Teaching English in North Korea

By | October 16, 2016

I have carried out extensive research into teaching English in North Korea, but we still can’t answer all the questions that we usually do on our teaching profiles. We usually speak to teachers that are working or have worked in the country in question. We also speak to employers and try to ensure that all our posts are factually correct. In this instance, we are looking for somebody who has taught English in North Korea to contact us and tell us about their experiences. If you can help us, please contact us here.

North Korea is officially called the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and it is located in East Asia. It shares a land border with China and South Korea as well as maritime borders with Russia and Japan.

This highly secretive country considers itself to be a socialist state and even holds regular elections. However, it has been suggested that these elections are a farce and in fact the country is a totalitarian dictatorship and one of the last Stalinist countries on Earth.

Not much is known about the country because very few people get the opportunity to visit and those that do often describe their time as having been escorted around the country at all times.

Read more about this country from Wikipedia.

Why Teach English in North Korea

Ryugyong Hotel

Ryugyong Hotel – August 27, 2011 (Cropped)” by Joseph Ferris III – Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Certainly, teaching English in North Korea isn’t the first country on the list for most ESL teachers! However, some do go there to teach and continue to do so. There is no place on earth where you will get anything like the experience in this country, and there can’t be too many other reasons to go.

Most people around the world want to learn English to communicate with foreigners and/or get a better job. As jobs in business and tourism sectors are increasingly requiring their staff to speak English, the need for teachers is always increasing.

However, it is widely reported that North Koreans aren’t allowed to socialise with the outside world, nor does the country have a booming tourism industry. Therefore, most North Koreans wouldn’t have either of these factors as a motivation for learning English.

Therefore, there isn’t a lot of demand for English teachers and a quick search online will reveal a distinct lack of people writing about their previous experiences teaching there and hardly any (if any at all) jobs advertised.

Where to Teach English in North Korea

The nation’s capital city, Pyongyang seems to be where the few jobs for TEFL teachers can be found. It is the political, educational and business hub of the country and it seems logical that that is where the jobs will be.

Types of Teaching Jobs

We have found a few stories of people teaching in North Korea and all of them have been in universities.

In fact, the only information of anybody employing teachers in the country is from the British Council. They have been supplying teachers to various universities in Pyongyang since 2000.

The jobs described are for “English Trainers” to teach university students. Some jobs also focus on providing teacher training.

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Teaching Requirements and Qualifications

There are heavy restrictions on who can enter the country and citizens from some countries are excluded altogether. It has been reported that anybody who has ever worked in South Korea are also excluded regardless of nationality.

The British Council requires all applicants to be British, to hold a bachelor’s degree and a recognised TEFL, TESOL or CELTA certificate. They also required that teachers have recent and relevant experience

Expected Salary and Living Costs

[sociallocker id=”2089″]The British Council offers a salary of around £27,000 per year. The salary will be paid into a UK bank account. They also offer a range of benefits including a rent-free furnished flat with all bills paid, except for international phone calls. They also offer flights to Beijing three times a year, 35 days holiday per year and private medical insurance.

Very little is known about the cost of living, but as your accommodation will be fully paid for, you will only need to cover expenses such as travel and food.[/sociallocker]

Visa Requirements

The British Council will make all arrangements for working visas into the country. The only official information available online is for visiting visas. As you will be working in the country, this won’t apply to you.

How to Find a Teaching Job

You can find work through the British Council. No jobs are advertised on ESL jobs boards, nor will you find official websites for universities and language schools to contact them directly.

Teach English in North Korea

It might be intriguing for some people to teach in this highly secretive country, however, most people seem to stay well clear the country and they may or may not have good reason for doing so! There is one thing for certain, you definitely won’t meet many people that have taught in the country and you will be getting one of the most unique teaching experiences out of any country in the world!


Although I have never worked in this country, every effort has been made to ensure that this information is correct. This blog post has been written after extensive research online, interviews with teachers who have worked or are working in the country, and local schools have been contacted. If you have any questions, please leave a comment below. If you have worked or are working in North Korea, we would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment and share your experiences with us.