Foreigners professor hiring standards unfair to Koreans
The Seoul Shinmun reports that some folk are upset with the unfair ease with which foreign professors can get hired. For instance, at one college in Chungcheongnam-do, Koreans need a doctorate and must undergo a four-stage process to get hired as full-time instructors, while foreigners need only a masters and undergo a two-stage process. One Korean guy with a PhD, a Mr. Lee, said this was unfair when there were plenty of unemployed Koreans with doctorates from local universities. He also wondered how well schools verified their credentials and research results.
With globalization indexes becoming increasingly important in university evaluations, schools are competing to boost their numbers of foreign professors. But with private schools in the countryside focused more on boosting numbers of foreign staff rather than attracting quality researchers, quality local talent from Korean universities are feeling left out. Doubts are also being raised about the effectiveness of foreign profs, too, as not only do they lack a sense of belonging, but their research results are poor and student satisfaction with their classes low, too.
Or so said the Seoul Shinmun.
According to the Korean Educational Development Institute, the number of foreign professors at four-year universities in Korea has tripled from 1,671 (3.3%) in 2005 to 5,126 (7.5%) last year. That said, many schools have lower hiring standards for foreigners than locals, or so it is said. The paper noted two in particular—Mokwon University and Keimyung University—where you need just a bachelors and a masters, respectively, to get work. Mokwon U apparently told the paper that since the position was for English conversation teachers, a doctorate wasn’t really necessary, but the unhappy Mr. Lee wondered if you could get a job as a professor at a US university with only a bachelors. He said the hiring method for foreigners was unfair, noting that 27% of folk with doctorates from SNU were unemployed.
And there there’s a question about the foreign professors who get their masters and doctorates from local schools. One Chinese-Korean business professor at a private university in Busan got his masters and doctorate from a Korean national university in the provinces and landed a professorial job in 2011. He admitted to the paper that given the way things are here, it’s unlikely he would have been hired so quickly out of a provincial school if it hadn’t been for his Chinese passport.
A bigger problem is that most of the foreign professors are contract employees, so they don’t stay long and can’t contribute to research and educational stability. A lecturer at Kyungpook National University—who also happened to have been the head of a union for professors hired on a non-regular basis—said it’s true universities are increasing their hiring of foreign professors, but to save money they are hiring them on a contract basis, hence they are replaced every two to three years. He called for the university evaluation system to be fundamentally improved.
Swimming to freedom
So, a 46-year-old North Korean swam his way (perhaps with help from a wooden log) to South Korea’s Gyodong-do early this morning. As soon as he arrived, he ran up to a home with a light on, knocked on the door and told the awakened homeowner, “I’ve come from the North.”
The homeowner informed the ROK Marines, who took the North Korean into custody for questioning.
In case you were wondering, no, there is no iron fence on Gyodong-do’s coastline. Still, questions are being raised about how a 46-year-old guy could just swim across what should be one of the world’s most militarized frontiers without anybody—and by anybody, we mean the South Korean military—-noticing until he knocked on a local’s door.
Well, welcome to the Free World, anyway. And nice swim—that couldn’t have been easy:
Speaking of defections…
Wondering whatever happened to Robert Jenkins, the American GI who spent nearly 40 years in North Korea after defecting there in 1965? Well, the Atlantic has a heart-warming little tale about him worth reading:
When I met Jenkins, his top priority was to sell me senbei, light-brown honey-flavored crackers. He is employed by a historical museum, where he wears a yellow kimono-like jacket called a happi and hawks cracker boxes to tourists in the gift shop. “You must be Mr. Jenkins,” I said to him, and he responded affirmatively in a hillbilly drawl, a legacy of his dirt-poor childhood in rural North Carolina. Like the Japanese tourists who flock to see him, I found his diminutive, jug-eared appearance endearing, and bought a box of crackers immediately. A minute later, he told me he’d sent a box of senbei to his military lawyer, a Texan. “He told me it was the awfulest cookie he ever tasted,” Jenkins said.
The Japanese consider Jenkins and Soga’s story a great modern romance: two people find love under Orwellian conditions, and through mutual devotion win their freedom. When visitors stroll into the shop, they whisper to each other (“Jenkins-san!”) and stare at Jenkins until he beckons them to pose for a picture. “Photo” is one of the few words he knows in Japanese—he speaks Korean at home.
Yes, I know I once said I hoped Jenkins would spend the rest of his life rotting in North Korea. No need to remind me.
North Korea diplomacy boosts Park Geun-hye in the polls
Despite the cluster-fuck that has been the NIS/NLL scandal, Park Geun-hye is still riding high in the polls—to the tune of the mid-50s and around 60 percent. The way she’s handled North Korea has been key:
What props up the high numbers — between the mid-50s and around 60% — has undoubtedly been the way she has dealt with North Korea. Even critics give her credit for withstanding a torrent of war threats, gaining the upper hand in high-stakes talks on a joint industrial complex and getting Pyongyang to give in to Seoul’s demands.
That was something South Koreans have rarely seen in the country’s dealings with North Korea, a highly divisive issue where it’s hard to find middle ground. Her liberal predecessors were accused of being too soft on Pyongyang and the conservative predecessor of being too inflexible.
“There have been achievements in the South-North relations and diplomacy. She could have faced difficulties right after her inauguration because of the North Korea crisis, but she pulled through well,” said Shin Yul, a professor at Seoul’s Myongji University.
I’m guessing these folk aren’t part of the 60%.
Seoul taxi fairs to rise
Good news—Seoul taxis will soon charge more to not pick you up at night:
Seoul City’s cab fare is expected to increase by no later than October, as the city moves to help improve the taxi business despite lingering public concern over the heightened transportation cost and poor taxi service.
The basic fare, which had remained unchanged since 2009, is expected to rise from the current 2,400 won ($2.14) to around 2,800 or 3,000 won. The city said negotiations over the fare increase are underway with the taxi union.
Meanwhile, the labor and management representatives of taxi companies on Thursday agreed on raising the monthly wage of hired cab drivers by 230,000 won. The wage increase of corporate taxis is a core determinant of the transport cost.
Needless to say, there’s some skepticism about whether this will improve service, especially at night.
Truth be told, I’m not a huge Nancy Lang fan. I do, however, appreciate this photo in the September issue of Arena (NSFW).