Em in Asia!

My Experiences Living and Teaching in South Korea

CP – the Slow City


I currently live in a Slow City. I had never heard of a Slow City until coming to Korea, where I somehow managed to live in one my first year and another one my second… which is especially funny because out of all of the possible F*bright placements in Korea, only two of them happen to be Slow Cities. It is rather difficult to be classified as a Slow City. You must have a population under 50,000, your area must not have any chains or fast food restaurants, your area must have minimal traffic, and you have to exemplify a “slow, peaceful, way of life.” What this means, is that I don’t have a single kimbab restaurant in my town, nor do I have a phone shop, or even a GS25, and we get a lot of tourists on the weekend coming to check out this “slow peaceful country living.” Which also means that I get gawked at a lot by tourists, who assume I’m another tourist. Which in a way, makes me wonder… who has more of a claim to CP? I live here, true, but they have the advantage of being Korean and they’ve lived in the surrounding area longer. I may live here, but I haven’t done a whole lot of exploring… in fact, I think I spend just as much time in Gwangju as I do in CP! Can I really therefore claim that I’m less of a tourist then the people who come here for lunch, wear super short shorts that scandalize the old women making rice cakes, take pictures of the “beautiful rustic natural Korean scenery” and then go back to their homes? Also is this really a traditional, Slow City if it’s become a tourist attraction?

Whatever it is, CP is very proud of their Slow City reputation. I’m currently sitting in the one coffee shop in CP lesson planning. This coffee shop is independently owned (so, see, it’s not a chain) and it’s called “Sloth’s Coffee.” This joke works on multiple levels – first of all a Sloth is a slow animal (ha. ha.) but secondly, Sloth could be pronounced in multiple ways with the “o” sound being pronounced as 러 (lah) or 로 (low). Though anyone who knows English and Korean would say that the first option sounds more natural, the residents and owner have chosen to pronounce it the second way, so that way this coffee shop’s name is actually “Slowth’s Coffee” – because it’s a Slow City. Ha. Ha. ㅎ_ㅎ.

DSC00091  View of my town from my bedroom window.

DSC00095   View of my town from the back of my apartment complex.

Whatever it is, genuine Slow City or hidden Tourist attraction, I still like it!

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안녕하세요! My name is Emily and when I started this blog I had received a 2010 – 2011 F*lbright grant to teach English in South Korea.  I then decided to apply to renew my grant, so I am now staying in Korea until July 2012. This blog is not an official F*lbright Program blog, and the views expressed are my own and not those of the F*lbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations.

I graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Philosophy Pre-Law and Classical Civilizations, and found myself 3 months later teaching English at SGHS. The town that I taught in, SG, is a small town of 12,000 people, an “읍” (eup) rather than a “시” (shi – city), and though it was sometimes hard teaching in such a small town I really enjoyed the unique experience of being the first foreign teacher SGHS had ever had. I lived in the largest part of the county which is significantly bigger (40,000 people) than the town the school is situated in, but is also considered rural by Korean standards.

During my second grant period (2011-2012) I decided to change schools and I currently teach at CPHS which is located in an even smaller town than previously, in Jeollanamdo.

This blog is meant to serve as a reflection not only of being a Native English Speaking teacher in Korea, but also of living as a foreigner in rural Korea.