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This is Korea...

Monday, January 19th, 2009

This is Korea...

When we first started looking at teaching English in South Korea, we didn't know what to expect. We knew that Korea was a developed country but we had never really heard much about it except for stories about the Korean War. The mystery was compounded by things we read in our "guidebook." We had no idea what kind of things we could or could not find here. I (Lee) at least decided to come with caution but also being ready for some adventure. Our experience here thus far has definitely proven interesting.
Korea is actually not all that different from the U.S.; well at least from my perspective. So far, the only real difficulty has been the language barrier and even that seems to fade with time. I walk down the street and I forget that I can't read the signs or even that I have no idea what people are saying to me.
I keep expecting to see things that are really exotic but I never seem to find anything that pops out at me. I guess Korea, like most countries, has different cultures for different "audiences." There is the local culture that, frankly, we just can't access. Then there is the tourist culture that we have seen somewhat but we have tried to avoid because we don't like being "tourists." I also feel like there is this entire subculture for the "oegugin" or foreigners. We know were a lot of neat places are but we still don't have "the know" on Korea.
At least for me, my experience here can be summed up in two ways. First of all, I think that many of the things that foreigners initially find intriguing has kind of lost its luster so to speak. The longer I spend in Korea the less I'm charmed by things that, in the beginning, seemed very exciting. Secondly, there seems to be a lot of things that Korea has to offer but I just can't access. Either I don't know where it is or I can't get there. Not knowing Korean, at least in my mind, is a handicap to finding the really awesome things in Korea. Having to work also puts a damper on things. Don't let me fool you, we have an awesome work environment and schedule but we do have to work.
In summary, we are caught somewhere between tourist and local, somewhere between McDonald's and Lou and Perry's (that's for my boy Zach). This place is not a bad place to be but it is at times frustrating.

P.S. This is a blog from Lee. Nicki may be able to add better information.
Lee and Nicki   Monday, January 19, 2009
Have you ventured into the countyside to visit small villages? My daughter was born in Korea outside of Seoul. I've always wanted to take her on a heritage tour, but she really has no interest.
Leslie   Monday, January 19, 2009
We have been to one village called Chuncheon. Other than that, we have stayed in mostly larger areas. If you daughter becomes interested, I think that a heritage tour sounds great.
Lee and Nicki   Tuesday, January 20, 2009
You're on target with you're assessment. I'm sure you're discovering something new about Korea every day, no matter how small. All these build up. Don't be despondant about not having 'the Korea'. Not having the language is a big hindrence, and all the writing is in a strange and different alphabet which makes it even more difficult to get by.

Not sure if you got the opportunity to return home, but you'll see your hometown in a whole different perspective when you do so.

"Not knowing Korean, at least in my mind, is a handicap to finding the really awesome things in Korea. Having to work also puts a damper on things. Don't let me fool you, we have an awesome work environment and schedule but we do have to work."

too right. Having to work uses up too much time to do intersting things . I feel the same way, I fell into the trap of expecting everything to happen at once , but just got to be patient and let the country appear to you gradually. once I started moving around it took away all the anticipation about thinking 'what lies beyond'?

you're doing fine.
talkswithstrangers   Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Hey sweetie I am soo proud of both of you! Praying for you!
Amy Garrett   Sunday, April 17, 2011
You guys are both amazing and brave for taking on a challenge like this. I think in the end it will give you both a edge that most other teachers in your field will not have. Good Luck! If you have time, here are the links to your 2nd cousins websites I made for them:
James is really into trains and Nick is into trees.
Here is my site, I figured it you might like this little piece of the U.S.A.
Chris Minnella   Friday, June 17, 2011
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