Public vs. Private Schools in Korea
People have different goals, traits and personalities and all of these will play a role in deciding which school you choose to end up working. If your goal is to work regular hours you might want to consider public schools, if you want to work with small classes and few students at a time, private schools will be better.
The articles on the working environments and pro’s and con’s of the different school types should help you to make an informed decision. If you ask people who’ve been in Korea or those working here now, you’ll likely get as many opinions as you can handle, though the general trend seems to lean towards public schools being the better option.
The reason for this is probably due to the fact that there have been so many foreigners who have been cheated out of money or severance pay by less than desirable hagwon employers. For most foreigners the safety that comes with the EPIK system (backed by the Korean government), tilts the scales to favour working in public schools.
What school should you choose?
I’ll give you my personal opinion, but please bear in mind that it’s just that an opinion. For a complete newcomer, someone who’s never been to Korea and has no teaching experience, the EPIK system provides a solid structure to help you transition from the western world into the Koreans educational system.
Since EPIK is run by the Korean government, they employ many foreigners and are generally more culturally sensitive when dealing with foreigners and teachers from abroad as well as more knowledgeable on working with foreigners.
This is compared to an individual hagwon owner you could end of working for who might speak limited English, and have never worked with foreigners before. I have found that hagwon owners are often completely oblivious to what might or might not be ‘acceptable‘ to someone from a Western background.