I saved my soul by coming to Korea


Dramatic as it may sound, it is true. I used to regard my tenure here as a “time-out” of sorts. A “time-out” out of the grind of life in the United States that seems to befall all who are partaking in the race, rich and poor alike. “I’ll get to live in a Buddhist nation, (albeit heavily capitalistic as well – as I write this two Buddhist monks just walked into the Starbucks I’m at, judge away but I swear by Buddha its true)” I fantasized. Experience the collectivism of East Asian culture, which has been such a delight (I know this is a generalization, and I don’t give a damn…it’s a good one). “I’ll get to travel deep into Asia, India, Nepal, Thailand, THAILAND anywhere.”


But what I didn’t count on in coming to Korea was how being self-exiled from American society would contribute to what I believe to be a massive growth spurt of spirit – is the best way I can put it. I came to Korea and met like minds that had arrived to similar conclusions, ideas, suspicions, proclivities, but through a totally different stream path. Those who began flying in their own minds, out of the confines of the socially scripted path that they had been perpetually corralled onto in their respective western towns since birth. I’ve interacted with so many from all over, and not only through boozey eyes. Exchanging our most precious findings at haste out of the excitement of finding each other.

2012-07-19 17.37.16

Eventually explored dimensions of potential that were alien to my American identity, which in retrospect was suffocating in things American. I’ve been here now for about 6 years and in that time I’ve seen friends and family back home regress as opposed to grow. Perhaps its different with y’all, but many if not most, are rather stagnant or worse in their knowledge of the world, similarities and differences therein, and the wild inter-dependencies. I found myself a seat on the moon many a night, looking down not only the world below but also myself in it and noticed that my youth is in tact although I’ve reached my late 30’s. I feel younger in many ways than when I first arrived. I can’t help but notice many of my closest friends and family back home have aged instead of growing. Not only physically, mentally, but also in spirit. And understandably so, and I would have too, swimming right alongside them in that fishbowl. So, to the other self-exiled temporary or otherwise, I hope you never second guess your decision to eject based on your lack of material substances in comparison with those back in your home country. Your 401k might be non-existent, but investing in your soul, spirit, intellect is of greater benefit to the world and yourself in the long run me thinks. Friends and family may quickly level you with that pesky “peter-pan complex”, to which I hope you respond with a middle finger….(and an illegal smirk).


Technology, HR, and the Perfect job – A cautionary tale.


A position at a well known University in Busan had opened in the department of Advertising and PR. Considering I have over five strong years of experience teaching the topics mentioned, in Korea and the U.S, along with a B.S and M.A in Media and Communication, a PhD dissertation underway directly covering the topics mentioned, and with a good friend who works within the department to vouch for my ethos, I felt that my application could present a strong case for consideration.

Upon learning about the position, I immediately went to work preparing a solid application. Filled out all three pages of the application, wrote a 2 page teaching goal statement explaining my worth and vision for the position. Rustled up former colleagues and mentors for letters of referral, and polished all existing materials as you do for an application. A process that doesn’t come without its headaches but also intrinsic rewards, but one that is ultimately meant for the extrinsic possibility of landing a great job within walking distance from my home.

I followed the advertisement to the letter and emailed my application to the address listed, along with a follow up email directly after to confirm receipt of the application (which predictably wasn’t replied to but was received). The next day, I received an email notification that my emailed application (and prepare yourself for the headache that is my life at the moment) had been rejected by the receiver’s email for unknown reasons. The notification didn’t specify what the problem was, and considering the application file was well under 20mbs, I didn’t really think it could be the file size (woe is me). I sent the application in again and again also from another email address, only to receive more rejection reports, this time a day after the deadline. Must be the file size that’s the problem here, which every email in the world would typically accept.

I followed up with an email explaining the email address listed wasn’t accepting my application:,

Hello Hiring Committee,

I am testing this email address again from my hotmail account.

I’ve been attempting to email an application to the listed email address: ——- , since 12/3, but it seems there is a problem. If this does reach you, can you please respond at your earliest to confirm so that I can send you my application from a different email?

Thank you!


Mushiguna Schmuck (anonymity’s sake)

For which I finally received a flip reply stating:

Dear. Mushiguna Schmuck,

Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to apply our job position.

Unfortunately, the deadline is over. Please apply for the K** job opening next time.

Sincerely, (they didn’t put any name here)

My application wasn’t even DOA. It was dead at conception for it wouldn’t even pass beyond the 25 year old’s desktop to the decision makers of the position. I attempted to contact the HR professional but to no avail.

Finally, after returning to Busan several days later, I immediately went to confront this HR “professional”. I walked into the office and addressed who presumably was an intern where I could find him, only to learn I was talking to him: A boy attempting to project a shaky authority through the baby fat that encumbered his visage. He was receptive enough for a quick chat in which I attempted to show him the evidence of the emails and their replies, that I followed the advertisement’s instructions, but it seems the instructions were incomplete. That is, they didn’t specify that their email inbox was equipped to only handle smaller file sizes and it would be advisable to send the application over in pieces (something I’ve never had to do in hundreds or thousands of similar sized files sent).

I explained till I was blue in the face, but in the end he told me that the principle of fairness was what kept him from accepting my email. He told me (and here comes the palm to forehead moment) that other people had the same problem and were able to get it to him in time via a different email address that he supplied or directed them to send it in pieces, and tha…….

WHAT? You knew your email instructions were incomplete? That your inbox isn’t set to accept the rather medium sized file that YOU requested? And that you helped others out and accepted their applications only because their second or third shot was still within the deadline? Don’t you see your principle is…is….fucking moronic? (I didn’t voice the last part outwardly, regrettably).

In a state of exasperation I left and into the other cold, but still had one more card to play. I would attempt to meet with the department chair and plea my case for consideration. The next day, my good friend at the University would introduce me. He was generous with his time and allowed me to explain my case. That I had emailed the file well within the deadline but the email inbox listed wouldn’t accept the file size requested, that any email inbox normally would, that the HR professional had been made aware of this problem from other applicants whom he had helped because they still got it to him in time. That he would not accept my emailed file because I didn’t figure out his email’s handicap till a day after the deadline and that his principle is…is…..fucking moronic.

The Department chair was sympathetic to my plea and eventually fully sided with my story hearing and seeing all evidence presented. He seemed interested in my application and would accept my CV, but explained that in order for the department to consider my application he would have to convince the other professors of my case in order to reopen deliberations for the position, and that could be a long shot. Which in the end it was because I just learned that 2 out of the 5 professors, for reasons I won’t even begin to understand, decided not to hear my case and that my application would not be considered. Furthermore, considering that they weren’t interested in the only other application, the position would be closed.

Palm to forehead.

Moral of the story…uhhhh…don’t trust HR, Email, or Rationalism whole heartedly. Email applications in pieces and in one piece. I’m not sure of how many pieces though so you may have to ask the HR professional about that but given the fact that they might not respond till its too late, you might have to play a little guessing game.

Prepare your steed for irrationality…its chubby annoying face, will pay its bumbling visit upon you.