Thursday, May 17, 2012

Ask a Korean! Wiki: What to Tell Your Family?

Dear Korean, 

Please comes to know this stranger from the East Coast, U.S. henceforth as the Blankard. The Blankard is a recently certified ESL teacher. The Blankard comes from a family that greatly disapproves of the Blankard's choice to pursue South Korea to teach, for they fear for their Blankard, even if the Blankard himself feels apprehension only about 'leaving the nest,' as they say. I have read The Korean's posts from 2010 (Q: Is Korea a dangerous place? A: "No, no more than it has been in the last 40 years"), as well as the more recent posting about the Japanese radiation. These topics are cited as causes for "that part of the world being very volatile." The Blankard himself seeks ways to reassure his concerned family.

The Blankard

Well, the Korean has never had any issue with the Korean Family about his desire to be in Korea. (In fact, the Korean Parents would likely favor it.) As the Korean is recovering from his vacation, let's turn this one over to the readers:  readers, if you came to Korea for a mid- to long-term stay, how did you deal with your over-anxious family?

Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at


  1. My whole blog started as a means to calm their fears. But my fam was really excited, too.

  2. My family went with the rather extreme route of going on holiday to the city where I wanted to live in (Busan) to reassure themselves. And they came away extremely impressed.

    I know that's not practical for most people, so you're going to have to show them the good things about Korea i.e. make your own propaganda. You could casually drop in titbits of news about Korea into your conversations, or send them news articles that make Korea sound particularly favourable. Especially ones detailing what Korea is doing to safeguard itself from potential attacks from North Korea.

    Showing them photos of Korea won't hurt either. If you know which part of Korea you're going to or want to go to, then make sure to show them lots of good photos of that area. In Love with South Korea is a tumblog full of beautiful photos you can use for this. And it's very easy to navigate.

    Reassure them that you will sign up with the US embassy when you get there. I believe they offer a programme called STEP to assist US citizens in a national emergency.

    If you really want to teach in South Korea, do not let them stop you from applying. You may regret it later.

  3. I chose Busan as opposed to Seoul, and explained it was the only city not to be occupied during the Korean war, therefore the safest concerning the North Korean threat. This only works if you go to Busan though (which is recommended!) Changwon might work in these regards, being a natural fortress and the gov't's safe city. This was my dad's main concern being a veteran.

    If crime is a concern, just pull up some stats - Korea is safer than most U.S. cities. People just leave you alone especially as a weigookin.

    Japanese radiation, in Korea? Well I haven't heard of it being that serious but you can simply hit them up for one of the radiation detector.

    I honestly can't think of an argument against going to Korea if you want to teach English, except for potential issues related more to stress (from hagwon boss, kids, culture shock, etc.)

    Depends on what exactly they are concerned about. One thing I realized was that their (my "elders" at least) image of Korea is stuck in the 1960's and they cannot fathom the difference now. If all else fails, do like the other poster said and ignore them - at least you tried.

  4. Explain to them that this part of the world isn't nearly as volatile as they think. They may read about occasional run-ins with North Korea, but it's all just posturing. South Korea could whip North Korea's ass, with or without the 30,000 U.S. troops stationed here! Ok maybe you should avoid any talk about ass whippings. But it sounds like your family is reacting to perception, not reality. This country is as safe as anywhere else in the world, and I think many would argue that it's safer than the U.S.

  5. If you want to leave then stick to your guns. Don't end up regretting it and somehow end up blaming your family for your lack of conviction.

    Moving into a different area (in this case a country) will hopefully enlighten oneself through things they experience!

    You'll probably be homesick for a little bit, but just keep grinding!

    You got this!

  6. Agreed with Jae Kenseyo, you need to get a better idea of what precisely they are concerned about. Are they concerned about North Korea? Are they worried about you meeting a local and getting married and moving to Korea permanently? Are they worried about you having some other kind of trouble or difficulty? Or are you perhaps the first family member to move so far away? Whatever the reason, I think it could be worth it to discuss the things they are concerned about. Of course, you should feel free to share your hopes and expectations, as well!

  7. Hey Korean, I just want to point out that your illeist ways may have a negative effect on the Korean youth if the Blankard is in fact an actual person that will be in the position to teach English. I can just imagine the ripple effect....

    1. Ha, negative he says! ;)

      If ever the Blankard is to make ripples, they will be only the positive ones. Illeism not withstanding...

  8. My (Korean!) family freaked out over me going to Korea because I wanted to follow my company's arrangements to get to the hotel but my parents were trying to set things up with relatives because they didn't understand why I'd want to make things "difficult for myself when I have family". It resulted in some shouting matches, tears, and my mom saying "You might as well not go." So, yeah, drama. At the end of it all there was some compromise and I still went to Korea. I remember looking back at my parents as I was about to walk through the security line--they looked really small and old, and scared, probably.

    Anyway, the point is to say it may not go over well, but if you really want to go they can't stop you. And they'll get over it eventually.

    1. I've had friends who went through the same thing. Days off were taken by trips to see relatives whom they barely knew just to be chastised for their poor Korean skills and to be asked why they're not married yet.

    2. Absolutely. It just felt so weird for me to be visiting relatives with whom I could barely communicate. On their part they had no idea what to do with me (it's not like they took me anywhere when I visited--I just sat in their apartments!) but they were convinced I didn't know how to survive in Korea with my poor Korean skills. And my shyness didn't help convince them otherwise.

      Relatives. Oh sheesh relatives.

  9. Tell them it's just a plane ride away and tell them they can come over anytime and visit!

  10. I've been living in Seoul for a year now, and I have to say Korea is one of the safest place I've ever been. Regarding the proximity with the border, I don't see how people could think of it as a danger. Any big city can be attacked by terrorists or hit by natural catastrophe, so why should you choose the location you want to live in depending on these circumstances? Regarding the family opposition, it just takes a bit of 'education'. Many Western people think of Korea as 'some kind of Chinese country' and do not realize how modern, secure and pleasant it is. Show them some dramas. Or make them try some kimchi ㅋㅋㅋ


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