Category Archives: ESL

It’s pronounced Kim Yuh-Na or Kim Yeon-ah not Yoo-Na

kim yuna

kim yuna

Korea’s incredibly proud of it’s figure skating champion which many forms of media have spelled her name “Kim Yu-Na” or “Kim Yu Na.”  However, as it would be phonetically pronounced when reading the name from the west, people are calling her “Yoo-Na” which I think she’s probably gotten used to by now.

Her name in Hangul is “김연아” which if you want to be more accurate in pronouncing her name correctly, her name is pronounced “Kim Yeon-Ah” as the characters are spelled out.

However, this has been an age old problem with Korean people pronouncing words in English and for English speakers to pronounce Korean names spelled in English, but are Korean.  For example, the surname “Cheh” or “Chae” is spelled “Choi” instead because the Korean characters which make up the last name actually are combined to sound like “Choi” if you separate the characteres “ㅗ” and “ㅣ” which represent the sounds “Oh” and “Ee.”   Continue reading

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Hagwon Advice…

esl kidsI’ve been around the (Korean) block a few times…

More specifically, I’ve been in the English as a Foreign Language (and as CDI or Chungdahm Learning likes to call it their patented ESL programs) industry for more than five years in Korea.  I get questions constantly about how to enter the industry, who to choose for work and honestly what to do if interested in this field if you want work.

Well, I just got another question (or should I say set of questions) asked of me about work here in Korea as an English teacher.  Instead of just answering this gentleman directly and minimizing the impact, I thought I’d write it up here so a few more can read and hopefully benefit from my advice.  In addition to reading the following, you can also read my piece called “Advice for Teachers” (they titled it that way even though I didn’t) which should actually be named “Advice for ‘Prospective’ English Teachers (in Korea).”

The guy asks: Continue reading


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What a month it’s been (with the Suzuki Impulse)!

Bought the following motorcycle on the 12th of April. – RED 1994 Model. I’ve had a few problems, but all worth the education it’s taught me.

Right after buying it from this nice South African guy named Keren, I had starter problems. We thought it might be the extra flashing blue lights strung up the back of the bike — maybe sucking a bit of the battery before start up. So, I took those off.

This was after I bought a brand new battery from this guy named “Joon” that was instrumental in helping me get the bike. He thought it was in good shape and at the time, I had nobody who knew a lot about motorcycles except Dan (one of our Busanjin teachers) and fellow Kyopo. Dan introduced me to Joon who’s a buddy of Dan’s. Supposedly though the battery’s a cheap one according to a new bike shop I’ve been using. The new bike shop said the 40,000 won or so I paid to get this battery was on the cheap end and that I needed to buy a 60,000 won battery or so. I could believe him because he said I didn’t need to buy the better one yet since I should use this poor battery first.

All in all, in the month plus I’ve owned the bike (after purchasing it on 4/12), I’ve:

  • filled up the bike at least 12 times with gas (totaling about 175,000 won in gas)
  • bought a brand new “cheaper battery” for 40,000 won
  • pushed the 400 lb bike long distances because of the battery problem (3 kilometers & 5 kilometers up a hill – almost killed me)
  • replaced the clutch twice: once at 30,000 won (actually paid 50,000 won because I was so grateful), but then realized I could get a smaller bike shop guy to do it 10,000 won who also recharged the battery to top it off
  • got a VERY EXPENSIVE oil change (100,000 won!) around 5/8 with expensive french racing oil
  • replaced the 4 spark plugs (5/15) for 40,000 won – I guess this is cheap & again, he recharged the battery
  • dropped it 4 X’s (once because a taxi driver almost killed me)
  • probably set up myself for a hernia shortly given that I kept it from dropping a 5th time 
  • been pulled over or questioned by police 3X’s PLUS almost getting fined 1.5 million for not having a license and registration
  • rode to 기장, 해운대 (5X’s), 노포동, 서면 (7X’s) with the Suzuki
  • I guess we’ll have to see what happens for the rest of the year with this decision. I’ve started to look into “what the next bike” may be and some of the candidates are:

  • 1996 Honda NTV 650 (55 mpg)
  • 2007 Aprilla RSV 1000 FactoryR
  • 2009 Triumph Thruxton
  • **By the way, the purpose of this post is mostly to help me keep track of what I’ve done on it for maintenance and the costs involved (in case any of you are interested in the costs of motorbike upkeep)

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    It took a little preserverance, I mean perseverance to find this word…











    I was about to complement my mom recently in how perseverant she was with our family over the years.  It’s one of the reasons why our family is successful.  Without her perseverance, I definitely wouldn’t have many of the opportunities I have now along with my Dad’s hard work — have never seen someone work harder in my life.  These two are a testament at what two people who were never a match from the beginning and even up until now can do in an English speaking country without strong English skills.

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    Will this reduce salaries for English Teachers in Korea?

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    Well, if economics can predict the future, there will definitely be an addition to the supply of English instructors in Korea for the next 2 years through 2010.  The following story shows how the Korean government decided to open up the Immigration standards to allow Indian citizens to teach English in Korea as long as they have an English related degree or have a teacher’s license.  In the past couple of years, there has been a decrease in the number of applicants from the normally accepted countries of the U.S., Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and South Africa due to heightened Immigration requirements which include a somewhat difficult to obtain (in some locations) Criminal Record check.  (the check isn’t always the difficulty, but sometimes the Apostille or official notarizations have complicated matters)  Continue reading


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    Overlooked work opportunity?

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    Free flights, Free housing and Easy work conditions?


    Sounds like an advertisement from a con artist, doesnt it?  However, most of its true and tens of thousands of Americans, Canadians, Australians and other native English speaking citizens can give you living proof that its a fact.  Not only are many doing it every day, but many are also saving, paying off student loans and literally building more financial wealth than they could back home. Moreover, the friendships made, the contacts added to ones rolodex and the overall experience has given many justification in coming back (and in many cases making a career of it).  Continue reading


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    Just short of 600 views…

    Like I said “porcupines,” “Korean women” and many others like “how to say hello (or thank you) in Korean” are dominating the traffic on the blog these days.  For a snippet of the rest of the popular posts, check out the following WordPress stats for The Real “South” Korea: Continue reading


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    These can be useful for the expats in Korea…

    U.S. State Department, U.S. Embassy Seoul
    Consular Section, American Citizen Services (ACS) Newsletter
    July 2008

    The U.S. Embassy is transmitting the following monthly newsletter via its warden system as a public service to U.S. citizens in the Republic of Korea.  Please feel free to disseminate this message to U.S. citizens in your organizations or to other Americans you know. Continue reading

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    I’m now quoted by a magazine I grew up admiring…

    Well, not exactly “quoted”, but cited or referred to when trying to support a point…

    Earlier tonight, I was just checking out my statistics as I do almost daily.  Yes, I’m addicted to numbers & the traffic that my blog drives.  It’s not something I’m incredibly proud of, but rather it’s very interesting what brings a visitor to my blog.

    Nevertheless, I looked at some of the referring links and one picqued my interest.  Continue reading

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    Had my like 5th run in with a native Korean telling us to stop using English

    Again, I hate to complain…

    However, when another coworker and I were quietly talking on the bus coming home from Changwon city, this guy next to my coworker starts telling me in Korean to stop speaking English or not to talk at all on the bus.  If I was loud, I would of respected the guy, but I was talking so silently that my coworker had to ask me repeatedly “What?  What was that?”  After briefly refuting the fact we were not loud, I gave up and sat in another seat.  The guy stares me down and I just ignore him even though he’s starting to scare me because he’s literally acting like a basket case. Continue reading


    Filed under Communications, ESL, Interesting..., Korea life, Random thoughts, Stupid

    Hagwon Look to Block Unqualified Foreign Teachers

    05-19-2008 17:55


    By Kang Shin-who
    Staff Reporter

    The association of foreign language institutes or hagwon said Monday that the government should block the inflow of unqualified native English teachers, making clear its opposition to a policy to increase the number of “questionable instructors.’’ Continue reading


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    Depressing times: 170,096 people dead in the past couple of weeks

    There’s probably more, but this is how I get this number:

    China earthquake kills between 30,000 to over 70,000 people

    100,000 or more dead in Myanmar due to recent natural disaster

    Tainted liquor kills 59 people in India

    Anti-foreigner sentiment in South Africa kills 22

    15 dead in Missouri after Tornado Continue reading

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    Korea’s endless grapple with English

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    February 14, 2008

    “Even just a graduate from high school will be able to conduct a conversation in English,” promised President-elect Lee Myung-bak before his transition team presented details of a plan this month to overhaul the country’s struggling public English education system.
    Lee’s determination to implement his plan is causing a stir here as teachers, more accustomed to teaching grammar, are afraid of losing out while the private education sector is embracing the move as another opportunity to fill their coffers.
    All the while, opposition parties have seized the opportunity to attack Lee, blaming him for trying to devise a policy that will only benefit the wealthier classes. People think that spending on English-language education is bound to increase, which is ironic because Lee’s aim is to achieve the exact opposite. Continue reading

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    English teachers likely to be drug users?

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    English teachers take drug rap
    February 13, 2008
    One out of 10 people caught bringing illegal drugs into Korea last year taught English, double the number in 2006.
    The Korea Customs Service said yesterday in a release that 22 of 225 people importing illegal drugs in 2007 were English teachers. Of the 22, eight were American, eight Canadian, four British, one Australian and one Korean. Continue reading

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    Response to a comment about certified teachers in Korea

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    A nice gentleman commented on the post about “Will Foreign Teachers Become Civil Servants?”  His comment was:

    “Hello, not sure how I came across your blog, but found this to be interesting. Also, what are your thoughts on people that are certified teachers in their own country but are here in Korea teaching English? My fiancee and I are both certified teachers(Canada and US). I have not seen the information you wrote about, but was anyting ever mentioned about foreign teachers with those qualifications? I might have to add this to my list of things to read every week. Thanks.”

    My reply: Continue reading

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