This is a guest post written by Gabriela Penelope Carolus, a South African woman living in South Korea. More information on her, along with her social links are included at the end of the post.
Several foreigners who work and study in Korea seek a form of community. A sense of belonging regardless of nationality, sexuality or religious affiliation without discrimination. Some people are seeking advice, a space to vent, or comradery in a safe space. Online public forums offer an ideal location to speak freely about living in Korea. Expat Women in Korea (i.e. EWIK) offer a public platform to discuss “the lived experience” of being a woman in Korea.
The Expat Women in Korea’s (EWIK) Case for Being an Ally of All #womxn in South Korea.
Two months, to be exact, before living in Korea, I came across an online community devoted to Expat Women in Korea. My concern was that being a liberal woman from a modern family would pose immediate challenges in a patriarchal society, such as the Republic of Korea. I was fearful of being a city girl and a beach bum, isolated and vulnerable to stalkers, sexual harassment and public indecency in the rural community.
Several South Africans suggested that I join this group. I could pose questions about adjusting to the country, what to bring and how to adapt to living in Korea. Since the media and my family in South Africa saw the portrayal of living in Korea as living close to the nuclear switch. The move to Korea is considered a fatal move for a single Expat middle – class woman. But, the ability to pose my fears and uncertainty to a group of women living in Korea gave me an ally. I was no longer a solo traveller to Korea. I had several supporters along this journey from Cape Town International Airport, OR Thambo International Airport and Hongkong International Airport. Now, I could ask people questions when I landed at Incheon Airport. Women comforted me when I felt alone. They also helped me find my feet, school schedule and transportation.
I found a community and a sense of belonging with people online. I was able to find clarity from women as they “lived” life as a student, graduate researcher or teacher in a foreign country. It is known in the TEFL community that teaching in Korea is tough. It is an isolated life with the one native teacher policy in Korea. Therefore, this Facebook group created a social space outside of Seoul.
Facebook Groups for Women in Korea
There are several Facebook groups online for women to join in Korea. The Facebook groups for women are as follows:
Finding a cause and ally is not only tied to Seoul. Rather, through the interest groups on Facebook and online, a solo traveller can easily navigate the lonesome and isolated life of the one native teacher policy for the curious, adventurous teacher.
The use of social media and technology create responsible social allies in Korea. In my opinion, women in Seoul are protesting in the streets to discuss issues of womanhood, feminism, comfort women, or #metoo movements. But, for the expat living in the rural communities or abiding the restrictions on their VISAs to not publically participate in protest actions, the online platform allows women to find an online platform or create solidarity among people with similar interest or causes.
Here is a short biography about the author: I am a social scientist. I aim to write about terms and ideas that we take for granted as the ordinary and intimate. This year, I am working as a Guest English Teacher in South Korea. I hope that my readers will continue this journey with me to reveal the challenges of living and working across different continents as a millennial.
Gabriela also posts on her own blog. Not only that, but she writes some amazing poetry. Please take the time to check out her other content, as it is well worth it!
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