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You Can Get A Job With An Online TEFL, But How Well Do You Think You Will Do That Job?

Fri, 2018-06-22 22:27

Can you get a job with an online TEFL course? Yes, somewhere you can, but it does depend on the school and country. Schools and countries can have different requirements or preferences.

It is also possible to get a job without any TEFL course (online or onsite).

Some schools will also reject online certificates. This can be more common in Europe, the middle east or other schools around the world.

How about in Asia? 

In my experience teaching in East Asia I'd say that most schools there don't care and will accept online courses.


The bottom line is that some schools:

  • want teachers with experience.
  • need teachers with teaching licenses.
  • require teachers to have master's degrees.
  • want teachers to have taken an in-class TEFL course.
  • want teachers to have taken at least an online course.
  • don't care about TEFL certification at all. They'll take teachers with a bachelor's as long as they are from a native English speaking country.

Again it can vary from school to school, but usually it's like this:

In Korea

In Korea online TEFL is fine most of the time. The only case where it may not work is if you want to teach in Busan in the EPIK program. In other EPIK locations and in hagwons online courses are usually fine.

Learn more about teaching English in Korea.

In China

Online TEFL courses in China are usually fine. Some of the tier one cities may require a 120 hour course even though "hours" online is a lie. Some may not be aware yet, but they will be. Others may want you to have an in-class course.

International or more prestigous schools may not, but if you are a first time teacher you probably wouldn't get into these schools with just an onsite TEFL course. Other countries are like this too.

Learn more about teaching English in China.

In Japan 

There is usually no said preference although like in other places it depends on the school.

Learn more about teaching English in Japan.

In Taiwan

It can depend on the school, but there is generally no said preference for or against online TEFL.

Learn more about teaching English in Taiwan.

There are two reasons to consider taking a TEFL course

And your question (the title of this post) focuses on reason 1.

  1. Getting certified will probably improve your resume and help you get a job especially if you don't have any experience.
  2. Taking the right course should teach you how to teach although as I will mention later what you take away from each online course will be different as they are not created equally.

Now that may seem like your problem now - getting a job and it is, but soon after that you will have another problem and that's going to be teaching and you're going to be doing that for at least a year.

Teaching is not easy. It's not a simple task to manage a classroom of students and teach a lesson. 

So that's why I would consider which online TEFL course you should take more. If you are thinking of taking a course online then you should know that all courses are not created equally.

What's the difference?

At first glance they may all look the same to you and sound the same. I totally get it.

You'll see words and phrases like accreditation, internationally recognized courses, 120 hour courses, be enticed by beaches and other marketing tactics, but the real difference lies in the quality of the course.

You have low quality courses and higher quality courses. Lower quality courses are cheaper.

Lower quality courses will be predominitely text based and you will basically read about some general aspects of teaching English and then answer multiple choice questions.

What's the problem with that?

  1. It's boring.
  2. You are not going to remember much of it.

You might get to Asia or wherever and be excited, but as soon as you get in the classroom you'll quickly realized that you don't know much about teaching.

That's what happened to me.

You might even think that online course you took was worthless, but perhaps it was you.

And that's when the stress begins. 

So if you are going to take an online course and you want to learn something or remember what you learn then you need to take a course with the following qualities

The course needs:

  • Video. You need visuals because the easiest way to learn how to teach is by watching other teachers. Most of the cheap courses do not use video.
  • To match. Adults or kids? Most TEFL courses like CELTA focus on teaching adults, but if you are not going to teach adults then you probably need one focused on teaching kids (young learners). It matters because teaching adults and teaching kids is different.
  • Lesson planning. You need to practice making lessons. 
  • Writing. You need to do some writing - which is usually lesson plans. But note taking also helps commit ideas to memory.
  • Feedback. Feedback from another person will help you see where your lesson planning needs some work.

Published research proves the importance of these things.

Videos (multi-media), feedback, writing, and lesson planning may be totally non-existent or used minimally in a cheap and low quality course.

Most courses unless otherwise specified will focus on teaching adults like CELTA does. You need to take a course that targets teaching the age range of students that you will mostly be teaching.

Am I suggesting an expensive course?

Not necessarily, just a good one.

Learn more:

 ESLinsiderThings You Probably Didn't Know About Teaching English In Asia, But Should Know

Repatriation Dating Diaries: Cartier’s Hot for Teacher

Thu, 2018-06-21 10:03
Photographer: Josh Willink Up in the Air – Not Exactly Dating on Cloud 9

Settling back into life in Toronto hasn’t gone exactly as planned.  My career didn’t quite get off the ground the way I expected.  I just settled into a condo downtown and now have to move.  Everything’s just a little bit up in the air right now.  Dating is no exception.  Everyone at the bar is swiping left or right while in a perfectly lovely meet market.  Tinder is for hook-ups.  Bumble is allegedly for “serious dating” (sure).  Meeting people through buttoned up/ tied-down friends is nearly impossible.  I’ve now been on dates with a commitment-phobe real estate developer, a self-obsessed rocker, an UBER driver (yes – he drove me home and then we went out), a blogger who recently carbon-copied my latest post on The Toronto Seoulcialite, and a Tinder I had been out with 4 years ago.  The conversation barely changed and he definitely didn’t clue in.  Dating is depressing.  Oh – and I went out with my old calculus teacher.

Hot for Teacher – Dating isn’t Calculus, it’s Chemistry

When you were in high school, did you ever have a crush on a teacher?  How about that hottie who wasn’t much older, but just enough that the difference in age/ power balance would have been inappropriate?  Imagine my surprise when the Facebook algorithm encouraged me to reconnect with my old calculus teacher 14 years my senior.  I can’t imagine he’ll mind my writing about this.  The probability of us meeting as we did was low, and the probability we’ll ever meet again is practically non-existent.  He was my teacher for all of 3 weeks (and change) and we bumped into one another locally and in Kingston for all of 3 minutes each time.  This round, after a lovely date, a hesitant goodnight kiss, and a few text exchanges promising to see one another again, it only took him about 3 days to ghost.  Dating isn’t algorithms or equations, it all comes down to chemistry and the space-time continuum.

Photographer: Angello Lopez Dating Derivatives

While it would be lovely to meet someone who had the raw, passionate, primal masculinity of Adonis, or the “jamais seul” nature of ex-Co-P, it’s summer.  Dating in Toronto doesn’t really ever seem to be clear or direct – just derivative of our parents’ and grand-parents’ generations.  In the summer it’s the least likely time for any of that to change.  Our diluted and deluded perspectives of responsibility to one another make me believe that I’ll always be house-hurt from carrying the weight of rent completely alone.  Owning at all is a pipe-dream.  White picket fences are a thing of the past.  There’s plenty I’m tempted to try.  Did I learn anything from scratching off this bucket-list item?  Not really.  Just that I think I’ll keep my interests outside of the classroom.

The post Repatriation Dating Diaries: Cartier’s Hot for Teacher appeared first on That Girl Cartier.

The Toronto Socialite
       That Girl Cartier


Cozynook Cafe

Wed, 2018-06-20 14:41

Since my grandparents had a cozy little nook in their home, I was immediately drawn in! And it literally is and has a nook!

The outside sitting areas are well decorated and to me, had a natural and open feeling, despite being a hidden little nook!

It used to be an older style Korean house that has been now remade into a cafe. Inside is just as charming as the patio.

And there are some nick nacks to be discovered!

The cafe also has it’s own dog and other dogs seem to be welcome as well.

The cafe has your standard fare for drinks and cakes. We didn’t order anything fancy though, just kept it simple this time.

The cafe can be easy to miss, so look up for the sign. There is also another smaller sign as you walk in.

It is located in Ulsan. You can take an intercity bus from your local 시외버스 terminal and get off at gongeoptap (공업탑) stop. I have linked a Naver map so you can hopefully find it easily.

A. Smith

Most recognized online TEFL course? You Actually Have Bigger Problems.

Wed, 2018-06-20 09:40

What's the most recognized online TEFL course? Well, if you really care about prestige and the recognition of a certificate then you probably shouldn't take an online course.

Why not?

Well, they are not accepted in some places. The schools that don't accept them are often in Europe, the middle east, or at other prestigious schools.

I would say that the most recognized course in those places is going to be a CELTA or Trinity TESOL. But those courses aren't really online. I think CELTA has a course that is partly online, but not totally.

So are there any other courses online that are more prestigious?

Well that depends who you ask. If you ask a TEFL course provider many will say, "Ours!" 

Is there any truth to that? 

I don't really think so. Lots of TEFL course providers say that schools want to see "their" certificate. It happens with both online and in-class courses. It's just bad marketing in my opinion.

In my experience teaching in Asia: China, Korea and Taiwan, I'd say most schools will accept online TEFL courses. 

The most recognized brand in TEFL is CELTA. CELTA is a brand of TEFL courses although I would say that it is not very popular in Asia. So are there other brands that are more recognized?

I think there are brands that may be in some places, but there are so many brands out there that most schools aren't going to make a preference for one or the other. And again if they made a preference for a course it would be for one that was probably in-class.

I know you are looking for simple answers, but it just doesn't work like that. It's just kinda like getting a job in your own country. Does a degree from a prestigious university guarantee you a job "anywhere"?

From my point of view, no, it doesn't, but if your answer was yes, then I'd say well a TEFL certification is not a degree.

The bottom line is that it depends on the school.

I mean you could get a CELTA go to Korea or wherever you want to teach and then find out that your employer doesn't even care or know what a CELTA is.

My first employer in Taiwan didn't seem to care about my in-class TESOL course.

Or maybe you could get a CELTA and get a great job somewhere although I would say that most first time teachers don't get great jobs because they don't have experience.

It depends.

I think to most employers the brand of TEFL will not matter.

Although I don't think Groupon courses have a good reputation. On the other hand many employers in Asia won't know the difference between a fake TEFL, a cheap TEFL and a $1000+ online TEFL.

Or will they?

If you want the most recognized certificate then that means you care about quality right? Or does it?

You should care about the quality of the course, because you will realize the difference when you start teaching. 

You have a bigger problem than getting a job and that's going to be the teaching

I understand that at this point you're stressed about getting a job, but it's not that hard to get a job teaching English in Asia. You can get a job with the most expensive certificate, the cheapest one or without any certificate somewhere.


Getting a job is just the beginning. The actual job is what is challenging. You may be concerned now with just getting a job, but if you are going to take a course then why not take one that trains you better?

You want a certificate to get a job and courses know that, so that's what they are selling you: a certificate that's "internationally recognized", accredited, "prestigious", etc.

But those things hardly matter in the long run.

What matters more is what you learn in the course. Learning online is difficult. Why? Because people don't retain what they learn for a few different reasons.

"I finished the entire program in 3 days and retained like 5% of the information." - woobv

Why don't they retain the information?

Because it is uninspiring material. These lower quality courses are predominately text based courses where you read passages and then answer multiple choice like questions.

It's boring and you have no visuals. Research shows that people only tend to read 20-30% of a page. So if you only read that much then how much do you think that you will remember?

Not much.

On the other hand research shows that visuals improve memory and retention.

I can tell you from experience that the easiest way to learn is by watching other teachers. If you can't be in the classroom watching other teachers then you can do that by watching instructional videos.

Reading online is more time consuming. Videos are faster and richer. 

Learn more about the qualities of a high quality online TEFL course.

What's the most recognized online TEFL course?

Well, I said it doesn't really matter, but one other thing to keep in mind that I didn't mention are "hours". Some people are going to say that you need a 100 or 120 hours of online training. But online these TEFL course hours are a misnomer. 

There are no actual "hours" as these courses are asynchronous courses which means there are no set class times. These courses typically take way less time than they suggest.


Teaching English is not easy. You need all the help you can get. Getting a job is just the beginning. If you want to have a better time teaching abroad then I would invest more in the teaching, because that is where you are going to be spending your most of your time.

The best course is going to be the one that prepares you to teach the students you are going to teach. If you are going to teach mostly kids then you should take a course focused on that.

Many courses are just general courses. They tend to focus on teaching adults and they can be helpful, but many like the ones I have done (1 in-class and 1 online) are not specific enough.

Here's a course especially focused on teaching English to mostly kids in Asia.


The Best Way to Learn Korean Vocabulary

Sun, 2018-06-17 00:10

How are you learning vocabulary? I've been wondering what's the most effective way to study Korean vocabulary since I first started, and I've tried a lot of different methods.

Here are some of my personal best methods for learning vocabulary. I don't claim to know the best way of studying vocab, but only want to present a few suggestions. Only you know the best way that you can learn vocabulary, so take this with a grain of salt (yum).

Do you have a different method? Let me know in the comments - either here on this site or under the YouTube video.

The post The Best Way to Learn Korean Vocabulary appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.




Cheonansa Temple – 천안사 (Baekyangsan, Busan)

Thu, 2018-06-14 14:25

Jijang-bosal and a mountain stream at Cheonansa Temple in Busan.

Hello Again Everyone!!

Cheonansa Temple is located on Mt. Baekyangsan in central Busan. While overshadowed by the much more famous Seonamsa Temple to the west, the smaller sized Cheonansa Temple has a rustic charm of its own.

You approach Cheonansa Temple down some back roads until you come to a wide temple parking lot that’s fronted by a large protective stone guardian. To the right, which first greets you to the temple, is the temple’s visitors centre. Behind it, and still to the right, are the monks’ dorms.

To the left of the monks’ dorms is the temple’s main hall. Out in front of the main hall is a three tier, Silla inspired, stone pagoda. Before climbing the stairs that give you access to the main hall, there are a pair of stone reliefs book-ending the set of stairs. The stone reliefs depict Munsu-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Wisdom) and Bohyeon-bosal (The Bodhisattva of Power). To the far left of the main hall is a beautiful modern statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal (The Bodhisattva of the Afterlife). And between both the main hall and the stone statue is a mountain stream bisecting the two. And to the far left, left of Jijang-bosal, is wild grass filled with mountain hikers’ cairns.

As for the main hall, the exterior walls are adorned with beautiful Shimu-do, Ox-Herding, murals. While entering the main hall, you’ll first notice the main altar with golden flowers suspended from the ceiling above three smaller sized main altar statues. Sitting in the centre of the triad is Seokgamoni-bul (The Historical Buddha). To the left of the main altar is the temple’s guardian mural. And to the left of that is a shrine for the dead and a statue of a bright, golden image of Jijang-bosal. To the right of the main altar is a shrine, once more, for Jijang-bosal. In addition to the green haired statue of this Bodhisattva, Jijang-bosal is also backed by an older image of himself. The final mural of note inside the main hall is a painting of the Bodhidharma with his back facing you in a green robe and a nimbus halo surrounding his head.

To the rear of the main hall, and up a very precarious mountainside path, are a pair of simplistic shrine halls. The shrine hall to the right is the Sanshin-gak. Housed inside this simplistic shrine hall is a vibrant painting dedicated to Sanshin (The Mountain Spirit). And to the left is another simplistic shrine hall with another equally impressive image; this time, of Dokseong (The Lonely Saint).

HOW TO GET THERE: Take the Busan subway, line two (the green line), to Dongeui University stop #222. From this stop, you can take a taxi to Cheonansa Temple, and it should cost you about 4,000 won. The trip should last about 10 minutes.

OVERALL RATING: 4/10. While not anywhere as close to impressive as the neighbouring Seonamsa Temple on Mt. Baekyangsan, Cheonansa Temple makes a nice little addition if you’re already in the neighbourhood. The vibrant murals of Sanshin and Dokseong, as well as the beautiful scenery of the framing mountain are the true highlights to this smaller temple.

The mountainside view as you approach the temple on Mt. Baekyangsan.

A closer look at the statue of Jijang-bosal out in front of the main hall.

The main hall and temple shrine halls at Cheonansa Temple.

The main altar inside the main hall.

The painting and statue dedicated to Jijang-bosal.

The Bodhidharma mural on the far right wall of the main hall.

The guardian mural at Cheonansa Temple.

As well as this Chilseong mural.

The T-1000 Terminator-looking Jijang-bosal inside the main hall.

One of the Palsang-do murals that adorns the exterior walls to the main hall.

This Nathwi also adorns the main hall.

The trail that leads up towards the two shrine halls to the rear of the main hall.

The Sanshin-gak to the right rear of the main hall.

Inside is this beautiful Sanshin mural.

The view from the Sanshin-gak.

And the painting inside the Dokseong-gak of the Lonely Saint at Cheonansa Temple.

The Secret: How to Make Money Blogging (Without EVER Writing)

Thu, 2018-06-14 08:17
How to Make Money Blogging

Ever since I moved to Seoul, South Korea, I have had a number of people ask me how to make money blogging.  Some of these people were talented writers without URL’s, some were experts in the field of Korean beauty.  Most of these people had a variety of things in common: they were expats in Korea, enjoyed getting their passports stamped (please don’t confuse that with actually traveling), and had absolutely no follow through.  Most of the people who ask me how to make money blogging have no desire to buy a domain, spend their own money on cultural experiences, dining out at restaurants, paying for tickets to see shows, or buying products to test and review.

How I Started to Make Money Blogging

Honestly?  In the beginning – I didn’t.  I also wondered how to make money blogging, however it wasn’t my priority when building my websites (I run The Toronto Seoulcialite and it’s devilish little sister That Girl Cartier).  I left a job as the director of sales and marketing for a group of companies in Toronto, and didn’t want to be completely irrelevant in my industry when I came back.  I pretty much was anyway, but that’s a different story.  The goal was never to become some famous travel blogger.  Korea was interesting for me.  I loved going to try out new restaurants, visit temples, or find new fashion trends.  In building my website, I just wanted to share my experiences and learn more about the content production side (writing, photography, editing, SEO, and website-building) of online media.  That’s not for everyone!  A lot of people truly desire to make money blogging without ever really writing.

Photographer: Alexandre Vanier If Writing Isn’t for You…
  1.  Insta-blogging:  Become an Instagram Blogger.  This is a great way to share a snapshot of something you like and add a very short review of why you like it and are encouraging people to visit a place or buy a product.  You won’t have PR gifts sent to you straight out of the gate unless you have some proof of conversions.  If you haven’t established trust with your audience by buying, loving, and sharing only the best, then why would a company want to send you anything?  Consider what might make you spend your money as a consumer, then develop your brand in that direction.
  2. Become a YouTuber!  I’ve seen plenty of people make boatloads of videos sitting in their plush, girly bed with pretty crappy sound quality.  I can’t imagine they make much (or any) money doing that form of blogging (nay, vlogging), but most people who ask me how to make money blogging are really on the hunt for fame anyway, so might as well go in that direction and see what you can make of it if you’re not great at filming/ editing.
  3. Get back on Twitter.  I know a lot of people who have partnerships with companies based on Twitter and Twitter alone.  My ex company paid an organization a boat-load of money thinking it was hosting a twitter party and paying the influencers involved about $1,000 for the night.  I have first-hand knowledge (my friend was on the panel) that they all got $100.  Where’d the rest of that $20,000 go?  I guess you could rep Twitter personalities if you really couldn’t even jot down 140 characters.  I personally don’t really get much use out of it these days, but it’s a great way to find out about contests (and see what T-Rump is up to).
  4. Hit up Pinterest.  There’s nothing lazier than sitting and clicking on things that you like, but the same ex company was hired to host a party for Pinterest influencers, so you really never know in what a business will find value.  Look at pictures.  Add them to the right board.  Follow other people.  Add your own inspirational bit.  I’m sure there’s more to being a Pinterest influencer, but it’s certainly never helped me make money blogging.
Photographer: Wilfred Iven The Next Great…Something

I don’t really get Snapchat beyond amazing filters and sending temporary nudie pics.  Vine has gone the way of the dinosaur from what I’ve been told.  I think we’re all just waiting for the next great social medium to arrive.  Until it does, I’m sorry (but not sorry) to tell all you “get rich quick” kiddos that blogging takes time, energy, and work.  Blogging takes start up investments.  Invest in yourself, your brand, your website.  Include affiliate links if you’re promoting a product out of pocket.  Add some banner ads (although they haven’t been very profitable for me when I’ve had them).  Gather amazing experiences and document them as best you can even if you’re not ready to publish.  I have so many posts from my recent time in Toronto waiting to be written, but I’m just not in the right head space right now.  I’m not making any money blogging right now because I’m not producing enough new content.

Content is key.

If you can produce content which acts as an advertorial and is published on your website, you’ll make money blogging.  Accepting guest posts (once you’ve got enough content for readers and companies to find you) is also the way to a quick buck.  Make no mistake – even if you accept a guest post you should still be responsible for editing and ensuring it fits with the theme of your blog.  Don’t just accept anything to make a dolla, honey boo boo, child.  I’m glad to tell you that if you want to make money blogging you have to put in an effort.  You have to create a community which communicates not only with one another, but with you.  Honesty is the best policy and anyone looking to make a quick buck is transparent and unpalatable.  This takes work, and the reward does not always outweigh the risk or investment.  Share your experiences to help one another, not just for the free ‘ish.

Mic drop.


The post The Secret: How to Make Money Blogging (Without EVER Writing) appeared first on The Toronto Seoulcialite.

Cafe Marion (Miryang)ㅁ

Wed, 2018-06-13 14:25

A countryside cafe with a beautiful garden! There are a variety of outdoor patio seats.

But if it is too hot outside, there are also seats indoors. It is well air conditioned and has some window seats in various rooms.

Besides paying attention to detail with interior design and decor, they take their coffee seriously and have a variety of drip coffees to choose from, as well as a standard specialty coffee menu. Our choices were a Colombian iced americano and an iced latte. Both had a more acidic flavour that what is served at most cafes here so we opted to add a little sugar syrup.

Now, the location is fortunately not easily accessible by public transit. It is in Miryang, which is northeast of Busan. Here is a Naver link with a map, plus business hours.

And there are a few others things you can do while in Miryang. There is a small lake park called 양위못…

And then a temple called 영산정사…

If you want info on the temple, visit

So make a day of it and enjoy Miryang!

Physical Activity in the Classroom | TPR

Sat, 2018-06-09 13:00

Physical Activity in the Classroom Do you have bored, sleepy students? Yes? I used to. Then, I started designing activities that got students moving around the classroom. I love to have my students up and out of their seats, talking to their classmates. In order to achieve this, I get …

The post Physical Activity in the Classroom | TPR appeared first on My Life! Teaching in a Korean University.

Jackie Bolen: How to Get a University Job In Korea


My Life! Teaching in a Korean University:

University Jobs Korea:



Singapore Summit: The Trump Show Goes to North Korea

Sat, 2018-06-09 06:59
Singapore Summit: The Trump Show Goes to North Korea


This is a local re-post of an essay I wrote earlier this week for The New York Review of Books.

I haven’t blogged here in awhile, because I am so busy. Last weekend, I went to the Shangri-La Dialogue (reflections here). Today I am flying down to Singapore to provide analysis for BBC for the Trump-Kim summit. Two weeks after that, I am going to the Jeju Peace Forum. So sorry. Also, I am slowly gravitating toward Twitter more for my commentary. Please go there.

This NYRB essay focuses on the extraordinarily chaotic ‘process’ of Trump foreign policy-making applied to the North Korean case. The short version is that there is scarcely a process at all. Trump agreed to the North Korea summit 45 minutes after it was broadly suggested to him by the South Korean government. He has since done none preparation, and Bolton has all but abjured what NSA’s are supposed to do.

So now, we are basically going into this blind. It’s a Trumpian crap-shoot, and no one really knows the outcome will be, because no one knows what Trump will say, or worse what he will give up for his ‘win’ for the fall midterms. Call it this whole mess of reality TV affectations + incompetence + unprofessionalism the ‘Trump Show.

My guess, the summit will be a nothingburger. The strategic and ideological divisions between the two sides are too wide for such a tight timetable, and Trump is way too checked-out from the details of nuclear missiles to seriously bargain the issue. Even Trump is now saying it’s just a ‘get to know each other’ meeting, which is default win for the Norks, because the get the photo-ops. So wait, why are we even doing this now?

In short, we should have cancelled long before, but now it is too late. And Rodman, Gorka, and Hannity are coming too, just to make sure this whole thing is a gonzo Trump Show entertainment-not-reality joke. Whatever…

The full essay follows the jump:



The last few weeks in North Korea diplomacy have been tumultuous but curiously pointless, in our modern “Trumpian disruption” way. US President Donald Trump has for months flouted established patterns of engagement with North Korea, and he clearly relishes doing so. Cable TV is filled with pro-Trump pundits praising his marginalization of “so-called experts” on the North. The analyst community is apparently to be swept aside before Trump’s bold moves and wheeler-and-dealer bravado, which will bring North Korean supremo Kim Jong-un to the table.

But it is not at all clear that this turmoil has resulted in anything other than chaos, setting off a daily rollercoaster of changes, such as the South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s sudden suggestion that he, too, might participate in the summit. We are still waiting for a clear sign of triumph or improvement in America’s position in relation to North Korea: Pyongyang has offered nothing yet that cannot be easily reversed, while in South Korea, Trump’s antics have noticeably worsened US standing.

Trump’s bellicose 2017 rhetoric has scared up a huge dovish consensus for the liberal Moon to make concessions to the North—which is an ironic result, perhaps, for a hawkish Republican US administration to have achieved. Elected a year ago with just 41 percent of the vote, Moon’s approval rating is now above 80 percent, despite no serious domestic achievement. Trump has also regularly bullied South Korea—by, for example, calling Moon an appeaser, threatening to unilaterally withdraw US troops, and forcing an unnecessary and contentious trade-deal renegotiation.

The US president is now extraordinarily unpopular here, even as the South Korean government has taken to rank flattery to keep him at bay. It is an open secret in South Korea that Moon’s suggestion that Trump might win the Nobel Peace Prize was nothing but a gimmick to appeal to Trump’s vanity and keep him on a diplomatic track in the place of his threatened “fire and fury.” No one in South Korea actually believes it—and it is a mark of just how effectively Trump sets the US media agenda that the notion was seriously debated at home for several weeks.

Conversely, when the Trump administration decided to put the Singapore meeting back on track, it sent to Pyongyang, on May 28, precisely those sorts of experts—people like US ambassador to the Philippines, Sung Kim, and National Security Council Korean specialist Allison Hooker—who represent the supposedly stodgy status quo. After two months of his showboating on North Korea, when the president finally decided to commit to the meeting with Kim, he fell back on establishment policy wonks operating quietly on business trips. These officials now face a nearly insuperable burden of slapping together in just a few weeks a framework deal that has eluded US negotiators for years. A successful outcome in this venture is highly unlikely.

This return to backroom expertise suggests that the Trump-Kim summit process has, in the harsh glare of the global media, been overexposed. One might call it the “Trump Show”: a disquieting mix of ginned-up melodrama and neediness for attention. And this was apparent from the start, when Trump accepted the general suggestion from South Korean envoys to meet Kim. It is unclear if the envoys actually spoke for Kim himself. They may simply have encouraged Trump. But Trump, ever impulsive and disdainful of experts, agreed to it without even telling his own staff. He then, bizarrely, sent the South Korean envoys outside the White House in the middle of the night to make a statement that the US secretary of state should have made in a proper forum.

This mix of reality TV antics and Trumpian disruption has characterized the entire run-up to the summit, generating endless TV talking-points, but little actual movement on the technical issues. Indeed, Trump’s bragging about how he had forced the North Koreans to agree to talks and the speculation about a Nobel almost certainly worsened the negotiations. The North Koreans partially halted the summit process in mid-May because of hype from the White House that Pyongyang would completely denuclearize. Compare this chaotic approach to President Lyndon Johnson’s boisterous yet meticulous engineering of Civil Rights and Great Society legislation, spending hours on the phone with members of Congress, fighting for every inch of political advantage.

As so often occurs with Trump initiatives, the process became more important than the substance itself. Rather than debating the details of what complicated deal we might strike with North Korea—a cap on missiles in exchange for a relocation of US peninsular airpower to Japan, Guam, or Hawaii, for example, or cameras in North Korean facilities in return for targeted sanctions relief—the media focus has been on the frenzy of daily moves and counter-moves, such as Trump’s strange, “jilted lover” withdrawal letter of May 24. Trump cannot help but makes his policy initiatives about himself, and this was no different. Meanwhile, no one seemed to notice that Trump never made any programmatic statement about what US talks with North Korea hope to achieve beyond highly unlikely CVID (complete, verifiable, and irreversible disarmament).

It is unnerving that on something as momentous as North Korea’s nuclear program, the president has never spoken in any detail about what trade-offs the US might consider in order to demobilize those weapons. If the North Koreans reject CVID, as most analysts expect, would the US accept something less? If so, in exchange for what? This is the sort of mixed-deal package likely to emerge, and Trump has not publicly laid any groundwork for what compromises the US might accept. Instead of maximalist campaign-rally speeches and the Nobel hype, moving the negotiations to the expert staff level—and giving them more time—would help a great deal.

The necessary presidential framing is probably missing because, first, the president himself does not understand these issues and does not want to spend the time studying them (reportedly, he “doesn’t think he needs to” prepare for the Singapore summit); and second, since he appears unwilling to actually negotiate with the North at Singapore, there is no need, conveniently, to learn any details. With a penchant for threats and little interest in the giving-to-get of diplomacy, Trump appears to expect to dictate terms, as he has attempted to do in negotiations over Obamacare repeal, China, NAFTA, Iran, and elsewhere.

A sign of this belligerence in the North Korean case was the promotion by Vice President Mike Pence and National Security Adviser John Bolton of the “Libya model,” referring to the agreement with the former leader of Libya, Muammar Qaddafi, to give up its entire nuclear program upfront in exchange for vague future promises of security guarantees and economic assistance. This major blunder suggests that Bolton and Pence were deliberately undercutting Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s outreach to Pyongyang, even attempting to sabotage the June summit.

Few in the analyst community think North Korea will accept Libyan-style CVID. The North Koreans spent forty years working on nuclear weapons. They have written them into their country’s constitution. The ballistic missile warheads give Pyongyang the power of direct nuclear deterrence over the US mainland, and that is a powerful shield against any US-led attempt at regime change in North Korea. It would be astonishing if the North Koreans were suddenly to surrender their arsenal. Even were they to agree to that, the counter-concessions they would demand would be enormous—such as the end of the US-South Korean alliance.

Notably, the Libya deal ended very badly for the Libyan elite, particularly for Qaddafi. The US provided neither the economic aid nor the security assurance. First, Washington dragged its feet on the benefits, much to the enragement of Libyan officials, who started claiming they had been cheated. Then, during the 2011 Arab Spring, the US violated the security guarantee by supporting the Libyan revolutionaries. Qaddafi met a grisly end when rebels hunted him down, captured, and killed him. No one misses Qaddafi, of course, but the US’s clear failure to uphold its end of the bargain damaged American credibility in dealing with other rogue states over nuclear weapons.

It speaks to its high-handedness and disdain for diplomacy that Team Trump even suggested this as a framework, for Pyongyang has often said that a Libyan outcome is exactly what it fears. The North Koreans have told US negotiators for years that if Qaddafi had held onto his nuclear program, he would likely still be alive. This is almost certainly true.

Worse, this storyline from the North Koreans about Qaddafi is so well-known among those who work on North Korea that is it hard to imagine Bolton and Pence did not know it. When they invoked the Libyan model, they almost certainly knew it would set off a harsh response—as it did, with Pyongyang calling Pence a “dummy” the next day. They also likely knew it might even bring down the summit, which it nearly did. North Korea’s mid-May semi-halt to the process directly followed the Libya references. Pence has been a notably hawkish voice on North Korea from the start of the Trump administration, and Bolton has repeatedly advocated a military strike against North Korea or all-out regime change.

Little of the above suggests that Trumpian disruption has improved American foreign policy outcomes. Indeed, Trump’s manic behavior nearly sank the summit three times—first, with his early May triumphalism, predicting that the North would denuclearize and hyping the Nobel; second, with his May 24 semi-withdrawal letter, which simultaneously threatened nuclear war again; and third, through his inability to control his subordinates’ provocations about the Libya model. Amid the media distractions, no one appears to be talking about the specifics of a possible deal: some mix of aid, sanctions relief, cameras or inspectors in North Korea facilities, a pullback of US conventional forces or airpower, a peace treaty, a North Korean missile cap, a stockpile inventory, and so on. In the event that Trump does strike a deal, the US public—told hyperbolically last year that a nuclear North Korea was an existential threat to America—will be wholly unprepared for such a volte-face.

From the repeal of Obamacare to trade with China, from his border wall to an infrastructure plan, Trump’s overexposure of his proposals by stimulating a media frenzy through his own shenanigans routinely undercuts his efforts. There probably is room for a US-North Korean deal—both sides seem to want the summit—but Trump’s propensity to turn every major policy initiative into personal theatrics may well undercut his Korea effort, too. Pyongyang may judge that it cannot trust someone so unstable and prone to change his mind.

Worse, the North Koreans may try the flattery route to obtain a deal. They, too, can see that Trump has been easily rolled by sycophancy from such diverse quarters as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Chinese President Xi Jinping, Persian Gulf royals, and US CEOs. The North Koreans were always canny negotiators in past dealings; it should not surprise us at all if they have now identified Trump’s vanity as his weakness, and choose to cater to it, as did their fawning response to Trump’s May 24 letter. Are you ready for Ambassador Dennis Rodman to take up residence in Trump Tower Pyongyang?

Robert E Kelly
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science & Diplomacy
Pusan National University



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Korean Phrases Ep. 59: 개구리 올챙이 적 생각 못한다

Fri, 2018-06-08 23:23

Today we have a new phrase about... tadpoles? Wait, really?

This phrase is one that I first heard back in 2007, from an older Korean man who I guess was trying to tell me something at the time.

While these sort of idioms are less commonly used in Korean daily conversation, I bet that once you learn this phrase you'll start hearing it here and there from Koreans.

Check it out here~!

The post Korean Phrases Ep. 59: 개구리 올챙이 적 생각 못한다 appeared first on Learn Korean with GO! Billy Korean.