Monday, October 24, 2005

I'm a legal teacher in Korea and thus not headed for jail

Many of you may have read the article in the Globe and Mail, some other source, or the link sent from seadragon. I've been meaning to address the issue but kept forgetting so here we go.

A week or so ago one of the major Toronto newspapers featured a front page story about Canadian teachers in Korea being sent to jail for working illegally. I think almost everyone in my office got some kind of concerned email or call from home.

Here's the story.

In order to work legally as a teacher here you need an E2 visa, which can be obtained either from home or while here, though that would require a trip out of the country (hence my holiday in Japan). You can only get that E2 visa if you have a four year degree from an accredited university. Perhaps in the past the rules were more lax but I can't say for certain. This recent "crackdown" resulted from a sketchy recruiter getting fake degrees for teachers and then illegally obtaining the necessary visa. Somehow he was found out and all the people on his roster were nabbed. A friend of a friend was among the group. I have no idea what happened to these people but I suspect they were just sent home after a semi-unpleasant stay in the slamma'. Maybe they were also unable to access their bank accounts but I can't be sure. I hear the officials came right to the school and took the offenders away.

I think most of the articles also pointed out the disdain the Korean government and people hold towards the foreign teachers in the country. Last year there was a Korean documentary aired on television about how the people who come to teach here are unqualified social outcasts who can't find legitimate jobs and lives back home in their own country so they come to Korea where the money is good and the ease of finding work is, well, easy.

I can't argue with that. Most of the English teachers I meet over here really are weird in some way or another. I can't say if it's bad or not or whether I'm a weird-o also. Am I?

I spent a lot of time wondering and asking people what they thought was a unifying characteristic of all the people who come here for this life. Is there something that connects all of us besides the extraordinary amount of time spent with children daily?

Here are the possibilities I came up with:

1) We're all crazy
2) We've faced some sort of loss: love, job, direction
3) We came to a big decision making period in life and postponed that decision
4) We are cool and adventurous and worldly or on the way to being such.
5) We're unqualified social outcasts who can't find legitimate jobs and lives back home in our own countries so we come Korea where the money is good and the ease of finding work is, well, easy.

Comments?

7 Comments:

At October 24, 2005 3:15 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Doesn't the number of Canadians in Korea have just a little bit to do with the continuing high rate of unemployment back home? That was the reason that I came.

 
At October 24, 2005 5:23 PM , Anonymous Steve said...

On the surface adventure + money whatever reason, but I think it's more to do with some kind of destiny thing, just like getting into a relationship or getting married because one thing leads to another. People generally justify their action afterwards.

 
At October 24, 2005 11:35 PM , Blogger John McCrarey said...

oops. sorry 'bout that. double posting does not make me a weirdo, ok?

 
At October 25, 2005 8:22 AM , Blogger Mike said...

I like possibility #4, especially the adventurous part.

 
At October 25, 2005 8:50 AM , Blogger Jessica said...

I have no idea. People I meet seem to have other reasons but maybe that's just what they think.

What do you mean, Steve?

What do you mean, John?

Sure you do Mike, ya weirdo. ;)

 
At October 25, 2005 1:05 PM , Blogger Blake said...

"You can only get that E2 visa if you have a four year degree from an accredited university."


Not true. A three-year degree from some of the "English" countries is good enough. Canada is one of them.

 
At October 26, 2005 12:19 AM , Blogger John McCrarey said...

Hmmm, I now see I didn't double post at all...my original comment failed to appear.

Anyway, I was saying that although I am neither a teacher here or a Canadian, my obsevation is that an adverturous spirit is a prerequisite for coming here. I don't think the percentage of weird people here is any higher than the norm back home.

Least that how I see it.

 

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