More thoughts about Mojo

I just got off the phone with Dan, who I met at the GEPIK orientation, and who has been my shoulder to cry on for the past few months regarding trying to do THE BEST JOB WE CAN DO under EXTREME conditions here in Korea, and he reminded me that I still have some mojo.

Earlier, as a result of my last post, some caring and conscientious reader had alerted me to some unfortunate residue from my previous struggles fighting attempted contract fraud.  It turns out that there exists in Korea a network of unscrupulous and unethical exploiters of foreigners who pass along unsubstantiated information about people they have issues with.  It’s called a blacklist, and it’s a very fascist method employed to ruin the careers of people who do not tow their company line.  It has nothing to do with skills or crimes – it is instead based upon the unsubstantiated vilification of individuals, typically innocent, due to vindictiveness, pettiness, and power mongering.  These lists, closed to the general public, deny the accused of any opportunity to vindicate themselves and are a private ring of libel and slander.  These types of lists have, since the exposure of red-baiting during the McCarthy era in the United States, been outlawed as unethical.


What’s really sad and disappointing is the fact that the public schools also participate in this blacklisting, in collusion with members of the group of recruiters linked to below.  It’s shameful.  And again, disappointing.

I used to read horror stories on ESL teacher forums and found them unbelievable.  But these stories are, unfortunately, very very real.

The entire situation made me question the state of civil rights and ethics in Korea.  It was truly a black day for me. I sent out a distress signal to my friends, associates, and colleagues.  Interestingly, the response from nationals and long-time residents was something on the lines of, “yeah, that’s just the way Korea is” and “that’s just part of the Korean package.”  There seems to be a sad resignation that dirty politics and corruption rules the day.  On the other hand, these responses were also followed by a sincere belief that all was never lost.  I don’t buy the dismissal that this is just Korean culture.  Just like Korean War Baby has said, when the laws change, society changes.  These underhanded practices may reflect parts of Korean society today, but they can change.

Whatever I lack in terms of political savvy, I know I make up for in personal integrity and commitment to living an ethical and honorable life. I have to believe that not all of Korea operates in such a dirty, under-handed way.  If there is one person who came to Korea to do right by Korea, it is me.  If there is one person who wants to lift up the futures and fortunes of Korean citizens, it is me.  And this is not done by seeing injustice and unethical practices and allowing them to continue.

Until Korea can ferret out these unethical practitioners and clean up their ethics, they will never be taken seriously in the court of world opinion.  And I want that.  I really do.  I want to be proud to be Korean.  Just like I tell my students – what you do or don’t do reflects upon me and all Asians in the world.  Koreans must find their way back to true honor and value that above saving face or manipulating outcomes.  Only then will Korea shake the reputation of being dishonest businessmen.  And Korea can not enter the global world as long as they hold onto racism.  And that includes reverse racism.  I must break through this glass ceiling, because adoptees are just as foreign as white foreigners, and just as skilled at our imposed now native languages.

Most Koreans hate the social situation today and want it to change.  And because this is popular opinion, I believe it will, eventually, come to pass.  We need to kill the resignation and instill hope.  Korea sure could use a Korean Obama about now…they adore Obama, btw.

In reviewing my situation, I have come to several conclusions:

  • 40+ students in the public school classrooms is 10+ students too many, so I am not sad to step down to a smaller class size where real attention can be given the students and I can develop a real relationship with them.
  • My skills are much better served in the pre-school to kindergarten age group or the university and adult age groups.  I have amazing classes with small groups of advanced grade 1 high school students and adults, and I provided calm yet intellectual stimulus to my own two precocious children who have grown into fine, well-rounded adults, so I also appreciate the youngest students.  Both of these populations are open and receptive, which makes me love my job.
  • the black list of participating large recruiters is of small consequence, and I don’t want to work with people who engage in such unethical practices anyway.  As listed on their website, they’ve actually provided a great filter to screen themselves out.  In essence, they’ve blacklisted themselves:
  • The jobs for my availability are only beginning to be posted, and I will have more opportunities soon.
  • Dan reminded me that losers here manage to market themselves.  I am not a loser, and I can find creative ways to market my skills too.

There are a couple more months before I need to really start worrying.  In the meantime, I just have to believe – because I care about this place and these people.

What more could you want in an English teacher?

3 thoughts on “More thoughts about Mojo

  1. hi. came across your blog through a link on a site that had to do with koreans and adoption (no idea which one).

    felt compelled to post because of your positive spin on korea. i’m not even korean and i feel the same way. all the BS about the misbehavior being ‘Korean culture’ is just that…BS. what if we said the backbiting mindset in hollywood was just ‘American culture’? God help us! lol.

    korea will change. it has too. this country can’t keep shutting people out literally and figuratively. between ‘brain drain’ and a low birthrate, something has to change!

    good luck to you in your journey. i enjoy your writing. :D

  2. Thanks for the comments!

    It’s interesting how I speak to my friends and family yet meet new people too. Mostly good people. Pleased to meet you!

    Good comment about back-stabbing Hollywood – just goes to show how counter-productive and wrong it is to pin the vile behavior of some on an entire culture. Society and culture have two totally different definitions. I love Korean culture. They’ve been through a lot and the learning curve is steep. Society just has to catch up, is all.

    And part of that is by dispelling the labels that have been pinned on Americans as well – we are not all egoists and capitalist pigs. We value civil rights, but just because we care about the individual does not mean we don’t care about society. I find myself having to explain these concepts every day. And I think it’s so, so valuable that each one of us can show Koreans that xenophobia cuts them off from new ways of being that are really not so awful. We have to show them that in a global world, we should all work towards the enlightened society.

    Every single Korean I work with who witnessed my contract battle told me, “You’ve really taught us something. We CAN change things.” This current setback might be proof that nothing changed. But my response to this current situation can also show that there are other ways, so that is what I must do. Hopefully, the powers that be will make this a positive outcome for me and those Koreans following my story.

    A major hurdle to change is Koreans believing these things are part of Korean culture too. One response to my recent struggles was, “you should have been taught more about our culture.” Of course that is true and I am guilty of being idealistic. BUT – it’s not the culture which needs to change – the culture needs to be preserved. It’s society that needs to change. 500 years of repression affects culture, yes, but legislation and protection of civil rights changes society and allows people to enjoy their culture.

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