Roosters and Car Horns
by Scott Fisher

If you've gotten this far into reading about Korea then I'm sure you've already heard a lot of different stories - each one pulling you in a different direction. Some people (recruiters especially) will tell you how great Korea is, how you'll make a hundred dollars an hour, be treated like royalty and make a ton of new friends. According to them your life will be nothing but bliss and happiness.

Others tell a far more sinister tale, Korea as something akin to hell's armpit. You'll be robbed (of time and money), lied to, looked down upon and taken advantage of at every turn. Listening to these people you'll get the impression that the only good thing about Korea is the flight out.

Well, all I can do here is give you some advice and tell my own story. Hopefully along the way I'll be able to answer some of your questions and present a fair picture of life in South Korea. This is a work in progress and will gradually get longer. It will be edited, revised, deleted and changed but it will be here and I hope you find it helpful. If you ever have any questions, or just want to tell me I suck, the feedback page is readily available.

As for the hell's-armpit vs. bliss-and-joy debate . . . I've always found Korea to embody both. I knew less than squat about Korea and English teaching when I first arrived but left having written a book, in Korean, for students of English. I knew no one back in 1992 but left in 98 having done enough radio and TV that even the guys at Kimpo Airport (before the arrival of the swank new Inchon Airport) immigration recognized me. My passport was as green as my diploma when I first got in - I left with barely enough room to fit in a final departure stamp.

I can also tell you about having to go to a morgue to identify a friend's body after he'd been killed in a motorcycle accident by an idiot, half-drunk trucker. About getting a call at 5 am from a friend who'd just been raped by a taxi driver. About walking down the street and having the woman I'm with called a, "gutter whore" because she's with a "Yankee." Or having to explain to a sobbing student, tears running down her face, why she hadn't been granted a U.S. visa - even though she'd been accepted to study at UCLA.

For foreigners Korea is, in many ways, a land of opportunity. You can do anything there, or, have anything done to you there. Over the next few pages I hope to point out some things that I learned and experienced during my stay that will help you with yours.

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