1. Salary. All teacher's recruited into the public schools in Korea are paid by the MOE, such as SMOE in Seoul . Here is the standard pay level for teacher's throughout Korea: (with some small changes for Seoul that I'll discuss after):
If you do have additional qualifications such as a Master's degree, or teaching experience, then you start higher on the ladder. Each additional year you work in Korea means you move up the ladder one step, and thus get paid a little more. In SMOE (Seoul), the ladder is a little different. That ladder can be found here https://www.epik.go.kr/contents.do?contentsNo=49&menuNo=278
So, if you look at the ladder, most teachers get paid at about 2.0 million won (around $1700 on the current exchange rate), a month. If you have a Masters in Education, you start at Level 2, or 2.2 million won. In addition, some schools offer extra classes for overtime pay, so you might make another 150,000 won on top of that. This all might not seem like a ton, but let's break it down a little further. You pay no rent while you're here. You can eat out for around 4000 won-10000 won. If you cook, even better. You get a delicious, 3000 won school lunch at school. (No really, they're actually healthy, good, and filling!). A typical food budget might be around 550,000 for a month, if you like to eat our and go to coffee shops frequently. You could easily cut this down to at least 400,000 won a month. Transportation: around 55,000-75,000 won if you live in Seoul and take the subway a lot. Entertainment/shopping: all up to you, but I try to leave extra money to around 50,000-10,000 a month. Utilities/bills: This is usually around 50,000 won a month, but it depends on the apartment your school provides.. Phone plan: I brought a phone and just bought a sim card from the Olleh store, so I only put prepaid credit on my phone. I don't use my phone service much and there is wifi everywhere, so with planning with my friends I can get around just on wifi most of the time. So maybe my phone plan costs 15,000 won a month. So in total, you're looking at a budget of about 850,000 won for the month. So unless you spend a lot on drinking, shopping, or traveling around Korea every weekend (of course you should do that some though!), you can really save quite a bit of money every month, or use it to pay back your student loans. I'm able to send back around $1000 every month. I use it to pay back my student loans, and my extra money I keep for vacations around Asia.
3. Extras. In addition to this great pay-scale, there are all these other bonuses to consider. -Flight allowance: You get paid 1.3 million won for your flight to Korea, and when you finally leave Korea, you get another 1.3 million ($1100) won for your flight home. They give this money to you no matter how much your flight to Korea costs. So if your flight was only around $1000, you might be able to keep about $100 of that money.
-Settlement allowance: 300,000 won to help you set up your apartment and get settled in Korea. Most apartments in Korea for teachers come almost fully furnished, so you shouldn't need to use all of that money.
-renewal bonus: if you stay another year you get an extra 2 million won for renewing (although this is being done away with for Seoul, but I believe other provinces still have it)
-Pension: If you're American, Canadian, or Australian (UK citizens and South Africans don't get pension), you get 4.5% of your paycheck deducted each month for pension. Additionally, your employer pays 4.5% as well, so you will get a total of 9% of your paychecks back when you leave Korea. This is a great way to get your retirement fund/IRA started!
-Severance: This is a sweet bonus at the end when you finally leave Korea, especially if you stay multiple years. Your severance is equal to your last months pay (so around 2 million or 2.2 million if its your first year), times the number of years you stay. So if you stay 3 years, and your last pay level is 2.3 million won, you will get 6.9 million won. That's a $5800 leaving bonus. How awesome!
-Health insurance: Health insurance is compulsory in Korea, so you pay into the national health insurance plan every month. It's around 60,000 taken out of your paycheck. It's great though because health check ups and doctor visits are super cheap in Korea. Most of my friends that have been sick end up leaving the doctor and don't pay more than 10,000 won a visit, including whatever they need from the doctor. So it's great to know that if you get sick or injured while in Korea it won't cost you a fortune.
Of course, everyone's budget will be different, and some people might choose to spend more on traveling, eating out, doing activities, etc. Additionally, you can travel to nearby countries like Japan and Vietnam, or you can do very costly tours and eat $30 sushi every meal. Everyone is different. But on average it is possible to have a great lifestyle here and send back a good chunk of money every month. So if saving money, having the ability to travel with the money, or having a great lifestyle is a priority for you, Korea is the place for you to teach English.