Education National

Obama wrong about teachers’ wages in South Korea

James Hyams
Written by James Hyams

U.S. President Barack Obama has given South Korea’s education system kudos stating that teachers are paid on par with doctors and engineers, a false claim.

“In places like Korea and Finland, where the education system is really doing well, teachers are paid at the level that doctors and engineers are paid, and it is respected as a profession,” Obama said in a town hall meeting in Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday.

Obama praised Korea’s education system several times since taking office in 2009. His PR team need to be aware of the facts.

Indeed.com, a company that measures average wages for professions based on salaries advertised on recruitment ads, found the average teacher’s wage in Seoul is $55,000 where as a physician’s wage is $86,000 and an engineer’s is $89,000.

When searching the wage for a “doctor” the average wage is $67,000.

The Center for International Benchmarking’s report said that teachers are well respected in South Korea and are paid well when compared with other OECD countries.

Screen Shot 2015-04-17 at 9.12.26 am“Lower secondary teachers can expect a mid-career salary of $52,699, much higher than the OECD average of $41,701,” their report states.

This figure does not include expats teaching English who are paid significantly less.

Gone2Korea ESL Employment Services indicates qualified teachers with good references can expect to make somewhere between 2.2 – 2.6 million KRW a month.

This equates to $34,000 which is roughly 35 percent lower than the average Korean teachers wage and 80 percent of the average OECD teachers wage.

About the author

James Hyams

James Hyams

James Hyams juggles several careers including being a journalist and a social worker. James has an avid interest in 'telling it as it is', exposing matters of public interest, and reviving investigative journalism in the new digital era. Testimony to this is his thesis titled: “U.S. Government secrecy and the withering watchdog: Is WikiLeaks the answer?”

  • smithington

    oh look, it’s James “I can use tha google ma” Hyams back with another hard hitting investigative piece. Of course it doesn’t include expats working at hagwons. Those people aren’t real teachers. Good lord. Do we need to start a gofundme to get you some kind of education? teachers in this case refers to people who trained as, passed exams for, and became certified teachers and are hired as regular public school teachers. That figure also doesn’t include the Koreans who work at hagwons or any other private employer either, but I noticed your razor sharp super academic investigative mind missed that angle. I could spend days taking apart this entire article word by word, but we’ll just start with the fact that a large percentage of the doctors in Korea are self employed. Some job searching site would have zero information on their wages. I honestly hope to god that no one at this blog pays you a salary. I could only imagine that person my just spend an hour punching themselves in the balls every night before going to sleep as punishment for having associated with you.

    • Xman2014

      ha ha ha ha ha…. this article and your reply to it, were both extremely funny.

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