From Korea with Love

"I carry your heart with me… always."

An Open Letter to Newbie Myeonuris on Seollal

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(Photo from aigooyobo)

Dear Newbie Myeonuri,

               You must be feeling nervous, uncertain of what tomorrow is going to be like. You’ve probably heard from other myeonuris what a pain in the arse Chuseok and Seollal are for us married women in Korea. I’ve been a myeonuri for eight years now, and let me confirm what you’ve heard from the others… sorry to break it to you, but you’re not going to have a ball tomorrow. You’re going to wish you had the ability to teleport, so you could be somewhere else… not in the kitchen, enslaved by incessant housework a.k.a. myeonuri duties. I’ve been there, and I survived it. I don’t loathe Chuseok and Seollal as much as I used to. You’ll survive it, too. Just think of it as another gloomy day of your life that shall soon pass. You might feel like you’re wasting a decade of your existence every time piles of dishes are being brought to the sink, but there will be an end to it. Your hands might go numb from cooking jeon and preheating food from breakfast until dinnertime, but don’t you worry, the numbness will fade away with some mentholatum lotion that you can purchase from any drugstore. You’d better buy it now, and remind your husband not to get too drunk on Seollal, so he can give you a well-deserved massage when all the work is over. You might sulk over the bogus machismo you’ll witness and question why men get to enjoy the day while women do all the work, but remember… every country has its own culture. You married into this culture when you married your man. You might not like tomorrow’s experience at all, but believe me, you’ll get used to it. As time goes by, your workload will be lessened. Just pray that a new myeonuri will come and that she won’t be your senior. No matter how overworked (and annoyed) you are tomorrow, keep smiling. You’re not alone in this battle. If you can, be nice… be polite to everyone… even to your husband’s most annoying family member.

Don’t throw your wrath at your husband for letting you toil the whole day. Talk to him today, and urge him to help you when work seems too much. When Seollal is over, do something for yourself. Take a rest, go shopping, treat yourself to the spa… make it your day! ^^

Good luck! Myeonuri, fighting!

Lots of hugs,

From a fellow myeonuri

Note from the author:

Before this letter gets negative reactions from myeonuris who claim that they have an awesome life and are not subjected to any distressing housework on Chuseok and Seollal, let me reiterate what I have mentioned in my previous posts (one in particular that was shared in an expat group without my permission and wasn’t received well by other readers: Things You Should Never ever Say or Do When Your Korean Parents-in-law Are Around)… not all myeonuris go through the experiences I have described in this letter. Not all families in Korea follow the antediluvian tradition of enslaving women to housework during family gatherings. Nowadays, more and more families practice equality in their households. Many younger Korean men help around the house. My husband and my brothers-in-law are some of them… but my husband’s older family members and a number of families I know still have a long way to go.

 

 

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Questions Frequently Asked about Teaching in Korea

When I started this blog a couple of years ago, I vowed to myself that I will never ever abandon it no matter how busy I am… but I couldn’t keep that promise. Now that I’m back to blogging, I feel like I’m in zombie apocalypse. Everything has come to a standstill. My brain refuses to function when I try to organize my thoughts. I can’t figure out how to reply to all the messages and comments that have piled up from last year. My dear readers, I owe you an apology. Here’s a big ghost hug!

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This time, I’m going to try to answer SOME of the most frequently asked questions in my blog about teaching in Korea.

Let’s start!

  1. Can a Filipino teacher work as an English instructor in Korea? 
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My 5th graders performing a role-play

Yes, but if you’re applying for a teaching job here and you’re currently in the Philippines, there is only one way to obtain a teaching visa. It’s known as the E-1 visa, one that is given to lecturers and university professors. The other teaching visa, the easiest to obtain, which is the E-2 visa, is only given to citizens of one of the following English speaking countries: Australia, Britain, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa or United States. No matter how fluent you are in English and how impressive your resume is, if you’re not from any of the countries mentioned, you won’t be given an E2. Yes, the requirement is racial bias and it’s BS… but this is Korea where getting a teaching job is not as easy as pie if you’re not Caucasian-looking.

 

There are also Filipinos who come here with a student visa (D-2) or training visa (D-4) and teach part-time. This is legal ONLY if you get a written permission from your school or one of your professors.

Other Filipinos who are in Korea under a missionary or religious worker visa (D6) try their luck on teaching, and they succeed; however, the D-6 visa is NOT a teaching visa. This means that if you teach here with a D-6, you’re not teaching legally. Some hagwons may hire you, but only as a part-timer. This is somewhat risky and temporary. I had a colleague who taught English in an academy while she was on a D-6. Eventually, they had to let her go, because she couldn’t be registered as a legal employee.

The easiest way for a Filipino teacher to teach legally in Korea is through the F-6 visa or the F-5 visa. This means that you’ll have to come to Korea as a spouse and/or attain permanent residency here. Most of the Filipinos married to Koreans I know teach in private institutions like hagwons (academies) or public schools. Some of them don’t even have teaching degrees. (They are graduates of other courses.)

I’ve written about this topic five years ago, and the rules haven’t changed. You can read more about it here.

2. How much is the salary?

In hagwons, monthly salaries range from 1.8 to 2.3 million won (around 1,589 to 2,031 USD) if you work full-time. A full-time teacher in Korea should work for at least 30 hours a week. The normal workload is 6 hours a day, 5 times a week. Note, however, that there are private institutions that require teachers to work from Monday to Saturday (for example, some hagwons that have middle school or high school students). If this is the case, you should not work for more than 5 hours a day. Other private institutions will offer non-native speakers lower salaries, but do yourself a favor… don’t settle for less than what you deserve just to have a job. You can always find a hagwon that will treat you fairly.

In public schools, the average monthly salaries for teachers range from 1.5 to 2.6 million won (1,324 to 2,296 USD) depending on credentials. Those with no teaching experience can expect to get somewhere between 2 to 2.3 million won (1,766 to 2,031 USD) . Education majors or licensed teachers can make somewhere between 2.2 to 2.6 million won (1,942 to 2,296 USD). There are some foreigners who claim (or boast) that they are making 3 million won or more, but this is kind of hard to believe, because public schools have a certain budget for foreign teachers. They can’t just offer higher salaries. Universities offer the highest salaries starting from 2.3 to 3.5 million won (1,766 to 3,091 USD). There are even reports that university professors with outstanding credentials can get up to 5 million won (4415 USD).

Private tutors are usually paid per hour. The rate depends on you, of course, but just to give you an idea of what is acceptable, 30,000 to 35,000 won (26 to 31 USD) is good enough. In affluent areas in Korea, you can ask for 40,000 won (35 USD) per hour, 50,000 won or more (44 USD) for business English classes.

3. Is private tutoring legal?

If you’re on E-2 visa, NO. You can take your chances and do it secretly, but if you get caught, you might end up getting fined or deported. It is illegal for an E-2 visa holder to work as a tutor… unless his employer allows it and submits a written permission to the immigration. Also, the income from tutoring should be declared to the tax office, so that the tutor can pay the appropriate taxes.

On the other hand, it is good news for F-6 and F-5 visa holders. Being on a spouse visa or a permanent residence visa gives you more leeway to do any kind of job in Korea including tutoring; however, it is mandatory to report the income, just like with the E-2, and pay taxes.

For D-6 visa holders, there is NO legal way to teach privately.

I’m going to answer more questions next time.

HAVE A HAPPY WEEK! ^^