The Pros and Cons of An Internship in South Korea

South Korean Culture

The Pros and Cons of An Internship in South Korea

We’ll be honest here. South Korea might not be the first country that comes to mind when you’re considering summer internships, but it definitely should be one that you reconsider. 

This country is a fast-rising star in the realm of international careers. From fashion to music, business to renewable energy, South Korea is an attractive location for any student who wants to improve their chances of a successful career.

However, like any cross-border work experience, an internship in South Korea will come with its own set of unique advantages and challenges. 

In this in-depth exploration, we’ll take a closer look at what exactly an internship in South Korea might entail – as well as the key benefits and disadvantages of pursuing one. Whether you’re a fan of K-pop or curious about the global impact of Korean businesses (or hey – perhaps just seeking a new adventure!) this guide is for you. 

How Do Internships Work in Korea?

Before you start packing your bags, it’s important to understand the structure of internships in South Korea. 

First, you should know that the Korean work culture is deeply rooted in respect for hierarchy and discipline. You’ll see this reflected in the internships you apply for, which tend to be structured programs within larger organizations. The setup typically provides interns with a mentor and a clear set of job responsibilities, all of which are aimed at integrating them into the company’s daily operations.

The benefits of this kind of structure are many. You’ll likely gain a thorough understanding of how Korean businesses operate, experience the work ethic firsthand, and potentially build strong professional connections that can last a lifetime. 

However, you should also be aware that this kind of hierarchy and discipline also means that Korea is well-known (notorious, even) for its bureaucratic rigidity. Internships aren’t any exception. Navigating the required paperwork, from visas to work permits, can be a bit cumbersome.  

Finally, be prepared for an intensive work culture that might involve long hours and a strong focus on group involvement. 

Internship in South Korea

What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of South Korea?

Interning in South Korea can be a game-changer for your resume and your outlook on global business. 

Here are some of the factors that make South Korea an attractive internship destination.

  • Gaining Valuable International Experience: An internship in South Korea can show future employers that you’re adaptable, internationally competent, and unafraid of stepping out of your comfort zone. This can significantly enhance your marketability in an increasingly global (and increasingly competitive) job market.
  • An Education in Technological Innovation: With household names like Samsung, LG, and Hyundai leading the charge, South Korea is at the forefront of technological innovation. Working in this kind of environment can expose you to cutting-edge developments and methodologies.
  • Cultural Immersion and Personal Growth: The opportunity to immerse yourself in one of the world’s most unique and rich cultures can’t be overlooked. Learning the language, understanding social customs, and exploring historical sites can provide a broader perspective and valuable life lessons to boot.


With the benefits in mind, remember that interning in South Korea, like any major experience, is not without its challenges:

  • Language and Communication Barriers: Korean is a complex language, and while many professionals in major cities may speak English, the day-to-day operation within the company might be in Korean. Overcoming language barriers can be tough, but it’s a barrier that can be broken with commitment and effort.
  • A Rigid Society: As mentioned earlier, Korean society is known for its formality and adherence to social norms. This can manifest in the workplace in the form of strict hierarchies and a certain resistance to divergent opinions – a hurdle that can be daunting for some interns.
  • Work-Life Balance: The work culture in South Korea is notorious for its long hours and pressure. Balancing your professional expectations with the desire to explore and enjoy all that South Korea has to offer can be a challenge that requires finesse and planning.

Are Internships Paid in South Korea?

In most cases, it’s unlikely that you’ll be paid for an internship in South Korea. But it’s not always straightforward – there are some companies that do provide compensation for interns.

That said, while South Korea has made moves to regulate internships more closely, many still fall into the unpaid category, especially those in the non-profit sector or short-term placements. Paid internships are becoming somewhat more common, particularly in sectors like technology and finance.

This can be a challenge if you’re planning on interning in a city like Seoul, which has a high cost of living. You’ll want to budget for the possibility of an unpaid internship and look for an internship company, like Absolute Internship, that will streamline this process for you. 

Find the Best Internship With Absolute Internship

If the thought of an internship in South Korea excites you, navigating the process with the right guidance is key. Absolute Internship specializes in connecting students with internships in various fields across the globe, including South Korea.

We work with top companies in South Korea to offer a well-rounded internship program that combines professional growth with cultural immersion. We’ll provide support with every step, from the application process to housing arrangements and local orientation.

Are you ready for a life-changing opportunity? And remember, whether your choices lead you to Seoul, Busan, or beyond, the skills and memories you’ll gain will be invaluable.


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