top of page

Suggested Packing List for Teaching in Korea

By B. S. Brennan, Ph.D.

Essential Documents and Necessities

OK, great. You now have a job in Korea, a visa, and a flight, and you must know what to pack for your year in Korea. Korea has four distinct seasons, so you must pack well to fit in your two checked bags and carry-on. You can purchase many things in Korea using and and visit stores like COSTCO, Diaso (dollar store), EMART, Home Plus, etc.

Visa and Passport

Before you set off, ensure your passport is up-to-date with at least six months' validity. Apply for and receive the appropriate visa (E2-1, E2-2, F4, etc.) for teaching in South Korea and keep copies of these documents in physical and digital formats. It is no longer required to apply for the Q-Code application before departing for Korea since July 2023.

Teaching Contract (School & Accommodation Details)

Your teaching contract is your guiding document during your stay. Ensure you have a printed copy and any contact details you might need. Be sure to download the KakaoTalk application to your phone and add your recruiter and school contact to the group chat for travel updates and emergencies, such as missing a flight connection. Ensure you have your accommodation address in Korean and English, and your school's contact phone number before you fly to Korea.

Copies of Important Documents

Make photocopies and/or digital scans of your passport, visa, and other essential documents. It's always a good idea to have backups in case anything gets lost.

Clothing and Attire

Business Professional Outfits

South Korean schools typically adhere to a business casual to formal dress code. Pack a selection of business professional attire, including dress shirts, blouses, slacks, and conservative dresses or suits. You can also wear long pants and Polo-type shirts.

Casual and Comfortable Clothing

In your downtime, you'll want comfortable clothing for exploring and socializing. T-shirts, jeans, and casual dresses are perfect for these occasions. A suggested packing list (PDF file below) is below. You will need a warm winter jacket.

NOTE: If you are larger than a size 7 for women or size large for men, you will want to bring more clothes from home. You will want to bring extra bras if you are a C-cup or more significant. I'm 6'2" and 190 lbs, so I buy most of my clothes at Costco, Itaewon, or shop online.

Download PDF • 75KB

Shoes for All Occasions

Bring a mix of comfortable walking shoes, formal shoes for work, and a pair of indoor shoes (slippers), as changing shoes indoors is customary. You can buy slippers at Diaso for super cheap, so I suggest buying slippers in Korea. If you are a size 11 or larger, it will be hard to buy shoes in Korea.

Electronics and Gadgets

Laptop or Tablet PC

A laptop or tablet will be your lifeline for lesson planning, communication, and entertainment. Buy your laptop in your home country so the operating system and all software are in English. Electronic goods (even Korean products) are cheaper in your home country than in Korea.

Smartphone and Chargers

Don't forget your smartphone and all necessary chargers. Consider getting a local SIM card to stay connected. You can cheaply buy a new laptop or phone charger in Korea with a Korean male-end plug at Diaso or through COUPANG.

Power Adapters

South Korea has unique power outlets, so bring power adapters that will work with Korean sockets.

Toiletries and Personal Care

Korean Beauty Products

Korean skincare and beauty products are renowned worldwide. Consider bringing your favorites, but remember you can also explore local options.

Prescription Medications

If you take prescription medications, bring an ample supply along with the doctor's prescriptions. You should be able to fill most prescriptions in Korea, but some are illegal, like THC-based medications, American cold medicine, and Adderall.

Basic Toiletries

While you can find most toiletries in Korea, having a small stash of your preferred brands can provide comfort during the initial adjustment.

Teaching Supplies

English Teaching Materials

While some materials will be provided, selecting your favorite teaching aids can make your lessons more engaging. Bring a deck of Uno cards, scrabble, word searches, crossword puzzles, etc.

Interactive Props

Props like flashcards, puppets, or miniature games can enhance the learning experience.

Classroom Aids

I would buy these in Korea at Diaso for cheap. You can also buy loads of stickers, etc for prizes here too.

Cultural and Comfort Items

Adapter for Western Bedding

Korean bedding might differ from what you're used to. An adapter can help make your sleeping arrangements more comfortable. Most teachers buy sheets at Home Plus or Emart for cheap.

Snacks from Home

While Korean cuisine is fantastic, you might occasionally crave snacks from home. Pack a few favorites and bring them on the plane to satisfy those cravings. It is nice and makes a great 1st impression to bring something sharable, like local candy, chocolate, etc, to share with your co-workers on your first day. I'm from Tacoma, WA, so I brought Almond Roca, which is made in Tacoma.

Personal Comfort Items

Whether it's a cozy blanket, a book, or photos from home, these items can provide comfort when you're homesick.

Language Resources

English-Korean Dictionary

A physical or digital dictionary can be beneficial as you learn the local language. I suggest downloading the Google Translate or Papago apps for translation.

Language Learning Apps

Download language apps to help you navigate daily conversations and interactions.

Outdoor Essentials

All-Weather Clothing

South Korea experiences all four seasons, so pack clothing for various weather conditions. You will need a warm, heavy winter jacket.

Hiking Gear

If you're an outdoor enthusiast, consider bringing hiking gear to explore Korea's beautiful landscapes. Koreans go all out and deck themselves from head to toe to go hiking, so be prepared to look the part when hiking in Korea.

Travel Accessories

A good backpack, a reusable water bottle, and a portable charger will prove invaluable during your explorations.

Banking and Finances

International Credit/Debit Cards

Notify your bank of travel plans and consider getting an international card for easy transactions. You can open a limited bank account with just your passport. However, I suggest waiting until you receive your ARC card to open an account with a card with a chip inside. This way you can use your card to swipe on subways, buses, taxi's, stores, etc.

Local Currency

While cards are widely accepted, having some local currency for small businesses or markets is advantageous. I suggest exchanging $200-$300 at the airport. You can later go to a local bank to exchange more money when needed/

You can easily wire money home, but you must designate one bank to make your international wire transfers. It is better to send larger wire transfers every other month instead of monthly because the wire fee is the same as sending $100, $1,000, or $5,000.

Health and Wellness

Travel Insurance

Don't forget to arrange comprehensive travel insurance to cover any unexpected situations. INext Insurance is a good travel insurance. Your National Health Insurance (NHI) is GREAT, but you need your ARC card for it to start. You can go into any clinic or hospital and give your ARC card to them and your NHI is tied to the ARC #.

Transportation Must-Haves

T-Money Card

The T-Money card is your ticket to public transportation in Korea. It's a must-have for getting around conveniently. You can buy a T-Money card at the airport at any convenience store and top it up there too.

Making the Most of Your Experience

Open Mind and Positive Attitude

Embrace the cultural differences and approach your teaching journey with an open mind and a positive attitude. Be sure to be able to laugh at yourself or the situation, since everyone makes some cultural mistakes. At my first office lunch, I blew my nose while people were eating and everyone looked at me strangely. I was told later, that it was impolite to blow your nose during a meal.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Things might not always go as planned. Being adaptable and flexible will help you navigate challenges. You need to know when to flex and be flexible, but that comes with time spent in a new country.


Packing for your teaching adventure in South Korea might seem daunting, but with careful planning, you can ensure a smooth transition. Pack essential documents, appropriate attire, necessary electronics, and personal comfort items. By being prepared, you'll be better equipped to fully immerse yourself in Korean culture, positively impact your students, and create memories that will last a lifetime.

FAQs (Add any questions below, and I will answer them.)

  1. **Is it easy to find toiletries and personal care items in South Korea?

ANSWER: Yes, but I would bring any preferred items, since you may not find the brand you are most comfortable with.


160 views0 comments


  • Facebook
  • Instagram
bottom of page