To kick off the Thursday interview series, we interview Paul K. If you would like to be interviewed please shoot us an email us. Without further ado:
Teaching Kimchi (TK): Hi, Paul. How are you?
Paul K. (PK): I’m good, thank you for having me.
TK: Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
PK: Well, I was originally born in Korea, but I immigrated to the US with my parents when I was a couple of months old. I lived in Texas and Colorado for most of my life. I’m considered a “gyopo,” someone who is ethnically Korean, but hasn’t lived in Korea. I can speak some Korean, but I’ve lived most of my life in the United States, so it needs some work. I’ve had random jobs from working in school cafeterias, working in a shoe department at K-Mart, tutoring, a database administrator at a banking school, and now teaching in Korea.
TK: Wow, that’s quite an array of jobs. How long have you been in Korea?
PK: I’ve been in Korea for nearly two years on an F4 Visa, the special visa for gyopos- its essentially dual citizenship.
TK: Nice, moving on, where have you worked in Korea?
PK: That’s an interesting question. The first three months I was here I had six different jobs. The first month I just leeched off my relatives, I felt horrible being a bum- so I looked for a job. I didn’t know how easy it was to find a job in Korea. I used the infamous Dave’s ESLcafe to find my first job. My first job I worked with Direct English, which is a subsidiary of the chain hakwon called Pagoda. I have also worked as a substitute conversation teacher at Pagoda, Phone English with Pagoda, B2B privates with a third-party company, making a textbook for TOEFL, and now I currently work at Daeil Foreign Language High School as a college counselor and English teacher.
TK: You seem to have a pattern of working a lot of different places. Maybe you can give us some reviews of working at those places.
PK: Sure, I’d love to help others who are trying to find their way around the teaching industry in Korea.
TK: What is your fondest memory of Korea?
PK: I’d have to say meeting new people and especially, meeting my girlfriend.
TK: Is she Korean?
PK: Yeah, but we can continue that off the record.
TK: Okay, what’s your worst experience you’ve had in Kora?
PK: I’m not sure if anything sticks out; I guess I dislike how everything is fast-paced. Everyone seems so busy, but maybe that’s just metropolitan life. Oh, there is one thing that I hate are those uncomfortable bathrooms. You know the ones I’m talking about. I miss some of the modern Western conveniences, like trash cans in the street; and bigger and cleaner bathrooms.
TK: Do you have any tips for English teachers in Korea?
PK: I think what helps the most is to make a Korean friend who speaks native Korean. Korea is a closed and homogenous society so sometimes it is hard to get things done, such as getting air-conditioning installed, disputing bills, finding an apartment, and the like.
TK: Thank you for your time and let’s keep in touch!