I am a Canadian living and teaching ESL at a Hagwon in Korea. With all the buzz about Dokdo lately, my Korean students have become increasingly outspoken about not liking the Japanese. I have learned about the history between the two countries, although I am obviously no expert, but these confrontations are really starting to bother me. The students seem angry when I choose not to answer them, or change the subject or when they hear that I don't hate the Japanese. They often do not say their thoughts completely outright (as in, "I hate the Japanese"), even though that has happened too, but are curious as to my stance on things. I do not tolerate racism, but I am trying to be understanding, and to teach tolerance. I'm not entirely sure how I should be handling the situation, and I don't feel comfortable asking my Korean co-workers.
Do you have any suggestions, advice, words of wisdom, or links that could send me somewhere with any of those?
Short answer? No. The Korean is, obviously, blends in with Korea's population rather well such that no Korean person comes to him for a validation of her views on Japan.
But surely, Megan is not the only ESL teacher in Korea who has been dealing with this issue. Readers, any pearls of wisdom?
Given that this is a topic that appears to sidetrack a lot of people, the Korean will issue this caveat: please keep your comments relevant. The issue is how to handle a situation like Megan is facing. Please stick with that.
Got a question or a comment for the Korean? Email away at firstname.lastname@example.org.