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Health Check for EFL Teachers in Korea: Updated Information, December 2011

Updated on December 14, 2012

Scroll down for detailed information on the health exam.

About 3 weeks before leaving for Korea, I received my EPIK contract in the mail. Along with it was a form that stated that there will be a health check for everyone that is becoming an English teacher. What is a little ridiculous is that they will not accept a health check that has been done before coming to Korea. They will only allow the health check to be done through them. This means that you take the 20+ hour flight to South Korea, take the health exam (which includes blood being drawn, an eye test, a hearing test, your weight being taken, an x-ray, a urine test, and it includes you filling out a health form), sit through the week long orientation, and on the very last day of orientation you receive your health exam results. If you do not pass the health exam, it is on your own dime that you should return back home. Talk about a waste of money and time. So, it's important that you know what they are testing for.

The blood test is taken to check for HIV, tuberculosis, and any other communicable diseases (hearing from reliable sources, certain STDs other than HIV are not tested for). If you have a question about whether or not a specific STD is tested for, send me an e-mail and maybe I can help answer that question. Other than what I listed above, drugs are the other main concern in the test. They will test your urine for drugs. The x-ray is taken to check for lung cancer (which is what I was told). It's a very uncomfortable situation. You enter this trailer outside of the orientation site, go into a room and take off your bra (obviously if you are a girl) then you come back out, bra-less (but with a shirt on) and with other people from orientation standing in there with you, then you go back into the room and put your bra back on. I found it to be very uncomfortable.

During orientation you are assigned to a group. The health exams were performed in group order, but even still, they made each group sit and wait in the auditorium until it was their turn. We were sitting in there and freezing for over an hour before it was our turn to do the health check. It was pointless and uncomfortable. They had different stands to go to for different parts of the exam and as you completed them, they were checked off of your health form.

Keep in mind that when you sign up through EPIK, it states that you will receive a 1,300,000 won settlement fee. This amount of money is supposed to cover your flight to Korea. Well, when you get that money, they will take out the fee for your health exam from when you arrived. I had about 60,000 won (~$60) taken out for the health exam.

It turns out that if you are re-signing to stay in Korea for another year, you now have to complete ANOTHER health check. I was just handed the forms today with a list of hospitals to choose from. I was told that I have to get it done before December 7th. This is 80,000 won (~$80) out of MY OWN pocket. The school is not paying for it. Once again, they are checking for HIV, Hepatitis B & C, performing another chest x-ray, and taking urine to screen for drugs. Under blood test it also states CBC, ALT/AST, and VDRL. I have the health form sitting in front of me now.

UPDATE 12/5/2011

I have just received my health check results back and as a courtesy to everyone else, I have translated all of the tests listed on the results page. This is what the tests were for:

Height & Weight
Chest Size
Blood Pressure
Vision Test
Hearing Test
Eye Disease
Ear, Nose, & Throat Disease
Oral Disease
Respiratory Disease
Liver Disease
Neurological Disorders
Digestive Disease
Skin Disease
Cardiovascular Disease
Mental Illness
Urinary Tract Disorder/Infections
Syphilis Test
Chest X-Ray
HIV
Drug Test: Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Opium, Hemp, and the last one translates to "Measuring Drug"

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    • profile image

      wondering 11 days ago

      Do they test for HPV?

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 15 months ago from Busan, South Korea

      Yes, I'm positive. I know someone who got accepted who was freaking out about the same thing. They didn't have any problems passing the health check :) Don't worry!

    • profile image

      Amy 15 months ago

      i have been researching so hard core about this EXACT question and couldn't find a rock solid answer....thank you for this....i have herpes and got a great job teaching in South Korea and was scared about the medical exam...i do want to say you are 100% sure that they don't???? I can't tell you how relieved i am to see this.

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 17 months ago from Busan, South Korea

      Hi! You don't have to worry about it. They do not check for Herpes. Good luck!!

    • profile image

      Wonderingwoman 17 months ago

      Hi I have Herpes and I was wondering if they tested for that and if so would it effect my chances of getting a job in south Korea to teach english? Thanks in advance

    • profile image

      Suz 2 years ago

      I'm also wondering about visible tattoos, I plan to say I don't have any on my EPIK application because all of mine are easy to hide, but didn't know if it would come up on my physical exam....

    • profile image

      rachel 3 years ago

      Do you know if they will fail you if you have gingivitis? I am trying to get it treated but I don't know if it will in time. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Mandy 3 years ago

      Yes, please tell us if they test for herpes!!

    • profile image

      Gib 3 years ago

      Will having herpes prevent u from getting a visa and do they test for it?

    • profile image

      Reboot 3 years ago

      Do they test for chylmadia or gonorhea?

    • profile image

      Elizabeth 3 years ago

      What are specific STD`s that they will not accept you if you had/have them? Does it include cold sores?

    • profile image

      Mya 3 years ago

      Hello I am interested in EPIK but do you know if they check for herpes?

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      Hello!

      for the xray, do they make you wear a gown where your back is exposed? how are they with tattoos during the examination? are you allowed on any sort of non metal jewelry during the examination?

    • profile image

      brightredkat 4 years ago

      Hi, I was just wondering whether I could possibly be denied for having a heart defect. I found out about it a year ago, it has never bothered me and the doctor said that it won't cause any symptoms but i'm wondering whether I should declare it.

    • Daryle Jones profile image

      Daryle Jones 4 years ago

      Hello, my cousin has been hired to go to Korea for work. I was over there for several years and she has asked me about the health test. She is concerned because she has herpes. Do they check for this? I couldn't answer her question because when I was there it was for HIV, Cannabis and alcohol amongst other ones that you have mentioned.

    • profile image

      Annabelle 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your quick reply!

      Your answer is really helpful; it makes me feel a bit calmer knowing what I should expect. I'll try to come up with something to explain them away if they do happen to look at both arms.

      Thanks again for the answer and for being non-judgemental. :)

    • profile image

      Annabelle 4 years ago

      Thank you so much for your quick reply!

      Your answer is really helpful; it makes me feel a bit calmer knowing what I should expect. I'll try to come up with something to explain them away if they do happen to look at both arms.

      Thanks again for the answer and for being non-judgemental. :)

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      I understand why you wouldn't want to be judged because of that. I can see Korea being very harsh on that subject. From what I remember, yes, I believe I only showed one arm. As long as it's easy to get your blood from that arm, I would think that you would be able to get away with not showing the other one. It's always hard for them to get blood from me, so they usually end up looking at both arms and then giving up and going to my hands, lol. In the case that they do end up having to look at your arm, you should probably make up a good backstory. I'm not sure how long or deep your scars are, or the quantity of them, but if there's some way to explain it using another story, I'd have one ready! Good luck and I wish you the best in maintaining your recovery and successfully completing the exam!

    • profile image

      Annabelle 4 years ago

      Thank you for posting this information, it's useful to know!

      I have one question about the blood test (if you can remember). Do you only need to show one arm?

      I ask because I went through a period in high school where I self-harmed (I was treated and have not relapsed in years). As a result, I have some scars on one arm. I've heard that mental illness is very stigmatized in S. Korea and am concerned about getting sent home because of my scars.

      Any thoughts? Thank you! :)

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Lee,

      As far as my understanding goes, yes, they will send you home for having any type of drug in your system. According to their paperwork, it states that any person found to be addicted to drugs will be sent home. I'm not exactly sure how they would prove that you are "addicted," so my interpretation is that any signs of drugs in your system will cause you to fail the exam.

      Good luck!

    • profile image

      lee 4 years ago

      what about weeD? would they send you home for having that in your system?

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      C,

      I'm not exactly sure. I do not work for the education office, so I do not know what their definition of oral disease is. All I know is that "oral disease" was listed on my health exam along with stating that I passed. I wish I could give you specifics, but I can't.

      Linda,

      I spoke to some other teachers and from what I hear, an oral exam was only performed on those who are staying for next year and had a recent exam done. So, I'm assuming that it's new. Anyway, they said that the exam was not thorough at all and only consisted of a quick visual examination done by the doctor. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Linda 4 years ago

      Thank you for your response! I appreciate that you're looking into this!

    • profile image

      4 years ago

      What would be considered oral diseases?

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 4 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Hi Linda,

      Unfortunately I can't help you with that. :( That must be new since I have undergone 2 mandatory health exams since being here and neither time was a dental examination performed, nor was I asked to complete one elsewhere. I just did an internet search out of curiosity and see that for some people, when they renewed, they had to complete a dental exam. I haven't heard of it being done for the initial intake though, so I'm sorry I can't provide any information about it. Anyway, good luck with the exam! I don't think you should be embarrassed, nor do I think you have anything to worry about. If, by chance, I come across some more information, I'll be sure to let you know what I find out!

      Update:

      It has been quite some time since I did the exam that I forgot that a portion of the test is listed as "oral disease" with a result! To be honest, though, I don't even remember them looking in my mouth if they had? I would imagine that if they are screening for any cavities or any diseases, that it would've been a thorough exam, but I don't even remember having it done either time! I'm sorry that I forgot that "oral disease" was listed on there! I'm going to have to ask other teachers that came in the same time as me if they had a thorough exam done! I'll get back to you!

    • profile image

      Linda 4 years ago

      Hi Cal,

      I heard that there's a dental portion of the EPIK medical exam. What exactly are they looking for? I have so many amalgams and I'm quite embarrassed about them :(

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Hi Tdot,

      I honestly don't believe that would be an issue. I think as long as you tell them what you're on, and it's not medication for anything serious, then you should be fine. If you let them know on the form beforehand, it wouldn't raise any concerns if something were to come back irregular. I know the health exam is nerve-wracking for everyone, because we're all so worried about one small thing preventing us from getting the job, but really, Koreans go to the hospital for everything and the doctors hand out medications like it's no big deal. I really wouldn't worry about it :) Good luck!

    • profile image

      Tdot 5 years ago

      Hi Cal, thanks so much for providing this insight.

      I know you're not an EPIK official, but I hope to get your opinion on something: I'm currently taking Cyestra (oral medication) for acne/hair growth and Tactuo (topical cream) also for acne.. I know it seems minor, but do you think it could be an issue? I'm debating whether I should even mention it on my forms, but I don't want anything to appear in my blood or urine test...

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      Kim,

      Unfortunately I don't have the answer as to what would get you turned away since I only took my form and translated it. What I do know, though, is that a friend of mine did not pass her 2nd health exam (to re-sign for a second year) due to a growth in her chest. She was told to get it checked, and when she did (it turned out to be a benign tumor), she passed. So, I'm guessing that would probably be the same situation for you.

      I hope that helps! And I'm teaching in Busan (the 2nd largest city).

    • profile image

      Kim 5 years ago

      Hi! I am hoping you will be able to help me out.

      I'm applying for Feb 2013 and am concerned about the chest x-ray part of the examination. You stated they're looking for lung cancer (but I think it might actually be TB), but do you know if there are any specific conditions that they will invariably turn prospective teachers away for? I may have some benign cysts in my breast (but other than that, I am in impeccable health), and I really don't want to spend money to fly over there, only to be turned away in the end.

      Also, what city are you teaching in?

      Thanks!

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      I wrote to supervisors asking about the health exam and they have not responded back to me. I also posted on a community page on Facebook for teachers here asking if anyone knew about either of those issues being a cause for denial and the responses I received were that a digestive disease shouldn't be any concern but that Hep B would most likely get you denied. I am sorry I don't have a solid answer straight from EPIK themselves, but I also agree with those who wrote in to me that this would most likely be the result. Good luck with everything!

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      marilyn_E and Miguel: I have written to the office of education to find out if either of your diseases will prevent you from working here. I will get back to you when they respond. Although, Miguel, I have a feeling that if your blood tests come back normal, then you should be just fine getting through the health exam. It consists of a chest x-ray, blood work, and a urine sample. If your blood tests are fine, I couldn't see any other way that they would find out about it. They do ask if you're taking medication though, so that could be your choice of whether or not to admit that to them.

    • profile image

      Miguel Santiago 5 years ago

      Thank you for the information. I really want to teach in South Korea; however, I have a digestive disease. I'm on medication for it and my blood tests are normal. I'm afraid my illness will prevent me from getting a job. I don't have any STD, contagious diseases, or do illegal drugs.

    • profile image

      marilyn_E 5 years ago

      Hi, Thanks for this info. I am interested in teaching in Korea but have Hep B from infancy (its not chronic) but do you think this will disqualify me from teaching there? Much appreciated. Thanks.

    • profile image

      Cathrine 5 years ago

      I forgot to add my email~ If you can respond I would be grateful! cathye.yoon at gmail dot com

    • profile image

      Cathrine 5 years ago

      Hello, I was wondering what the blood test results consisted of? Is it strictly testing for diseases of some sort or does it include a drug test?

      I ask because...

      My workplace did a random urine test last month and directed us to a testing facility called KMI (passed). I also got a full physical, including bloodwork, done last week just in case I needed it to renew my contract.

      But my employer wants it all done at a facility called KMI. If the blood testing is the same, I don't see why I should pay 70,000KRW to get the same procedures done.

      Thank you in advance!

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      I agree. I think it's a little ridiculous to have to go through all of this to work here. I think it's especially annoying to have to go through it two times just to stay a second year!

    • profile image

      laura 5 years ago

      i just did my test but i had no idea what they were testing for why is this necessary. I am an f4 visa holder which techinally states i am half korean and i don't see a point in doing all of this

    • CALNY profile image
      Author

      CALNY 5 years ago from Busan, South Korea

      You're welcome! :)

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      Tiffany 5 years ago

      this was very helpful thank you

    • HendrikDB profile image

      HendrikDB 5 years ago

      Interesting!