|Job Security in South Korean Universities?|
A reader question:
"I recently bought and read your book, How to Get a University Job in South Korea. I really enjoyed it and found that it answered many of the questions I’d had about applying for university work in South Korea. While reading the book, I was hoping that you might touch on the topic of tenure for university jobs. I’m currently teaching at a Japanese university and have found that - for foreigners - securing a tenured position is extremely difficult if not impossible in most institutions here. Working in South Korea, have you found that most employment is rotational, contract based with limitations on renewal? Are there stable, tenured positions with upward mobility? If you have the time, I’d really appreciate your feedback on these questions. Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response."
Thanks for checking out How to Get a University Job in South Korea and also sending me your excellent question. I didn't include this topic in the book simply because there are no positions teaching English in South Korean universities for foreigners that are tenure-track, and upward mobility is extremely limited in almost all cases. Most universities offer one year contracts (a limited number 2 years) and your renewal depends on the whims of the powers that be and until you've been at a place for a few years, you really should have some back-up plans come contract renewal time.
The exception to this would be if you have a PhD in a field other than TESOL, but you'd still have a hard time getting tenure and moving up the ranks if you don't speak Korean. It's all about relationships here and greasing the right wheels and lack of language skills would limit you significantly. Competition even for adjunct professor positions is fierce here, as it is in the west.
It sounds to me like the situation regarding tenure in Japan is basically the same as in Korea, so I wouldn't recommend making a move based on that alone.