Why South Korea Is My Destination

I could have chosen so many places to head to for a year of adventure and learning, and I'm confidently choosing the southern half of Korea. Those who know me very well already know I've been extremely interested in this place for years now, and have delved deep into the politics of North vs South Korea and how very trouble-filled some of social aspects of this land's conflict has become over the past few decades. But the majority of those who hear I'm moving to Korea will most likely be asking "Wait... why there?", and I think the question is totally valid in every way. There are actually more than 3 reasons (probably 8-10 minor ones) but for the sake of the human attention span regarding having interest I'll keep it at 3, from highest to least power of importance. Since I was as young as I can remember, I've always been interested in the eastern world (and mostly asian-based cultures) moreso than any other. Their art, their mind states, their way of getting through life; I'm able to grasp these kinds of major aspects of life much more efficiently and with more understanding than I am to how most western cultures strive to get through their existences. Going through college at SDSU, my favorite classes by far were Chinese Art (#1) and Japanese Art (#2) with everything else to follow. I took a 3-week Japanese language class at the end of my 4th year and I thought I wouldn't be strayed from my path to eventually visit Japan for a while and live a life there. I graduated from SDSU and have had 6 years of multiple jobs, some being very quality and some being shit. Nothing really rewarding enough for me to feel like I've done something I've wanted to do. Just making money. So this last year (Oct '11) I get a great job and until now it's been a fun time being a full administrative assistant to 2 great people who are running restaurants and building homes. I'm making decent money and attempting to pay off my 5-to-6 digit debts to society, all of which are my fault and shouldn't exist if I would have been smart (GET HEALTH INSURANCE). But anyway, this job isn't going to go anywhere further I don't believe - as in, there is no room for improvement. I care about progressiveness and improvement more than I care about money and I know I have to make a decision here and now. So anyway, why Korea? What the fuck is Korea?

1. Culture: South Korea is an amazing land. A place of conflict and struggle through the ages that I didn't fully realize was a true factor on Earth as a powerhouse country of culture and opportunity until recently. It's the 9th most successful country in terms of GDP as of 2011 and one of the top 3 in terms of homogeneous culture - possibly #2 behind North Korea. The cost of living is much lower than living in Japan, and the quality of life is much higher than it is in most regions of China. If one wanted to boil my decision down to a single sentence, the previous sentence would be my absolute reasoning on why this is the Asian country I have chosen over the others. Well, maybe that. The historical lifestyle and modern lifestyle of this country are absolutely all-encompassing of human nature as well. With the recent events in North Korea (Jong Il RIP... not) going the way they have been, there are a lot of major humanitarian affairs going on over there and I'm intrigued about getting involved with the NK to SK underground railroad and getting innocent people across a border that deserves to not be any sort of border at all.

2. Language: As of a few months ago, the other major reason is that I'm now nearly conversationally fluent in Korean. For 6 months I've been devoting 1 hour a day with almost no breaks to taking Korean lessons, and I feel very confident in my ability to understand it and also hold a conversation where I need to express myself verbally. It's a beautiful language - a very hard language for white people - but it has paid off in terms of fun and adventure, and I can't wait to develop it further, as every day it feels like it's been giving me new ways of thinking about how humans interact with one another verbally. I LOVE Korean and if anyone who reads this is fluent in it, please let me know so we can have some cool phone conversations and you can school the fuck out of me!

3. Availability: I'm going to Korea to teach English to both young kids as well as older Graduate Business students and in both regards Korea is the best country to teach English in. This is a very debatable topic and I'm sure there are many silver medalists (like Thailand and Brazil), but in the overall scheme of things, no country is matching Korea's salary and benefits. I will be paid about $60,000 a year if counting my after-school private sessions that I am already signed up for, and the major thing is that I don't have to pay rent. They give me a fully-furnished one bedroom apartment as well as a meal card that I can use at certain places to buy food for free and/or a drastically reduced price. I will be getting a vespa-type scooter once in Korea and will be selling my Maxima for a good price here in the states before I go. The cost of food is about 2/3 the price of America (both at the supermarket and eating out at a restaurant) and with all these factors combined, I can see paying off my debt very quickly as well as living with a high standard/quality of life without too many sacrifices. Sacrifices which I am constantly making in America and that are ultimately making me an unhappy person. The highest of those being medical costs that I am unfortunately prone to be forced to follow due to a few years of recent bad luck.

Overall: So I'm moving to Korea because I love asian culture, it's very good to Americans wanting to teach abroad, I'm intermediate-level in speaking the language, and the technology is so much better - whether gaming (Starcraft 2) or internet speed (5x of America) or price (1/2 of America), it has everything that I want in a country when it comes to delivering the highest speeds and lowest prices to remain connected to the world digitally.

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