Thursday, January 9, 2014

The other migrants

This article, Rights for Migrant Workers in Korea-NOW!, writes about the Migrant Worker's struggles here in the ROK. It focuses on the poorest, most pathetic segment of the migrants in Korea. Just as in the US no one focuses on the migrants working in Silicon Valley, foreign professors who fill STEM jobs that cannot be filled with native-born talent, or the doctors and nurses from the Global South, pity is used to appeal for human and worker rights here in Korea. There is exploitation among the educated and skilled, and transferred labor is not just the domain of the unskilled. If we can work together we could be much more effective.

English teachers in Korea should also be included in this struggle. They are often exploited, forced to work more without compensation, expected to work injured or sick, and exposed to sexual harassment, etc.

For many adoptees (if they were adopted to one of the approved former British colonies: the US, Canada, South Africa, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand) or the UK itself, teaching English is their only option, locking them into the mercy of the ETI (English teaching industry). 

Although English teachers come from the global north, and presumably have more agency, many of the teachers here in ROK are here because they can't find teaching jobs in their home countries. Another large portion are here to pay off their student loans, so they're essentially in debt bondage to jobs they contractually cannot leave. The Migrant Trade Union has said that English teachers are the #2 filers of complaints with them.

1 comment:

  1. Disagree, or maybe I am missing something here. You say that teaching English for many is the only option. I honestly beg to differ. I know many adoptees as well as myself, that have successful careers outside the English teaching industry. Isn't what job you apply for a choice? With the amount of information that is currently on the net, I think that it is on the person if they feel like they are being exploited by the English teaching industrial complex. I also believe that many choose Korea because you don't need the teaching credentials that you would in your home country. I highly doubt coming straight out of college at the ripe age of 22 qualify's you to teach (at least not in the US). You have to go some kind of continuing education program to receive the honor to teach. You show me a masters in education, then I can see some validity for your argument. Also coming back to Korea is a choice. In very rare cases are adoptees forced to come back here. I also think that most English teachers are paid well for the service that they provide, and are quite lucky to be employed in the first place. So I guess my question is, why the sense of entitlement? With the growing number of Korean Nationals who study aboard (and speak fluent English) and technology advancements (distance learning) I would worry more about being replaced rather than more pay and benefits.