A Hagwon is a business. A business that requires money, knowledge, and perseverance to start, build, and grow. The mistake a lot of people make is thinking that a hagwon is a school. You can see this when you read Facebook comments in groups where a lot of English teachers are active or comments found on forums like Waygook.org, Reddit, etc.

Some comments look like the following:

“My boss doesn’t even know how to teach English.”

“My hagwon is hell to work in. I am not allowed to teach the way I want.”

“I have to come in on a Saturday!”

“My boss doesn’t know what she/he is doing.”

And the list goes on and on and on….

They are so frustrated with how they are being treated or how the “schoool” is being run. They also can’t believe that the owner can’t even speak English.

I don’t blame anyone for feeling frustrated with their school, because I didn’t agree with the way things were run at the places I taught/worked at prior to running my own businesses in Seoul South Korea, which is a big reason why I decided to start my own businesses.

Anyhow, the very first thing you, as someone who is thinking about starting your own English hagwon business one day in Korea, and someone who probably thinks he/she can run their future school/hagwon way better than their previous or current school/hagwon boss needs to understand is that a hagwon is a business.

For the longest time, people in Korea who had no business being in the industry were making a lot of money operating a hagwon. The people who were in Korea for about 20 years or more state that the early 2000’s was the golden era of teaching English in Korea.


Well because at that time, as long as you could speak English fluently, you could have made a lot of money very easily being an English teacher in Korea. And you didn’t even need to have a teaching degree/certificate to be considered an English teacher. I mean, that was the time to start a hagwon. So people who had money to invest and didn’t know what to do (and those that did know what to do) started an English hagwon. They used their money to hire English teachers and the rest is history.

But guess what? That has all changed because parents in Korea aren’t easily as fooled as they once were. There are a lot of small hagwons springing up that are really forcing hagwons to up their game. And from what I a hearing, a lot of parents prefer the smaller hagwons to larger hagwons.

This is why I have created this website and probably why you are here reading this content. There is a good chance that you are a current English teacher in Korea or have taught English in Korea before and are thinking of making some big decisions. You most likely have some teaching experience, so that’s not any concern. But you may have never started a company or even worked at a hagwon in Korea. So you need to know the “Business” component of the hagwon industry.

The 3 Main Business Categories:

Here is an outline of the Money section:

1. Startup Expenses: You need to know how much money it will cost you to start a hagwon business in Korea. You can check the “Startup Expenses” section in the startup guide to get a better idea. In this section I share what startup expenses to expect, a range of how much they might cost, and my exact startup costs.

2. Ongoing Expenses: Once you start your English hagwon business in Korea and build everything that it needs, you will need to pay rent, utilities, and other expenses. It is a good idea to get an idea of what you’ll need to pay for. You can check the “Ongoing Expenses” section in the startup guide to get a clear idea of what to expect.

3. Generating Income: Once you build your school, you will have to find a way to make enough money to stay in business and to have a little (or a lot) left over for yourself. This is probably the hardest part of the business because without paying customers you won’t have a business for very long. You will need to understand the “Marketing” Component and “Teaching” Component to make enough revenue to create a sustainable living for yourself.

You will have to become as knowledgeable as possible in the industry, and valuable information is accessible in the members section

4. Keeping the Books: In other words, you need to create a spreadsheet or template on somewhere that lists your expenses and money generated. You will also need to organize all of your receipts; expenses and sales and make them accessible for when you or your accountant have/has to report your taxes and/or earnings to the government.

This document should also show you how much money you are in the red/black, so that you can make the correct adjustments.

Check out the “Your First Few Years as a Gyosoopso Owner” ebook for more information on this.

5. Pricing Your Classes: You need to figure out how much you are going to charge and for how long. You will need to learn a little bit about the laws, so that you know how much you can legally charge per minute of teaching.

You can checkout the “Pricing Your Classes” section in the startup guide for more information on this topic.

Here is an outline of the Law section:

1. Legally Registering Your Business Space: You need to find commercial (or residential space if you are going to run a Gong Bu Bang) where you will conduct your business. However, you will need to make sure that the building space is a space that is legally allowed to run an English hagwon type business. You can check out the “Making Sure Your Business Space Meets Legal Requirements” section in the startup guide for more information on this.

2. Legally Registering Your Business: You need to be a legal business that can legally accept payments. This requires you to prepare “necessary documents“, “get inspected by the education office” and “registering your business with the tax office“.

3. Keeping the Laws so that You Don’t Get Closed Down: There are a lot of laws that your hagwon business is technically supposed to follow. The hard (and not so hard) part is that laws often change yearly and some laws may not apply to certain people/businesses in the industry. To get a better idea of “Laws”, you should listen to more of the podcasts and read more blog posts to get some subtle hints. However, the very best thing to do is to access the “Video Series” to get a behind the scenes peek into things that are going on in the industry.

4.Understanding the Money Laws:

You need to know how much money you can legally charge, what you are required to provide to parents once a purchase is made, and have an understanding of what you are technically supposed to offer as a refund. Check out the “Your First Few Years as a Gyosoopso Owner” ebook for more information on this.

Here is an outline of the Marketing section:

*The tricky part with  marketing is that it is pretty much everything you do in your business. What you teach, how you teach it, how you go about running your school, and so on, all market your school’s identity and brand, which should be a reflection of you, the owner. But here is a loose outline of what to expect.

1. Create a Brand/Identity: You need to figure out what you want students and parents to think when they think of you and your school. Once you figure this out, making decisions should become easier. Check out “Creating Your Business Brand” in the startup guide for more information on this topic.

2. Design & Construct Your Business Space: This section may not seem like part of the marketing section, but it is. How you design your classrooms, what kind of furniture you use, and things like getting signs for your business all reflect your brand. You can check out “Decorating the Inside and Outside of Your Hagwon” for more information on this topic.

3. Create some Marketing Materials and Market: There is a wide range of marketing material you can create. You can create flyers that advertise your business, pens with your business phone number, or give out fans with your information on it. Whatever it is, you will need something that will help market your school to potential clients.

Then you need to figure out how you are going to get the word out. Will you wait in front of schools with some treats and flyers and strike up some conversations? Will you try to create a website / naver blog page / social media account to spread the word? Check out “Creating and Implementing Your First Marketing Campaign” in the startup guide or view the Marketing Tips video in the video series for more information.

*As stated above, marketing can’t really be sectioned off all on its own. The definition of Marketing that I agree with is defined by Dicionatary.com as, “the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, and selling.”

So what you teach, how you teach, who you are, how parents feel when they walk into your business space, how students feel at your business space, etc, all play a part in attracting paying clients.

There is a lot of information to consider, so it is a good idea to download the hagwon startup checklists. There is one main checklist available for FREE to download, but the other 6 lists are accessible for premium members only. Visit our checklists page to access “checklists” that will help make your planning easier.