Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dynamic != Last Minute!

Dynamic Korea: the new maxim of South Korea. I always consider dynamism to be collaborative, productive, and, though in constant flux, generally organized. Well, dynamism in Korea veers rather far from my accepted definition. I grant that South Korea has experienced substantial growth between 1960 and 1980, climbing from a GDP similar to that of Afghanistan to 15th place where it is now. Korea also enjoys a fair amount of superlatives and notable accomplishments, such as home to the world's largest shipbuilding industry (they currently hold almost half of the world market), one of the world's largest manufacturers of automobiles (i.e. - Hyundai Kia), and a member of the Asian Tiger economies (Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, and South Korea). Needless to say, Korea did an excellent job of raising itself from relative industrial and economic obscurity to the booming money-maker it is today. However, I honestly cannot see how things get done here sometimes.

Dynamic Korea in Korea means that things are constantly susceptible to change - this includes rules, laws, timetables, expectations, fashion, culture, really anything, especially things you expect to fluctuate less often (like conceptions of punctuality). Here's an example of Dynamic Korea: You are told by your boss to finish a particular project in 2 weeks. You think this is ample time to perform quality work. Two days later, after you have drawn up elaborate plans for this project, your boss says the project is now due in an hour. This, my friends, is Dynamic Korea. There is no arguing with it, there is no changing it, because that is the culture that has taken hold in South Korea and has apparently worked for them. They aren't going to budge. For me, experiences with Dynamic Korea have proved vexing to say the least. Yesterday, I was told at the end of the day that tomorrow we are all going to leave school early and climb a mountain. This was actually decent lead time, since I had the opportunity to tailor my wardrobe decision to the activity. I usually am not so lucky.

Many NETs (Native English Teachers) in Daegu received an email from the Ministry of Education here. This email indicated that a required online training program which we were told needed to be completed by January is now due in 2 weeks. Hmph. I am lucky that I spent most of my 5 hour layover in the Detroit airport in August going through these videos. Most others are not as fortunate as I and must now spend countless hours cramming in online tutorials on child psychology and classroom management. (Note: We have all been teaching for some time now, not sure how these sessions will really augment our ability to conduct a class properly.)

Another source of frustration from Dynamic Korea came with my orientation schedule. As a late-comer to the EPIK program, I unfortunately missed the first, big orientation and was required to attend another in Seoul. Since I was eager to head to Seoul and explore, I planned to head up for my Chuseok vacation. KTX purchased and I was ready to go. Then a few days before school ended for Chuseok, us late-comers got an email that orientation would begin the Saturday of Chuseok! Well, it's fortunate I didn't plan a trip to Japan which would render me unable to join the required orientation. Once again, I managed to avoid disaster somehow but I know that one of these days my luck will run out.

I also do not know when my winter vacation is so my Mom can book a trip to visit (and expecting to know summer vacation is nigh laughable). As a final source of anxiety, I am keeping close tabs on the release date of the first installment of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. There is a website which constantly updates international release dates (because it is imperative I see it directly when it comes out). However, one of the only countries lacking a release date (which is supposed to be sometime next month) is.....KOREA! TBD TBD TBD is all I see! It is driving me bonkers and I really need enough time to pull together a quality Ravenclaw getup.

As an addendum: I just checked the website again and the release date was FINALLY posted! Perhaps whining about it IS a viable strategy. December 16 can't get here soon enough!

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