This is a great guest post from Dave, one of our friends here in Korea.
Hello brothers and sisters, I have been teaching in a small city in South Korea for over 2 years. Before I came to Korea I had thousands of thoughts racing through my head. Now that I have been here I feel I can compose a small list of reasons why you should teach English in South Korea. It’s not exclusive, and I am aware that Korea is not a perfect place, but there are pages upon web pages of negativity towards Korea. Some of this criticism is entirely justifiable. Lots of it is unquantifiable, intolerant, small minded bollocks. This article will try and address the imbalance.
1. Cultural Awareness
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” Mark Twain said that. I struggled to express this thought as eloquently as that. People should travel for many reasons, but the more travelled the more open minded they are. It has it’s exceptions, but it’s generally true. You will meet people in Korea who could hold an ‘engaging’ conversation with the most feverish EDL supporter. That will happen, but where is there a country without prejudice? The benefit of travelling is that it develops you and helps you see the world differently. To do that, you need to experience different cultures. And if I’m certain about anything Korea does offer that.
If you like spicy cabbage you will like Korean food immediately. If you don’t, it will take you a few weeks.
The food here is fantastic. The one thing I’ve learned to do whilst in Korea is to appreciate food. I’m by no stretch of the imagination a foodie, but I am now in a country where I can eat genuinely mouth watering food every day. Not being able to eat spicy Kimchi Soup when I leave Korea is a genuinely frightening prospect. Have some live octopus with makolli, pork belly washed down with an irresponsible amount of soju, dog soup and a beer, the choice really is yours.
3. Getting out of your comfort zone.
I’m a big believer in doing things that make you uncomfortable or nervous. This does not mean putting yourself in dangerous situations. However, if you think of an idea, let’s say, teaching English in Korea, and there’s a part of your brain that wants to do it. However, at the same time another part of your brain kicks in and reminds you;
I’m not telling you what to do, I’ll leave that to the various and numerous Christian-based religions here in Korea. My suggestion would be to do it. Or, as D.H. Lawrence put it;
‘When we get out of the glass bottle of our ego and when we escape like the squirrels in the cage of our personality and get into the forest again, we shall shiver with cold and fright. But things will happen to us so that we don’t know ourselves. Cool, unlying life will rush in.’
Your job in Korea will be good. Varying degrees of good, but overall, it will be good. Nothing in life is absolutely certain, but there’s an extremely good chance you will have a good time in Korea. Don’t let Dave’s ESL Cafe tell you otherwise! Before I came to Korea I read posts from people allegedly in Korea teaching on how terrible it was. Rabid dogs everywhere, disease, poverty. One person actually said,
‘I’d rather sell my left kidney than teach in Korea again .’
I have 2 questions for the poster. Why not your right kidney? Why are you still posting after you have left?
You’ll get good money, depending on your lifestyle much more than you can spend, plus plenty of free time. If you show you are a good worker you will build good relationships at school, and you will be able to travel in your holidays. Which brings me to my final point…
It’s possible to visit many countries whilst in Korea. Beijing is a 90 minute flight away. Japan about the same, or a little longer if you take the boat. You can get to Thailand in 5 hours, and that’s as good a base as any to travel throughout South East Asia. And of course, you’ll have the money to do so!
So what are you waiting for? Get yourself out of that glass bottle and jump into the forest. Things will happen…