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Health Check for EFL Teachers in Korea: Updated Information, December 2011
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.
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
Ear, Nose, & Throat Disease
Urinary Tract Disorder/Infections
Drug Test: Methamphetamine, Cocaine, Opium, Hemp, and the last one translates to "Measuring Drug"