Korea Doesn’t Want Drunk Irish Teachers


Korea doesn't want drunk Irish teachers

Making the rounds in the news is the tale of one Katie Mulrennan. She’s a 26-year-old Irish woman who recently applied for a teaching job in South Korea. Why is she in the news? It has very little to do with her, but rather with her rejection.

Mulrennan was turned down from a prospective teaching job not because she was unqualified, but because she was Irish. The recruiting company she had contacted to find her a new job let her know what was what.

“I am sorry to inform you that my client does not hire Irish people due to the alcoholism nature of your kind”.

She told the BBC: “When I got the email, it was so abrupt and short. I actually laughed when I read it initially. I was annoyed about it. But I can also see it was a little bit hilarious as well.”

South Korea is a small, homogeneous country with very little exposure to foreign populations. In fact, only about 2% of the nation’s residents are non-Koreans. This story demonstrates an underlying problem with the country – exposure to diversity and what discrimination is. Given how much South Korea worries about it’s perceived image on the world stage, it’s ironic that a video making the rounds this week is of a South Korean man downing 4 bottles of soju (which is about 20% ABV) in less than 2 minute has gone viral.

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

But acts of discrimination in South Korea are routine. It’s common to see job postings for “white only” or “female only” teachers. About three months ago, a pub in Itaewon barred “Africans” from entering because some South Koreans were afraid of contracting ebola… but that ban was only extended to dark-skinned people. Just this week, Korea Nazarene University posted a job announcement clearly stating drinking, smoking, and homosexuality were not allowed.

To be truthful, South Koreans are friendly, caring, and welcoming. However, just like everywhere in the world, a few bad apples can spoil the bunch or give a bad impression. What’s needed is time, education, and frank discussions. It’s the only way we, as a global society, can move forward.

What are your thoughts on this issue? How can we create a more open society, devoid of prejudices? What’s the best approach for addressing the issue in homogeneous societies? I hope you’ll share your thoughts in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

This podcast is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Get the show notes here.

AN: The Competitive Side of Korean Education: Is it good for business and society?


East Asian students consistently place at the top of standardized tests. Western nations are now looking for answers on how to boost their scores. Could the Korean educational model be the answer?

East Asian students consistently place at the top of standardized tests. Western nations are now looking for answers on how to boost their scores. Could the Korean educational model be the answer? It’s one conversation taking place in Asia… now.

Today, I’m joined on Skype by Dr. Chris Baumann, a Senior Lecturer at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia who researches competitiveness, education, East Asia, and customer loyalty. He is also Visiting Professor at Seoul National University in South Korea. With Dr. Baumann is Hume Winzar, Associate Professor in Business, also at Macquarie University. He has taught in universities and consulted to business across Australia and internationally in Canada, the UK, Turkey, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong. Prof. Winzar is an expert in research methodology with special skills in survey research, experimental design, and choice modeling.

The two researchers advocated that for Korea to remain globally competitive, it should resist a trend in western education systems and continue its tried and true model which yields high standardized test scores. Our conversation also goes beyond the data, expressing opinions and thoughts on social implications of both systems.

Since we recorded our discussion, two pieces of information have been released. First, South Korea again topped the list of OECD countries for suicides. Furthermore, data from South Korea shows a student commits suicide once every three days. From the data, education and career related issues contributed to 12% of those deaths. “Problems at home” was the leading cause at 35%.

But I want to hear from you. What educational system do you think is the best? One like the East Asian system that consistently produces high test scores or a westernized system that’s more relaxed; however, produces lower results?

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Show Notes

Teaching in Korea after EPIK is gone.



My thoughts on where education needs to go in Korea. EPIK, the main public school program has been a huge failure. The program is slowly being phased out, and I think that’s a good thing. Too much money is being wasted with little result. English education needs to be reworked and rebuilt from scratch and I share my thoughts on that as a former academic administrator.

ASIA NOW: Monday, June 30, 2014

asia now, asia news weekly



New theories on the fate of Malaysian Airlines flight 370, troubles for teens in South Korea, Japan and the DPRK are set to meet once more, Seoul clamps down on tattoos and more. Those are just some of the stories taking place in Asia… now. Listen, read, and download here.

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Teaching in Korea: Marijuana and Sex



I was recently asked a pair of questions: 1) If you come from a part of the US where smoking marijuana is legal, what does that mean for your E2 drug test and 2) are Korean marriages asexual?

I attempt to give the latter a go, but have concrete info on the first.

Do you have a question? Ask me!

English News Teaching Resource



Thank you for all your support with my two podcasts. Since many use English news as ESL teaching tools, I’m now going to start posting the script with each episode.

You can find the latest show here. For all the stories and podcasts visit http://asianewsweekly.net/

Again, thank you for all your support!!!!

Songdo Global University Campus Tour


Many times when we think about going to college, we dream about going to one of the best schools in the world. Each year, Times Higher Education releases a list of the world’s best universities. Slowly but surely, Asian schools have been creeping to the top of the list. It means that for American and European schools, they need to come up with a new way to attract Asian students, who want an international university experience, but might feel more at home in the Asia-Pacific Region and question the cost of moving abroad.

Songdo Global University was built with that in mind. Eventually it will host ten of the world’s best universities to bridge east and west and have an enrollment of 25,000 students. Currently it features faculty and curriculum from the following schools: University of Utah, SUNY Stony Brook, George Mason University, and Ghent University.

Today, I get a personalized tour around their campus as they get ready for summer and some hosting duties with the 2014 Asian Games and the fall semester. For more information on Songdo Global University, be sure to check out the featured story on ASIA NOW.

KAM Chats: What’s next?



This week I continue our conversation with Tom and turn the conversation to what we want to do with our careers.

ASIA NOW: duoLingo starts teaching English in Korean

luis von ahn duolingo



What’s the future of language education? I sit down with Luis von Ahn to discuss that and more as duoLingo will start teaching English in Korean on May 27th.

For more stories from the Asia-Pacific region, connect with us Facebook and Twitter. Just go to facebook.com/asianewsweekly or follow @AsiaNewsWeekly on Twitter.

Asia Now is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

KAM Chats: Drinking in Korea



This week Tom started our discussion on KAM Chats about drinking in Korea. Specifically, we’re talking about work related drinking situations, usually revolving around what’s called a hwayshik (회식) or company party. Since first arriving, I’ve done my fair share of drinking in Korea and today I’m going to share my experiences with you.

While Tom has only worked in the public school system, I’ve actually held positions in three different areas: private academies, a university, and a radio station. So I’m going to discuss drinking in Korea based on my experiences.

If you’re thinking about coming to Korea for work, this is probably something you listen to, just about every company in Korea has some sort of drinking event and you’ll be bound to be put into this situation.