

Their own policies may vary from time to time due to factors totally unknown to you and me.

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The rules for foreign language instructors in Korea change with every session of congress. The current presidential administration has gone through a process of de-emphasizing English language education -- essentially saying, "we're good enough for global business".

The most up-to-date answers will come from the Seoul Global Center. Their English language numbers from within Korea are 02-2075-4130 and 02-2075-4131. (Dialing internationally, they are +82-2-2075-4130 and +82-2-2075-4131.)

While the Seoul Global Center is an official body of the government, they are not the definitive authority on matters of immigration, and they do often fall behind. They are also rather inflexible. I worked with them to set up a branch office for my company -- they do that sort of stuff as well -- and grew increasingly frustrated when they wanted me to do things in the "officially approved way for foreigners", which is usually much more expensive. Since I am a fluent Korean speaker and have grown up there, I wound up taking care of all of the paperwork and translation myself.

But, for the average person coming into the country, they are an invaluable resource. They will know and they are much more authoritative than random websites you'll encounter.

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