Korea is a country that I would describe as a “grower”. One of the questions I have been asked most frequently in the last year is “Why Korea?”.  It’s a tricky question to answer without merely resorting to using the cliché of “wanting to travel in Asia”, given that there are better known and more appealing counties in the vicinity.  In truth, if you had asked me “Why Korea?” 2 months into my first year there, a shifty and bashful look would have appeared in my eyes as I struggled shamefully to avoid giving the mercenary answer of “for the money”.

The reality is that teaching in Korea can indeed be a lucrative way to spend a year abroad, especially compared to other countries in the region. Teaching English is a huge industry in Korea. Consequently a native speaker can expect to be generously compensated financially, on top of having their return flights and their accommodation paid for. Add to this a low cost of living and a low tax-rate, and it becomes apparent why Korea has become such a popular choice for recent graduates to put some money in the bank whilst living somewhere a little bit…Asian.

However, if you asked me today why I am in Korea, I would give you a very different answer. My experiences of Korean culture, Korean food and Korean people have instilled within me a great deal of affection for this small and quirky nation. It is a country that amuses and fascinates just as it annoys and infuriates. It is a country of great, confusing and intriguing contradictions. If it wasn’t for the original financial incentive, perhaps I may never have ventured to this curious country, and my previous year would, I think, have been poorer as a result.

I hope that this blog is useful not only for my friends and family to check up on my progress, but also to people considering going out to teach in Korea.  In addition, I hope that by writing about different aspects of Korean culture (both the good and the bad), I can give you a little snapshot of the humorous and perplexing country that calls itself “the land of morning calm”.

Earliest surviving Korean flag

Earliest surviving Korean flag