My Racist Experience Teaching English in Korea

My Racist Experience Teaching English in Korea

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So as you guys can see, it’s kind of a rainy day outside, not a really great day to go vlogging, so I figured in today’s video I would do a story time vlog kind of thing with you guys. You guys seemed to really enjoy my last story time video when I told you about how I dated a gold digger when I first came to Korea, so I figured: what better way to follow up with that story than do a story about how my teaching experience was as a teacher in South Korea? Now this story basically is a follow-up, well not really, I mean it takes place it interlapse with my last story time video when i dated a gold digger because both of these start at the time that I first got to Korea. Before we begin this story you’ve probably already read the title and I just want to let you guys know that there is a happy ending and luckily it all worked out better than I could have imagined. I was very lucky, in this kind of situation and and I was very fortunate that my situation, you know, cleared up and I was able to get things resolved in the way that they did. However, I will never take my situation for granted because there are still, and there always will be, other people that have gone through what I’ve gone through and they didn’t even find a way out and they had to continue being in that situation But yeah, without further ado, let’s get into this story time vlog. So, rewind about two years ago, you know, around the same time that my last story time vlog took place. I was prepping myself to go to South Korea for the first time to visit my mother’s country. To be quite honest, I wasn’t planning to go to Korea at all until I actually went into university. You see, during my elementary, middle school, and high school days I was one of the only, like literally, only Asians in my entire school. So, because of that, I really didn’t grow up with any Asian influence or learning the language or, you know, have any interest in general in my Korean side. As I’ve said before in previous videos, my mother did try to teach me Korean and I did learn little phrases and little words here and there as I was growing up, but, just like her trying to teach me piano, I didn’t want to do it, I had no interest, I ended up quitting. That’s just one of the many things that I regret, now as an adult than when I was a kid. So that’s a little lesson for you guys, okay?, if your mother or father tries to teach you, eh, a skill that you see professionals doing, you know, maybe think twice about skipping it. Anyways, fast-forward to sophomore year, I started to do more mingling and hanging out with more kids and I started to hang out with people from other schools and, you know, go to different clubs and events from, you know, other organisations. I really started to spread out and hang out with, you know, different Asian people and get exposed to these cultures that I never had a chance to, growing up in a predominantly white neighbourhood. So I started going out to ASA Events, which was Asian Student Association Events, KSA, Korean Student Association Events. I started to make Chinese friends, Japanese friends, Korean friends, Filipino friends, Indian friends, basically people from all over the world and, honestly, I really enjoyed it. So it was because of that part of my life where I really started to experience different cultures, that I really started to get interested in my own. So anyways, fast-forward a couple of years later, I am now almost done with my senior year of college and, as I said before, I was a Film Major, and just because we have a degree does not guarantee you a job. And unfortunately for me and my peers, a lot of people that had graduated from my department weren’t very lucky with getting jobs in the industry. So I thought about Korea again and I told myself: “You know what? Why don’t I just go to Korea for a year, get an English teaching job and just this way, at least, I’ll have some time to think about what I want to do. I’ll have some money saved up, and on top of that, I’ll be able to experience my mother’s culture, maybe learn a little bit of the language. Plus, having teaching experience is always a good thing to add to your résumé.” So that was that. I decided to save up money after I graduated, I worked two part time jobs all through college and I continued to work them until almost the last week of when I went to Korea. Now there’s several different ways you can get an English teaching job in Korea. The most common way, probably, is to apply for the Epic Program, which I’m not sure is still as big as it was. I heard the government’s been cracking down on it here in Korea and kind of, like, dispersing it ..something to do with the program losing funding. I’m not too sure because I actually didn’t do that program. What I did was the other way and the other way is to just simply search online for a job through a recruiter. There’s a lot of different websites to use, but the one that I used and the one that I recommend and has been a big one for a long time, is “DavesESLcafe.com”. Now originally I wanted to teach in Seoul and I was looking for job listings in Seoul but, honestly, Seoul is a big place that everyone wants to go to and it was not easy to find a job there. Now, I got many different offers back. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any directly in Seoul, but I did get one that was fairly close, which is a city called Gimpo. And I checked them out but I told myself: “Wow! This is actually pretty close to Seoul! Okay, maybe I won’t live in Seoul, but at least I’ll live close to it, right?” Then the other offer I got was in the city of Busan. Now that is the second largest city in South Korea and it’s a little bit farther away, it’s about, like, a four hour train ride. So I was kind of leaning more towards on living in Gimpo, you know, but then I did a little bit more research and it turns out, yes, on the map, technically, Gimpo is closer to Seoul, however the school that I would be teaching at was very very very far north of Gimpo, so far north that, literally there was a river right here and my town was going to be right here and across this river, if I looked across of it, it was a thin river, across that river was North Korea. So I told myself: “Yeah, you know what? I don’t think I really want to teach there.” Plus, I checked, like, the subway routes – there are none for Gimpo – I checked the bus routes and, you know, how long it would take to drive from where I was going to teach in Gimpo and to get to Seoul, because I did have penpals in Seoul that I wanted to meet up with. And, yeah, it was not very practical. It would take, like, to get from where I was going to be teaching in Gimpo just to get into the entrance way, the barrier of Seoul. So once I found that out, I decided: “You know what? I’ll just live in Busan!” You know what? I’ll live in the second largest city, I can take the KTX speed train all the way to Seoul, if I ever want to go there, and maybe I can go there on the weekends or something, I don’t know. So I called up my recruiter and I told them I’ll accept the job and that was that. Now, as I was applying for this Busan job, there’s a couple of things that I just want to let you guys know. My recruiters were a little bit nice but then also a little bit shady at the same time. You see, after I graduated from uni, I took some time off and I actually studied and got a teaching certificate, like a TEFLA certificate, for the exact purpose of teaching in South Korea. This way, one of the requirements, which is not only a bachelor’s degree, but also something that helps, is a TEFLA certificate. This way I could hopefully increase my chances of getting a job as well as maybe get a little bit of a bump in pay. Just one of the things that kind of irked me was, when I brought this up, to that recruiter who got me that job in Busan, I was like: “Hey, you know, I do have a teaching certificate, you know, it’s a TEFLA. I did a 140 hours, that’s well above the minimum of 120. So I just want to talk about the pay, you know, instead of this much how about a little bit higher, like, this much?” I did my research and what I was asking for was pretty reasonable for the pre-requisites that I already had. So I just figured, you know, give me a little bit more than what what you would pay someone who only has, like, a college degree and that’s literally all you need. But yeah, as soon as I brought that up, their mood, their tone totally changed on me. They were like “Yeah, that’s not gonna be possible”, “No, it’s either this much or we’re gonna have to find someone else, so it’s either take it or leave it” “Yeah, we’re not gonna negotiate that”. And I was like “Wow, tough crowd, okay, *calm thyself*” At that point, honestly, I was in no position, really, to be choosy because, you know what? time was going by. If I didn’t get a job, you know, this term, I would have to wait months until next term to even start looking. Now, aside from my résumé, I also had to send in photos to the director of the school that I was deplying for, so she did see what I looked like before she hired me. We’ve gone over this, guys, multiple times, okay? Whether you guys think I look more Asian or more White or 50/50 or what. If they’re asking for pictures but they don’t question my identity, I don’t think it’s really my fault. So the director’s name was Jenny and she’s, you know, like a middle aged woman who speaks fluent English as well as Korean, so I did get to speak to her on the phone. At that point she had seen my pictures and she just wanted to basically gauge my English skills and, you know, what I sounded like as a native speaker. We spoke for, like, 10 or 15 minutes and she basically just heard my voice and that was it. She had already seen my pictures, ‘allegedly’, and she said: “Oh, you have a screen writing degree, that’s cool, you know, I think you would be a very good fit to teach at my school. We’ll set everything up and we’ll see you in Korea”. I was, like, alright, sounds good, I’ll see you then. So that was that. I got my plane ticket, I got all my stuff together, I said goodbye to my family and friends and I hopped on a plane to South Korea. Jenny had a driver come pick me up from the airport and he basically took me to meet up with Jenny as well as one of my co-workers who was from America as well. And she was from Georgia, I think, and we’re just going to call her… Michaela, yeah, let’s go with that. I don’t want to use any real names, okay? Anyways, Jenny treated me, as well as Michaela, to dinner that night and she, basically just told me a little bit about the teaching job. She said, you know what I mean, just, “We’ll do some training for you. You’re going to meet the guy who’s going to be leaving soon. He’ll be training you, you’ll meet him tomorrow and just follow his lead and, you know, even what you’re wearing is just fine, there’s no uniform, no dress code” And it all sounded pretty chill, pretty laid back. Now, I wasn’t teaching at a public school, something you guys should know. I was actually at a private school, otherwise called a Hagwon in Korean. Basically, in Korea, most students go to school during the day and then afterwards, their parents pay excessive extra money for them to go to private academies directly after school. So it’s basically, like, they go to two schools everyday. Anyways, so, the next couple of days go by, I meet the guy who’s training me and ,you know, he’s from Ireland and he’s a pretty cool guy and he’s leaving in like a month, so I have one month to get this down. And that first month, you know, went pretty smoothly. You know, the guy taught me the basics, he taught me, you know, what to do in the class room, you know like, what these lesson plans are, he told me how to kind of deal with the kids, you know, how to make them settle down, how to bribe them with candy. And, yeah, my first month went by and everything was going pretty swell. During that first month I had to fill out these lesson plans everyday. Basically, what they were was, you know, little write out sheets where you had to entail what you were going to teach that class, how you were going to teach it and how you planned on getting your lesson across to the students. After you finished your training, you’re typically not really supposed to fill out the lesson plans anymore because, I mean, they’re already kind of repetitive as it is. I mean I’m basically writing the same kind of formulas, the same kind of teaching strategies every day. The guy who trained me told me that you shouldn’t have to fill out the lesson plans after you finished the training. And my other co-worker Michaela, she said that she didn’t have to do the lesson plans at all. However, for me, Jenny wanted me to continue making lesson plans even after I completed my training and, actually, this went on for months, that I still had to make these lesson plans. So because I had to make these lesson plans every day and I never got a break from them, I had to come to work 2 hours early every day. And everyone else who worked there, they only had to come to school an hour early. So that was something that always bothered me from the beginning and eventually got worse over time. Fast-forward a little bit to month two. Now this was around the time that I had just broken up with that gold digger girl that I had dated before and I was really starting to branch out, you know, go to language exchanges, make new friends, meet new people and hang out. And I had also upgraded my wardrobe a little bit. You see, when I first got to Korea my wardrobe was pretty Americanized. You know, I wasn’t really sure about the Korean fashion trends. However, after I went out and mingled a little bit and I got some new fashion sense from my friends, I updated my wardrobe and I looked, you know, I think, pretty stylish. Or, as my director would say,
I looked ‘pretty Korean’. One time I came to work, kind of dressed nicely. You know, I was just wearing jeans but I was also wearing a blazer Now I figured, there was no dress code So, I mean, like, it’s not exactly, like, you could look worse for looking good, right? But as I walked into the office that day, you know, the teachers’ office, Jenny was there making some copies for a class that she had to teach and she did this kind of, like, head-to-toe thing and she kind of looked at me and she said: “Ah, so Terry eh…yeah…I..like your jacket, is that new?” I was like, “Oh yeah, I just went out and bought it with my friends the other day and I just figured I would wear it to work.” She was like “Oh yeah..yeah..looks nice *fake smile noise* you look like a.. Korean actor” and I was like “Oh thanks! I mean, I don’t think so but thank you” and she was like “yeah *fake laughter*” And it was really weird. It’s like she was complimenting me but the face she was making and the tone she was using was, like, more of an insult. I wasn’t exactly sure what she meant by that or what that was even about, but I just brushed it off and went about my business. So that is where I first started to kind of realize that, you know, there was a problem between me and Jenny and, you know, our relationship was kind of starting to decline. I wasn’t exactly sure what it was at that time but I could tell she didn’t like me. A couple of days went by and I was teaching one of my classes and, if you guys don’t already know, there is CC TV in every single class room in most schools in Korea. Because oftentimes the kids will complain to their moms and their moms will complain to the director of the school and then they’ll demand, like, “Ey, let me see the CC TV like, was that teacher being mean to my kid?! You know, why did you give me an F? What was going on? Now, from what I know, I don’t think the CC TV is supposed to be able to record audio, from what I know and from what I’ve been told, but I might be wrong. However, in Jenny’s school, the school that I was working at, it actually had a microphone, like, right next to the camera and I thought that was normal but one day, when I was teaching one of my classes, and my students were kind of rowdy and they weren’t really listening to what I was saying. Next thing I know the door opens up and it’s Jenny standing there and she’s like “Hey, Terry, can I… can I talk to you for a sec?” I’m, like, “Yeah, sure.” I was, like, “Alright everybody, get back to your book work, I’ll be right back.” So Jenny walks me down the hall and we go to her office and she says “Ah, yeah, I’ve just been watching you teaching and, um yeah, I just want to show you right here” and, basically, she was watching me on the CC TV and, literally, she has like a speaker system set up right here to listen to exactly what everyone is saying. And, you know, it wasn’t that bad, but she basically told me “Oh yeah, like, Timothy over there, you know, over there you can see he’s, like, on his phone secretly and, um, these kids, you know, are talking in the back. I think you have to really like make them listen more.” So she was giving me a little bit of feedback which is totally understandable. The only thing that was kind of difficult at that time was that the students in my school at that time were very very difficult to manage. Like, just looking back on it now, I’m already getting anxiety from the classes and some of the students that I had to deal with at that school. But I could totally understand where Jenny was coming from. She wanted me to take more control of the students and she wanted me to, you know, bring the hammer down a little bit and control them. But it was at that point where I started to realize that Jenny was kind of ‘spying’ on me. Now this turned out to be the first of many times where Jenny would be watching me through the CC TV and just, literally, sitting in her office, listening to every word I’m saying and then one thing will lead to another, you know, one student does something or she doesn’t like the way I’m teaching, she would come in through that door and she would take me out to her office and say “Hey, you need to do a better job on this” or “Hey, I don’t think this lesson really works well with the class” Basically, it turned into this kind of thing where almost every other day, she was pulling me out of the class and yelling at me almost for something that I was doing wrong in her eyes. Of course I was very respectful because this job was my lifeline I didn’t want to show any direspect and I was very grateful that she accepted me into this job in the first place. But when this kind of thing dragged on for over three months and it was still happening and I literally would change everything she told me to change and improve anything she told me to improve and fix anything that she told me to fix you know, if that keeps happening, then, I figure, something is really wrong. Jenny was countlessly pulling me out of the class room to talk to me and watching me – every move I make – relentlessly through the CC TV. It was getting to the point where I was, like, literally scared to start teaching certain classes because those classes would always end with me getting spoken to by her either in the class or sometimes she would drag me out and talk to me. Honestly, I understand that she wants me to improve but at the same time, it’s not really good if the director or the principal is constantly taking the teacher out of the class to speak to them while the class is still going on. I mean you got to think about what is that saying to the students? It’s probably teling the students, like, “Ha ha, he got in trouble” or ” “Oh oh, he did something wrong.” So it doesn’t really help me as a teacher to get this image where I am the person in charge of the class room if that is constantly happening. And then something else starts to happen. Normally we teach 5 classes a day , me, Michaela, the other foreigner teacher, as well as the two Korean teachers, we all teach about 5 classes a day. And just about every month, you know, the schedule switches up a little bit and your classes from this time on this day change to this time on this day. So everything shifts a little bit but you still teach only 5 classes. However, when I got my new schedule instead of 5 classes I now had to teach 7 to 8 classes on certain days. So basically, when you look at it in retrospect, not only was I coming in to work 2 hours early, on top of that, instead of having an hour and a half break, which is what I typically had between, you know, my 3 classes and my 2 classes later at the end of the day, I now only had 30 minutes in between 5 classes in a row that I would have to teach as soon as I got to school and then a 30 minute break and then 2 1-hour-long classes that I would end the day with. Alright, so let’s analyse my situation. It doesn’t sound that bad, right? Well let’s take a look at it. Instead of having to come one hour early like everyone else you have to come to work 2 hours early. Instead of spending the time that you come to work early for on research, or doing something else or just prepping for your class, you have to spend half of it working on these lesson plans that you’ve already been filling out since day one and that you really can’t improve upon any more than you already have. You’re also being watched on CC TV every single day, every single class, half of the time you’re being pulling out of that class and basically shamed in front of your students and everyone knows or suspects that you, as a teacher, did something wrong. Your schedule has now also changed from 5 classes a day to 7 or 8 depending on the day. And instead of getting an hour and half break where you can have some free time and actually go out and have a decent meal, you now only have 30 minutes which literally only entitles you enough time to run to the convenience store, grab a kimbap or, like, a little tiny snack and then run back to school. Now this is basically everything negative that was happening to me but I didn’t really explain, like, my interactions that went on with Jenny at the time. Now, I had always kept my cool when I was speaking to her and, you know, just how I was raised. I was always taught to respect my elders. Now, I shared with my co-worker Michaela, I told her how I was feeling and what she thinks I should do in this kind of situation. And she basically told me “Well, why don’t you talk to Jenny about it you know, let her know how you’re feeling and maybe she’ll lighten up on you:” So, one day before work had started, I was a little bit early and I decided to, you know, knock on her door and talk to her in person about how I was personally feeling. I felt neglected and I felt outcasted at the same time. You know, this was supposed to be an experience for me, this was supposed to be a fun time in my life. I was supposed to be enjoying this job or at least getting a good experience out of it and so far, yeah, I was going out, I was making friends, you know, I was getting in touch with my Korean side. I was picking up Korean language, however, it was exactly because of that I was actually getting treated the way I was. I told her, you know like, “the lesson plans, you know, it’s been 3 months, like, I know how to do them by now, I mean does it really make sense for me to continue doing them?” also “I’m coming in to work 2 hours early still, I mean my days are going on 10 or 10 and a half hours long. On my lunch break Idon’t even have time for a snack now. I’m wondering, like, …. do you have a problem with me?” You know, that moment Jenny actually opened up a lot and actually kind of outbursted at me. She basically said “Oh well, Terry, you don’t really have a reason to complain, I mean I spent so much money, you know, getting you a nice apartment to stay here, and I also paid for you plane ticket to come here. I gave you a job. You know, it’s not really a good cultural thing to talk back to your supervisors. Okay, first I just want to point out that my apartment was not super nice, okay? It was just a studio. It was literally a one-room apartment which, yes, was a new building, but it’s not like it was a really fancy two-bedroom condo or anything like that, okay? So I don’t know what she was getting on. Plus, the guy who taught before me had an even bigger apartment from what he told me. Anyways, after she said that, honestly, I was triggered. You know, and I knew, like, this is not right, like, this is effed up. I’m a human being too. I came all this way from America to teach at your school. Why are you treating me like this? And I, I was like telling her, like, I’m trying my best here, I’m trying my hardest and anything you’ve told me to fix or to stop doing or to start doing, I’ve done it. Honestly, like, Jenny, do you have a problem with me personally? I mean, if that’s how you feel, then maybe I should seek employment somewhere else if that’s the case. It was at that moment that I almost stopped breathing and I was like, jeez, what the heck did I just say? I just offered to basically quit because of the way I was being treated, like, dude, Terry you’re an idiot .
(nah you’re not Cherry) This job is your lifeline, you know, if you quit this job, like, what are you going to do? You gotta leave Korea, what’s going to happen? But then the other side of me was saying “NO! Stand up for yourself! Stand up for what you believe in and being treated as an equal person!” And then, to my surprise, Jenny responded by saying “Oh yeah, Terry, actually I’m glad you brought that up, you know, actually yeah, you’re right. I do think it would be good if you found another job, you know? I, honestly, I don’t think it’s working out very well here, so I’m glad you said that, yeah, that’s actually, that’s a good idea.” I was honestly a little bit surprised at first when I heard her saying this but then the more I thought about it, the more I realized that she was kind of egging me on to have this discussion with her, to get to this point. Because technically, I never did anything wrong and I didn’t break any of the rules and there was no reason that she could actually just fire me or get rid of me. However, if she made my life a living hell and gave me every reason to quit, then hopefully one day I would. I asked her. I said “What have I done or not done that wasn’t good enough for your standards?” And she told me this to my face; she said “You don’t have the image of the kind of teacher that I want to teach at my school. You see, I spent so much money on trying to get a foreign teacher at my school. One that upholds the principals of what my students expect. But you’re really not a good fit for that, you really don’t look like what I expected, and I don’t think you represent what my students want as an English teacher. I think your image would be bad for my school. You don’t really have the image of what most people expect when they think about English teachers.” And it was at that point that I realized what exactly was going on. You see, it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t up to her standards, it wasn’t the fact that I wasn’t a good teacher, because, dude, I got a teaching certificate, my students always had a fun time in my class and they always were bombarding me in the hallway, trying to talk to me, so it’s not like my students didn’t like me, and it’s not like they weren’t learning anything either because they would always, for the most part, do well on their tests, which I prepped them for. I realized here that it wasn’t any of that. It was the fact that I’m half Korean. It was the fact that I’m not American enough. And what I mean by that is I wasn’t ‘White’ enough. I guess in the pictures that I sent her and her hearing my voice, she figured, maybe I was a little bit more on the Caucasian side, but now that I look back, even on the first day that I first met Jenny, she did a head-to-to thing at me then and she said: “Yeah, it’s nice to … it’s nice to meet you in person.” She was disappointed. You see, there’s this whole thing in South Korea where most people that you know, attend English academies, they want foreigners to teach them. The more foreign you look, the more likely it is that you’ll get a job. When you’re teaching at a Hagwon (where I was), you know, a private academy, the moms are the ones that really run the show. You see, if the moms aren’t happy, with the money that they’re putting in for the students to attend these classes, then they’re going to throw a heck of a fit to the director and then they’re going to loose money and it’s just going to be crazy. So the directors gotta do everything they can to make sure the moms are happy. Now, what the moms want is a nice foreign looking teacher that speaks good English. And, you see, if you look Asian or you look like you’re come from a country that doesn’t have English as a native language, chances are you’re either going to upset some moms or you’re not going to find a job. You see, I was embracing my Korean side, you know, i was getting in touch with the culture, yeah, I was getting in touch with the fashion trends, so you could say I was dressing, you know, with what people were wearing those days. But I mean, so was my co-worker Michaela. you know, she was conforming to the fashion standards that people were wearing in Korea, so she was doing the same thing. So it wasn’t really my fashion that was the problem or anything that I was doing wrong. It was the fact
that I was too Korean in Korea. I was teaching at this job for 3 months now under these situations with these kinds of issues which, I guarantee you, unethical as they were, they were definitely against some regular employee conditions, but it was at that moment where I was standing there in Jenny’s office, having this kind of argument with her and she told me that my face wasn’t good enough to represent a teacher at her school, it was at that moment that I was already kicking myself for, you know, standing up to her but also telling myself “You know what? You already kicked the door down. You might as well step in.” So I said to Jenny: “Well, if that’s how you feel about me, then I think you’re right as well. It would be a good idea for me to seek employment somewhere else.” So, according to the contract that we both signed, if one of us either party decides, that we should part ways for any reason you are supposed to give me one month time to find another job before I officially leave this school. She agreed and we both decided that I would find a new job. Now, as I walked out of that office, I felt like a full ocean of emotions, I felt terrible, I felt good, I felt happy, I felt sad, and at the same time I had no idea what I was going to do. You see, I had just gotten off the phone with my mom you know, via Skypa call, asking me several weeks earlier “So, how’s everything going Honey? Are you having a good time in Korea?” And I told her “Yeah, I’m making friends, you know, I am going out, I’m mingling, I’m learning the culture and the language but, you know, my job is just… it’s not fun. And I’m really not enjoying it and I’m actually getting really stressed out everyday going to work.” My mom, of course, being the optimist that she is, told me just to hang in there you know, just keep on doing it, keep on doing you and things will work themselves out. Well what am I going to do now as I’m walking out of the office and I just basically quit my job? I wasn’t ready to go back home.
I wasn’t ready to leave everything behind. My journey through Korea was not finished yet and I didn’t want to give up. So as soon as I got home that day I did some research. I went back to DavesISLcafe.com, I looked at all these different teaching jobs that were available, I hit up every recruiter I can find and basically during that last month I was teaching there, I was going through interview after interview but, yeah, the first week passed, I didn’t get any job offers, second week went by, I got a few more interviews and a coupe more, you know, people interested in me but ultimately they declined. Third week went by and I got a couple of offers in Seoul and I got an offer from this really good school and at that point I was getting hopeful. I was, like, “Alright, dude, this could be it!” I wanted to live in Seoul ever since I thought about moving to Korea, maybe this is it. That school said they would get back to me by the end of the week. I was feeling good. They were telling me that everything was going well and that it was probably going to be a ‘yes’. And so I didn’t really talk to any more recruiters after that because I was pretty sure that I was going to get this job. And I really didn’t want to apply anywhere else because this was Seoul and I really wanted to go there. But at the end of the week they called me back and they said “Terry, I’m sorry but you didn’t get the job. We gave it to someone else.” So I never talked to that recruiter again. I had one week left to find a job before I officially got kicked out of Korea. Honestly, that was probably, like, one of the lowest points in my life because I didn’t know what to do, you know? All my friends, everyone I knew, knew that I was in Korea and I was going to be in Korea for at least a year, doing like a teaching gig. I wasn’t ready to come home. And I didn’t want to come back a failure. So the next day goes by, I’m going to work, I’m depressed , I’m sad, but then a little bit later in the day I get an email on my phone which I checked on my 30 minute break. And it was an email from a recruiter who had seen my résumé that I posted online and they hit me up saying “Hey! This is very urgent. We’re looking for an English teacher to start teaching next week in Busan.” Basically, the pay was a little tiny bit better, the hours definitely better and the location right in the center of Busan, which is where all my friends live. So immediately on my break, I spent, like, the only few minutes I had, emailing him back, saying I’m interested, you know, like, I’d like to do an interview. And they actually wanted to see me in person, so you know the next… I think it was like 2 days later, I went in for an interview I went to meet with the director and the assistant director and I told them “Yeah, I’m looking for a new job. It didn’t really work out at my school” and they asked me why. And I was like, oh shoot, like, What am I supposed to say, like what reason would any sane person have for quitting a school and looking for a job at a new one unless something is wrong with them or something is wrong with their school? And in most cases, I figured, you know, this school would side with another fellow school. What are the chances that they would believe me? But you know what? Honestly, I was fed up with kissing ass ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) and, you know, just letting people step all over me. I had been through so much and dealt with so much I just spit the thruth. I straight up told them my situation, I told them that my director didn’t like me because I’m half Korean and I wasn’t White enough or foreign enough for her. I told them that even though I speak perfect English, I have a screen writing degree, I have a teaching certificate, I told them every reason why they should hire me. Now I was a little bit nervous, because as I was explaining myself the director who doesn’t really speak very good English he was listening but he had a very stern look on his face, you know, kind of just going like “mhm…mhm” but the assistant director, who’s a a female woman, she speaks fluent English and I was basically speaking through her, she was saying, like “Oh, yeah, oh I understand, that sounds terrible” It seemed like she was a little bit more sympathetic to my situation. After that, that’s basically all they wanted to hear, they said that they think, I would be a good fit and they would get back to me in the next day or so. Everything was riding on me getting this job. The next day goes by, I’m teaching on of my classes and I get a phone call and obviously I couldn’t answer it because I was teaching a class, but as my break comes by, I go out on the hall and I go check it and it’s from my recruiter and he left me a text message saying “Terry, Congratulations! You got the job!” That was probably the biggest moment of relief I’ve ever felt. Of course, this was halfway through the day, I still had like 5 classes to teach, but I didn’t care. I was jumping up for joy, I was ecstatic, I was happy. I told my co-workers that day “I got the job. I’ll be heading off and this is the last week that you’ll see me.” It was nice because my co-workers, honestly, despite how bad of an environment I was working in my co-workers were all very nice. After that week finished out, I said my goodbyes to my co-workers, I shook hands with Jenny one last time and I said “Thank you for the experience” Even though we had our differences, she’s still my elder, she still hired me at first and she still gave me this job. So I left with respect. That’s just me. It doesn’t mean I like her or I forgive her for how she treated me, but it’s just how I believe you should treat people. Now I didn’t really talk about this, but one of my side goals for when I was teaching in Korea and spending a year here or whatever amount of time I was going to be here. Since I was a film major, I figured, while I’m in Korea, while I’m studying the culture, language, you know, getting some teaching experience, saving up some money, why don’t I try to do something with my degree? Someting with media. Ultimately, I figured, why don’t I try making Youtube videos? As silly as it sounds, I figured, I might as well give it a shot. So, during that last week before I actually started working at my new school, I actually filmed and edited and got together my very first Youtube video on this channel. Well it wasn’t the first. I had uploaded before but that was a long time ago, so this the first video I uploaded that actually started my Youtube career. And that was back when I was making the Korean and American reaction videos and I finished that first video literally on the night of me starting work at my new school. So on the first day I started working at my new school I had also uploaded and edited and completed my first Youtube video. From then on there it was smooth sailing. I started working at a great school, I worked at a big company, it wasn’t independently owned, so my boss had a boss and their boss had a boss. Nobody could mistreat you without getting in trouble for it. My students were also very very educated there, like, to my surprise, even the kindergarteners spoke very good English. And that’s basically that. I got a new job at a new school, I had great students, I had good co-workers, I had, you know, a great boss. Things were actually so good at this school that I actually ended up extending my contract by one extra month. So, instead of working for, like, normally a year, I worked there for 13 months. And the reason why is, you know, at the time of me working at this school, I was also starting to do Youtube more frequently and it went from being like a part time job to actually almost being a full time job, by the time I had finished my 13 months teaching. And at the time I was done teaching, I decided that I wanted to pursue Yotube and I really wanted to try Youtube full time. But yeah, honestly, if I wasn’t doing Youtube, I might have actually renewed my contract and stayed at that school even longer. But yeah, guys, that’s my story of my racist experience as an English teacher in South Korea. Even though the first 4 months as a teacher were absolutely horrible for me, I still wouldn’t take it back. Because it told me a lot just about situations and how things can go wrong and I think it over all made me a stronger person. Anyways guys, I know this was a super long video and I apologize about that but, if you made it trough all the way to the end, shout out to you, I mean, I don’t even think I could sit through this listening to me talk about this for this long. But yeah guys, if you enjoyed this video be sure to leave a like and if anything, I hope it helps to educate you guys. You know, some piece of advice I can say if you’re going to be a teacher in a foreign country, an English teacher, definitely try to do your research a little bit more on the school that you want to teach at. If you can find any reviews on them, I would suggest at least trying, I mean if i knew that my school was goin to turn out the way it was, my first school, I definitely would not have taught there. But, like I said, I’m glad and grateful for the experience. Anyways guys, that will about wrap it up for this video. Thank you guys so so much for watching and all the support lately. I hope you guys are having a great day and as always I will see you guys in the next video. Good night! (Music)

100 thoughts on “My Racist Experience Teaching English in Korea”

  1. I would like to hire you Terry as a teacher.
    Not kidding I'm really serious.. Too bad I'm we're not living in the same country

  2. "The mom's run the show" I'm teaching in Taiwan right now and I've never agreed more to a statement ๐Ÿ™„ the amount of calls the school got because of me ON MY FIRST day… Omg and the cameras. You do one thing, and then you hear your classroom phone ring.. If you're going to watch your kid all day, watch them at home and let me do my job!

  3. when he said students and directors of schools want someone with caucasian and american traits, and I was like "wow this could be a job for me cause im very interested in korean culture" and then he said they also want good english and i was like " never mind this is not a job for me" because im bad at english now that im trying to learn korean. oops

  4. Wish they had cctv at my school. On the high school side most of the classes are loud af and they always yell and disrespect the teachers ๐Ÿ™„ it got soo annoying for me that I had to homeschool, second year of homeschooling ๐Ÿค˜๐Ÿป

  5. This is just me probably but I would tell off Jenny right before my last day before leaving to the new one I would walk up to her before leaving and say fuck you I'm out

  6. i didn't have your experience so i wasn't there. i think you ruffled jenny's feathers when you suggested she didn't like you and she didn't like being accused of being unprofessional. i don't think your english or your face or missing whiteness. the relationship between manager or boss and employee is an emotional challenge if they are offended even the slightest.

  7. Terry,I know exactly how you felt.i grew up in the Philippines and I was not treated right and I came to the US and Americans treat me differently .its very tough

  8. I'm sorry this keeps happening to y'all. Racism for real needs to stop. Like it's 2019 make it stop, we're all equal at the end of the day. Everybody remember that you are beautiful with you race, ethnicity, language, face everything ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’œ

  9. Nothing good can come from generalizing a race. And anyone who doesnโ€™t agree is a hater of their own race, yeah sure in bizzaro world. Racists donโ€™t attend any Mensa meetings, most wouldnโ€™t know what Mensa is, maybe 5%. And even lower havenโ€™t passed grade 5, and Iโ€™m being generous.
    And no real racist would pay 250$ to watch Beyoncรฉ sing songs while Jay Z gets richer. No way in hell.
    Heads up: if all you hear about is racism, youโ€™re listening to the real racist. They are filled with unwarranted hatred of others. Personally attacking has always told us that the finger pointer wants others to focus elsewhere, watch CNN for a second. Itโ€™s a huge red flag to divert people from seeing the real haters.
    BOYCOTT CNN ADVERTISERS. YOU CAN NEVER TRUST THEM AFTER SERING ALL THE LIES THEY SPIRT.

  10. How can you not be American enough?? This is mind blowing to me. Are they not aware that white Americans came to America from Europe? Original Americans do not look white. They are Indigenous. You handled this situation really well. I'm sorry that you went through that.

  11. Iโ€™m sorry, but your very handsome and nice and if I was in your school (which is not possible, because I donโ€™t live anywhere near the USA) I think I would have the hugest crush ever.

  12. imbecause your face lmaoใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹ใ…‹

  13. I feel like the teacher liked you! But she knew she had 0 chance to be with you and that made her frustrated, thatโ€™s why she was mean to you lol

  14. I mean, I watch too many Kdramas but maybe she was picking on you because she liked you? Like if you'd asked her out on a date, she probably would have dragged you out of class to snog you rather than yell at you LOL. I'm really, really, really just joking, though. Maybe because she interviewed and employed you, her butt was on the line if you messed up and that's why she was so obsessive about your teaching?

  15. Great story! Very soothing voice and sorry to hear about the golddigger..and yes, you gained a new threshold for patience through this experience.

  16. total definition of white-washing. some people just literally dont understand this concept. you were in a white-washed environment. this is why i dont want to white-wash my business or my brand coz the world already does it. glad you talked about this.

  17. it's so odd hearing something like this happen to an asian(or biracial person) in an asian country. It sounds so familiar though, the everyday life of being a black person in general.

  18. I know how you feel. 26 years ago, I was teaching English in Taiwan. I saw this happen. I had some issues as well too. I am an older guy with a disability. i wonder if I would still be able to work in Korea…

  19. i think my mind is playing tricks on me y do I hear a siri voice instead of a human its not an insult your english is perfect I just want to know if its just me

  20. what i quiet dont understand is that even though you are half Korean, they treated you worse than someone from their land.
    im Rus/Ger and russians NEVER say racist stuff or talk down on fellow people.

  21. I am a Koran and jamicsn I love as raised in Korea but I was born in america one day I was going on the bus and this little boy said to me you are pretty for a black person I was like dafuc but I didnt say anything and said thank you

  22. As a black African, imagine the hell we go through out there… I am not in any way minimizing your experience, FYI. New fan from Nairobi, Kenya.

  23. Seriously, I do not even qualify to teach English in South Korea, only because I hold a passport from Singapore, although I have a Canadian PhD. Not very keen on working for this kind of people who are all about your appearance and race.

  24. Good video! I really like it! And your personal experience helps me to understand South Korea, the teacher job and the fact of being of a mixed cultural background like me. You did it very well!

  25. Glad it worked out for you in the end. And I listened to the end. Glad you told us what happened so I can know in future what to expect.

  26. Yeah, this was long but kudos for sharing those experiences with the world. Youโ€™d be surprised how many deal with professional bullying and how it can reek havoc on you. The scary thing is itโ€™s usually a slow cancer that creeps up and you may not realize it till itโ€™s over. The after effects can seriously cause PTSD. Good for you for coming out of it shining like a star and not allowing it to leave festering wounds. Lifeโ€™s too short and itโ€™s sad that some are so judgmental that they canโ€™t get past their prejudices and appreciate good and valuable talent.

  27. Too Korean for Korea….You can't make that up, like prejudice is in all cultures.
    And we really need to break down these divides, people are people.

  28. Terry, thank you. I did not worry about this long video I learnt a lot from it. Also it means that your experiences or mine or other people experiences are normal. We deal with them and improve our lives . Also you must have really made a difference to those children. I am sure they have benefitted from you teaching in their school. Maybe you were even the best teacher there. I hope you are doing very well in everything you do

  29. I watched your whole video with no problem at all. I know what it's like because I'm biracial. Both my mother's parents are Italian and my father is Cape Verdeian (which is African American and Portuguese) and his father is African American and Native American Blackfoot and Cherokee. Growing up I watched police pull over and stop my father for just holding my hand as a little girl and ask him where did he get me from and where were my parents. I was 5 years old at the time and my dad was taking me to get candy. When the cop called my dad "Boy!" I don't know how I knew what to do or say but I looked up at my dad and said "Daddy I don't want candy no more. I want to go home." Tears in my eyes the cop looked right at me with this look of disgust and a look of how can this be? He backed up and went back to his squad car and just stared at me and left. That's how I learned about racism. My life has been a fight of I'm not black enough or I'm not white enough. I always had to prove what I was. They didn't care about who I was. Thanks to the amazing father I had I learned to love who I am and then what I am. I've learned a lot in my life and learned that if what I am is more important to someone then who I am. Then they don't deserve to know me. I'm glad at the end everything worked out for you Just like it did for me. Thank you for sharing your story with us.

  30. My name is incredibly Hispanic, yet I know absolutely no Spanish. I ALWAYS receive mail in Spanish. Haha so sorry you had this experience, but with our struggles come new and better opportunity, always. Thank you for sharing.

  31. I relate so much though Iโ€™m Chinese Italian. When people see me they expect me to speak broken italian but as soon as I open my mouth their chin drops and compliment me as if itโ€™s impossible for an asian looking girl to speak their language so well. Itโ€™s so maddening

  32. Can you imagine when you are a Filipino going in to a Korean beauty shop(owned by Korean nationals) ,in your own country the
    Philippines,but not allowed to go in their shop because you're not Korean?It happened in the Philippines!Crazy right?๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€But I'm sure not all Koreans are the same.Everywhere you go there are bad & good people.โœŒโœŒโœŒIt just happens sometimes.

  33. I know exactly what you mean. I work in Japan at a international kindergarten and the moms run the school. It makes everything soooooooooooooo much harder.

  34. Honestly, any of you who denies what Terry claims, youโ€™re either white or just white. Lol. Terry here is HALF KOREAN. If this guy who is HALF KOREAN, is getting this kind of treatment from his supposed โ€œ2nd homeโ€ then damn. That speaks volumes… i fell in love with kpop and kdrama, i wanted to visit maybe even live in korea but now iโ€™m definitely not going to.
    P.S iโ€™m American but my ethnicity is Filipino. Meaning my skin is tanned.

  35. Damn ur very good looking ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿ”ฅ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿฅฐ๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ๐Ÿ’–

  36. So sad this happened. I think Korea is great and Iโ€™d love to go there someday but this racism thing they have had held me back. They look down on other Asians (particularly SouthEast Asians) as low class or something. ๐Ÿคฆ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

  37. Imo those 4 months gave u a chance to mingle in and get used to SK, and any useful teaching tips from the lady running the place, b4 u got the job u were meant to have there and enjoy 13 months there ๐Ÿ™Œ๐Ÿ‘

  38. The second you said you were going to teach English in Korea as a Korean American I knew that would be the problem !

    The parents are paying so much money because they want the โ€œreal deal โ€œ ,
    a white person to teach English

  39. Watched all of it…it's really shocking but hat off to you for not giving up and always being so respectful. The sad truth about koreans is their judgemental side that can be harsh and really hurtful! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘

  40. Well, if true that they look down on other asian, why Koreans moving to the Philippines?
    Why thousands of them study English in the Philippines?
    If they look down on other Asian
    Why live in the Philippines?
    Why?
    Are korean racist?
    Answer me…

  41. ์ด๋Ÿฐ ์ธ์ข…์ฐจ๋ณ„์ ์ธ ๊ฒฝํ—˜์— ์œ ๊ฐ์ž…๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ํ•œ๊ตญ์—์„œ ์ด๋Ÿฐ ์ธ์ข…์ฐจ๋ณ„์„ ๊ฒฝํ—˜ํ•œ ์™ธ๊ตญ์ธ๋“ค์˜ ์ด์•ผ๊ธฐ๋ฅผ ๋“ค์œผ๋ฉด ์กฐ๊ธˆ ๋ถ€๋„๋Ÿฝ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ์‚ฌ์‹ค ํ•œ๊ตญ์—์„œ๋Š” ๋‹ค๋ฅธ ์™ธ๊ตญ์ธ๋“ค์ด ์ €์ง€๋ฅด๋Š” ์ธ์ข…์ฐจ๋ณ„์—” ๋น„๊ต์  ์—„๊ฒฉํ•˜๊ฒŒ ๋Œ€ํ•˜์ง€๋งŒ ์Šค์Šค๋กœ ํ•œ๊ตญ์ธ์ด ๋‹ค๋ฅธ ์™ธ๊ตญ์ธ๋“ค์—๊ฒŒ ํ•˜๋Š” ์ฐจ๋ณ„์—๋Š” ์‹ฌ๊ฐํ•˜๊ฒŒ ์ƒ๊ฐํ•˜์ง€ ์•Š๋Š” ๊ฒฝํ–ฅ์ด ์žˆ๋Š”๊ฑฐ๊ฐ™์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ์ €๋„ ํ•œ๊ตญ์— ์žˆ์„๋•Œ๋Š” ๋งŽ์ด ์ƒ๊ฐํ•˜์ง€ ๋ชปํ•œ ์™ธ๊ตญ์ธ์— ๋Œ€ํ•œ ํŽธ๊ฒฌ๊ณผ ์ƒ๊ฐ์ด ์ง์ ‘ ์™ธ๊ตญ์— ์™€๋ณด๋‹ˆ ๋งŽ์ด ๋Š๋‚„ ์ˆ˜ ์žˆ๊ฒŒ ๋˜์—ˆ์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค. ํŠนํžˆ ๊ต์œก์— ์žˆ์–ด์„œ๋Š” ํ•œ๊ตญ์—์„œ ๋งŽ์ด ์น˜์—ดํ•˜๊ณ  ๊ทธ๋ž˜์„œ ์˜ˆ๋ฏผํ•œ ๋ถ€๋ถ„์ด๋ฉฐ ๊ทธ๊ฒƒ์ด ์ด๋Ÿฐ ์ผ์ด ์ƒ๊ธด๊ฑฐ๊ฐ™์Šต๋‹ˆ๋‹ค.

  42. Okay I'm just gonna say this. I am an African, a Nigerian, and I don't ever want to be white. I love my color, its I think, a bit darker than caramel, whether I have breakouts or acne, I still look good to me. I appreciate me and don't want any change. Good on everyone for their own colors and ethnicities.

  43. What a good storyteller! You got me hooked till the end with your soothing voice. You are handsome, but some people are just biased, hold your head up high in any situation. If you did not do anything wrong, it shouldn't affect you.

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