Via a conversation at Shelley’s, I found the weblog of another waeguk-in here in Seoul. And what’s more, he’s already written a piece on hangul (the Korean system of writing), like the one I was threatening to write (and predictably have been too lazy to actually do). It is perhaps a little more learned than anything I might have come up with, and more about Chinese characters than Korean ones. Not that that’s a bad thing, of course.
He does, however, manage to work in an arrogant crack about english professors :

“It is true that there is another category of people who don’t have to learn Korean at all: language professors. They might not be in the higher-income bracket, but they have enough students speaking their language that they don’t need to lift a finger.”

…but since I’ve often said the same sorts of things myself, I’ll let it slide. (Edit : On second thought, f–k letting it slide : I wonder if he includes in his blanket condemnation english professors, who, like a certain Poulet Magnifique that shall go nameless, were recently extremely well-paid (noted because of what would seem to be evidence of an unhealthy preoccupation with money in his blog posts) technologists, but found the profession so filled with lucre-obsessed soul-destroying clones, that they voluntarily gave it up and came back to teaching because they actually love it, and to Korea, because much as they love to complain, they love the people here? Or that actually do speak some Korean, despite the fact that they “don’t need to lift a finger”? And speak Spanish, French and German too? And can tie a cherry stem into a knot with their tongue? Judge all you want, my presumptuous friend, but you may find that not everyone fits into your facile, smug little categories.)
It’s another manifestation of the Expat Status Games of which I am so terribly knob-chafingly bored. I am unpleasantly bemused to find it in blogland as well.


Join the conversation! 6 Comments

  1. Well, it’s me you’re talking about. Thanks for visiting headspin’s weblog, btw.
    Sorry about the lash at professors, but I only talk about things I know, and having been me-self an ‘invited professor’ at a famous university for a coupla years, I do know what I am talking about. There might be exceptions (still have to meet one, but maybe you fit in that very narrow category). I was more focusing on French professors, since this is what I am (French)/was (prof), but the English-speaking flock was no better. I have been here too long, maybe, but the waves of foreign ‘professors’ I have seen coming and going haven’t seemed to improve since I left the academe. Not that Korean professors are any better at speaking the language they are supposed to teach either (generalizing again?).
    My categories may be smug, as you say, but not little. The overwhelming majority of invited lecturers don’t give a flying fuck about the people, the country and the language. And the English-teaching community, being the largest, is full of useless people who have no connection whatsoever with teaching. The fault lies also on the shoulders of the education-crazed Koreans, true.
    I am not an expat, by the way, in the strict meaning of the word. You shouldn’t stick to your own little categories either… I am not sent by a foreign company to spend a coupla years, and then go play somewhere else. Although I run the local branch of a foreign company, I am not planning to go anywhere in the near future. I have a personal dislike for these people, having had to deal with them for too many years in my previous job. And unlike them, I am not after any Status you might think, or I wouldn’t have spent 8.5 years over the last 12 in Korea, being sent by nobody but me. Korean linguistics is my major. I came first as a student, and after graduating, I decided to stay. That’s it…
    And yes, my condemnation was maybe generalizing, but you have to admit (you said: “…but since I’ve often said the same sorts of things myself”) that you may be more the exception than the general case. It is in a way nice to know that there are lecturers that do care, but it won’t change the overall situation, unfortunately.
    Now, you said my piece was learned, whatever this might mean. I prefer to take it as a compliment, since when one wants to write about such subjects, it should rather be “learned” than an accumulation of mistakes, something I learned the hard way… It is actually only a part of what I am planning to write on the subject (or re-write in some cases), having spent a long time studying these things. I am not sure it would be of great interest to people, but there are things that are fascinating in the history of writing in Korea and the surrounding area (my interest goes from Mongolia to Japan), including a vernacular writing system that predates han’gûl by a few centuries.
    Have fun, the weather’s beautiful today…

  2. I thank for your lengthy response to my rant, dda. It is indeed beautiful, if slightly smoggy, today.
    I suppose I was annoyed to be lumped in with the undifferentiated monkeymass of ‘foreigners in Korea’, as I so often am, when I perceive myself (at least) to be cut from different cloth.
    You are right, completely, about the level of ‘educators’ this country imports (and produces domestically, all too often, it must be said).
    My tone was unnecessarily confrontational, and I apologize. I do hate being lumped in with the geek, freaks and losers that call this place their second home, though.

  3. Hi Poulet,
    Don’t trouble yourself with apologies: your kick in my righteous ass was deserved, I guess. But just one kick, okay? 😉
    That generalizing, when it comes from our hosts makes me so angry (all the more NOT being American/Miguk-salam), I should sometimes sweep my own front door…
    Moreover, having been under-paid (yeah, I know, one more reference to money!), my comment in my blog about the profs not being in the higher-income bracket (I’m still not there, mind) was not deprecating. It was rather an allusion to the fact that despite University profs don’t enjoy the perks of a foreign banker in terms of housing/help, they are — and that includes the Korean professors — pampered well enough by students that they don’t have to do anything on their own, if they don’t wish to. Just ask the chogyo or any other student…
    I have read with interest your blog about Korea. Had quite a good laughs. I guess it is a good way to vent the irritation we can accumulate here.

  4. Wow. I’m a teacher about leave my country to join the “undifferentiated monkeymass of ‘foreigners in Korea'”, and I must say it was enormously edifying to stumble upon you fellows’ online correspondence. It’s good to know I will have a supportive ex-pat community, where I, too can play Expat Status Games, though since I’ll be a Hagwon teacher and not an “‘invited professor’ at a famous university”, I’ll probably be consigned to the dustbin with the rest of the geeks, freaks and losers. It’s enough to give a gal cold feet. I just might keep those Korean language books, though, as I could be lucky enough to find a supportive community among the Koreans themselves.

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  6. Ex-pat status games? How’s this for size: If degree educated Hagwon teachers are a “monkeymass” of foreigners, apparently not fit to kiss the feet of time-served linguistics professors unless they fit into this very narrow category of worthies (that Stavros has successfully argued his way into), why don’t we all just fuck off home and rejoin the monkeymass of immigrants that are flooding into every other developed nation in the world?
    This is the global village my dear frog-munching friend, if you dont like it then piss off back to France and see how far your kimchi-ordering skills get you over there. Or are you scared of being just one more garlic salesman in an unwashed nation of cheese botherers?
    And Jessy, i’m sure by now you’ve discovered that Korea is a wonderful, warm nation full of diverse and educated foreign teachers. Thankfully ball-washing idiots like Didier here are a rare breed…

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