News that a teacher was denied a job in Korea because of the “alcoholism nature” was greeted as shocking earlier this week however the teacher in question says candidates for these roles are often questioned about their drinking habits.
Katie Mulrennan (26), from Kerry, had been teaching English in Korea for two years. She applied for a new job and was shocked to receive this email.
Mulrennan told the Irish Independent that schools in Korea often chose North American teachers of Irish, as they say their accent is clearer.
She told the BBC “Usually when you apply for a job and they don't want you, they don't send a reply.
"Or they tell you they would prefer someone from North America, because some schools prefer the accent.
"But this reply was a first. When I got the email, it was so abrupt and short. I actually laughed when I read it initially.
"But then I wanted to write back a really angry response.
"In the end I took a deep breath and sent back a reply, that was a little bit sarcastic as I couldn't believe the email I had received. But I haven't heard anything back since."
The teacher told the Independent “South Korean employers are always quick to mention about the Irish people and our drinking.
“During orientation in any jobs I’ve ever had here, they always say, ‘oh, you’re Irish, you love to have a drink, yes?’
“To be careful, I just say I don’t drink, or I drink very little on rare occasions. That’s what you have to say, you have to keep it very PC here. They always ask about religion here too, whether you’re Catholic; sometimes you have to just say you are because otherwise you’re not going to get the job.
Ironically Koreans actually drink more than Irish per capita, according to the World Health Organization. Research by Euromonitor shows that South Koreans on average drink 13.7 shots of liquor per week. Russia came a distant second with 6.3 shots. Irish only drank about 2.6 shots a week on average.
A 2013 survey by the Washington Post also found that South Korea was one of the least racially tolerant countries in the world. In fact one in three people said they did not want someone of a different race as a neighbor.
The newspaper said in its analysis: “This may have to do with Korea’s particular view of its own racial-national identity as unique and with the influx of south-east Asian neighbors and the nation’s long-held tensions with Japan.”
The 26-year-old teacher studied English at the University of Limerick. She had applied for a teaching job at this unnamed private teaching academy in Seoul, through Craigslist, on October 28. She received the response on October 29.
She has now found another teaching job in Seoul and hastened to add that not all Korean employers hold the same view.
Mulrennan said “There’s great employers who welcome all nations of teachers.
“I’ve been here for two years, but I haven’t been unemployed for two years, so I haven’t been having a miserable experience.
She continued “I was really shocked when I got the email. You get used to them making comments about your drinking, it gets boring a lot of the time, but this email, it was ridiculous, the way it was phrased, and how harsh it was.”