October 21, 2012

English Teachers

I summited several of the ridges of Yeodalsan and admired the view from each peak. Although farther away than the eye could see, I could hear the distant roars of the Formula One race cars as they whizzed around the circuit during the qualifying session. I ran into a couple of English teachers at the top. One of them was talking about a cartoon she saw. There were a series of pictures of the same Korean female at ages 15, 20, 30, 40, and 50. From ages 15-40 she looked like a gorgeous twenty-something and then suddenly transformed into a curly haired old lady at 50.

They told me they were currently teaching in Mokpo, but planned to travel to India for several months after their contract was up before taking up teaching positions in Kyrgyzstan. Most of the foreigners I encounter in Korea are ESL teachers, soldiers, or students. Teaching English is certainly not a bad way of life for those who are young, white, mobile, and unemployed/unemployable in their home countries. A lot of jobs require no background or interest in teaching, but merely a pulse and melanin depravation.

Whereas in China, there were many young professionals of good pedigree working full time in a variety of fields and disciplines, it is extremely rare to meet one in Korea. This may be because South Korea is further up the development ladder than China and already has enough domestic high level talent, or at least believes it does. The government requires stringent evidence from companies documenting why they need to employ foreign workers for non-teaching positions before granting long term work visas. To secure an ESL job on the other hand, all one has to do according to one of the teachers was "just send an email to Korea, and they will ask you when can you come over."


"The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." ~ William Arthur