Tag Archives: CNNgo

Disregard the “12 Rules for Expat Life in Korea”

31 May

On May 25, some guy (Kyle Burton) posted an article on cnngo.com. The article can be found here. The article is about twelve things expats should do when living in Korea. The article was reblogged and posted on Facebook and probably tweeted (but not by me). I hope everyone was only sending it around because it was incredibly stupid.

Here are some highlights.

1. Learn to drink like a fish

Your work contract might say 9-5 but you forgot to read the fine print. Birthday parties, staff dinners and other work functions will keep you going late into the night. Just remember that in the South Korean workplace, an invitation is an obligation.

Some of this is true. An invitation is an obligation but that’s not all you should take away. At my school dinners people drink casually. Some of the men get drunk. It’s awkward.  Barely any of the female teachers do.  Some foreign teachers get drunk too, so they say.  But really. You’re at work.

Furthermore, this gives the impression that all Koreans just get drunk all the time. The drinking culture here is strong, but this gives the wrong impression.

Next up…

2. Try not to get ‘celebrified’

Just because you get cat calls on the street from students who are surprised to see a foreigner does not mean you are famous. There might be a certain novelty to being a visible minority here, but try not to let it get to your head.

No one thinks they’re a celebrity here. Sometimes we joke about getting a discount or getting something free because we’re foreigners but more often and not being a celebrity here is the last thing on your mind. You are more like a zoo animal. People stare at you and talk about you like you’re not there. They assume you can’t understand (or don’t think it matters) but the first word we learn after annyong haseyo is “waygookin” (foreigner). So when I’m the only foreigner on the subway and the couple next to me is dropping “waygookin” every 2 words, I’m pretty sure they’re talking about me.

5. Put the gay away

 Korea has its own “don’t ask don’t tell” policy, and although gay rights have come a long way in the last 10 years, there remains a strong prejudice in this uber-conservative society. So, if you are one of the many queer expats in South Korea, keep your homo on the hill.

Wonderful advice! You’ve probably been out of the closet for awhile, but you should probably get back in. No. Rude. Maybe it’s not the wisest thing in the world to come out to your students,  but that’s at everyone’s own discretion. This suggestion is pretty offensive and just unnecessary. Korean culture is extremely touchy. If two women or two men were touching each other affectionately, I doubt anyone would bat an eye. Yes, some people are homophobes here. There are homophobes in lots of places. Sometimes I think this place needs to be shaken up, anyway.

6. Buy good face cream

 I’m not sure if it’s the pollution, the stress, or the water, but living in Korea will age you, and your pimples and wrinkles will battle it out to see who can destroy your face the quickest. No wonder there’s a cosmetic surgery shop on every corner.

This is on the top 10 list? Ridiculous. I have nothing else to say. Except that the cosmetics here are fantastic.

This article was on a CNN affiliated website. It’s ridiculous. Sure, it’s supposed to be funny, but it’s mostly just dumb and not actually helpful. If someone wrote this on a blog then no one would care, but this is a CNN journalist. Emabarrassing.

K-blogger Roboseyo wrote his alternative top 12, and I think it’s pretty good.

Here are the ones I like.

1. Get online.

He recommends checking out the NUMEROUS amazing websites that have tonnes of information for you. I like Korea4Expats and 10Magazine.

2. Learn Korean.

Definitely! As I am only here for a year (2.5 months to go!) I learned the basics. How to read and write, basic communication. And it has helped me massively! Simply learning to read and write will help you out a lot. Do it!

3. Get out of the city.

I haven’t done this as much as I’d have liked to, but leaving Seoul is wonderful. I’m heading to Jeju Island this weekend and can’t wait!

4. Learn to use the transportation infrastructure.

Yes! I’ve extolled the virtues of the subway before, but the buses, oh the buses. They can be great if you want to go somewhere that’s not directly on the subway line. But watch out, they sometimes can take a lot longer due to traffic, so budget time wisely!

You can read his full list here.

Anyway, that’s all I got.