Superficial Korea

I am currently in the process of finding a new job in Korea, starting in March. Having worked for a private English Academy as well as a Public School, I can tell you with confidence that I would always pick working at a Public School. So, I sent my resume and shoulder-length professional photograph (as asked) to a few recruiting agencies in Korea.

The application form is about 12 pages or more which include every inch of detail of your life – medical history, address, numbers, experience, comments, where you’ve lived for your entire life, height, how many times you smoke or drink a week etc etc. One of these questions includes your weight.

After filling out the form, which also included a 2 page lesson plan and an introductory essay, I receive an e-mail from the recruiter: “Can you check your weight, is it true” she says. “Yes, it’s true” I reply. After which, I am asked to submit a full body photograph. I told her that I do not have a professional full body photograph and that if a hopeful employer would like to see me, I would be more than happy to have an interview with them face-to-face. She responds by letting me know that the education board will decide where I will teach, should I get chosen, and that I will not know the location until I get there, perhaps rural Korea. I kindly declined her assistance and told her thank you.

Problems I have with the above mentioned interaction: after filling out a form that took me some time for a job that I am more than qualified for, the only concern is my weight and a “full body photograph”. In what professional world is it OK to want a full body photograph to decide whether you’re capable or qualified for a job? And let’s not forget the HIV and TB mandatory tests which need to be done before you’re employable. Should I have HIV I will be put straight back on a plane home to my country.

I am so sick and tired of Koreans being superficial, about looks and weight as well as their tact in dealing with it. It is of no issue for them to tell you how big you are or pointing out one of your attributes – whether it is good or bad.

Does anyone in Korea ever realize the sacrifices that us foreign English teachers make coming to Korea? Leaving our families and friends, leaving our language, our country and starting a life in Asia, alone. And at the end of the day, we’re scooted off like cattle to some unknown location and school, all on the basis of our appearance?

Yes, “Mary” I am not happy with my body, and thus I am in the process of changing it and if I am -so lucky- to receive a job in fuck knows where on the basis that someone is happy with my body  – yeah, no I will pass, but thank you.


2 thoughts on “Superficial Korea

  1. Wow! I mean I lived it there, but full body? Wow. I’m glad to say I was gone by the time they got all crazy with the innapropriate medical questions. The emphasis on appearance is ludicrous. I was about 130 lb and 5’3″, okay not a stick but not fat, yet always commented on by the Korean teachers I worked with. And I quote, “I’m worried about you fattening.” (Because I would dip biscuit cookies in my coffee). My response, “I’m worried about your English.”

    1. Couldn’t believe it!

      And good reply, really. The problem with foreigners in Korea is that they actually FEED into the bullshit of Koreans. They always act so naive to get what they want and hardly anyone ever stands up to them!

      Have you ever heard of such utter bullshit, though?! Imagine they pulled that crap in South Africa or any other country!

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