The number of Native English Teachers peaked in 2011, and the scene is in (rapid) decline.
“The number of native English teachers in public elementary and secondary schools this year dropped for the second consecutive year to about 7,000, according to data gathered by The Korea Herald.
Regional budget restructuring as well as assessments of the native English teacher program’s effectiveness and Korean teachers’ English-speaking competence have led to wide-scale cuts, especially in middle and high schools.”
Old farts say the TEFL scene in Korea has been declining for a decade due to stagnant wages, but that didn't stop more and more liberal arts majors from fleeing their recession-mired countries to teach English in Korea every year. It still may be easier to land a NET job in Korea than a NET job in Japan or any salaried position in the West, but it's certainly not like it used to be. Look at the numbers:
NET jobs were cut about 8% in the last year, almost all of which were in major metro areas or Gyeonggi-do (Outer Seoul). Rural areas and smaller cities were unscathed.
Busan and Seoul had budget cuts in 2012, and big changes were made. To recap-
Native English Teachers were phased out of high schools
Experienced NETs were let go and replaced by cheaper new-hires
EPIK became more selective by offering fewer positions and making the application process more stringent, no longer accepting online TEFL certifications, adding a minimum GPA and penis length requirement
Bonus vacation & perks such as being able to choose your location were cut
Some other shit
Teaching English in Korea once had very low requirements for a very comfortable compensation (for math-illiterate losers who would otherwise be making jack vids for cash). Now the job is harder to get and comes with less (inflation-adjusted) wages and perks. This is just the invisible hand of the free market responding to a high supply of NETs and declining demand for them.
The article linked at the top of this post goes into the specifics, but I think everyone saw this coming for one reason or another. The EFL train is slowing down and at the same time, closing its doors to the steerage class who want to ride without a CELTA or Master's. Now, there are numbers out to prove it. Like most economic events being experienced or that will be experienced by developed nations, Japan went through this years ago, though for different reasons. Their collapse was accelerated by the explosion of NOVA, leading to a sudden surge in the supply of English teachers. Taiwan and China still have positions to fill if you're willing to do more work for less, but if you're working in Korea now, you might not be. I wasn't, but the longer I stay, the more enticing the Chinas are starting to look.
Next time I'll talk about why..