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Non-white teachers in Korea?
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Marlboro



Joined: 31 Jul 2006

PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 3:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive only been here a few days and i met a black guy,and im not seen as 'white' myself either,so see how that pans out,woohoo Very Happy
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Anne0



Joined: 30 Nov 2005

PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

mamaille wrote:
I recently decided to come to Korea to teach and knew that it would be different for me as a black person.

I didn't have a problem getting interviews and offers but one recruiter made me start thinking about the racism there. He told me that Koreans don't like to hire black people and I should feel previleged that he's offering me a position. HE would hate for me to pass it up and not get anything else. I couldn't believe that he said that to me. He was obviously trying to scare me into taking the position but I knew there were some truths to his comments.

I started wondering what my experience would be like as a black person.
I'm learning on this forum that there aren't that many blacks there and I can't even prepare for the experience but I won't let that deter me from going.

Unfortunately, racism is something a lot of us can't avoid.


Well, i'm a black female and i've lived here for 8 months now. The job I work at has a *very* international group of peopleso I can't say anything about jobs not hiriing black people.
What I CAN say is I haven't met any discrimination from being black in the 8 months that i've been here. I live in Bundang which is a very weathly area. I work at an English Town and the cities of seongnam and bundang send their students here for one week at a time. When I ask the bundang kids where they learnt english I get answers like "oh i lived all over europe" or "I lived in (US/canadian city) for (x amount of) years". So yeah. Very weathly place.
What I get are people tend to talk to me more. When they do ask where i'm from America is the first thing out of their mouths. If I DON'T say yes to america within 2 seconds then they ask canada and then africa. There have been some people who ask if I speak English. There are so many "black" people from so many different countries that I don't take offence to that. I could be from africa. I could be from france. How would they know. But they ask first and I think it's very good that they don't assume you are from somewhere they ask where are you from.
The othere thing I get are a lot of free things. The most recent happened last monday. Monday was my last free day before a two week camp and so I was trying to buy a weeks worth of cloths to compliment the weeks worth I already have. So I was buying these skirts and speaking the little amount of korean I know. After I bought the skirt the sales lady quickly took this beautiful green necklace out showed it to me for a millisecond and then stuffed it in my bag. Then she smiled this i'm not supposed to do that smile and said "service" (free for anyone who doesn't know).
Or like when I was in samsung plaza and walked by these middle school kids. Man they woulkdn't leave me alone. They kept saying "what is your name" "where are you from" "you are very pretty" "I love you" (and making the heart sign with their bodies). It took me 5 minutes to get away they had me completly surrounded!
At my school on saturday we teach everyone including parents. At first I was very nervous because I thought they might be racist to black people but no. They were very happy to be in my class and after class they'd ask me to take pictures with them and ask for my phone number and/or e-mail and i'm talking rich 60 year old korean women.
Oh yeah and I tend to get surrounded by korean women as they talk about how pretty I am to each other in korean. The whole time touching my arms and face.
Koreanmen also hit on me a lot. It's fine most the time but sometimes I get the black girl obsses korean men and they creep me out cause they spend the whole time talking about h ow much they love black people and how happy they are that i'm talking to them because they love black people so much. That makes me very uncomfortable.
The taxi drivers like to talk to me too. It's only a short drive from samsung plaza (my local hang out spot) to my english town but they spend the whole time asking every question they can and if I speak korean then they REALLY talk me ear off the whole time cause they think I can understand. I do understand enough to respond but I sit in dread of the question that I can't answer cause I don't understand the words>.<.
The taxi driver are cool but sometimes I get taxi driver who spend the whole time asking me why I don't have a korean boyfriend. During that time I sit there wishing the taxi ride would end already.
So yeah, I'm african-american, i live in a rich area, i've visited many places in seoul and i've had nothing but positive experiences in the 7 months i've been here. That's all I can say really.
There;s another black female here and she hasn't said anything to me about experiencing discrimination. She gets the same treatment I do. Like she went to a hot bath or spa or somepplace where you have to take your cloths off and people scrub you down. She says they speant the whole time touching her skin. Which is the same thing people do to me.
Anyways i'm just saying. It's not like discrimination is not there. But it's laos not like your skin is dark so your going to get discriminated against. I think it all depends on the people you encounter.

[edit] just in case your wondering. someone said that they were more likely to experice discrimination in the rich areas and that's why I made a point of saying I live in a rich area and I have recieved nothing but positive thing. I also made sure to only mention things that happened to me in this place where people are more likely to discriminate against me.
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C76



Joined: 11 Jul 2003
Location: not nearly near enough to Toronto

PostPosted: Thu Aug 17, 2006 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for posting, Anne0. I appreciate you sharing your perspective. I've been keeping an eye on this thread.

*Back to lurking*
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geedog



Joined: 17 Apr 2006
Location: Seoul, SK

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 6:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm of Chinese descent and I've had no problem teaching English in Korea. The only thing is everyone here thinks I'm Korean and speak Korean to me. It's quite funny.

The Daily Kimchi - http://thedailykimchi.blogspot.com
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yospeck



Joined: 29 Aug 2006

PostPosted: Tue Aug 29, 2006 8:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Avenue Q said it best when they said everyones a little bit racist. Unfortunately its just ignorance, which in my opinion you cant always blame the person for, if you're brought up all your life being told one thing then its hard to break the mold. So when your boyfriend hears 'we thought black people were bad but you made us think otherwise', even thought I'm not black myself and can understand where you are coming from, for nationals from a closed off country such as Korea to say this, then its probably IS a big compliment.

Is it right that black people find it harder to get a job here? No.
Is it right that it is the ignorant teaching a new generation their same ignorant ideals? No.

Racism is everywhere. Anyone who says they arn't slightly racist is just a liar or in denial in my opinion.
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i_teach_esl



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Location: baebang, asan/cheonan

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i am still in the states. a couple of months ago, i decided to pursue a job teaching abroad. i was raised in the states and am Black and Filipino.

everyone i have pm'ed in the forums tell me to stay away from korea. Rolling Eyes

i appreciate everyone's concern, but honestly, i didnt become black yesterday. i deal with racism every day. maybe i cant say, b/c im not there, but it seems to me that the only difference between here and korea is that koreans will be more upfront about their prejudices. the onlyblack person ive met in the forums thus far is a sister who wrote to me, "It's no different than being home. You find things you like about it and you find things you absolutely can't stand about it too." i believe her.

being black has never stopped me from doing anything. it's made some things harder, for sure, but stopped me... naw.
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Tiger Beer



Joined: 07 Feb 2003
Location: Hong Kong

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

i_teach_esl wrote:
i am still in the states. a couple of months ago, i decided to pursue a job teaching abroad. i was raised in the states and am Black and Filipino.

everyone i have pm'ed in the forums tell me to stay away from korea. Rolling Eyes

i appreciate everyone's concern, but honestly, i didnt become black yesterday. i deal with racism every day. maybe i cant say, b/c im not there, but it seems to me that the only difference between here and korea is that koreans will be more upfront about their prejudices. the onlyblack person ive met in the forums thus far is a sister who wrote to me, "It's no different than being home. You find things you like about it and you find things you absolutely can't stand about it too." i believe her.

being black has never stopped me from doing anything. it's made some things harder, for sure, but stopped me... naw.

Nice post!

Honestly.. there are tons of 'non-whites' teaching all over the place in Korea.. and many of them are having a good time here. Others don't.. no different than any other individual who comes here.

A major pet peeve of mine is hearing fellow caucasians discouraging non-caucasians into coming here.. Rolling Eyes I don't get the motivation either.

Usually its along the lines of claiming themselves to be tolerant but these evil racist Koreans won't let that tolerancence of theirs shine.. and if they can't personally take it being so tolerant themselves.. then someone who isn't white certainly won't be able to tolerate it. (That is usually the feeling I get when I hear caucasians telling non-caucasians not to come).
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i_teach_esl



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Location: baebang, asan/cheonan

PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2006 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...nvrmnd...

Last edited by i_teach_esl on Sun Jul 06, 2008 2:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Anne0



Joined: 30 Nov 2005

PostPosted: Thu Feb 08, 2007 2:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

yospeck wrote:
Avenue Q said it best when they said everyones a little bit racist. Unfortunately its just ignorance, which in my opinion you cant always blame the person for, if you're brought up all your life being told one thing then its hard to break the mold. So when your boyfriend hears 'we thought black people were bad but you made us think otherwise', even thought I'm not black myself and can understand where you are coming from, for nationals from a closed off country such as Korea to say this, then its probably IS a big compliment.

Is it right that black people find it harder to get a job here? No.
Is it right that it is the ignorant teaching a new generation their same ignorant ideals? No.

Racism is everywhere. Anyone who says they arn't slightly racist is just a liar or in denial in my opinion.


yospeck that is exactly how I feel. Nice post Smile.
I have found that before I came to Korea lots of caucasions made Korea sound like the worst place ever and I almost didn't come because of it. I 'm glad I did because I would've missed out on such a wonderful experience by living here. Since my last post i've had tons of more positive experiences similar to those I posted earlier in this thread. I swear what i've gotten the most is discrimination against non korean speaking poeple. That has been the number one thing that i've gotten from Koreans. Everyone IS a little bit racist and we as black have the negative image that has been imported from the US to battle against but i've found that as long as I approach people with respect (and in Korean Smile) i'm able to change people minds. So far there's only been once or twice that I haven't.
One thing that I do find funny is when I do talk to some caucasions that live here they seem insistant on proving themselves right. Like sometimes i'll end up in a conversation about racism in Korea and everyone starts talking about how hard it is for non-whites and how racist koreans are and when I tell them that i've had the opposite experience there's first this uncomfortbale pause and then they tell me it's it's because of where I live and people here are more open minded but if I was to go anywhere else in Korea i'd get more racism. And then I remind them that racism and ignorance are two different things Smile. A racist person has chosen to hate certain people and they will probrably never change where as an ignorant person, when shown that their way of thinking was a bit misguided Smile they tend to change. Ok it's not THAT simple but I hope you get my point.
One other interesting thing I came accross was at work we did this exercise where we have different difficult situations adn we have to present how we would deal with them. My group got one where the kids are calling a black person "black person" in korean (or dark skinned I forgot the translation). All the non-korean, non-black people were like they'd immediately go into how there are all kinds of people in the world or they would do this or do that. The two black people in the group (me and one other female) both said "well, we DO have black skin". for one and for two we said that treating what they said like it was it depends on how they say because if they're just making an observation about our skin color then there's nothing wrong. I do have black skin what's wrong with them saying so. But if they mean it as some kind of insult then we can have a class discussion like "ok why is that a bad thing?" or something like that. ^^ But even out boss found it interesting that the non-black had a more extreme reaction to the comment than the people who actually are black.
OH! also I am not the only non-white person at my job and we've all have very positive things to say about Korea. The worst thing i've heard so far was a friend when to a graduation party with a friend because his friend was DJing there and when he tried to talk to people they were scared of him. Like honestly scared of him. I asked him to elaborate and he said when he tried to talk to females they covered their mouth and laughed a lot. But he came away feeling like people were scared of him. That was the worst that i've heard.
On the same token the last time we went to lunch together people just assume that we're a couple. Like at the ttokcalbi place when they guy put oil into the pan he drew a heart.

Ah! One more edit. I was reading a PM message and she went through something that I went through BEFORE I got here and I remember I didn't look for jobs in Korea because of it.
When I was searching for jobs on my own this one place in Korea contacted me. They were very excited and all and they just wanted some more information..including a picture. So I included my picture and I never heard from them again. I remember back then I thought i'm not going to applyu to korea if they country is like that. But yeah as you know in the end I did end up here. So to try and focus on the positive AND negative I found more racism in finding a job in Korea than in living in Korea. There are places that just won't hire you because of your race. But then once you're here there are tons of friendly and non racist poeple.
I even go to a Japanese hogwon and everyone loves me there. I do get the "foreigner stare" but I mean i'm a non-korean at a hogwon for Japanese and i'm in the second highest level (so the classes are taught in Japanese by a native speaker). That's bound to get some stares. But the students there all talk to me in class and outside of class.
So I think the owners, especially hogwon owners think they're catering to their customers by having these practices but if they stood by their teachers they'd find out that maybe the general public is as against having a non-white English speaker as they think. But when money is invovled people tend to take the safe route you know.
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i_teach_esl



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Location: baebang, asan/cheonan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 11, 2007 2:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

well said, annie0. i let all the talk scare me a lot too, but now that im here, im so glad i came.
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i_teach_esl



Joined: 07 Sep 2006
Location: baebang, asan/cheonan

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 2:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

find black folks in south korea on facebook:
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=25747883752

edited for update.


Last edited by i_teach_esl on Thu Apr 30, 2009 4:16 pm; edited 2 times in total
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RosyYng



Joined: 17 Feb 2007

PostPosted: Sun Feb 18, 2007 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive met an esl teacher online and asked him about the whole experienced. i mention also that i was an asian-amerian. he said that they most likely wont hire an asian-american. im laos/chinese/french. is it true that i would most likely get turned down? would it be really hard for me to get hired to teach english? so confused/scared.
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pinkrosie



Joined: 28 Mar 2007

PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I applied to teach ESL in Korea and I'm black. I was told by my recruiters that many schools didn't want black teachers but preferred people with blonde hair and blue eyes. This is insulting especially when I went to one of the best schools in the USA. No one wants to go to a country where they feel like they are being tolerated instead of appreciated. Most black people I know don't want to have to put up with such comments. Perhaps there's a lack of black teachers not because there are no educated black people but because the schools are the ones rejecting them, even if they are well qualified.

It's sad but true.
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seasghost



Joined: 09 Oct 2006
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2007 11:50 pm    Post subject: Non-White teachers... Reply with quote

I'm African American, and I taught in Korea for some time and while no adults ever said anything to me, (in English, that I could understand), the children I taught did ask me a lot of questions.

Yes, I'm the obvious foreigner. I got looked at, but in general, I was treated well.

But Korean culture is very xenophobic and homogonized. I knew this before I went, so I really only expected so much. I did find it somewhat astonishing how ignorant Korean culture is of North America. That's what they want to immulate, but they know next to nothing about it.
Many of my students thought I was from Africa and were surprised when I told them I was from America, Surprised and slightly confused. Even after explaining this to them I would still get asked questions about Africa like I was from there.
The students would ask me questions about my skin, hair and other things. Most would admit that they didn't understand why my skin was darker.
Now, I'm okay with this coming from children. I kind of expected it and always answered their questions
With the adults...it was more of issues with the difference between Korean culture and American/Western culture, and the social difference between men and women

I can't say that it was awful being a Non-White teacher in Korea. It depends on your expectations and how thick your skin is. If it naturally bothers you to be the "different" one, then going to Korea is probably not right for you in the first place.
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Austin212



Joined: 28 Mar 2008

PostPosted: Sun Jun 22, 2008 8:16 pm    Post subject: Good to hear.... Reply with quote

Good to hear that non-whites have had no problem getting teaching jobs in Korea. I taught there for two years. My time there I only met a couple, both them black, who where teachers. I never asked them wether or not they had problems getting employment because of their skin color. (I have the white skin, blonde hair combo)

In any case like most teachers in Korea I heard "the common wisdom" of that it was very hard / impossible for non-white teachers to get hired here. Like so much "information" in Korea is was pure word-of-mouth and not backed up with any facts.

The only personal experieces I ever had that I can add this quetion are the following (not including the African-American couple mentioned above):
1. Went out on a date with a Korean woman. She told me with a straight / concerned face that she was scared of black people. When I told her I have had many good black friends in my life.... she almost fell off her chair in shock.
2. I tried a few times to get my hagwon kidy students to understand that not all Americans (I am an American) are while, but there are African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, and even Korean-Americans ^^. They all gave me the facial expression as if they wanted to beleive me because I was the teacher, but what I was saying could not possibly be true.

I really hope that the two above experiences are the exeption and not the rule.
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