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Life in Pohang
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thegadfly



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:07 am    Post subject: Life in Pohang Reply with quote

I am coming back to Korea (again), only this time I am heading to Pohang instead of Seoul...can anyone with experience in both cities, or even just experience in Pohang, give me an idea of what to expect?

I am looking for any kind of point/counterpoint for comparison between the two cities, or any anecdotes from personal experience in Pohang. I have been in Korea long enough that I do not need to be told about the "Korean experience." I just want to hear the things that might make a Pohang different than Seoul....

I am assuming the air will be cleaner, the cost of living a little lower, the feeling of being boxed in a little less ominous...the night life less active, the conveniences a little less convenient...but I have no idea of the attitudes.

Any specific information about what you have done/seen/experienced in Pohang is greatly appreciated -- especially any tips about where to go/what to see. Thank you in advance.
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: in a world of hurt!

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Have you already accepted your job?

I lived there for a year..........wouldn't do it again.

Even the Koreans who live there hate it!

Anyway, you asked alot of questions. I'll ask you one. What's important to you?
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rockr1



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Location: Ireland / Korea

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Living there now and I like it.

- there's a good bunch of teachers around who aren't afraid to say hello
- there's a spanking new cinema downtown
- there's good local soccer team (Pohang Steelers)
- there are lot's of foreign engineers here too (working at POSCO), meaning you can meet French, German, Russian, Indian etc. people for a different perspective on things
- there are about 500,000 (mostly) nice Koreans.

Yes, it's small and there's a limited number of things to do, but it's easy to go to Daegu or Busan for a change every now and then. There's not a lot wrong with Pohang that a Burger King wouldn't fix...
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: in a world of hurt!

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is also close to kyung ju.

There are some positive things about Pohang but I think ther are much better places to live in Korea. Even the Koreans agree.

Anyway, it all depends on what is important to gadfly I guess.
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whatthefunk



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Location: Dont have a clue

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:47 am    Post subject: Re: Life in Pohang Reply with quote

thegadfly wrote:
I am coming back to Korea (again), only this time I am heading to Pohang instead of Seoul...can anyone with experience in both cities, or even just experience in Pohang, give me an idea of what to expect?


Are you living in 'central' Pohang or in the villages surrounding? Makes a huge difference....find out.

thegadfly wrote:
I am looking for any kind of point/counterpoint for comparison between the two cities, or any anecdotes from personal experience in Pohang. I have been in Korea long enough that I do not need to be told about the "Korean experience." I just want to hear the things that might make a Pohang different than Seoul....


Well, Ive never lived in Seoul, but Ill tell you what I think. As rockr1 mentioned, the teachers here are all pretty close. I don't think you get that in Seoul.
There really aren't any clubs in Pohang, just local bars and a couple bars downtown that foreigners frequent.
Id say that the locals are generally friendlier than else where in Korea.
It's a very conservative city.
You get the waygook stare alot more here than in other places.

thegadfly wrote:
I am assuming the air will be cleaner


Ha. Ever herd of POSCO? Second largest steel mill in the world and its right in your backyard now. Horrible air quality. The one advantage that it might have over other cities is that it is on the coast, so some of the crap in the air blows out to sea, but I still find myself coughing up little pieces of POSCO every now and again.

thegadfly wrote:
the cost of living a little lower


Probably, but having never lived anywhere else, I really couldn't tell you for sure.

thegadfly wrote:
the feeling of being boxed in a little less ominous...the night life less active, the conveniences a little less convenient...but I have no idea of the attitudes.


What exactly do you mean by boxed in? I feel very boxed in because I live in a small town and everybody knows me by name. My students all know where I live and whenever I leave the apt, they all ask 'where are you going?' 'what are you doing?' and then follow me around. Somedays I would rather not leave the house just because I don't want to have to deal with all my students on a Sunday.
Yes, night life gets a little boring, but theres good people here, so its usually okay.
Conveniences are still very convenient, don't worry.

thegadfly wrote:
Any specific information about what you have done/seen/experienced in Pohang is greatly appreciated -- especially any tips about where to go/what to see. Thank you in advance.


You should be okay, but ask where you are living. For the love of god, ask where you are living. There are teachers here who technically live in Pohang but really live in the patties way outside town.
What to see... Well, there are some temples around, and its close to Gyeongju. Homigot Sunrise park is pretty nice...first place to see the sunrise in korea. There are some nice beeches North of town. Thats all I can think of..

Good luck to you, and Ill maybe see you around.
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thegadfly



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 6:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for your swift responses. Since some folks asked questions, I will try to address them.

The most important thing for me is the work situation -- I believe I have a fair situation in a good school -- everything looks wonderful on paper. I have taught long enough to know the differences between the appearance and the reality, but I have also been around long enough to have a decent BS detector, and I think I will enjoy my teaching experience at this school.

After that necessity, I am looking for new experiences -- I lived in Seoul and loved it, as I like big cities...but the bustle and noise and constant feeling of being crowded wore on me by the end of my second consecutive year...decided to try something different.

Matko, you lived and worked there for a year but wouldn't do it again -- why not, if I may ask? I know lots of folks that wouldn't work at my previous school again, and by my own estimation the problem was not with the school but with the person -- Korea was a bad match for them, or teaching was a bad match, or the school expectations were a bad match. I experienced none of the same problems (but did experience different ones), so simply saying you wouldn't do it again is not as helpful for me as a specific example of what you did not enjoy.... I appreciate that you took the time to respond, and that you are trying to help, but I would ask to be told something specific, from which I can draw an inference about my own feelings in a similar situation.... I mean, are you done with teaching in KOREA, or just with teaching in Pohang? Is it the whole ESL market with which you are disillusioned, or do you just want to do it in a bigger city? Is it just a geographic thing, or were there certain attitudes you encountered that made you want to live elsewhere?

Yes, I have accepted the position -- I am not trying to decide if I should go, I am trying to prepare for what I will find. Even if it IS bad, I doubt it will be the worst place I have ever lived Razz

To give an example of the kind of info I am looking for in a response, here is a little of my own experience. I lived in Apkujeong in Seoul, which is supposed to be the "best" part of Seoul, or at least in the top 3 areas...travel was very convenient, as it was pretty centrally located, foreigners were pretty common, so there was little of the "stop and point" going on, and living in Apkujeong seemed to make me more respectable to some Koreans I met. Definite plusses for me. Cost of living was pretty high, though, as were entertainment costs. There was more than the usual high level of brand sensitivity in the area, with even MORE attention to appearance than I have seen elsewhere in Korea -- and as an average-ish (5'10" 180 pound American male) fellow, this focus on appearance ended up being a bit more annoying than I would have thought. When I had worked elsewhere in Korea, I was told I was fat maybe 5 times throughout the year...in Apkujeong I heard it several times a day from "well-meaning" people -- some of whom I just met. Their comments were along the lines of "you would be so handsome if you just lost some weight...."

I am not looking for generalities, actually -- I am looking for specific stories of folks' experiences in Pohang...good place/bad place is pretty subjective. From what I understand from the teachers at the school, the housing situation is far above par -- and having a nice apartment may well be enough to "make" Pohang for me. I'm just curious what others have found...so tell me a story Smile
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did a year in Pohang and I've been in Seoul for the past six months.

The bad - Pohang has dirty old POSCO (big steel mill) and the air is so polluted I swear it's why I was so sick all the time... I think it's probably one of the most polluted cities in Korea! And it's full of gangsters, you're a freak, there's not much to do there (besides get hammered at one of the ex-pat hangouts down town), you have to go to Busan or Seoul or Daegu if you're craving decent western food or reading material & hardly anyone speaks English.

Seoul is also polluted but I've hardly been sick here... it's big and sprawling and seems to take a long time to get anywhere on the subway (as much I love the subway). It's not as easy to meet foreigners & you can easily spend way more money here. I'm the only foreing teacher at my school so it gets a bit lonely at times and I crave fluent English!

The not so bad - Pohang has great food (Seoul food is just not as tasty for some reason Confused ) and the ex-pat crowd there seems pretty cool. I recently revisited Pohang and met some cool people. It's easy to socialise and make friends. I made some great friends there last year and that's what got me through my year there.

There are 2 US army bases in Pohang and I've found that the guys who are there long term are not so bad. It's when the ships come in from Okinawa and the city is overrun with 2000 marines for a night or two it gets really freaky. Pohang is a small port city and so you also get some interesting merchant marines passing through and various engineers working for POSCO to make for an interesting ex-pat crowd that tends to congregate at one of 3 or 4 bars downtown.

I hated being in Pohang. I enjoyed spending time with the friends I made but because I found the city so boring, I travelled once or twice a month to another city or town or mountain... so living in Pohang forced me to see a lot of Korea Very Happy

If you decide to head to Pohang, I suggest you find the "English Club" crowd. There's a really nice group of Koreans who will take you under their wing and wine & dine you if you'll participate in their meetings and give them the chance to speak English. I made some great friends that way & did a lot of activities with them - like hiking bowling and stuff. And it's where I met my husband Wink

The coast is nice both north and south of Pohang. You've got the beach, though I'd never swim there. But it's still nice at night when you can walk along the beach and look across the water at POSCO which is all lit up ... looks quite amazing.

There's a lovely little temple up in the mountains not far away (Pogyeongsa) and it's only 30 mins to Gyoengu (Kyeongju?) which is an interesting city to explore.

Pohang people speak a local dialect and now that I've been in Seoul for a while (I think) I have trouble understanding their accents (could also be that my Korean sux anyway... Laughing My in-laws, anyway ) I've felt much more anonymous and unfreakish in Seoul which is really nice. In Pohang, you really feel the eyes boring into you and then endless "Welcome to Korea"'s start to drive you batty after a while. The best thing about winter was wearing big coats and hats which meant blending in a lot more.

The ex-pat crowd changes regularly and for a few months when I was there, it was very cliquey it seemed as though everyone made a point to know everything about everyone's business... and if they didn't they just made it up... but people are coming and going all the time and from the people that I know that are still there, they seem to think there's a pretty good crew of people there now.

I've been in Seoul for 6 months and I've only left twice... both times to visit the in-laws back in Pohang. There's so much to see and do here... but I've been a bit slack lately and haven't been doing much. It's also nice to know that I can go out and eat Thai or Indian or Japanese whenever I want or that the department store up the road stocks salsa and australian wines. Just knowing it's there is a comfort.

There's nowhere to formally study Korean in Pohang, if that's of interest to you. But the taxi drivers are pretty cool.

Wow! That was quite a ramble, eh?

Edit - Lots of responses while I was rambling... I lived in a beautiful big brand new apartment. Ended up with 4 roommates... but they were all cool and really wonderful people. Didn't have a problem with any of my roommates or co-workers. I think I'd save more money in Pohang than in Seoul. Having roommates helps keep the household costs down. I hope you're not going for a job at a Ding Ding Dang school... Question

Didn't feel boxed in either. Mountains all around. My house was a 20 min ride downtown and I overlooked a whole lot of little greenhouses. My "dong" was a very small village with almost everything we needed (minus a bank & post office). All in all it wasn't an inconvenient place.


Last edited by waterbaby on Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:11 am; edited 3 times in total
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kiwiboy_nz_99



Joined: 05 Jul 2003
Location: ...Enlightenment...

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two words for DON"T DO IT!
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thegadfly



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Whatthefunk:

The school and my housing accomodations are said to be within sight of the new Saint Mary Hospital. This is in the section of the city that is currently "under construction." I am told it is about 5 minutes by taxi from "downtown" Pohang, or about a 20 minute walk. Both the housing and the school are on or very near Dae Jam Dong.

By boxed in, I mean the fact that I was almost constantly surrounded by very tall buildings. I can not recall seeing more than a few square feet of earth that weren't covered in asphalt or compacted for building. I greeted weeds forcing their way through the cracks as little miracles of nature...don't get me wrong, I LIKE cities...but there were times when I wanted some quiet and some peace and some nature...and that is hard to come by in central Seoul. I am trying something new here....

Yes, I know there is a big steel factory, with the corresponding pollution, but I guess I thought that there would be times, when the wind was blowing in the right direction, when I might smell the sea instead of hot steel and coal...didn't matter the direction of the wind in Seoul, the pollution was ubiquitous....

Again, thanks to all that have taken the time to respond.
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'd say your place of work and residence is more like 10 mins ride downtown... bit longer by bus. Don't forget to add the BS factor Wink

Please tell me it's not Ding Ding Dang Confused

Not even a strong wind is going to clean up Pohang. And they up their emissions during the night by about 40% when the smoke stacks are hidden by the night.

Another good thing is that the winter is much milder there and it rarely snows. It's also not as stifling as Seoul during summer because you get the sea breeze.
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matko



Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Location: in a world of hurt!

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with everything that waterbaby said except the part about taxi drivers!!!

Are you nuts!!!! Pohang taxi drivers are the most racist bunch of freaks I have ever met!!! Maybe it's because I'm a guy though.

Also, I found the pollution to be not as bad as Seoul. I agree with whatthefunk that the sea breaze blows the bad air away.

Alot of the Korean friends that I had there were not born there. They were transfered there because of work (posco). They hated Pohang and thought that it was the armpit of Korea.

The fact that there aren't alot of ex pats there makes everybody alot closer. Had some wicked parties and football games out at the park near the posco workers living area. We were really a close bunch and that is what I remember and cherish the most about the place.

I, like waterbaby, couldn't wait to get out of the place.

I have lived in and taught in 4 countries over the past 8 years and Pohang is at the bottom of the list.

Having said that, I survived and can honestly say.........

"whatever doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger!!!" Wink

Good luck

Ps

Since you have lived in Korea before, maybe it won't be as big a shock to your system. Pm me about where you are going to work. Eventhough I haven't lived there in a long time, I am still in touch with alot of people there and I have the goods on a few of the schools.
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thegadfly



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To Waterbaby:

Thank you for your post -- since you have seen both sides of it, your observations were especially welcome. I had not realized just how bad the air pollution would be in Pohang, and while it isn't a deal breaker, it DOES mean I need to be sure to bring extra allergy meds and stuff for colds.

No, I am not working for one of the larger chains, and I do not have room-mates. I also think I will be able to save more in Pohang than in Seoul, which is also a reason I chose to accept the position...actually, if only half of what I have heard/negotiated turns out to be true, I still have a better position than the average offer on the boards, and if this position is exactly what it seems, I have a really sweet deal. My questions aren't really about WORKING in Pohang...it is about what to expect when I am NOT working....
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whatthefunk



Joined: 21 Apr 2003
Location: Dont have a clue

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What school will you be working for?
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thegadfly



Joined: 01 Feb 2003

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, not Ding Dang Dong, but to be honest, I worked for Wonderland my first year in Korea, and I was even able to enjoy THAT experience. I really think people can make or break their own situations, and while I had to work at being given the respect I felt I deserved, and had to speak up to receive what I had been promised, all in all I got everything Wonderland had promised me (and more, actually). I held up my end of the deal and insisted that management do the same...and learned enough to back up my position instead of just having a hissy fit. The ESL business is a BUSINESS here, so I simply needed to speak the right lingo -- I showed the folks at Wonderland how giving me what I wanted was more profitable (or less costly) than NOT giving me what I wanted...and I had a fine time of it. I prefer NOT to deal with a chain school if I can, but I have taught in US public schools, and I can say that Wonderland was a breeze compared to dealing with administrators in a school in the US...and Wonderland was my worst teaching experience in Korea....
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waterbaby



Joined: 01 Feb 2003
Location: Baking Gord a Cheescake pie

PostPosted: Mon Aug 25, 2003 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, since it looks like you're going... may I suggest that you find your way downtown to the post office and from there it's very easy to find 4 ex-pat bars... first there's The Giant Step in the Private department store... it's on the 5th floor... W3000 for 500cc pots of beer & they have a pool table. Directly across the road from GS is the Hess. Lots of US marines hang out here but the owner is Miss Kim and she's really cool. Had many fun nights there. Just around the corner from the Hess is the very tiny Marlboro bar, run by Tom Cruise and his wife Wink and they are also really lovely people. Then back to the post office and off in the direction of LG 25 and you'll find the HESS 2 bar (was the Whiskiss when I was there but Miss Kim has taken it over now... another pool table).

And that's about it! Laughing
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