Ahn young ha sae yo! Happy New Years everyone! For the upcoming term, I will be interning at a Y Combinator graduated online beauty company called Memebox, where I will be working with the data engineering team. I’m also writing this post on the plane again, which seems to be the trend for my recent posts.
In this blog post, I’m going to describe the process that I had to go through in order to go through in order to actually be able to work in Korea. Since doing internships outside of the Bay Area is quite uncommon, there aren’t many resources available online to describe the process, which makes it quite stressful.
Getting your Work Visa
For Korea specifically, it is unlikely that your host company will be sponsoring your visa. Unlike most Bay Area internships where the company that hired you will cover fees for a sponsorship from Intrax or Cultural Vistas, you will generally have to deal with the Visa process yourself. To the best of my knowledge, the only available Visa option for working in Korea for Canadian and US citizens is the H1 Working Holiday Visa.
The Working Holiday VISA has the following requirements:
- Currently studying or post-secondary graduate (with transcript/certificate proof)
- Physical examination including chest x-ray, urinalysis, blood test, and HIV test
- Recent bank statement with appropriate funds ($3000 USD+ if I recall correctly)
- Timeline of your trip (I made a table with date range -> action. This timeline isn’t really enforced)
- Criminal background check (you can get one via your local police station. In Waterloo, you can get it during your visit, but in some other locations, you’ll need to wait up to a week)
- Round trip flight ticket
- Medical insurance coverage for when you are in Korea (this wasn’t checked for me)
- 1 Passport-sized colour photo
More details can be found here. Note that during the application process, the embassy will be holding on to your passport, so you will not be able to leave Canadian borders for that time interval (around 1 week).
Finding Job Opportunities
Personally, I found this job via Jobmine, which is the job board used by the University of Waterloo. However, it was the only listing, and it is usually harder to find Korean job opportunities. You’d either have to have connections in Korea or cold contact companies looking for opportunities.
Useful Things to Know
Alien Registration Card
Get this ASAP. It’s like a SIN or SSN, uniquely identifying you as an alien in Korea and proof of your stay. You’ll need it order to open a bank account and register for phone plans, among other services you may be interested in signing up for (P.S. you’ll need this if you want to create a Korean League of Legends account!).
In order to apply, you MUST reserve an appoint online. You can do that via their website. However, the website is pretty outdated, requiring ActiveX plugins to work and backwards in terms of security practices. You’ll need a computer with Internet Explorer (or spin up a VM with one) in order to use the website to its full capabilities. After that, simply visit the Immigration Office for your district with your passport, proof of residence, and 33,000 KRW and you’ll have your ARC within 2 weeks if all goes well.
Some Nice Apps to Have
Since I have pretty much just landed in Korea, I haven’t had the chance to explore the Korean side of the App Store too much yet. Fortunately, most popular Korean apps are not limited to the Korean App Store, and I can download them through my Canadian Google Account. Some noteworthy apps include:
- Naver Maps - the Korean alternative to Google Maps. Google Maps is not very detailed or update-to-date in SK because of some laws that were put into place after the Korean War. As far as I know, there is no offline option in Naver Maps, so mobile data is a must, and the app is completely in Korean. Naver Maps only accepts input in Korean, so you will generally have to copy and paste the addresses in.
- Kakao Talk - The Korean alternative to WhatsApp. I haven’t personally used this yet, but a lot of friends have highly recommended me to check out, so I’ll just put this down here.
- Google Translate - The image-to-text translator is super useful for interpreting restaurant menu items and working out electronic appliances (such as laundry machines).
- MetroidHD - This is your subway navigation map. It has the map with the English names of the subway stations, as well as a path finding feature to get from one station to another. This app has single-handedly made me confident with the subway system in Seoul.
Finally, there are websites YogiYo and MangoPlate which are like the Seoul equivalent of Yelp, and can help when deciding on which restaurants to go to. However, it is notable that a lot of great places aren’t going to be available on those apps simply because of the raw number of commercial places that exist in Seoul, so going out exploring is also a great way to discover new eats!
The power outlets here run on a higher voltage and have a different form factor than the ones in Canada and the States. I didn’t know this when I first arrived, and ended up almost draining my laptop. I would recommend buying some on Amazon before you travel so that you don’t run into this issue.
That’s all I have for now. I’ll keep the blog updated for more things to come. Until next time!