Tips for new DIS/GSIS faculty (especially foreigners)

With the number of foreign hires increasing in our school, I thought I would record information from my own experience and knowledge to help new faculty members. This is targeted especially at foreigners, since that is what I know and since when I was hired, they promised an English orientation that never materialized.(Hopefully subsequent hires will provide updated or additional information over time.) Some tips will be about daily living, but most will be about getting by within the department.

Getting settled

  • Your office should come equipped with a desk, table, chairs, computer, a couple of bookshelves.
  • All the important info is on the university portal.
  • For tenure-track foreigners, the university provides a monthly housing subsidy for your first three years. You can choose to live in the CJ International House on campus, which is probably best if you're unfamiliar with Korea. Alternatively---and probably preferably---you can find your own apartment and get reimbursed for your monthly rent (월세) up to the cost of a month at the CJ International House (currently 1.37m won). The administration prefers to reimburse in six- or twelve-month installments. If you pay up front, you can be reimbursed up front. Otherwise, you have to wait six months (in a sort of forced savings!). Note that reimbursement often takes two months or more. Note also that the university does not provide any support for your key deposit (보증금), nor will it act as a guarantor for a loan. To obtain a nice apartment, you will want several tens of thousands of dollars.
  • I understand that it takes a year to establish a credit record in Korea. Do not expect to be able to take out any loans before that point. So far, as foreigners, Prof. Rudolf and I have both been told that it is not possible to take out loans on the basis of our income alone, because, of course, we are foreigners.
  • Select your TA immediately. Coordinate with the Assistant Dean of your school to solicit applications. Interview applicants and select one in the first few days. If you don't speak Korean, be absolutely sure your TA does. You will come to rely on your TA for many things. While many things are translated into English, many important things are not.
  • Priority items once your contract is signed and you have a visa. (I forget the sequencing here; some items are dependent on the others.)
    • Foreign registration number (외국인등록증). You must have this to get any of the following. See more info below.
    • Bank account (KU uses HanaBank and one other (Korea Exchange Bank?))
    • School ID. You will need a very small picture. This will also be tied to your office's security system.
    • Professors' Club Card (hereafter PCC). This is necessary for spending your research funds (see below).
    • Personal credit card. Get one that functions as a transit card. Note that your initial credit limit is likely to be low; don't throw away your old cards.
    • Transit card. The standard card for use on the buses, subways, and taxis is a T-Money card and costs a few thousand won. The vending machines in the subway sell them. You recharge this card. However, you can thin your wallet by getting a credit card that functions as a transit card as well. You can also get a small card that dangles from your phone.
  • I would advise scanning all identification documents as you go (foreigner card, passport, proof of employment, etc.). You will need each one multiple times.
  • Update your school website profile. (This is independent of the main portal information.) You can get your password from the office.

Foreign Registration Card (외곡인등로번호) and visa

  • You can apply at the immigration office near Chongak station (종각역) or in Mokdong (목동) near Omokgyo Station (오목고역). (The distinction is supposedly based on your place of residence, but I think you can go to either place. I also believe it is possible to apply on campus, but you probably will not receive the email notifying you of the opportunity. Though you don't need a translator, it is probably still wise to go with your TA or another Korean speaker who can contact the school offices if more paperwork is needed. If you are applying at the beginning of the semester, go early and expect to wait. Every new exchange student in Seoul will also be there. You have to select a number and wait. Expect to spend an entire morning at the office (twice).
  • At the immigration office in Mokdong, professors (E1-visa) are allowed to hand in their application for the alien registration card in the Investment Center which is a seperate area located on the left side when entering the building on the ground floor. This can really save a lot of time.
  • Necessary documents (as of 2012-02) to bring are:
    • Passport
    • Photograph
    • CV
    • Certificate of previous employment
    • KU statement of employment (or expected employment) (Can be obtained from the Academic Affairs Office in the KU Main Hall, 2nd floor, currently Mr. Im Geumnim.)
    • KU business registration certificate (Can be obtained from the Academic Affairs Office in the KU Main Hall, 2nd floor, currently Mr. Im Geumnim.)
  • Once you have your card, you can register This will allow you to make appointments in the future.
  • For me, the initial visa was only for one year. So, a couple of months before your card expires, you must return to the immigration office with your application form, Foreigner Card, your passport, an original of your contract, and a copy of your contract. (And maybe something else. Always call ahead to make sure you know what documents you need.) The process was extremely quick and simple (30 minutes max). Note also that you can choose the period of extension. I wrote down the two full years remaining on my contract, and it was granted without question.
    • 2014-02 Required documents: Application form, foreigner registration card, your passport, an original of your contract, a copy of your contract, and proof of residence (NEW) (in my case a copy of my housing contract and a copy of my wife's registration card because the contract was in her name). I also brought a 재직증면서 and a 가족관계증면서. The latter was to prove my relationship to my wife for the housing contract. I'm not sure these two documents were required, but they the official took them anyway.
    • 2014-02: Once the documents were approved, it only took ten minutes to get the update on my registration card. You no longer have to wait two weeks.
    • 2014-02: I applied for a four year extension but was only granted two years.

Health insurance

  • There is a form to fill out to apply for health insurance. The main office should be able to provide it.
  • You can include family members on your insurance. (Note that they should all have registration numbers.) If your spouse is Korean, you can also include your spouse's family members if you want (at least their parents, not sure about siblings).
  • You will need a family relationship affadivit (가족관계증면서) with all those you will to insure. This is available at your Neighborhood Government Office (동사마서).
  • Insured members receive a large discount on services (usually 50%) at the Korea University Hospital up the hill. (I do not think this include medicine.)
  • Usually, however, if you have a problem, you are expected to go to a nearby doctor's office to get a referral before going to the hospital.
  • You will be scheduled for an annual physical on campus as part of the insurance policy. An email will alert you of your appointment.

Driver's license

  • With an E-1 visa, it is not necessary to take a driving test if you have a license from your home country. You simply fill out the application form, bring your existing license, and a notarized affadavit that your license is current. You can get the latter from your embassy, but it may not be cheap.
  • You do have to get your eyes examined and some other non-invasive test I cannot remember.
  • There is a separate desk for foreigners, which will save you a lot of time.
  • Your new license will be issued in an hour. For me, the whole process took one morning.
  • They will keep your license at first (by law), but you can get it back later by showing them an airline ticket to go back home. After that, you can hold on to both licenses.

Research funds

  • Once every three years, including your first, the department provides you with 7--10m won in research funding. You can effectively spend this any way you'd like.
  • You must apply for the funds. The form is quite simple, but you do have to have a title for your research. You can apparently change the title in the middle, but you shouldn't.
  • If you do not publish an article based on your funded research project within two years from the beginning of the semester in which you make your application, you will have to pay the money back.
  • In your first year, you probably want to use the money to buy necessary equipment for your office (see reimbursement below). Items you will probably want to purchase include:
    • Bookshelves
    • Fan (for the summer)
    • Heater (for the winter)
    • Filing cabinet
    • Printer
    • Basic office supplies
    • A closet or rack for your jackets and other clothing items
    • Business cards
  • Note that all furniture and electric and electronic goods must be requested through Procurement. You are not allowed to buy things like refrigerators, hard disks, laptops, bookshelves, printers, etc. directly. You must place a request with Procurement, supposedly to ensure that warrantees can be properly followed. Some small things that do not have warrantees, like memory cards, books, etc., are not included in this policy.
  • To qualify, the published paper's acknowledgments must include: "이 논문은 고려대학교 특별연구비에 의하여 수행되었음" or "Supported by a Korea University Grant)".


  • This still confuses me. Your TA will be invaluable here.
  • Generally you should use your PCC to make all purchases.
  • All credit card purchases will show up in the portal after about a week or so. Before submitting reimbursement forms, you must go into the portal, designate the category for your purchase (usually 교비), and save your changes. (I think this is only in Korean.)
  • With regard to the housing stipend, see the entry under "Taxes" about the rate at which taxes are withheld. When I received my first reimbursement for almost a year of rent, my taxes exceeded my monthly salary and I received no salary for that month!


  • The department subsidizes travel and accommodation to two conferences each year, though it prefers if you use external research funds first (I think). One conference is far, and one is near. Compensation is up to 2.5m won for the distant conference and 1.5m for the local conference, though this is surely subject to change.
  • You must apply for conference funding in advance. This includes both a travel request form that can be completed on the portal and a separate form from the admin office.
  • Be prepared to front the cost. Reimbursement can take some time. (Or I haven't figured out how it works quite yet!)


  • During your first years, you are required to submit travel request forms to the Dean through the portal. This does not apply to travel during the summer or winter break. It does apply to conferences, especially if you hope to be reimbursed. As far as I can tell, in our department this is simply a formality.

Computing and software

  • Through the portal you can download an assortment of good software.
  • You should download and install Hangul Word Processor. This is a Korean program that uses a proprietary format. Unfortunately, many people (especially the central administration) still send out important files in this format. They cannot be read by other programs to my knowledge.
  • Systems administration is a bit of a mystery to me here. The wonderful thing, however, is that it seems you are free to do what you like. For example, I have replaced my default XP with a linux variant. Note that you can download various OSes from the portal as well.
  • Note that to survive in Korea, you must have regular access to Internet Explorer.

Promotion and contract renewal*

  • The university uses overlapping measures to determine promotion and salary increases on the one hand and contract renewal on the other.
  • Promotion and salary increases depend on the hobong (호봉) system. Depending on your experience, you will start at a particular hobong level. This level can increase up to one hobong per year (never more, no matter how many points you accumulate). The basic requirements for increasing your hobong are 130(?) points (distributed among publishing, service, and something else) and a publishing a paper. If you do your job, you don't really have to worry about accumulating enough points. But you have to publish a paper. Your points now (2013) carry over from each evaluation period. However, the department requires one paper each year for 호봉 promotion.
  • Promotion from Assistant to Associate Professor requires five hobong, from Associate to Full Professor requires ten hobong.
  • Contract renewal requires 600 points from publications. (See below for more information.)

Publishing and points*

  • For your publications to count toward hobong or contract renewal, the journal must be listed in the SSCI list (sent out by the library each year) or the Korean equivalent (학술지). Note that SCOPUS also seems more possible now, though it is given lesser points.
  • The points per publication are now counted on the basis of the journal's impact factor. You can check the journal's ranking here:
  • These totals are prorated by the number of authors.
  • Full credit is given to first and corresponding authors.


  • You will be given new undergraduate students each year to advise and guide. There is a university budget of 10,000 won per student to take them out to lunch or dinner each semester. Be sure to take several students out at once to cover the costs of your own meal. Use your PCC and let the admin office know.
  • Masters students will come to request that you advise them on their thesis, usually during the week before classes start.
  • Note that there is a small amount of compensation for each student advised. It is transferred into your account at the end of each calendar year.


  • In the middle to end of January, you will have one week to file taxes. This is not very difficult once you've done it, but the first time is a hassle. You will be emailed detailed instructions, but my TA didn't seem to want to read them!
  • First, you must go online to theNational Tax Service to download your tax information. Be sure to get it broken down by the month. (In 2012, this could only be done when you downloaded each category independently.)
  • Second, you then go onto the portal and fill in missing information.
  • Third, after printing out the forms, you or your TA must submit them to the central office.
  • Note that there is a deduction of some percentage of your credit card purchases or 3m won, whichever is smaller. There is a similar and more favorable deduction for a check card (debit card). So be sure to get and use one of each.
  • The university has a rather crude system (that works in their favor. Each month your tax rate is calculated under the assumption that you will earn the same amount every month through the tax year. Thus, if for some reason (like a housing stipend reimbursement) you receive a large sum, your taxes will be calculated as if you receive the annual stipend each month. This can greatly reduce your monthly salary and disturb your cash flow. The discrepancy should be resolved when annual taxes are calculated at the end of the year, though this means that the university holds your money (and earns interest on it) rather than you.


  • After the first semester, you will be expected to put your syllabus on EKU, the school's course administration system, just before the end of each semester. Plan ahead as you develop new courses.
  • Though the department may have a special need for you to teach a third course in a given semester (Note that this has not happened to anyone I know in the last couple of years.), there is no obligation to do so. Additionally, at present, the university compensation for doing so does not seem to me worth the additional effort.
  • Each professor generally teaches one class to undergraduates and one to graduates. Many will also teach a third class, but as above there is no obligation to do so.
  • As all our courses are taught in English, you are free to grade as you wish. Most new, non-English courses must be graded on a curve, but not ours.


  • If you wish to study Korean, you have three options:
    • Study twenty hours per week in three-month courses at the Korean Language Institute (어헉단). Official price is 1.2m won. Faculty get 50% discounts. (2014: We are working on getting departmental and/or institutional support.)
    • Study a couple of hours a week in the evenings for 80,000 a month (?). This option seems pointless to me.
    • Ask the main office to register you for one of the classes our department offers. At present we offer levels one through three and sometimes an advanced class that studies newspaper articles and whatnot.
  • The school does not provide support for your children's education. That said, there may be small disbursements during middle and high school.
  • If your child gets into Korea University, the university waives tuition. It also provides 60% of KU tuition if your child goes to another university. (This is subject to confirmation.)
  • Education in Korea is expensive. Plan ahead.
  • If you have a child, you should register them at your local childcare center (어런이방) as soon as they are born.

Financial planning

  • There are surely many other considerations, but the following are a few sensible tidbits for life planning (mainly gathered from Dr. Jung-ho Kim).
  • A pension contribution will be taken out of your paycheck. However, this is apparently insufficient for a comfortable retirement. Consider starting another retirement account with a bank. The first 340,000 won each month is tax deductible.
  • There are education savings accounts that pay out different amounts as your child reaches different ages. These can be quite practical means for saving.
  • You may also consider additional health insurance for you child. Some forms of insurance return (unused?) funds back at the end of the term.

* Note: This is my current understanding. I think it is correct, but it could be wrong.