Friday, January 10, 2014

Reader Question: Asian looking people working at Korean Universities

Another question from Shirley:

"Would being of Asian appearance reduce my chances of getting a job at university?"

Short answer: yes!  While I have met people who are Asian looking (or black) working at Korean universities, it's relatively rare.  And I've heard that it's actually quite difficult for any non-white person to get any job in Korea, since most admin/school owners/principals have some sort of idea that the white, blonde hair/blue-eyed person speaks English better than someone who does not look like that.

Another thing that Koreans think about Korean-Americans or Chinese-Canadians (etc), is that they will have an accent of some kind and not the "real" accent of the country that they grew up in.

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cleanseoul said...

Don't let one opinion get you down. There African-American teachers and professors teaching here in South Korea and not just for a year. And yes, I've been teaching here 3 years and I'm African-American. I also have quite a few Asian friends from the US and Canada that are teachers and professors here as well. Yes, they do tell me a lot that it's a bit harder for them to get teaching jobs because they are expected to know Korean, but otherwise, they are here and they are teaching. So don't loose hope or let the status quo get you down. It can be done:-)

Little Lady said...

This is a situation where I'll say that I think it's very important to talk to actual people of color about their lives and issues in Korea.

Yes, there are quite a few non-Korean Asians, people of African decent, etc. who are teaching at the university level here. As a matter of fact, I know more black people teaching at universities than I do other folks. My significant other, who is Asian, is also teaching at a university. Perhaps whoever asked that question should find someone of their background to give them advice about obtaining a position.

Contrary to popular belief, many institutions really are looking at your qualifications as a teacher. When it comes to racial discrimination in Korea, sometimes we can find that it's not all that different from the practices of countries in the west.

Taryn said...

Actually, this isn't necessarily true. Universities are the only type of educational institution in where credentials are taken seriously! (This is by very recent government mandates.) A lot of people who were surfing by on "white face" qualification alone, are being removed. If you've got the credentials, apply.

Sometimes, employers would prefer to have a person of Korean heritage because of the assumption that you'll stay with the university longer than a person with no family ties to Korea.

(This is based on the Korean/black American/Indian American professors of English that I know. They are ALL properly credentialed.)

Unknown said...

I work at a Korean university and I am black. There are 28 professors at my university all ranging in ethnic backgrounds from South America to Canada and back. This idea that it's hard for "non-whites" to get a job is disgusting and not true. Students actually sit outside and beg to be let in classes where there is a Korean-American because they think the professor will translate material. Also, university positions are HIGHLY regulated and they go thru annual audits that cover all staff and educators. There are several blogs that speak directly from "non-white" experience that will give you a more well-rounded answer than this one.