5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Teach in Korea

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The zombie apocalypse will start here. At Orientation they told us not to use our sick days. Because when Koreans wake up sick they ask themselves: can I walk. And if they can, then they go into work.

Last December I had a fever and the shakes. I kept trying to read but letters just squiggled and danced. The other teachers said: well you only have four more classes today, so you can rest after! And put your head down for ten minutes between classes.

They’re all just showing off. Who can work the longest with the Grim Reaper sharpening his scythe in the background. Goddamn workaholic Olympics.

***

If you want to toil in a strange logic-free zone, come to Korea. When you first get here it’s cute to see a culture that won’t color outside the lines. No jaywalking ever. Then you have days like last Friday. The kids had a test and my Korean co-teacher proctored it while I paced the sideline next to the desks like a security guard. Nothing at all for me to do. It honestly never occurred for my co-teacher to have me go to the office. Because it’s… class. We… have to be in the room for class. Not… be in class? I don’t unduhstand…

***

Korea ships you over to their bright international metropolis but then they fucking own you. You have to get three signatures from three different administrators to leave early to go to the dentist. If the vice-principal isn’t there to sign your paper then you can’t leave. I’ve got a clean record but you’ve got me leashed like a parolee. Why not just put a chip in my wrist. If all these teaching jobs weren’t right in the middle of Alcoholic Disneyland, aka Seoul, they wouldn’t be able to get away with this shit.

***

There about seven weeks off throughout the year. That’s about thirty-five days off, but you only get eighteen vacation days. If you use up your vacation days, you have to come into the office and man the desk for eight hours even though the building is empty except for the janitor. Because fuck you, that’s why.

***

Or you have to sit there until 4:30, even if the kids all leave at 2:00. This happened on Thursday. My co-teacher had already left for Taipei so I was the only person there. For some reason that day felt like an especially inefficient use of my existence. I just left. My American Beauty moment. I felt like I was going to jizz in my pants as I walked through the gate. My bar for stimulus is quite low these days.

***

But it could always be worse. I could be a refugee, or in America in line all weekend at the DMV.

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11 thoughts on “5 Reasons You Shouldn’t Teach in Korea

  1. Sounds like working in Japan.
    What’s scary is that I’ve become one of them without really noticing. My last sick-day was over 12 years ago.… “Are you dead?”
    “No.”
    “Good. Now get to work.”

    1. Oh man. Just when I was thinking Japan might be a nice change of pace. Though I don’t know why I thought that. The different between the two countries is like the difference between North and South Carolina.

    1. I went to a Christian school when I was a kid. Biblical prison camp–and the principal had the right to pull down your pants in his office and smack your little naked ass with a big paddle.

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