There is a ‘glorification’ of the west here in South Korea. They have been fed a singular image of what an ‘English Speaking’ person is, it’s almost comical if it wasn’t so pathetic. My wife, who is of East Indian descent but is a Canadian citizen and barely knows much about her parents different background/language, was asked a peculiar question once. When her kids found out she was Canadian one of her students asked “Don’t you feel left out?”. Despite decades of westerners and other foreign teachers, plus the massive presence of the US military, Koreans really know little about the western world, in particular Canada and the USA.
It is nearly insulting when you get turned down for a job because you are a) white, b) 23-27 years old, c) from the USA and d) have blonde or light coloured hair. Between the stupid notion that only ‘white people’ can teach English, they also want you young. Mostly because they know they can get away with a lot of shenanigans and you won’t be so demanding because you aren’t mature enough to not put up with crap. I wish I could have gotten that screen shot of the job where you had to be ‘female and not left handed’. It is a puzzle to see that they want so desperately to be accepted into the world and yet refuse to acknowledge that the world is not how they portray it. I have literally seen dozens of Government ads that show more than a fair share of how an English teacher looks like.
That is not to say that anyone not fitting the above description will not get a job, nor is this a hard and fast rule. This just means there are still quite a few places that refuse to look at anything other than those criteria. South Korea certainly has its share of non-Caucasians and I have befriended many of them. It’s just one of those things that the Country seems to use to somehow limit the influence on the fast leaving ideals and culture that Korea has held dear in the past.
Maybe we can just chalk it all up to the old saying ‘grass is greener on the other side’?