So I just got the news this morning via email...
"Subj: It's Official!
Congratulations! You both have been placed in Gyeongbuk starting from the March 2010 semester. We expect to start sending out our contracts in the next month, and when we do, I'll send you a longer email with some more information about arrival and visas.
For now, you should congratulate yourself on a job well done!"
To take all you newcomers back a step... For the past three and a half years I've been working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, mostly doing lighting with some office work on the side. I've also been steadily losing money working in the entertainment industry in LA for the past 3 1/2 years due to a combination of economics, changes in technology and a general lack of good fortune. In short, it's a rotten time to be crewing films in LA if you're not established in the business and you've got bills to pay. A little over a year ago, when the economy went down the shitter (thank you shortsighted American greed and George W. Fucking Bush) I decided that I'd better pursue some new career options and a full time job. To diversify my job skills I started taking accounting classes through UCLA Extension. As for the full time job, I started sending out resumes to a lot of accounting clerk positions, but no one seemed to be willing to hire someone with little to no experience in accounting.
For a long time I've been wanting to travel overseas, but I've never had the time or money to do it. I've also had this wild-eyed idea that I might want to teach some day. My dad and probably half of my family on his side work in education, and while none of them ever made it sound like teaching is a walk in the park, I guess it's in my blood to some extent. (Granted, I always pictured myself teaching film at a university, but I digress.) While searching for jobs, I had come across several listings for jobs teaching English in East and Southeast Asia, especially Korea. (When I say "Korea" I of course mean South Korea. Considering that Westerners almost never set foot in the PDRK, I don't see a lot of reason to make the distinction.) That summer, I happened to run into a company recruiting for the Korean government's national teaching program for native speakers of English in Korea. Their rep informed me that, because I have a master's degree, I would be well qualified to apply for the program. I figured, what the hey, why not, what do I have to lose?
My attempt to apply for the Fall 2009 semester was... a disaster. I'll save the whole story for another post, but for now it'll suffice to say that EPIK (English Program in Korea) is no longer using the services of that recruiter.
I'm very happy that, after this round of gathering paperwork and standing in lines in government offices, it looks like I'll finally be heading off to somewhere in Gyeongsangbuk-do (that's a province in eastern Korea, it's the north half of what was at one time Gyongsang province from what I'm told) to teach Korean youths of an as-of-yet to be determined age a few things about how to speak American. I will also fight the urge to title Lesson 1 "Learn Chinese Instead." I suppose the English-speaking world still has the vast majority of the world's best universities, so English will still be a valuable skill for some time to come. You know, the same way people still study Latin for some reason.
So a couple notes about the blog: the name is, of course, adapted from the classic album and song by S.O.D. Hopefully everyone will overlook the somewhat racist connotations of the source material and see the humor in the title. I've been revisiting my metal roots lately, and at some point it popped into my head how funny it would be to me if I stepped off the plane to teach English in a foreign country sporting an S.O.D. "Speak English Or Die!" tee. And by funny I of course mean grossly inappropriate.
The name you see above is a sloppy attempt to translate "Mr. Blond" into Korean. I'm sure I'll figure out it's a meaningless grammatical mess as soon as I actually learn Korean. (I've got about 60% on the alphabet down and I have a book and collection of CDs on the subject from my local library so hopefully I'll get it figured out soon.) I'm trying to keep the blog vaguely anonymous, mainly because A) I'm intensely paranoid, in case you hadn't noticed and B) since I'm working for a program run by a foreign government, I figure I'd better keep a low profile, since I'd hate to end up losing my job because some salaryman in a government office doesn't appreciate my sense of humor. I don't plan on posting anything inappropriate, and I do plan to be on my absolute best behavior while I'm a guest in another country teaching other people's kids, but... you know how it is, some people just don't appreciate the comedic side of Stormtroopers of Death.
Woo, it's Christmas Eve and I've finally got a job! Time to go get a giant hamburger while I still can.