This is a touchy subject. At the same time though, it’s just reality.
In the Korean ESL job market for private academies, or hagwons, there’s a lot of negative press. And for good reason. You don’t have to look far to hear of the countless horror stories of bright-eyed, hopeful teachers excited to go to Korea being mistreated in many ways. It serves no purpose getting into the details as I’m sure you’ve heard the same stories that I have.
In addition to the working conditions of some of these schools post-hiring, the recruiting process has left multitudes of people stunned and offended.
There are numerous recruiters and private academies who make distinctions based on ethnicity.
This also is not a new concept. It’s a very unfortunate aspect of job acquisition in South Korea, and it won’t be changing any time in the foreseeable future.
This is Asia, and though the global community has become smaller in some ways thanks to technology, it remains “the same as it ever was” in many other ways. This includes their perception of other nations and ethnicities around the world.
I have been contacted through YouTube and Facebook by folks who feel they are at a disadvantage in comparison to their white counterparts. Well, they are at a disadvantage. This should neither surprise nor insult you.
It is critical that anyone interested in obtaining an ESL job first come to grips with the fact that hagwons are business entities. Their #1 goal is to turn a profit. To that end, they are going to hire based on the factors that will fill the most seats and generate the most profit. This includes the RACE of applicants.
Allow me to veer off momentarily to draw an analogy.
I love judo. Tens of millions of people around the world love judo too. It is arguably one of the top three practiced martial arts in the world. That means it is being practiced in the greater majority of all nations globally. Not too long ago, judo was introduced to the Olympic Games and it was during this time that Japan monopolized the medal table. It is their sport after all.
However, it didn’t take long for other countries to come up the curve and turn out champions of their own. Nowadays, champions are hitting the mats from dozens of countries. Yet, no matter how many champions France, Brazil, Central Asia, Europe, North and South Korea turn out, when Japan speaks – people listen.
It doesn’t matter that Russia dominated the last Olympic Games. It doesn’t matter that a French player is one of the most dominant heavyweights of all time, and still winning. Many countries can demonstrate the technicalities of judo just as well as any Japanese can today.
But we all LOVE when a Japanese player does it!! It’s just so…Japanese. So…judo. So authentic. So much better!
Is it? Of course not.
But just look at the view counts on YouTube. Read the forums. Watch people’s EYES! They all love when someone Japanese performs a judo technique. It’s almost as if it’s still the only way to learn judo – even today. In most cases, if people are going to dish out MONEY to go to a clinic, they prefer it be with someone Japanese.
Back to hagwons…
I’m sure I’ll be impacted by the phenomenon someday, but I don’t pay mind to it. People from Asia always say to me, “Oh, your father is American. That’s why you’re tall”.
LOL! And “American” means white to them. There’s no distinction or preemptive question.
I’m tall because my genetic code was written by a gracious developer. I’m taller than 95% of white males in this world. Still, they say it. Still, they want English demonstrated by someone white; as they understand the language to be originated by white folk. Hey, I still love watching the Japanese perform judo more than others.
It is what it is.
How does it go? Something like this…
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.”