Although a brief search of this writer on LinkedIn shall reveal every detail of my occupational history, I am glad for this opportunity to share personal, biased, and likely incorrect opinions of work life in Korea.
I admit it. My work ethic has proven fragile, short-term, and in need of tenacity. Most of them rarely lasted more than a year. However, the variety of work I was able to labor upon was quite diverse. I engaged in everything from kitchen work to office sales, research, army, logistics, online supermarket, volunteering, and now a small business. Thus, you may say that either it is a mere specious observation of a variety of works than true comprehension of them. Or, it is a unique perspective earned from the cumulative experiences of multitude. You decide.
The Four Quarters of Work Life in Korea
Work can be divided into four quarters; Outdoor, indoor, physical, and mental. Kitchen work is indoor work with physical engagement; Sales is outdoor with a bit of physical and much mental; Office work is mostly indoor and mental; Logistic is outdoor and physical. Finding the best work for you may start, first, by understanding yourself. But, as time goes by, that understanding is prone to change as you mature.
For example, I had trouble holding a desk for eight hours a day a few years ago. But, after experiencing physical labor of an equal number of hours for about a year, I realized that I was a spoiled little brat. Indeed – an undisciplined young adult, with an ungrateful attitude toward a guaranteed paycheck at the end of every month.
Finding the Joy in Work Life in Korea
My favorite work of all was working at an online supermarket. I worked as a full-time temporary employee for about a year, at a warehouse of the enterprise. I was a picker. At the warehouse, they played music all day, and employees had to unload, stock, pick and pack for delivery. Works were mostly simple and repetitive. I, however, discovered an unexpected amusement in drawings on Korean snacks, and other items with adorable names and catchphrases.
These brilliant, funny, and cute phrases written on items usually targeted for literate children aged between six and ten, quite amused my, otherwise, dreadful hours of labor. They were irresistibly cute, creative, and hilarious. I had no idea before. Such an unexpected discovery nearly led me to another employment opportunity at a store that specifically focus on items of such charm; however, I had to put a halt to that because I wanted to pursue the art of writing and stand-up comedy; my lofty aspirations.
Back to work-life lessons. Within eight hours of employment, I believe, whether physical or mental, or both, many works are of slight difference in the end. As long as you are surrounded by supportive and encouraging colleagues, I hardly think any work can be too dreadful or utterly miserable.
The Many Turns
It is when you are surrounded by conniving, deceiving, maliciously intended, narrow-minded, stubbornly narcissistic, egoistic, and unethical wretches that cause even the sharpening of a pencil to be an impossible task. Not that I have had such misfortune, but the picture was seldom conjured as I was often surrounded by amazing colleagues.
Now, will I go back though? Maybe, if I have to. But not yet, for I am now engaged with what was once the worst fear of mine, an unimaginable foe, now turned into ecstatic enchantment, endless entertainment, and exciting challenge; English literature and language.
If I may, ‘an ESL laborer’ may be an accurate description of my due. I wake up between nine to ten in the morning, shower, eat, come to work, start reading an English book for a book club for about two to three hours, go to the gym for about an hour and a half, eat lunch, write, ponder, write some more, rest, open mic, eat, read some more and go home in between ten to eleven. Repeat six times a week.
One may condemn such pursuit as an excuse, a hideaway from real work, cowardice guised in fancy letters, shameful results, or an extended privilege of studying abroad for a decade. I agree.
But to defend myself without going into detail is that the price of neglecting the English language is too endearing to me for both in its cost of acquirement and sensation now merited by the perusal of its literature; let alone whatever the potential benefits lay ahead in the future in a world of this supranational language.
Thus, here I am, lost in a phantasmagoria of the hardship of work and pleasure of leisure intermingled, desperately laboring to elevate and aspire to reach a goal that is yet amorous but, hopefully, someday, through honing of art of composition and rhetoric, shall vividly present itself to this pursuer.
Thank you and Goodluck to you all too.
Work Life in Korea, like so much of life, is determined by our prospective outlooks. For an interesting take on a simple evening stroll, Click Here.