That One Time I was Scouted by OnStyle Korea…

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

This post is part continued conversation, part appetizer for Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 3: Finding a Job in Korea. I will also be writing Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 4: Finding a Place to Live in Korea.

In Korea, scouting is a Big Deal, and being scouted is one of the best ways to find a job in Korea.

Many of Korea’s biggest talents were either scouted on the street– like Kim Tae Hee, or they were “that friend” who went to audition for fun and actually passed the audition while their friend who went for real didn’t– like So Ji Sub, or they were 낙하산, “nakhasan” or “parachutes” who got into the business by using their connections– like Mir of MBlaq.

(Check out more “how they got famous stories” featuring Korean idols HERE.)

But, my story is a little different, since I wasn’t even in Korea when I was scouted by OnStyle Korea

Back in 2011, I used to blog on Naver and post in fashion cafes there, too. While making my blogI got to practice reading and writing in Korean. While posting in fashion cafes, I got to practice “speaking” Korean. I even made a lot of Korean friends on Kakaotalk through my “activities” there.

I had been blogging for about a month or so– just off and on. Then one day– suddenly and unexpectedly, I got a 쪽지, “jjokji” or message, from a 작가, “jakka” or writer, who worked at OnStyle Korea.

To this day, I have no idea how she found me or my blog, but she said that she had seen some of my photos and thought that I would be a great fit for an up and coming reality TV show about 일반인, “ilbanin” or regular people, who become friends with 연예인, “yeonyaein” or celebrities.

Uhm, my photos? I only had a few uploaded– at least on my blog, and they were nothing special! But, they did match the concept of the show, which was about taking a closer look at the “celebrity” life through the eyes of a “regular” person.

(These are the few photos from my blog that I could find. Thankfully, one of my old friends who took them also uploaded them to her Facebook.)

2

At Pure Night Lounge~

3

At Pure Night Lounge~

The writer thought that I was Korean, which doesn’t really make sense, but I suppose she just assumed that I was Korean since I was blogging in Korean and on a Korean website.

(Again, I don’t know how she found me or my blog, and I also don’t know what photos she was talking about!)

Anyway, I started digging around, and I found the interview that she sent to me:

A screencap~

A shortened screencap~

After I filled this out with the help of my Korean friend whose mom actually writes Korean dramas– she even wrote one of my favorite ones, I sent it to the writer at Onstyle Korea. Then, we had a phone interview.

In the end, they didn’t mind that I wasn’t actually Korean. In fact, they were excited about having a “sexy” foreigner on their reality TV show; and, having foreigners on Korean variety shows is actually a trend these days. But, they did mind that I wasn’t actually in Korea, and I was already in law school at this point, so I didn’t mind staying here in America, either!

When I actually got to Korea, I was scouted again: Twice in Apgujeong, once while out shopping and once while out clubbing, but I’ve already talked about that before.

Where to get scouted and where to audition?

Definitely Seoul! Yeoksam, Apgujeong, Nonhyun, Cheongdam, Sinsa– basically, the neighborhoods of Gangnam for both scouting and in person auditions. Maybe Myeongdong and Itaewon for scouting, too.

(There’s a reason why Kim Woo Bin left the countryside of South Korea to pursue his dreams in Seoul!)

So, for the girls that I have been talking to lately who are interested in modeling in Korea or being a part of the entertainment industry in Korea, this post is meant to encourage you to learn Korean and go to Korea– after all, it was really my knowledge of Korean and trip to Korea that gave me access to many of these opportunities.

If any of us are actually serious about our dreams to take ourselves where we want to go or to take the world where we want it to go, then we’ve got to get out there, and we’ve got to put ourselves out there.

After all, Mark Twain said the following:

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”

Wise words, Twain, wise words.

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Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 2: Studying Abroad in Korea

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

These days, many high school, college, and graduate school students from around the world are interested in studying abroad in Korea. However, whether you are studying abroad in Korea just to have fun and learn about Korean language and Korean culture OR to prepare for a life and a career in Korea, it’s important to find the study abroad program that is right for you!

BUT, if you are studying abroad in Korea to prepare for a life and a career in Korea, then you have to be a lot more serious about where you go to school and what you decide to study while in school:

You have to find a study abroad program offered at a school that will look good on your resume and impress Korean employers. You also have to find a study abroad program with classes that offer educational, practical, and professional experience in your chosen field so that that you can succeed, or at least get hired, when you finally start looking for a job in Korea.

So, for students who are interested in studying abroad in Korea in order to prepare for a life and a career there, this one’s for you.

1. Pick your career path and (try to) stick to it BEFORE you decide to study abroad!

I studied psychology and fashion design before somehow ending up at law school. I always wanted to study abroad, but it was only after I was sure about my career path in law that I decided to study abroad at a law school in Korea and learn more about life in Korea from studying and working to dating and everything in between.

(I was lucky, because after a quick search I found a study abroad program on international law offered by Fordham University School of Law– one that took place over summer at the Sungkyunkwan University School of Law in Seoul, South Korea.)

 If you are interested in seeing what career paths are available to foreigners in Korea– to foreigners who do or don’t speak Korean, then the best place to look might surprise you: Craigslist Seoul.

Once you’re on CL Seoul, just browse through the job listings that best fit your chosen career path or field.

(For example, I would look at the “legal/paralegal” or “government” job listings, but less traditional fields like marketing, entertainment, writing, etc., will have more results and better results. In addition, it wouldn’t hurt to send an email to potential employers and do a little networking, either, but I’ll talk more about finding a job in Korea in Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 3: Finding a Job in Korea.)

You can also look for study abroad programs that fit with your career path at these Top Ten schools:

Seoul National University

Yonsei University

Korea University

Pohang University of Science and Technology

Ewha Women’s University

Sungkyunkwan University

Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology

Pusan National University

Hanyang University

Hankuk University of Foreign Studies

Okay, so you’ve picked your career path and a study abroad program that fits with it, but when should you study abroad– later?

No, because…

2. The sooner you study abroad, the better!

If you can fund your study abroad through working a job or two and getting a tuition loan or scholarship, then there is no reason to put off studying abroad– the sooner you go, the better.

Why?

Well, you’ll get to see if living– studying, working and dating, in Korea is something you actually want to do; and, by attending a school in Korea, you’ll also get meet peers and professionals who you can network with later on when you are trying to find a job in Korea.

 Many schools offer fall, spring, summer, and even winter semesters abroad– along with exchange programs, so take a look at your wallet and your calendar and start those applications, but ONLY if you…

3. Already know the requirements of your study abroad program and have made sure that you meet them!

Applying was a painless, simple process for me, and many of you will be able to apply directly to schools in Korea or through study abroad programs like CIEE; although, those applications are a LOT more complicated.

However, most study abroad programs in Korea only take students from accredited universities– not community colleges; and, your GPA (usually) matters.

However, Hanyang University’s International Summer Institute (HISS) takes ALL students:

“In order to participate in HISS, students must be enrolled in a college or university program, or at least need to have graduated from high school. The average age of students on HISS is between 18 and 25. If you meet these requirements, you can proceed to the application procedure below.”

(Check out the HISS application HERE.)

Studying abroad in Korea is another big step in preparing for life in Korea, and make your study abroad in Korea count by thinking about your future– not just having fun.

For more on studying abroad in Korea go HERE to read more about the following: the admissions process, languages of study, programs of study, and scholarships.

HERE is another helpful site, but like most Korean sites, it’s pretty… but a little overwhelming!

Preparing for Life in Korea, Part 1: Learning Korean

*The “Preparing for Life in Korea” Series*

Introduction

Learning Korean is the first part in a three-part series on “Preparing for Life in Korea,” because it is the most important part of preparing for life in Korea.

Even though in most countries around the world you are likely to encounter people who speak English, in Asian countries like Korea and China, you are not likely to encounter people who speak English; although, I’m not sure people realize that until they actually go to Korea!

(I asked my best friend, who is Chinese, about whether or not people in China speak English. She said, “Not really,” which is exactly what I said about whether or not people in Korea speak English.) 

Being able to at least speak Korean– even though I can read and write Korean, helped me talk to everyone from realtors to taxi drivers to shop owners.  I got to meet people in Korea– like everyone else, but because I spoke Korean, I also got to make friends with them and network with them, too, which is a big part of living in Korea and not just living in a small bubble in Korea, one filled with the few foreigners and Koreans who DO speak English.

Once YOU learn Korean, you can communicate– talk tomeetmake friends, and network, with people in Korea. You can even apply to schools and for internships and jobs that most foreigners don’t know about or have access to because they don’t speak Korean.

So, in “Preparing for Life in Korea,” I’ll also talk about Studying Abroad in Korea, where I’ll talk about how to find the study abroad program in Korea that’s right for you, and Finding a Job in Korea, where I’ll talk about how to get the internship or job in Korea that’s right for you.

(Speaking Korean is also a valuable skill both on and off of your resume; for example, if you want to date a Korean boy– or girl, while you are in Korea, then it definitely helps to speak Korean!^^)

Learning Korean

Learning Korean~

Learning Korean~

Learning Korean is a lot easier than learning Japanese or Chinese, but once you actually learn the alphabet, which is similar enough to English’s alphabet in its use of consonants and vowels, then you suddenly hit a really big (red) brick wall called “Grammar.”

English is a Subject-Verb-Object language based on syntax, or word order:

“I-like-EXO.”

In English, you can never say anything but “I” followed by “like” followed by “EXO,” because word order defines meaning.

However, Korean is a Subject-Object-Verb language based on morphology, or word structure:

I-EXO-like, or “나는-EXO를-좋아하다.”

In Korean, you CAN say “나는 좋아해, EXO를,” because the word structure defines meaning. For example, 는- is a “marker” for the subject, “를” is a “marker” for the object, and “하다, 해요, 해, etc.” marks the verb.

(There are so many verb endings in Korean…) 

Warning:

좋아하다 (to like) needs an object marker: EXO.

However, don’t confuse this with 좋다 (to be good), which needs a subject marker: EXO.

Okay, I barely scratched the surface of the Korean alphabet and Korean grammar, but you might already be confused! So, let’s talk about what you need to do AND what you’re probably doing wrong.

Learning Korean… The Right Way?

1. Learn the Korean Alphabet!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/unit0lesson1/)

I started out by learning the Korean alphabet– NOT the romanization of Korean words and phrases. I don’t suggest learning the romanization of Korean words and phrases, either, which– now that I think about it,  is what most people do.

Why?

Well, you won’t be able to make the transition from learning letters, words, and even phrases (basic vocabulary can be understood through romanization) to being able to put letters together to build words, phrases, and sentences (complex grammar can not).

2. Learn How to “Stack” Korean Characters Together to Build Words!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit0/unit0lesson1/)

I was always (and still am) amazed by how Korean characters turned into words– almost like Legos or something:

ㄴ+ㅏ= 나 (I, or “na“)

ㄴ + ㅏ + ㅁ = 남 (stranger, or “nam“)

ㄴ+ㅏ+ㅁ+ㅈ+ㅏ= 남자 (man, or “namja“)

3.  Learn How To Make Simple Sentences!

(http://www.howtostudykorean.com/unit1/unit-1-lessons-1-8/)

Remember when you learned your first language? Okay, maybe you don’t, but AFTER learning the alphabet and how to make words using letters (or characters), then you were finally ready to make simple sentences with a subject, verb, and object (or subject, object, and verb.)

Learning Korean is no different. Just because you are older that doesn’t mean you get to skip steps– it just means you can– hopefully, get through them a little faster!

4. Listen to Korean!

The most important part of learning a language is being able to “hear” it, or turn sounds coming into your ear into words once they “land” in your head.

I took Italian for two years, but I could never “hear” it. I started being able to “hear” Korean very quickly, because I spent so much time listening to Korean music and watching Korean shows.

So, the more you listen to Korean, the more you’ll “hear” Korean.

5. Read and Speak Korean!

The best funnest and easiest way to learn how to read and speak Korean is to sing it. If you can’t go to Karaoke (노래방, or “noraebang”), then just get on Youtube at home, turn on your favorite song with 한글, or “hangul,” and start singing along!

(One of the first songs my friends and I learned!)

6. Converse in Korean!

(http://www.talktomeinkorean.com/)

I also spent a lot of time talking to my first love, K.H.S., and my ex-boyfriend in Korean. I still speak Korean a lot, too, especially with the owner of the Korean bar and my Korean friends.

7. Make Korean friends!

(http://mykoreanfriends.com/xe/)

Because, Korean friends will help you learn Korean!

8. Watch Korean Variety Shows!

Finally, along with switching your time spent learning Korean romanization to time spent learning the Korean alphabet, you should also make sure to get your eyes out of a textbook– from time to time, which has what I call “bad” Korean, and onto a Korean variety show. Why?

Well, textbook Korean tends to be very formal and stiff. Let’s take the word 당신, or “dangshin,” for an example. 

Please, do NOT use 당신 as the casual pronoun “you.” It’s much closer to meaning “darling,” but it’s ALSO often used when the person you are speaking to is being rude. Be careful using “너,” or “neo,”which means “you,” too. It’s okay to use if you are close with the person you are speaking to AND if he or she is younger than you, or at least the same age as you. If you are not close with the person you are speaking to, then use his or her name + “씨” if they are similar in age and status to you. If they are older or higher in status– say, a teacher, then use his or her name + “님.”

For more on what the Korean words you are using really mean, go to Naver’s Dictionary; and, if you really want to learn the words that Koreans use, as well as how they put them together into phrases and sentences, then don’t forget to watch a Korean variety show!

(That’s how I learn new vocabulary along with popular Korean speech patterns, like acronyms; and, Running Man is one of the best Korean variety shows, so be sure to check it out HERE.)

So, learning Korean is the first step in preparing for life in Korea, and it’s a big one!

Do you have any tips on learning Korean? Do you know any other great Korean language websites?

If so, then leave them in the comments to share with everyone else.