BaboShirts.com has all the humor that comes with living and teaching English in South Korea. Now you can wear it on a shirt!
I have discovered an awesome site for Korean students. Lang-8.com! This is a social website like myspace and facebook where you can meet native speakers of any language, submit your Korean journal to native Koreans who will then grade your paper and resubmit it to you. What a wonderful concept!
That morning the unknown was approaching and I could feel the wings of butterflies in my belly. As I went through the rectangular doorway into the school and up the stairs the roar of children grew louder. The smell of bread or cookies baking in the oven. Where did it come from? I could see myself in the granite tile. Rectangular proclamations of triumph and praise hanging on the walls. I hiked up to the third floor. Removing my shoes and putting on red slippers and opening the door. Why was there such a fanfare upon my arrival? Was I a guest in their home? I felt my identity was mistaken. The owner of my school was a happy face and a generous soul. Ready to overlook my faults. She was cheerful and always padded the moment with laughter. Her English was on the level of an infant, but she had plenty of servants to interpret for her. She was the Queen and the school was her kingdom. And I was a diplomat from a far away land read about in books, and seen in movies. It was my first dive into Korea.
James and Jillian were rest stops along the way. Places were I could stop and say, “what is going on? What does this mean? Why do they do this?”. And I would get a Western mind’s explanation. They were my fellow travelers. James was a teacher from Tennessee and Jillian was a blonde from Oregon. James gave me a small explanation of the schedule and a strategy for running the marathon. After the brief in the war room, I was led into a class to observe how things would be conducted.After observing the teacher, it seemed like it would be a lot of fun and easy to manage. After viewing several of these classes, I thought I would go out and explore unnoticed. Soon I found a little monkey swinging on my leg….The morning classes I would be teaching were going to be fun: 6 – 8 year old students with a beautiful assistant helping in each class.
The morning was finished and our supervisor Mary wanted to treat us. Nobly we rode in her car as honored guests. Soon arriving at a Korean BBQ house near my apartment. The restaurant had two sides: Western style tables and Korean style floor tables. I voted Korean style, so we removed our shoes and sat on the square pillows. It was painful sitting with my legs directly under my body. Its a challenge if you have never done it. Sitting on the floor is something Asians do naturally and is a healthy alternative to the chair.Mary called the waitress over and said something in Korean while we waited. Soon an old face came to the table carrying a pink pile of pork and a metal tennis racket. She turned on the gas and we waited for the red glow. Mary laid the pork strips on the round racket as the smell of grilled meat filled the air. Our mouths began watering- we were getting ready to eat Sam-gyup-sal 삼겹살. This popular food is known as pork belly. We took leaves of lettuce, placed a slice of garlic and dab of pepper paste inside followed by the cooked pork and ate like kings. The rice was an excellent compliment. We had seconds and thirds and then everything was gone. I finished it all with a hot glass of water. And like a stuffed turkey trying to stand up, I overcame gravity and balanced my way out the door.
We arrived back at the school and the leg of the race was about to start. I thought it would be similar to what we had done in the morning, but I was simply introduced to the older class, given a book and the door was shut behind me. Standing in a cage surrounded by chimpanzees, my thoughts were replaced with instinct. I would stand my ground until the reinforcements arrived. I looked for the lifeguard hoping she would see me… drowning. So I opened my book and began.
“What is this?! This is a cup!”, I proclaimed, hoping the sound of my voice would spell out authority. Amidst the quiet roar of unfamiliar noises occasionally I was noticed and given a treat. How could they be informed that what I came to bring to them was actually good and they should want it? Hey kid, don’t you know that you’ll grow up someday and have to be responsible and learning to speak my language is good for you?!! No response. This mountain was big. Where was my climbing gear?
Soon the referee burst through the door and sent the fighters to their respective corners. We were given the rules again and then round #2 began. I decided to put pencils in their hands and open their books in front of them, walking each child through the process of learning. I asked a Korean teacher to have them draw their current state of emotion onto a piece of paper. I had taught boys gymnastics before and that was a joy and a challenge, but this was another level of difficulty that I had not encountered. How do you direct them, if they can’t understand what you are saying? Puzzled looks, needing hearing devices. Leaning in to listen to me. Soon breaking focus and continuing down their river of conversations. How could I pull them safely to the shore? This would be a process of learning and trying new methods and making mistakes and repeating them over again. “You can’t succeed until you fail”, that is what they say… when you find yourself in the midst of your problems, don’t leave–there is a solution.
The day was over and I threw the weight off my back. I flew out of that place and we took a deep breath. The smell of cookies. A woman in a cart frying chocolate cream pancakes. How lucky was I? The stress melted with hot brown oozing as I pulled it apart with my teeth. I could eat these forever. After the fourth one I felt sick to my stomach and woke from the dream. ^_^It was good to have James around. He had been there 8 months before Jillian and I had landed. He was our flashlight. He showed us where it was safe to jump in and places we should avoid. Really, the amazing thing about South Korea is the crime rate. It doesn’t exist. Drugs are no where to be found and the culture of family is very strong. Korea is an isolated place, cut off from the big bad world. Its like going back to the 1950’s in America when you could leave your front door unlocked. As we carried on, we found our way to a place called Grand Mart. It was a competitor with other department stores like, E-Mart and Lotte Mart. We wandered in and found interesting things: A happy pig made of jade, a ring with a Buddhist cross, and Korean spam. As well as a Korean tailor, Korean Tony the Tiger and a radio called “Pooty”.
We made our way back outside and continued our conversation about our personal experiences and what had brought us to Korea. It was an exciting time in life. We were living an experience and no matter what the circumstances were, it would not be mundane.
Lets craft a dish our tongues will record in history! Kimchi Jigae 김치찌개!! Its so easy to make and you will never settle for Ramen noodles again! It will also keep you warm in the winter!
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The following ingredients are probably unfamiliar to you, so during the post, I will have photos of the ingredients. I will also include a list of the ingredients written in the Korean language. If you aren’t as gutsy as some, print the out the ingredients in Korean and use it as a cheat sheet. When you arrive at the market, just show someone and they will be more than happy to help you. Korean people can be very endearing and they are some of the most helpful people I have ever met.
Pungent kimchi ……..1.5 small bowls
White rice cake (sliced)…………………. 1 cup
Thick green onion………………………..1 bunch
Minced garlic…………………….. 2 tablespoons
Sesame seed oil…………………. 1 tablespoon
Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)..1 tablespoon (optional)
Jalapeno pepper …………………1 (optional)
Seasoned chili powder:
Chili powder………………………… 3 tablespoons
Minced garlic…………………………… 1 teaspoon
Minced ginger……………………….. 1/2 teaspoon
Meat broth…………………………………….. 4 cups
Ingredients listed in Korean (print them out!)
김치 … 1.5 보시기
돼지고기 … 120g
횐떡 … 1컵
굵은 파 … 1뿌리
다진 마늘 … 1큰술
참기름 … 1 큰술
화학 조미료 … 1 큰술
고춧가루 … 3큰술
다진 마늘 … 1작은술
다진 생강 … 1/2 작은술
육수 … 4 컵
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Cookware and Eating Utensils
Before I send you on a mission to buy ingredients for Kimchi Jjigae, I wanted to give you the chance to really get into the culture, so I listed some items below that are an integral part of Korean cuisine. Most of these items can be found at a wholesale kitchenware store or an E-Mart / Lotte Mart.
Dook-bae-gi 뚝배기 – This is a traditional-style earthen pot used for cooking fiery hot stews. The name is pronounced, “Dook-bae-gi”.
.Frying Pan – A frying pan is only necessary if you choose not to purchase a Dook-bae-gi.
Silverware – A pair of metal chopsticks and one soup spoon per person. I recommend buying at least 4 to 6 if you want to have friends over.Soup Ladel – Necessary for scooping the stew out of the pot and pouring it into your bowl.
Tupperware – One medium sized bowl per person. This is so that you can pour the stew from the Dook-bae-gi into an individual bowl of your own. 6 small bowls for side dishes (various side dishes filled with Sliced Radish Kimchi, Sesame leaves, Jalapeno Peppers in pepper paste, season fish, Lotus root in soy sauce, and Kimchi, respectively. This is the traditional way of eating and sharing a meal). And 2 – 6 metal rice bowls for white rice.Traditional Korean Floor Table 밥상 – Pronounced, “Bap-Sang”, this is the traditional way friends and family eat in Korea; sitting on the floor at a table that is one foot from the ground. Its a fun way to eat sitting on the floor.
Traditional Korean Floor Pillows – Traditional Korean floor pillows are square and come in a bright spectrum of colors. You can find these at a pillow specialty shop or at E-Mart or Lotte Mart.
Gas Range Grill (with gas canister) – This is a portable gas range that you will set on top of the floor table when you are ready to cook. A small can of gas can be plugged into the side of the grill. These are easiest to find at E-Mart or Lotte Mart.
Rice Steamer – What meal in Korea isn’t complete without white Asian rice? These steamers can be found at an E-Mart or Lotte Mart. They will probably run you around $100, but its worth it. And be sure to get a large bag of white rice to cook with. [when using your steamer, take out the metal bowl, put in 2 – 3 cups of rice, fill up the metal bowl with water and massage the rice. Then pour out the water and repeat 2 or 3 times until the rice is thoroughly washed. Then, for example, if you put in 2 cups of rice, fill up the water to the 3 cup level inside the bowl. And for 3 cups of rice, level 4 respectively]
Ingredients for Side Dishes – It is tradition to eat side dishes during the coarse of a Korean meal. You can find a wild assortment of side dishes at a side-dish specialty shop or E-Mart or Lotte Mart. What you choose to put in your side dishes is up to you, so have fun and try new things. But if you would like some ideas, I can offer you some suggestions.
List of common side-dishes (in Korean and English)
깍두기 ….. sliced radish kimchi
맛김치 ….. tasty kimchi
깻잎 ….. sesame leaf
파김치 ….. onion kimchi
총각김치 ….. baby radish kimchi
양념 게장 ….. seasoned raw crab
콩나물 무침 ….. bean sprouts seasoned with vinegar
양념 구이 ….. seasoned roasted fish
연근 조림 ….. boiled lotus root in soy sauce
버섯 들깨 볶음 ….. sauteed mushrooms in parilla seeds
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Locating and Finding a Wholesale Kitchenware Store
“그릇도매” is how “wholesale kitchenware store” reads in the Korean language. It is pronounced, “Guh-rut-do-may”. If you cannot locate one of these stores in your neighborhood, I suggest writing “그릇도매” onto a piece of paper so that you can show it to a Korean person when you venturing out. If you are unable to copy the Korean by hand, copy “그릇도매” using a computer and print it out at a local PC Bang(computer room). If there aren’t any wholesale kitchenware stores near you, go to an E-Mart or Lotte Mart.
[If you want to practice speaking Korean, remember the phrase, “Oh-Dee-Yay-Yo?” It means, “where is it?” When using this phrase, say the place you want to go first or what you are looking for, followed by “Oh-Dee-Yay-Yo?” ]
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Shopping for Ingredients
The open air market is a wonderful place to get authentic Korean ingredients. Locate one in your area and go there often.
Kimchi: when shopping for kimchi, little shops that specialize in Korean side-dishes are perfect. You could go to the local E-mart to get kimchi, but the best quality is found in the small shops. Plus, these shops usually have a large variety of kimchi to select from. However, when making “kimchi jjigae”, its best to use kimchi that has a strong pungent vinegar taste. This enhances the flavor. Just let the shop owner know that you are making “kimchi jjigae” and he will be able to direct you.
Pork: if you can find an open-air market when shopping for meat, great! But, there are also plenty of butcher shops as well. Either lean pork or fatty will work for the dish, it just depends on your preference. I like fatty cuts of meat, because fat always holds more flavor. Simply put the pork in a bowl and mix it with half a cup of oil and gently massage the meat.
White rice cake: There are shops that specialize in making “Ddeok”(떡). “Ddeok” is Korean for “rice cake”. These shops are the places where you will find all kind of varieties of rice cake. Look for the signs that say, “떡“. Ask for sliced ddeok, but if you cannot find sliced ddeok, you can always cut it yourself. Make sure that the ddeok is white.
When Korean Thanksgiving comes around you will find lots of ddeok in the area. Korean Thanksgiving is called “Chu-sock”(추석).
Thick Green Onion/ Garlic/ Ginger/ Jalapeno Pepper / Chili powder: The following items can be found in an open-air produce market. If you are in Korea during the spring or summer time, finding an open-air market should be easy, but in the winter time, its more difficutl. But if you are determined enough, you can find one. When purchasing these items, always examine them beforehand to determine its freshness.
Sesame Seed Oil: Sesame seed oil can come in a small bottle or a large metal can. If you find a large can, it will have a plastic lid on top and writing on the side that says, “참기름”(Cham-gi-rum.) You can find sesame seed oil in a grocery store. Look for an E-Mart, Grand Mart, or a Lotte Mart in your area.Meat Broth: You can easily find a can of meat broth at a local grocer or E-Mart, etc.
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Kimchi: With scissors, cut the kimchi into coarse 2 inch pieces.
White rice cake: Lightly rinse the cake in running water. If the cake is especially hard, soak in lukewarm water until it becomes soft.
Chili Powder: Chop the garlic and ginger until minced. Then mix the minced garlic and ginger into the chili powder until it becomes like a paste.
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Setting the Table
Find a suitable place on your floor to put your table, and set the gas range in the middle of the table and put the Dook-Bae-gi on top of the gas range. Set your medium sized bowl in front of you and place the chopsticks and spoon to the right of your bowl. Put the side dishes to the left and right on the table where you can pick from them while you are eating. Place the Korean floor pillow in the place where you would like to sit.
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Begin by placing the chopped kimchi into the pot, followed by the spicy pepper paste. After this put in the pork, coarsely chopped onions, minced garlic, sesame seed oil and the MSG[optional]. After this, pour in the meat broth until the pot is almost full- about an inch from the top. Every ingredient except the white rice cake. We will save that for last.
Next, bring the stew to a rolling boil. Then decrease gradually until the roll of the boil is slight. Let this continue until the kimchi has become soft and tender. So every once in a while check the kimchi. (It should take the stew around 30 – 45 minutes to cook.) Once the kimchi has tenderized, turn the burner down to low and add rice cake. Let cook for another 10 – 15 minutes. Once the rice cake has softened its ready to eat.
Take your soup ladle, dip it into the pot of freshly cooked Kimchi Jjigae and pour yourself a nice steaming bowl! And pat yourself on the back for a job well done!
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In Korea it is tradition to say, “잘 먹겠습니다” before digging in. This phrase is pronounced, “chal mo-ggess-sum-ni-da” and means, “I will eat well.”
And when you have finished eating, you close by saying, “잘 먹었습니다.” This phrase is pronounced, “chal mo-goss-sum-ni-da” and means, “I ate well.”
Adapted from:괜찮은 찌개 다 들어 있어요! ed. 주부생활
You have probably heard of it, but never thought it was possible for you to actually do it. You desperately wanted to do something exciting like this in your life, but gave up because you didn’t know how. South Korea is one of the easiest places to get started as an English teacher. There is such a demand in this country for the English language that schools are always hiring! It doesn’t even matter if you majored in English Education or not. And it doesn’t matter even if you don’t have the money to buy a plane ticket. Schools in Korea will pay for your airfare and your housing! They will even provide a taxi to pick you up from the airport and take you to your new apartment!
So, have I convinced you to finally go? Okay! Are you a native speaker of English? Were you born in the following countries: USA, Canada, New Zealand, UK, Ireland, South Africa or Australia? Are you in good physical health? Can you pass a Federal Criminal Background Check? Did you graduate from an accredited university with a bachelor’s degree? If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you are good to go! I was an accounting major and had very little experience teaching English. If I can do it, so can you! Give it a try!
There are several avenues to take, but the easiest way to teach English in South Korea is to go through a teaching agency. I will discuss other avenues later on in different posts. But for now, I will take you through the process of applying through an online teaching agency.
One of the best places to find agencies online is through a website called Dave’s ESL Cafe. If you click on this link, in the window that opens you will find a webpage where Korean agencies post ads for jobs that are available. If you click on a job post, you will find the details of the job listed. You will find an email address on this page listed either at the top of the page, or at the bottom of the page. When you have found a job that you like, simply contact the agency through the email provided and send your resume with a professional photograph of yourself. (for guys: wear a suit with a tie and shave your face.) When you send your resume, give a self-introduction and the reason why you want to teach English in South Korea. In a few days you will receive a reply from the agency. After this they will give you a list of things you will need to do.
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1. First go to Dave’s ESL Cafe Korean Job board and apply!
2. Get your passport, if you haven’t done so already! You can complete the application form for your passport online, or you can print out the Form DS-11 and submit the form with the additional required documentation at an acceptance facility near you.
3. You must pass a Federal Criminal Background Check. Go to your local municipality and have a copy of your fingerprints made from both hands. They should be able to provide you with the proper card for fingerprinting. Tell the municipality that the fingerprints are for immigration purposes. Once you have obtained a copy of your fingerprints, get a money order for $18 and make it payable to the US Treasury. Next, write a letter stating that you are requesting a Federal Background Check and that the reason for the background check is for immigration purposes. Also include in the letter the following: “Please authenticate my criminal background check results by placing the FBI seal and the signature of a division official on the results for the purpose of obtaining a Federal Apostille. Thank you.”
Next, on a separate sheet of paper, write your name, phone number and email address and attach it to the fingerprint card. Then, take the letter you have written, the fingerprint card, and the money order and put them inside the manila envelope and address the envelope to:
Attn: Special Correspondence – Mode – D2
1000 Custer Hollow Road
Clarksburg, West Virginia
This process will take around 6 to 8 weeks, so please be patient. If you have any further questions regarding this process you can visit the FBI website directly and have a look around.
Wait for the background check to return in the mail. If you passed the background check now you are ready apply for the Apostille request. You will mail the background check to:
Secretary of StateAuthentications Unit
1019 Brazos, B-13
Austin, TX 78701
(Walk-in Service is also provided Monday – Friday 8:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.)
When mailing the background check, the following information must be provided: (1)The name of the country where the document will be recorded, (2)the statutory fee of Fifteen Dollars ($15.00) per certificate or apostille. A check or money order drawn on a U.S. Bank and made payable to the Secretary of State of Texas must be submitted with the documents. American Express, Discover, Mastercard and Visa cards are also accepted, (3)a self-addressed, stamped envelope or pre-paid overnight airbill/envelope.
4. You must order a copy of your diploma from the university that you graduated from. Contact the registrars office of your university and ask them how you can obtain a new copy of your diploma. They will more than likely direct you to their website and tell you to print out a form and then mail the form in to them. When you print this form, look for a place in the form where it says, “Requesting Apostille/Notary: Yes____ No_____.” Enter, “Yes.” (If this question is not present on the form, personally make a note requesting an apostille/notary.) In addition, request that the diploma be forwarded to (your state’s) Secretary of State’s office for the purpose of obtaining an “Apostille.” In the form there should be place where you can include the Secretary of State’s office address. (This office will be in the state in which you are residing in.) An “Apostille” is like a notary, but used for immigration purposes. Once you have filled out the form, you must get a money order in the amount requested in the form. After this, mail the envelope to the address of your university. This should be listed in the form as well. It will take approximately 4-8 weeks for you to receive your diploma, so please be patient and get started right away!
5. You must get 5 passport sized photos of yourself made. Go to a Walgreens, CVS pharmacy or a place that develops photos and you can have these photos taken and developed immediately.
6. Mailing required documents to Korea for Visa processing. Once you have received everything back in the mail, lets run down the list one more time to make sure you have everything:
a). Apostilled copy of your original diploma (you have to have your original copy notarized by a public notary first and then have your notarized diploma apostilled by the Secretary of State.)
b). Apostilled Federal Background Check. (Federal Background Checks expire after 6 months.)
c). 4 passport sized color photos.
d). Your formal resume with address and contact information.
e). Health Statement (fill out the health form you will receive from the agency, a medical check will be provided by the school once you have arrived in Korea.)
f). A copy of the ID page in your passport. (the page in your passport where your photo is.)
g). Two signed copies of your employment contract. (provided by the agency through email.)
If you have everything above, you are ready to mail it!
7. Mail the required documents to the address provided by your agency.
8. E2 Work Visa processing at the immigration office in South Korea. While you are waiting, the agency in Korea will be processing your E2 work visa at the immigration office in South Korea. This process takes 7 to 10 days to complete and after that you will receive your E2 Work Visa Issuance Number via email.
9. Go to the Korean embassy in the State you reside in. You will bring your passport and E2 Visa Issuance number as well as some additional documents. Before making a trip to the Korean embassy, call them to find out what additional documents you need to bring. (sometimes they are subject to change.)a). One completed Visa application (provided by the agency).
b). One passport sized photo (3.5 x 4.5 with white background).
c). Original Passport.
d). Photocopy of passport ID page.
e). $45 Visa Fee. (Cash of money order).
f). Visa Issuance confirmation number.
g). Sealed University Transcripts (possibly not necessary.)
10. Have an interview in the Korean Consulate.
11. Get on the plane. You will receive an e-ticket from your agency with boarding times and date of departure.
Get packed! You’re going to Korea!