Winter is fast approaching and that means spending time relaxing outside is getting less inviting in Korea. Around this time, many teachers in Korea look for ways to keep themselves entertained in their own apartments. When I gear up for a cold winter with a lot of PS3 gaming in my apartment, I think about how I wasn’t really sure what Korea’s attitude towards video gaming was before teaching English for a year. This article is directed towards those of you not ready to give up video gaming after your arrival in Korea.
A good number of my colleagues brought their gaming systems from home when they came to teach English. Since LG and Samsung are based in Korea, there is no shortage of televisions once they get settled. Since foreigners are moving back home from Korea all of the time, it’s also never too difficult to find a good deal to take someone’s flatscreen TV as they clear out their things. As for myself, I frequented one of the local electronics stores until one of the display models I liked went on 50% sale. If you opt to do that or order it online, be prepared for friendly staff to come into your apartment and completely set it up for you. There is also a growing community of foreign gamers growing in Korea. This is especially good if you want to trade US-version games you own and have gotten bored with.
Most people know that Korean gamers are a dedicated bunch, most famously for their affinity for Starcraft. This enthusiasm has sparked an entire industry in the country of PC rooms (or PC bangs, in Korean) on literally every street corner, giving young Korean people a chance to practice at rates generally much cheaper than internet cafes back home.
This was one of Korea's biggest Starcraft Players, Kim Taek Yong. They really do make these guys into celebrities.
In Korea, the enthusiasm for gaming doesn’t end there. The country also has a huge following for professional gaming competitions. There are two television stations that broadcast competitions from a variety of games, all of which can be seen live if you want to experience the enthusiasm first-hand. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend a weekend afternoon, the energy of attending a match is great even if you have no idea what’s going on.
Finally, after you start teaching in Korea, you might find yourself looking for things to interest or relate to your students. Rest assured, if you make routine references to Starcraft, middle school boys will be hanging on your every word. As for me, I decided that in order to get my younger students to participate in a memorization exercise, I would give points for responses and the students with the most points would be ranked as the best Starcraft units. I’m a little disappointed that I only came up with this plan in my 7th term of teaching because it has worked flawlessly.
For those of you who make gaming a decent chunk of your life to video games, you certainly won’t have to be giving anything up when you come to teach English in Korea. In fact, with such a massive following of pro-gaming in this country, you might even develop an interest for games as a spectator sport during your time here.
Josh Donner is the current head instructor at a Chungdahm Learning branch just outside of Seoul. Josh grew up in Toronto and after graduating from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, the 23 year old decided to put his History degree to use by starting a career teaching English in Korea. Josh likes to spend his time learning Korean and soaking up all the culture and adventure South Korea has to offer. In fact, Josh has found his time in Korea so fulfilling, he is eager to share his experiences! Follow Josh’s adventures in Aclipe’s Teachers’ Blogs.