I Never Ever Thought I Would Say This… But I am Going Back to Korea

Seoul Flights

Over a year and a half ago, I walked away from South Korea as a happy person, saying that I would never ever go back to teach there again. But as the flight confirmation above shows, before the year is out, I will be back in the country I once happily left. I never EVER would have thought that I would be going back to South Korea.

Does this make me a massive hypocrite? Maybe.

In most places I go, I get itchy feet. I did not enjoy the last few months of Teaching English in Turkey and I also had difficulties when teaching English in South Korea. But I am very excited to go back: Life is transient and ever-changing. My original plan was to continue my cycle / raft journey eastwards to Korea by land. But then I thought, why battle all the way to a place so far away from anything I know? Why not travel the other way? Plus I love Asia, the weather will be (slightly) warmer than in Europe, Asia is very cheap, and there are good reasons to be in Korea at this time.

I will stay on Jeju for some time and work on my own projects instead of teaching. I will walk around the island (a week long 250 km walk I believe), then maybe I’ll do it again to see how it feels second time around. After that, I will wander into Asia and enjoy the sunshine and a world very different from my last year and a half in Europe.

There were five main reasons why I said that I would never go back to teach English in Korea (and I am going back to do something else, not teach). The reasons why I never wanted to go back and why I think that this time things will be better are as follows:

The food is terrible: This remains true and I am not looking forward to Korean cuisine. Korean food is particularly unfriendly for vegetarians, such as myself.

Lack of architecture and culture within cities: Living in Daegu, I may not have given the country a fair chance. I will now explore the supposedly beautiful island of Jeju and try to travel slowly across the country, exploring the small, magical places, not the cities.

Difficulty of connecting with people: This time, I will make the effort. Living on the road and on the kindness of strangers in the past couple of years has taught me patience and understanding (although I still have a LONG way to go).

It’s not real: My life and experience will be different as I will not be teaching and living the life that I lived before. An experience is what you make it.

My friends are gone: Some are still there, but importantly, I will make new ones in a new place and have a completely different experience. 

Despite saying I didn’t want to teach in Korea again, I did finish off my original ‘No More Korea’ post with a nostalgic sentiment, “Sometimes I Miss It.” And it’s true. South Korea was my home for a full year and I had some wonderful experiences there. I am very excited to go back. I swallow half my words and look forwards to a place I thought I had left forever.

See you soon Korea, old friend. Let’s start over.

11 Comments

  • Hi where are you now? I recommend Suncheon bay in south coast , and sunset on the Baegyagioreum in Jeju island. stunning scenery..I can never forget.

  • I teach ESL and I love it. But if it’s not your thing, I understand. My previous job in was a crock of s##t. It made my loathe everything about China. But now my new job makes me see all the good in China and its culture. It’s all about perspective, and I think you’ve got the right one.

    • Teaching is quite wonderful at times. I am very happy that I did it, but for now, I am seeking something different (as opposed to better or worse). Having a job you love is a really great thing and I’m happy to hear that you are enjoying China. An awful job in Istanbul made me loathe the place.

  • A few weeks ago I decided to go ahead and spend a year teaching English in South Korea. As soon as I decided this I went ahead and searched blogs online. I came across yours and I think I have read all your entries. I admire the way you write and your perspective on life. Sometimes you make choices and find yourself doing things you didn’t imagine doing again and it works out for the best. I hope you find what you are looking for in Korea. 🙂

  • I did exactly the same thing with Hong Kong. Left, still liking it but thinking it was time, then 9 months later I was back again. Whoops. Hope you enjoy the second time around.

  • Dude, Korea is magnetic in many ways. When I left the first time I doubted I’d return. I also said that the second time. Now, after 3 visits of a year each, I simply have to admit that I love Korea in a way I can’t really explain. I have no doubts now that I will return in the future, maybe to teach, maybe not, but definitely to eat lots of meat, unlike you. The lifestyle available there is a wonderful thing not possible in many destinations, and if I go to teach or simply to write and explore, the choice will be a good one.
    Enjoy Jeju, buddy, and yes, it is beautiful. Not sure about in December, though. Do summit Halla-san, a nice 5-6 return hike with special views on a clear day.
    Annyong-ee Kasseyo!!

    • NYE in Busan and now I’m in Seogwipo, a far cry from Daegu. I am happy to be back (despite the food) and cannot wait to explore this country in a new way. I definitely will give Halla-san a shot and have a nice warm, duck-down sleeping bag to keep me toasty throughout the night.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Solve this if you are not a robot *