Caught in the crossfire: Working in South Korea as an English Teacher

| April 30, 2015

Title: Caught in the crossfire: Working in South Korea as an English Teacher


Peter Joun


Despite having the highest rates of suicide in the OECD and huge disparities in income, the recent recognition of South Korea as an advanced industrial country has been widely heralded as cementing proof of the success of globalization policies in the wake of Korea’s division and destruction during the Korean War. Rising with South Korea’s economic success has been a strong push to make English a major part of South Korea’s educational curriculum. Exams testing for English proficiency are now required in order to apply for work or study at South Korean governmental agencies, companies, universities, and selective secondary schools. The numerous jobs generated by the proficiency exam-driven English as a Foreign Language (EFL) industry attract English-speaking expatriates from around the globe. However, this lucrative endeavor is not without its issues. The roots of these problems appear to be largely systemic and intimately related to the political environment. This study seeks to explore and better understand the motives which impel expatriates from western countries to go to South Korea to teach English as well as the challenges they face when they arrive there, and how the phenomenon of the booming EFL industry is situated within the unresolved military conflict between the US/ROK and North Korea.

Category: 2015 Thesis, Thesis