Destination: South Korea

After months of waiting here in Creswell, England, Rachael finally got the e-mail we had been hoping for. EPIK (the foreign English teachers recruting organisation) had a position available for a foreign teacher in Incheon.

My job search in this little village in the Midlands had not been going too well, and after having been turned down by several supermarkets, shops, factories and MacDonalds (twice) due to the overwhelming number of applications (300 seemed to be the average) for even the most basic jobs, it was encouraging to know that South Korea, unlike England, is still booming and looking to hire.

For those of you, like me, who had never heard of Incheon before, I can tell you what a bit of research has taught me so far:

The city seems to be most famous for its massive airport, which is used by travellers visiting Seoul. Of all the results on Google News, for instance, only a handful did not concern the airport. However, in Korea, this does not make the place less awesome, as it seems to be run by (you guessed it) robots… the airport that is.

The remaining Google News results confirmed another, (even) more sinister cliche about the country:

Another KAIST Student takes his own life
Park’s death came after three students also took their own lives earlier this year. KAIST students blamed the school’s scholarship and credit system which they claim drives them to severe competition.

But it’s not all as bad as it seems.

Seemingly the largest commuter town on Earth, with 2,7 million people Incheon is only half an hour’s subway ride away from bustling megacity Seoul (population: nearly 25 million). Because of its relatively smaller size and its position as a major transport hub and free economy zone, living costs are significantly lower than in the cosmopolitan big brother.

And Seoul, in turn, seems to have lower living costs than most European cities, something which surprised me a little. Cheese and wine, however, will have to be banned from our diets, but with such local specialties as salted shrimps, salted octopus, salted yellow corvina intestines (?!), salted herring and salted crab, I doubt we’ll have any trouble doing just that.

Octopus in particular sounds utterly delectable:
The famous raw dish in Korea, the Sannakji is a live octopus prepared and cut alive in restaurants in Korea, and serve while moving and squirms in your table. Eating Sannakji should be chewed well, since the suction of the tentacles might stick in your mouth and throat.

Yumm… I’m actually really looking forward to trying that one, I have to admit…
I hope to be able to tell you soon exactly what it feels like to have a live octopus tentacle stuck in your throat.

(Rik Moors, april 2011)