Why Teach South Korea?
Teaching abroad can be a great chance to be immersed in a nation and culture different from your own, and South Korea is a great place to do so. In addition to great benefits including a great salary and free accommodation, it provides an opportunity to experience one of Asia’s most unique cultures.
South Korea is a modern, thriving nation built on a mixture of contemporary consumerism and traditional Confucianism underpinned by a strong sense of national identity. One of the most westernized countries in Asia, South Korea stands apart from many of its neighbors in its shedding of historic Chinese influence (though it still maintains a strong presence). From the cuisine to the technology, the many facets of culture are at once uniquely Korean and drawing from influence around the world. The energetic country has a lot to offer for almost any taste and mindset.
There is a popular folk song in South Korea called Arirang, pervasive to the point where it’s considered the nation’s unofficial national anthem. The song has stayed with Koreans for a long time due to its malleable form, in which the singer can add his or her own words to make it into their own unique expression. In 2012, it was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, in which they write of its flexibility: “The verses which are sung in connection with this chorus range through the whole field of legend, folklore, lullabies, drinking songs, domestic life, travel and love.” The culture of South Korea, in many ways, follows suit; Koreans have adapted many of their traditions to their new modernized, industrialized nation, keeping up with the world while maintaining their own unique identity.
Teach South Korea: The Food
This tendency is, perhaps, most apparent in their cuisine. While Seoul and other major urban areas offer a host of world-class international restaurants (along with plenty of casual chains), Korean cuisine is a major attraction in and of itself. The fundamental dish to all South Korean meals is kimchi, a spiced fermented cabbage that’s become a national icon due to its immense popularity in the country. Many foreigners come to love the unique taste, while others are turned off by its strong flavor. Regardless, Korean food has a lot of variety; traditionally, all dishes in a Korean meal are served at once and there are generally a generous amount of side dishes. Whether it’s bulgogi, a dish of grilled marinated beef cooked in front of you or bibimbap, a mixed vegetable, egg, meat and rice bowl, there are a great many fantastic Korean foods to try. Places like Seoul’s Gwanjang Market, hosting over 200 food stalls, are great venues to try out all that South Korean cuisine has to offer.
Teach South Korea: The History
Mixed into South Korea’s contemporary cities are vestiges of history, like Gyeongbokgung Palace and Changdeokgung Palace which are both located in Seoul, the first two of the Five Grand Palaces built during the Joseon Dynasty. There are also less grandiose offerings of Korean tradition; Hanok coffee shops are located throughout Seoul, small cafes built in the elegant style of traditional Korean architecture. Of course, South Korea features impressive modern architecture as well, like the N Seoul Tower. Sitting on Namsan Mountain, the tower is the highest point in Seoul and stands as a shining beacon over the city at night.
Seoul is the first city that comes to mind for most foreigners that think of South Korea, but the country has a lot to offer. The port city of Busan is nestled between mountains and the coast and offers fish markets to stroll through, high-end cafes and tent bars to lounge at and a great many opportunities to hike and see Buddhist temples. For those interested in history, the city of Gyeongju will hold a great deal of interest; known as ‘the museum without walls,’ Gyeongju has more temples, pagodas, tombs, burial mounds and various ruins from South Korea’s middle ages than anywhere else in the nation.
Teach South Korea: Xplore
There are many places to see throughout South Korea; wherever you are, the country teems with history and possibilities to be discovered and explored. There are few ways to see the country so completely or in as meaningful a capacity than as a teacher. Getting the chance to educate in this growing nation is a wonderful experience where you’ll meet countless new and friendly people, see locales you’d never dream of, and make a real impact in one of Asia’s proudest nations.
If you’re interested in teach abroad, perhaps South Korea is already on your list. Head over to our South Korea page for more information on how you can get started!
David has recently returned to the States after his internship with XploreAsia. David formed an invaluable part of the research/writing team that you will be seeing a lot more of in future. Currently studying at DePaul University, David hopes to further his career in writing.
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