Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Since I talked about the seminar that teachkoreans.com put on for the Korean Government I figured I would take a look at them. Who are they? What do they do?

Well, it isn't a school. It is a recruiting company run by two people, one British and one Korean. Yes, the Korean government had recruiters put on a mandatory seminar to instruct foreigners on cultural differences and sexual assault. Their site LOOKS professional and polished at first glance. When you start to peruse it you notice things though.

One of the first things I noticed is that the "cultural differences" they informed current teachers about in their seminar were pretty much IGNORED on their website. Which, considering how it was crammed down our throats and some of it is actually good, seems strange.

Some of the stuff on the site seemed good. Some stuff they did mention on the website had me shaking my head. Other things made me wonder if a Korean wrote the site. Some of it made me wonder if Chris in South korea had written it.

The Good

The site does give some good basic info. They touch on some things, like a lack of planning. Or the fact most Hagwons want happy students not necessarily well educated ones. But the key word is that they touch on it. Nothing in depth. Nothing too detailed.

The Bad

They left out some important things, like the aforementioned cultural differences. Or glossed things over.

First is health care and insurance. They say Korea has NO National Healthcare system. Then what the hell is the National Health Insurance I was signed up for my last 4+ years in South Korea?

They do mention employers have to provide healthcare 50/50 but make no mention of NHS. That is a fairly important thing to leave out because if I remember correctly the law says they have to put us on the NHIC or a private 50/50 plan. If we want the NHIC that is what they are supposed to give us. Kind of an important fact to leave out.

Odds are they meant to say FREE healthcare rather than National Healthcare.

Next you have housing. They say;

"You will be provided with a single studio apartment/bachelor suit free of charge that is within walking distance to your school. You may find your place is a little smaller than you are used to but it will be comfortable nevertheless. If you arrive with a positive and realistic attitude about your housing you will be pleasantly surprised."

Or you won't be if you are put in an older, and therefore cheaper for the school, apartment. They then go on to give you an unrealistic expectation after saying you should have a realistic attitude.

"You will have your own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and washroom. The bathroom will have a toilet, sink and shower but don't expect a bathtub as they are uncommon in Korea."

That certainly doesn't set a realistic expectation for people. Your kitchen will be a nook in your entrance and is often an after thought. They would have better off saying there is a kitchen nook. Calling what you will get a kitchen is not reasonable. Also, bathrooms don't always have sinks. Your shower is part of your bathroom and not a separate stall. After saying people should have realistic attitudes it would be better to give them realistic information.

Some of the comments on the Korean language were a little strange too.

"The Korean language is called Hanguk- ugh. It is the only language in Korea and is used by 80 million Korean speakers."

Hanguk-UGH? Not to nit pick but it is not pronounced UGH. More like UH. If you are going to tell people how to say something in another language and spell it phonetically in Englishee do a better job.

The most important thing for you to know is that it is not necessary to learn the language to live and teach in Korea.

Ok, maybe that should be under The Ugly and not The Bad. That is a very stupid thing to tell people. It is true, you can get by without learning Korean, but it is a stupid thing to tell people who are coming to live in a foreign country.

The important thing to do is learn some basic words and phrases that will get you through life in Korea EVEN if you are only there for a year. Learn how to say please, thank you, hello, good bye, your welcome. Right, left, straight. Learn some of the basics. You don't have to be fluent. You don't even have to be able to string a sentence together.

Whether you NEED to know some Korean or not to get by it would be nice if you knew some basics in the language. Forget the fact that it would simply be polite to learn and use the language, it would be necessary if you deal with those Koreans who have no English.

The Ugly

Where to start? How about with one of the stupidest statements I saw on the site.

Korea has 4 distinct seasons:

When I saw that lead in to the section on weather in South Korea I thought "Oh fuck me! How stupid are these people?"

Some of the STUPIDEST things I read on their website were in the section on Korean children.

"Despite their workload they are generally well-behaved, enthusiastic and respect their teachers."

Hahahahahahaha!!!!! Yeah. Right.

Then there is this gem.

"There is virtually no bullying in Korean schools"

I don't know what drugs they are taking but only a real moron, or someone with NO idea of what goes on in Korean schools, let alone society, would EVER make a statement like that. Considering the incidents, and their severity, of bullying that make the English language news in South Korea this statement is insane. And that is without even bringing up the whole Junior-Senior BS that goes on.

The UGLIEST has to be leaving out the cultural differences that they went on about at the Seminar. If the site is supposed to be there to inform people what to expect if coming to South Korea to teach English leaving out that information is a gross error. Why not let people know that the contracts are not considered binding? That things will change at the last minute? That your boss will expect a lot more out of you?

Now that is an easy question to answer. In the end the website is part of their business. If they started telling the whole truth they would have less people interested in coming to South Korea. People just might shy away from working in a country where you legally binding document isn't. Where your conditions are subjected to the whim of your master errr Director. Not very surprising, after all their paying client is the school. Not the person looking to teach.


  1. Flint, thanks for that...that was great!

  2. Thanks IG.

    I didn't even get into the testimonials. Some of those re hilariously stupid, and self-serving.

    One guy was in Korea for 10 days and telling people (in the testimonial) to contact him if they had any questions about Cheongju. TEN DAYS!!!! What the kimchi?!?!?!?

  3. I think you forgot something.

    The good: They had a website with information on it, in English, with links that worked.

  4. That is true 3gyupsal. I hadn't thought of that. I blame it on their 4 distinctive seasons comment. :)

  5. Oh god the 4 seasons thing. On one level maybe it's just there to tell you what to pack? They've left out yellow sand season of course.

    No bullying, respectful students....oh how they love to blow that smoke.

  6. Mr. P

    And they missed rainy season.

    Oh but they did mention at the start of the food section that Korean food is healthy AND spicy. I left that one out.

  7. Shit yourself fitter!

  8. Heh they should use that in their banners.

    Come to Korea and shit yourself fitter with our healthy and spicy food!