ROK Drop

Avatar of GI KoreaBy on May 30th, 2011 at 8:37 am

GAO Critical of Costs of USFK Transformation

It looks like this may be further evidence that the USFK transformation may not happen as originally planned:

A report by the Government Accountability Office shows the realignment of forces in South Korea, Japan and Guam could cost the United States and its allies more than $46 billion this decade. Military estimates of the various components have been inaccurate or nonexistent, the report said.  (………….)

The report adds to growing doubt in recent weeks over the long-planned overhaul in the region, which could eventually allow servicemembers in South Korea to bring families along for three-year tours, reduce the controversial presence of Marines on Okinawa, and turn Guam into a major military hub in the Pacific.  (………)

In South Korea, the DOD has so far identified $18 billion in costs but does not know the full price tag of the realignment, which includes consolidating forces south of Seoul and giving soldiers longer three-year tours so they can bring along families, the GAO said.

The accompanied tours will mean moving thousands of DOD civilians into South Korea and require the construction of schools, hospitals and other facilities to support them. At Camp Humphreys, where most of the new residents would live, the military plans to add more than 1,000 new structures, including five new schools and assorted housing plus 2,320 acres of new land at an estimated cost of $13.1 billion, according to the GAO. But the increase in population will require seven additional schools and additional increases in housing, post offices and commissaries. The plan may also requiring buying even more land, the GAO said.

Work has already begun on the project without considering the addition needs and costly modifications could be needed after major construction begins, according to the report.

The longer tours could also require U.S. pilots to travel to Alaska for required training because Osan Air Base is shared with Korean forces and cannot provide enough flight opportunities to train during a three-year deployment, the report said.

DOD is moving thousands of dependents to South Korea and building hundreds of new facilities “without fully understanding the costs involved or considering potential alternatives that might more efficiently achieve its strategic objectives,” the report said.  [Stars & Stripes]

It is surprising that USFK planners apparently didn’t consider the costs of all the infrastructure to support bringing families to Korea.  You would think this would be one of the first things they would have taken into consideration before making such a decision to bring more families to Korea?

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  • Jeff
    9:26 am on May 30th, 2011 1

    If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. No need to mess up the USFK tours with more family members. Leave it be.

  • Gary
    11:00 am on May 30th, 2011 2

    USFK is focused on bending over backwards for families but how about improving tours for the majority, the unaccompanied & single Soldiers!

    Here’s an idea. Allow NCOs in the ranks of E5 and E6 to own and operate a POV. Trust is placed in fresh out of AIT Soldiers to drive, simply because they have brought their spouse. Then why are combat experienced LEADERS not given the same privilege? It improves quality of life and it costs nothing.

  • kushibo
    11:19 am on May 30th, 2011 3

    How much of this cost the GAO is talking about related to the actual move? It seems a lot of it is related not to getting out of Seoul but bringing families in.

    The move out of Yongsan is overdue and if it does not happen or seems to be delayed indefinitely, it’s going to cause a lot of unnecessary tension.

    If cost is such an issue, then maybe pared down or revised plans are in order. A smaller footprint on Okinawa might work out well, especially if combined with new bases not on Guam (where a lot of people don’t want them because they take up so much scarce land) but on the Japanese mainland where dying towns might actually welcome the new infusion of economic activity that comes with the bases.

    But at any rate, the move from Yongsan to Pyongtaek should go through.

  • Cloying Odor
    2:38 pm on May 30th, 2011 4

    “It is surprising that USFK planners apparently didn’t consider the costs of all the infrastructure to support bringing families to Korea”

    Have you been to Camp Casey lately? The whole ‘give everyone a car’ thing is a complete disaster. They brought tons of families over and improved almost Zero infrastructure… unless you count the school which is an Epic Fail for it’s placement on the base. The least they could have done is widen the Commissary aisles to make room for all the Battle Cattle.

    USFK Planning is an oxymoron much like Military Intelligence.

  • Maui
    3:57 pm on May 30th, 2011 5

    This well be a disaster both functional and politically if they delay this move and longer than it has been. If seen and experienced first hand the results of being stuck in a interim transformation posture that we’re in at the time. Between the different commanders adding additional support requirements (ie dependents), then also realizing the purposed outside support structure is not up to standard as compared to Seoul or Daegu. Someone needs to clip the wings of what I would call these “feature fairies”. Every couple months someone or group adds on another “feature” needed at USAG-H throwing additional cost requirements into the mix. The PAX requirements only was for unaccompanied service members, now with the onset of dependents times the cost requirements by a factor of two to three.
    Someone outside of USFK should govern this transformation program, and the is just an additional duty to most commanders here, IMHO those additional costs came from the one to two turnaround of commanders, each year or so someone had to put their “Mark” on the plan.

  • Orbit
    4:11 pm on May 30th, 2011 6

    As if south korea isnt’ already over populated..

  • kushibo
    4:19 pm on May 30th, 2011 7

    Orbit, I’m not sure what you’re getting at. USFK moving out of Seoul would be a boon to solving Korea’s overpopulation problem (if that’s really a problem anyway).

  • guitard
    4:44 pm on May 30th, 2011 8


    The move out of Yongsan is overdue and if it does not happen or seems to be delayed indefinitely, it’s going to cause a lot of unnecessary tension.

    Tension with whom? If you are referring to the Koreans – I disagree.

    US Forces have been in Yongsan since the late 1940s – you’d be hard pressed to find someone who remembers when it was anything other than a US military base. It’s part of the landscape.

    On top of that – a lot of wealthy apartment owners owe part of their financial success to the thousands of local apartments that USFK members rent. Civilians pay two year’s worth of rent at a time (typically well over $100K – all in one shot). And it isn’t like key money – the owner gets to keep it – and he gets another $100K+ two years later.

    When’s the last time an anti-USFK group held a demonstration of any significant size at a Yongsan gate? It’s been a while.

    It’s just not an issue with any traction.

  • kushibo
    5:25 pm on May 30th, 2011 9

    Guitard wrote:

    Tension with whom? If you are referring to the Koreans – I disagree.

    US Forces have been in Yongsan since the late 1940s – you’d be hard pressed to find someone who remembers when it was anything other than a US military base. It’s part of the landscape.

    Respectfully, I think you misunderstand the problem.

    While it has been a part of the landscape for over six decades (longer if you count the Japanese military presence), it has been a bone of contention for the past two or three decades at least. Seoul has grown up around the Garrison, which is no longer on the outskirts of the capital but smack in the middle of it.

    Not only does this mean the military (and there is disgruntlement at ROK facilities sometimes as well) is using prime real estate that could be used for parks and/or housing, but it is also a constant reminder of a foreign military presence in the capital. While USFK would take up more real estate in Pyongtaek, the perceived insult of having a large foreign force in the capital would be removed. While the Americans saved the South’s samgyŏpsal, the foreign occupation force is reminiscent of the Japanese and the Chinese before them.

    Whether it’s fair or not, this is the contemporary view. It matters not that USFK is occupying the same land it has for decades.

    On top of that – a lot of wealthy apartment owners owe part of their financial success to the thousands of local apartments that USFK members rent. Civilians pay two year’s worth of rent at a time (typically well over $100K – all in one shot). And it isn’t like key money – the owner gets to keep it – and he gets another $100K+ two years later.

    What you fail to realize is that the number of homeowners whose properties are going skyward because of the announced move out of Yongsan far outnumber those who make money in the way you describe.

    Yongsan’s redevelopment outside the Han River belt was directly related to announcement of the Garrison’s move out of Yongsan. The price of property in worn-down Yongsan neighborhoods doubled or tripled (mine included, though it was because of Halmŏni, who had lived there since 1947, that I chose to buy in northern Yongsan-gu).

    There would be hell to pay if that decision were reversed. Now that the redevelopment has begun, the value of the homes may stay high just on the momentum of having new homes conveniently located in the middle of the city, but if Yongsan isn’t turned into a park for whatever reason — e.g., the Garrison staying put or Seoul or Yongsan Ward officials pulling a fast one and putting apartments in the former Garrison — there would be hell to pay.

    When’s the last time an anti-USFK group held a demonstration of any significant size at a Yongsan gate? It’s been a while.

    The last time I was there on a Friday at lunchtime, they were still there between Gates 5 and 10, but that was in 2009.

    It’s just not an issue with any traction.

    It’s no longer an issue because USFK said they’re moving the Garrison. If they were to renege, then watch that good will dissipate.

  • Leon LaPorte
    5:26 pm on May 30th, 2011 10

    Shocking. Really. USFK’s plans are unrealistic and mostly undoable. Color me blue.

    /been a naysayer from the beginning
    //I’m always right

  • guitard
    6:27 pm on May 30th, 2011 11

    kushibo said:

    Respectfully, I think you misunderstand the problem.

    I have lived right smack dab in the middle of this for several years – I speak Korean very fluently – and I’m very much in tune with the atmospherics surrounding Yongsan.

    Basically what I’m saying is that it isn’t nearly the problem that you suggest it is. If it were – you’d hear more about it and you’d hear it on a more frequent basis.

    But other than a few radical NGOs – you hardly hear a peep. And it’s been this way for a long time.

    If it’s such a major issue – and if it’s such a big insult – why the silence?

  • kushibo
    7:35 pm on May 30th, 2011 12

    Guitard, the reason for the “silence” is that the general public is largely unaware of any plans to reverse the decision to move Yongsan Garrison.

    You hardly hear a peep because everyone thinks they will soon get what they’ve wanted all along. Take that away and you’ll hear lots of peeps from the peeps.

  • guitard
    7:49 pm on May 30th, 2011 13

    But it’s hardly a secret. The press reports on the delays with a fair amount of regularity.

    In spite of that…silence…

  • Chris Hiler
    7:53 pm on May 30th, 2011 14

    I would be interested to hear about any civilian type jobs. I am veterans of the area (2/17) who would like to come back for a stint.

  • kushibo
    7:55 pm on May 30th, 2011 15

    Guitard, they occasionally report delays, not a reversal of the decision to move.

  • guitard
    7:58 pm on May 30th, 2011 16

    You should come over for a visit first…look around…and then decide if you want a job here. You could make some face-to-face contacts that way also. It’s pretty rare to get a job here (civilian or contract) based on experience & resume. The ol’ saying “It ain’t what you know – it’s who you know” is the way it works here. Actually…that’s the way it works just about everywhere.

  • guitard
    8:05 pm on May 30th, 2011 17


    Guitard, they occasionally report delays, not a reversal of the decision to move.

    The fact that we’re discussing it here is proof enough that it’s in the public domain. You are grossly under estimating the local Koreans’ level of awareness if you think any of this is a secret to them.

    I had a discussion about it with my Korean neighbor recently. He was fully aware of the situation – and said he heard it from his realtor. Anecdotal evidence…but I’m sure that’s typical of many Koreans living in Yongsan.

  • kushibo
    8:08 pm on May 30th, 2011 18

    Guitard, do you stand to make any money on real estate in Yongsan?

    When I bought my place, based purely on knowledge of the area, I anticipated it might go up 20% or so in a couple years, optimistically, and I recommended to quite a few friends and relatives that they consider buying where I did. No one took me up on the offer, in part because the area seemed so unlikely as a good investment. But the place tripled in value before the economic crisis hit, and even since then it has remained steady.

    It’s too late to make such an investment in Yongsan-gu, but I know a few places elsewhere in Seoul that I think stand to go up in a similar way. They’re neglected areas, but in five to ten years they stand a good chance of being “discovered.”

  • kushibo
    8:11 pm on May 30th, 2011 19

    The fact that we’re discussing it here is proof enough that it’s in the public domain.

    There’s a very different flow of information in English and in Korean. What gets covered in Korean is the occasional delay, but there’s every bit the expectation that the move is going ahead.

    By contrast, here in English, there is a fairly recent discussion of halting the move altogether. Right now it’s merely a discussion, but if it came to such a decision — and were that decision reported as such in the Korean-language media — you would see a bunch of people get very angry.

  • Leon LaPorte
    8:14 pm on May 30th, 2011 20

    The truth is this: a great majority of Koreans do not give a rats ass one way or the other.

  • Chris Hiler
    9:18 pm on May 30th, 2011 21


    Thanks for the word. If I find myself in a position to go there I will. In the meantime perhaps you would not mind helping me build a social network of contacts there. My e-mail is and I’m also on facebook as
    Chris Hiler. Thanks!

  • buddha
    9:26 pm on May 30th, 2011 22

    i just love how all the apartments aroud yongsan have sprung up and continue to do so with the recurring them of _____ Park
    this place will never be a park because its not leaving anytime soon

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:31 pm on May 30th, 2011 23

    #21 Do you have an active security clearance? Almost all the good (well paying) jobs are IT related with security clearance. Also, CCK are some real asses and make up rules as they go along. If you come, make your stay short or you may find you can NEVER work on installation for the rest of your natural life. Be prepared to surrender mortgages, leases, utility bills and whatever else they may dream up that day. Be advised, they love to collect PII but are not so good at safeguarding it.

  • Orbit
    9:32 pm on May 30th, 2011 24

    #7 My bad, I didn’t bother to read the whole paragraph. lol

  • Chris Hiler
    9:36 pm on May 30th, 2011 25

    Leon LaPorte,
    I don’t have a security clearance now would pass a test for it. I have nothing adverse on my record. Also as for the type of work I would want .. Well I’m very flexible but am mainly interested in teaching, either English to Koreans as a second language or English to G.I.s through a possible satellite campus. I would also be very interested in getting into the import/export business. I plan on becoming fluent in Korean and love many aspects of Korean art. Please let me know what CCK and PII are, thanks!

  • someotherguy
    9:52 pm on May 30th, 2011 26

    “The least they could have done is widen the Commissary aisles to make room for all the Battle Cattle.”

    Oh lord don’t get me started. I’ve noticed it down here in Deagu that there seems more “familys” then usual. And while this has typically been a family-friendly station, it was a good mix of FWW from the states and local K-moms. Lately its been nothing but loads of FWW’s everywhere. Seriously where do these guys find these women? Are they actually marrying them when their this large or do the women just grow to this size? I’ve never understood how any self-respecting male could marry a women three times his size who’s a$$ cheek is larger then a keg.

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:52 pm on May 30th, 2011 27

    Sorry, CCK is Contracting Command Korea and PII is Personal Identifying Information (think social security number, etc).

    It takes 6 months to a year for a secret (sometimes more, especially if you’ve never had one) for a contractor to get a security clearance. Needless to say, not too many companies are going to hire, spend the money and wait all that time with you on the payroll. So, that is likely out.

    I can’t really speak much about the English teaching profession but others here can. I do believe a 4 year degree is required to do so legally AND you must enter the country with a teaching visa (you cannot change from one visa to another in country, if memory serves). Some of you ESL folks correct me if I’m wrong.

    As far as teaching on post, you’d probably need to be recruited in the US (likely U of M or some such). I’m pretty sure you would still have to deal with the CCK folks because it’s a SOFA status job. Not really sure what the demand is. The teachers on post who I know often have masters and doctorates.

    Import/export? Hmmm. I know a Turk who dabbles in it. The only American I know who does it for a living has a law degree and is an “international lawyer”.

    Not trying to discourage you but want to give you the facts.

    Anyone else have some advice or knowledge in these areas?

  • Chris Hiler
    9:55 pm on May 30th, 2011 28

    #27, thanks for the frank information!

  • Leon LaPorte
    9:56 pm on May 30th, 2011 29

    someotherguy. I’m not going to tell you again, “battle cattle” has been outmoded. the term is simply is not derogatory enough. The term is now”dependapotamus” (pl. dependapotimi). Try to keep it straight and don’t let them charge you. :lol:

    /that is all

  • Chris Hiler
    9:59 pm on May 30th, 2011 30

    Sounds like my best chance would be to get over there as an ESL instructor. I do have a degree in English which was a prep for a Masters in that area. I will also get a certification from a local institute here first. I plan on being well prepared if I make a move like this.

  • Leon LaPorte
    10:02 pm on May 30th, 2011 31

    Cool. I don’t know how much you expect to make. As I recall, many English teachers made 2,000,000 won a month or less though they might be provided with a place to live. That is very dated knowledge and some of the upper echelon teachers surely make more but I don’t know the prerequisites. I’ve always heard the hagwan life can be tough. Make sure you do your homework!

  • ChickenHead
    10:18 pm on May 30th, 2011 32

    Chris Hiler,

    There is a BIG difference between working for the military, teaching English to Koreans, and “getting into the import/export business”… and there are completely different requirements and strategies necessary for each one.

    1. As for working with the military, there are lots of people who want these jobs who have decades-long relationships with others in the field… not to mention a history of demonstrating they can be trained and can go along with the military program… and some of them even have some skills and experience.

    You aren’t going to build this kind of relationship or demonstrate these abilities in a couple of weeks with a Facebook page and a sincere plea for people to help you out.

    If you have no security clearance and aren’t a military spouse your chance of showing up and getting a job is somewhere around… uh… zero… maybe lower.

    2. Teaching English to Koreans is possible if you have a university degree. A quick Internet search will find a broker who can place you at a private Korean English school.

    There are a lot of losers doing this who don’t really want a job… they just want a paycheck… and, for the most part, they get it.

    If you have no degree but you have a lot of balls, you could just show up and go door-to-door offering to speak English for cash.

    If you have some money to blow for a month or so, you could hang out buying a lot of drinks in bars where English teachers hang out. If you are likeable, somebody will eventually pass some private classes your way.

    If you don’t have some seed money to get that program rolling, a big-eyed puppy and sign that says “Will Speak English for Food or Dog Food” might work.

    3. One doesn’t just show up with the good intentions of learning the local language and a fine appreciation of Korean art and slip right into the import/export business.

    If you really, really, really want to do this, perhaps it’s better to give it a try in the United States where you can speak the language and can understand the laws, rules, paperwork, and regulations, without having to use Google Translate.

    If that works out for you, come on over to Korea and compete with the tens of thousands of other import/export companies with years of experience and a lifetimes of social and business connections.

    Can you think of any great things America produces and Korea needs or that Korea produces and America needs? See, you didn’t even need to come to Korea to get into the Korean import/export business.

    Anyway, that’s my quick take on the whole situation. Good luck to you.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    10:44 pm on May 30th, 2011 33

    “the country with a teaching visa (you cannot change from one visa to another in country, if memory serves”

    You can now. This past time, I came using the no-visa agreement between the US-SK. Then I got hired with the Seoul school district. Since I had held a visa in Korea before (about 8 years previous), I did not have to leave the country to change over from a no-visa tourist to an E-2 teaching one.

    Even if it had been my first time in Korea, I could have changed visas – but I would have had to fly to Japan and visit the Korean embassy or consulate there.

  • Chris Hiler
    10:59 pm on May 30th, 2011 34


    Thanks for the frank information. I do have a degree in ESL and will network a good teaching position before I’d “just show up.” This is not something I’m planning on doing right away and can check out more information on my end here. As for what Korean products I would want to import to the U.S. my main thinking was textiles but that whole idea is very tenuous. I’m more specifically focused on the idea of teaching.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    11:26 pm on May 30th, 2011 35

    34 – Go to Dave’s ESL Cafe and the Korea forums – job related.

    There are plenty of people there with current info.

    Expect some typical “everybody’s an a-hole (but me)” people to piss on you just for asking questions, but there are plenty of people who’ve been in the ESL market for a few years who will help a newbie…

  • guitard
    12:07 am on May 31st, 2011 36

    These guys put a comedic spin on it – but here’s a pretty decent comparison of teaching English in Korea: public school vs private school (AKA hakwon).

  • someotherguy
    12:09 am on May 31st, 2011 37

    Well there is one sure fire way to get a clearance. All you have to do is visit your local recruiting station, go through MEPS and when the counselor tries to assign you a MOS be sure to only accept one (you actually get a choice) that requires a clearance. Then wait on reception, BCT (Boot Camp) and AIT, sometime between AIT and your first duty station you’ll get the final interview and *poof* clearance granted. Now your in a position to network with lots of people and establish those decades old relationships and job networks. Of course learning to dodge bullets and occasionally return the favor will be required. Working sh1tty hours and being told to do down right annoying things for little reason then someone higher up wants a 91% vs a 90% on some piece of paper is expected. Do that for a few years and you’ll be set.

    And as a bonus, they’ll pay off any student loans you happened to acquire, but only if your enlisted.

  • Chris Hiler
    1:06 am on May 31st, 2011 38


    I did that in ’82 and served at Camp Pelham in ’83. I did notice an awful lot of bitterness in the enlisted ranks but I very much enjoyed my time there.

  • ChickenHead
    1:15 am on May 31st, 2011 39


    If you have an ESL certification, you are way ahead of most others and should have little problem finding a job at a private Korean English school… assuming you also have a 4-year degree.

    There are also positions at Korean universities that can be easy to get… as there are lots of flakes “teaching” English… and someone who looks and acts “professorly” is hard to come by… and is in demand… and an advanced degree is not necessary.

    There are ways to better your chances of winding up at a good school. Many here can discuss them.

    As for textile export from Korea, is there a big demand in the USA for slimy earthtone polyester and white dress socks? That’s a joke… sorta.

    I helped a company export their products to Africa and SE Asia. It wasn’t a job… but I got white envelopes and free trips when I was useful. There was a LOT to learn. The biggest thing I learned that applies to you is that the non-Korean importer or exporter will be replaced by a Korean at the first chance.

    Anyway, it sounds like you can get an English teaching job easily… or even immediately… so run with it.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    1:33 am on May 31st, 2011 40

    I don’t know – it seemed to me online TESOL certificates were becoming a dime a dozen. It seemed every 3rd ESLer I met was taking or had taken a few weeks of courses online to get it.

    I got my teaching license (certification) backhome through regular college course work at the MA level, but here in Korea, they seem to be viewed pretty much the same…

    Probably in a few years, most ESLers in Korea will have 4 year degrees in anything with “TESOL certification”.

  • ChickenHead
    1:42 am on May 31st, 2011 41

    Considering your last post, it is easier to get a job at 22 than at 50.

    Your look and energy level are going to be very, very important to a private English school owner.

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:53 am on May 31st, 2011 42

    Blond hair helps…hakwon or public school…

    Look is more important than energy level – especially to the hakwons.

    But I’ve got experience and a sense of humor. I can entertain kids and adults. And entertainment is a key part of teaching in Korea – hakwon or public school.

  • Leon LaPorte
    4:09 am on May 31st, 2011 43

    It is surprising that USFK planners apparently didn’t consider the costs of all the infrastructure to support bringing families to Korea. You would think this would be one of the first things they would have taken into consideration before making such a decision to bring more families to Korea?

    :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: Have you ever worked with USFK or 8(A) “Planners”? :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

  • Avatar of GI KoreaGI Korea
    6:36 am on May 31st, 2011 44

    Leon, no I have never worked at 8th Army or USFK but it seems like common sense that if you are planning to bring more families to Korea that you would take into consideration the costs of something as basic as having enough housing, schools, and commissaries to support them.

  • Chris Hiler
    10:04 am on May 31st, 2011 45


    Again thanks for the information. My style and age are older and more reserved then most, and my usage of English is very conservative so I do feel that I might stand out as a bit of an oddity. Part of what is driving me to consider teaching there is that the job market in the U.S. is pretty bad now and my area of expertise (Mutual Fund Operations in Finance) has largely dissipated from the area in which I live. So I’m looking to turn over a radically new leaf. Teaching English abroad is one of two options I want to cultivate for the future. It does not look as though it pays enough though unless my wife finds a high enough paying job that she could keep our apartment here while I work in Korea with the goal of saving up as much as I can. I appreciate the information I’m getting on this site so I don’t walk stupidly or blind into a desperate situation. For a single person though it does seem that this would be a viable option.

  • Chris Hiler
    10:12 am on May 31st, 2011 46


    I was all ready to get a masters in TESOL but it pays very low in the U.S. and I didn’t want to spend two years in a Masters Program to be able to earn decent money overseas only. I have found two shorter certification programs, one of which is St. Giles, and was interested to see that you felt Korean employers didn’t make a distinction between a highly linguistic program , such as that offered my San Francisco State, versus a faster program (one to three months) offered by smaller private institutions here.

  • ChickenHead
    11:18 am on May 31st, 2011 47


    Some further thoughts based on knowledge and experience…

    In Korean private English school education, edutainment usually (always?) wins out over pure education.

    There are many reasons for this… but the short version is a guy who doesn’t really teach but is likable and fun, and keeps people interested in his speaking, is generally (always?) a much more successful “teacher” than the poor guys with advanced education degrees who take it all so seriously and plan detailed lessons filled with complex lectures that are loaded with useful information but would bore the kimchee out of ajuma’s pot.

    Based on what you said, it sounds as if you would be suited for a university job where a more conservative and academic approach is appreciated by the administration and ignored by the hundred-plus students in the class who just need to show up to fill an English requirement and are all busy checking out celerity gossip on their smartphones anyway.

    If you can smile and act pleasant, be ultra-respectful and cooperative to administrators and professors, and wear a suit instead of whatever you found on the floor that morning… and accept that university English classes aren’t really about teaching English, you will do well.

    So, the magic question is… how does one get a job like this from America?

    I don’t know.

    I get offered one at least once a year… and I wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole as there is about zero job satisfaction… and regardless of how cool you think you are walking around saying you are a “professor”, the real professors who have jumped through unimaginable hoops to achieve their positions know you are just a warm body the university had to hire based on the luck of where you were born.

    Further, universities frequently have irritating demands… my favorite being mandatory office hours (once a week) during vacation season… so there will be no sitting on a beach in Thailand… since the other professors have to pretend to look busy during the vacation season so nobody considers them lazy.

    But, if you can endure this kind of thing, you may love a university job.

    Now, back to getting one. It seems most universities hire in-country… better the round-eye devil you know… etc.

    I think everyone I know at a university came to work at a private school on a one-year contract and then presented themselves at universities and asked for a job. When the university was ready to hire, they called them up… sometimes forcing them to break their contract.

    If you make a better impression than the competition or, as is frequently the case, they have few choices, you get the position.

    Hope that helps.

    There may be other opinions on this from other readers here… but that’s a very narrow slice of how I see it.

  • Chris Hiler
    11:31 am on May 31st, 2011 48


    Thanks again. I will read and re-read your last entry #47.
    I am also an experienced actor and am all for fun so I could be an engaging funny instructor. I really don’t want an oppressively serious classroom environment. I would really be there just to save some cash while enjoying an immersion experience in Korean culture. “a warm body the university” is an employed body….lol. Seriously though status on campus is not something I would expect.

  • Cloying Odor
    1:44 pm on May 31st, 2011 49

    Koreans would hire a piece of drift wood to teach English if it had blond hair and blue eyes….. and could talk of course.

  • Chris Hiler
    1:52 pm on May 31st, 2011 50

    Cloying Odor,

    White about white haired scary looking old guys who remind them of Max Von Sydow in the Exorcist? (actually I’m not that old but I do look like him)

  • Chris Hiler
    1:52 pm on May 31st, 2011 51

    oops..s/b be “what about” not “white about”

  • Avatar of USinKoreaUSinKorea
    3:51 pm on May 31st, 2011 52

    White hair and older age will make things will make finding the better and average jobs harder. If you stay in country a couple of years and want to move to any non-ESL jobs you can find, it might be better, but youth and youthful looking is a plus in the ESL market.

  • Cloying Odor
    2:38 am on June 1st, 2011 53

    It’s a plus in the PHT market as well.

  • Leon LaPorte
    2:43 am on June 1st, 2011 54

    GI KOREA: Leon, no I have never worked at 8th Army or USFK but it seems like common sense that if you are planning to bring more families to Korea that you would take into consideration the costs of something as basic as having enough housing, schools, and commissaries to support them.

    You would never make it as a planner. You gotta be at least 3 steps behind the curve at all times. Ugly surprises are especially welcome. :razz:

  • ChickenHead
    4:56 am on June 1st, 2011 55

    C. Odor,

    It might be a plus… but, like ESL, it is not a requirement.

    Songtan Sally ain’t unemployeed.

  • david wester
    2:29 pm on June 1st, 2011 56

    I thought I might ask you this, as it appears you are knowledgable on the subject. I work in the U.S. now for the federal government (non-military). I work in I.T. and have a year and a half to go before retirement. I would love to get a federal job there in Korea, and dont mind putting off retirement. Given this, what would your advice be? I have the advantage of just going ahead and retiring in Dec 2012, so that can be added to the mix. Thanks in advance.

  • guitard
    4:02 pm on June 1st, 2011 57

    @56: That’s an easy one – go ahead and retire, and then get a job here as a contractor. As long as you’ve got a TS clearance – you’re golden and won’t have any trouble finding a job.

  • Leon LaPorte
    4:37 pm on June 1st, 2011 58

    If you are GS it shouldn’t be impossible. Pretty much any job in IT would require a security clearance, of course. I’m not GS (but they are trying like hell to make me one) so I do not know how interdepartmental transfers and such work. I guess it would depend on your area of expertise, rank and so forth.

    You could always retire and try to come over as a contractor. ;-)

  • Leon LaPorte
    4:37 pm on June 1st, 2011 59

    #57 Didn’t see your reply til after I wrote mine. I concur.

  • Chris Hiler
    5:43 pm on June 1st, 2011 60

    When I was enlisted I had a clearance..I think it was TS. Any advice as to how I could start the process to get a current clearance would be helpful, thanks.

  • Leon LaPorte
    6:08 pm on June 1st, 2011 61

    The only way I know of is to get a job which requires one. Sort of a catch-22 situation. Depends on how long yours has been inactive. Likely anything over 5-10 years and you must start from scratch.

  • Leon LaPorte
    6:09 pm on June 1st, 2011 62

    So rule number one: If you have one always stay in jobs which require one. They are expensive and hard to come by.

  • Chris Hiler
    6:26 pm on June 1st, 2011 63

    Thanks Leon LaPorte!
    I thought that was the deal!

  • someotherguy
    7:06 pm on June 1st, 2011 64

    TS expires after 5yrs and reverts into a Secret that expires 5yrs after that. To renew your clearance you must contact your security office (S2 / G2) and be within four to six months of the current one expiring. Fill out a stack of paperwork, take a polygraph and wait a long time, in the interim they’ll extend your current TS until the investigation is complete. Eventually you’ll get to the final interview and it’ll either be a recommended yes or a recommended no. Whole process usually takes six to eight moths for a renewal. Starting from scratch can take anywhere from six months (straight forward and easy) to two years if lots of old records need to be gone over or there is discrepancies.

    As for getting a TS, the only surefire was is to be on active service and be put in an assignment that requires one. Afterwords its much more difficult as a company needs to pay out of pocket for the expenses and it gets expensive fast. If you got one keep it active at all costs, its worth its weight in platinum. If you don’t then try to get into a position that requires a Secret (much easier to get) and after a few years try to maneuver yourself so that a PM or GS Director / COL wants you to have a TS for some duty or another.

  • Chris Hiler
    9:58 pm on June 1st, 2011 65


    Thanks for the detailed info you gave me in #64 !

  • ChickenHead
    10:32 pm on June 1st, 2011 66

    Q: What is the hardest part about losing your TS after 5 years?

    A: Coming to terms with the fact that you just spent 5 years with a dude.

  • Leon LaPorte
    11:12 pm on June 1st, 2011 67

    #66 *Bu-doop-ching!*

  • david wester
    7:02 am on June 2nd, 2011 68

    Thank you, Guitard, Someotherguy, and Leon for your information. One last thing – is it easier to come over and then find such a contracting job, or is that something you should do stateside prior to departure?

  • Leon LaPorte
    1:55 pm on June 2nd, 2011 69

    Davis, check post 23 and 27 in this thread. It’s better not to come looking for a job and you might get more money if hired in the US. Not many people want to come to Korea.

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    2:11 pm on June 2nd, 2011 70

    #68 – If at all possible, try to get hired from the states. There is the whole mess with CC-K deciding if you’re “ordinarily resident” in Korea or not if you’re already over here and get hired. The have some really stooopid rules, but if you don’t follow them, it can make the difference between you getting hired with SOFA status and just spending money on a plane ticket over here only to be denied. What it comes down to is this – all potential contract hires have to have a USFK Form 700-19 packet processed through CC-K to determine your eligibility for SOFA status and support from USFK. If CC-K declares you “ordinarily resident” in Korea, then you are ineligible for any kind of SOFA status (ration card meaning no PX or commissary, registering a vehicle, etc.). Also, since they have now declared you “ordinarily resident”, that means the firm that wants to hire you is supposed to pay Korean taxes, etc. (which they don’t want to do – messing with all of that bureaucracy) so you are basically un-hire-able. The quickest way to becoming “ordinarily resident” is to come over here on some type of F-series visa, so the best advice of all is to contact one of these good gentlemen here on the board already working at one of these firms, and see if they can help you apply from the US.

    Also, even if they do hire you from the US, be prepared to provide CC-K all kinds of (ridiculous) crap proving you really lived in the US, such as a lease with your name on it, credit card statements, utility bills, etc. I know – sounds crazy, but it’s their game and we’re all stuck playing it if we want the benefits of SOFA status. Good luck, and I’d better stop now, since this rant can easily morph into a whole other thread.

  • Leon LaPorte
    3:33 pm on June 2nd, 2011 71

    Jinro went into more detail and is 100% correct. I’ll only add that it appears once you are declared “ordinary resident” (which can happen even with a tourist visa!) you are forever marked. It is highly likely you will EVER get a job working for USFK. The scar is eternal. Sounds ridiculous I know but we have third rate lawyers and low budget bureaucrats working in CCK and they either cannot read English or have a chip on their shoulder. Like he said, we are stuck with it. Get hired from CONUS.

  • someotherguy
    8:00 pm on June 2nd, 2011 72


    Its mostly a bunch of civil servants having a chip on their shoulder. There as been a decade+ long conflict between federal servants and contractors over jobs. Back in 2000~2003 the US Government decided it wanted to “out-source” lots of jobs, they did an A-76 study where everyone was required to write down the exact number of hours they spent on this task or that task. All of it was used as a manpower study to determine if it would be cheaper to hire our or let the GS’s keep their jobs. I was a soldier then working at a DOIM and it got ~very~ hot about how to count hours worked by military. Lots of civil servants lost their jobs then and were required to go on PPP, find a different occupation or otherwise find a different position. The civil service market was flooded with people and lots of people got shafted, including having to sell their house and move to another post or take work overseas.

    For awhile the military was doing the opposite, in-sourcing things and the GS’s were having a ball screwing over the contractors wanting to transfer over. Then Sec Def Gates announced a freeze on all funding for in-sourcing initiatives citing that the cost estimates were not working out and that the government wasn’t realizing the savings they thought they would. Organizations could still in-source if they wanted but wouldn’t get any supplemental funding from the DoD for hiring or operational expenses.

    Your not really branded “forever” but you can’t do a turn and burn or just sit on your a$$ for three months. They won’t tell you this but you basically have to show that your living in the states and have / had a job there recently. The guy responsible for most of this has “moved on” but now that the precedent has been set it must be followed. Before they were demanding all that paperwork at random hoping to find a reason to kick you out of country, self implication and all that. Now its just to prove that you resided and worked inside the USA before taking a job for a company in SK. That or be a GS, that automatically gets your SOFA status even if you transfer over to contracting (turning traitor is what they call it).

    You don’t “look” for an USFK related job. Instead you drop your resume at the contracting companies websites, and let your friends know about it. Unlike the GS’s we actually do look through those lists for a good candidate for a position and don’t use some arcane system like RESUMEX. You might not get a job offer for SK, it may be in Kuwait, Afghanistan, Iraq, Qatar, Europe (these are drying up fast) or somewhere in the states. Get what you can get and start making networked connections.

  • Leon LaPorte
    8:12 pm on June 2nd, 2011 73

    #72 Yep, aware of all of that. But I do know people who have lost jobs (during the big blood letting a few years ago) and been branded forever because of status as far back as the 80′s. No shiat.

    Although the Koreans could care less where you were before you were hired to work in Korea, as long as you are not illegal in Korea, CCK goes a step further. If you live in any country besides the US they will screw you. Makes no sense but there are a lot of guys that used to do part time on call for major exercises who reside in places like the Philippines or Thailand (semi-retired). They have been screwed too.

    /You must be talking about Scott Bonner of the Skull and Crossbones Mason Motorcycle Club. :roll: I wonder what real Masons would think of that? :lol:
    //Funny thing is, he was working for a Korean company, non-SOFA before he was hired GS.

  • ChickenHead
    9:15 pm on June 2nd, 2011 74

    “/You must be talking about Scott Bonner of the Skull and Crossbones Mason Motorcycle Club. :roll: I wonder what real Masons would think of that? :lol:”

    Is there really such a thing?

    It’s like calling your business Disney Radio Shack Coffee Shop.

    What would the real Skull and Crossbones (Yale) think of that?

  • Jinro Dukkohbi
    4:33 am on June 3rd, 2011 75

    Bonner still works at CC-K, albeit in a different section, but not for much longer as he is being bounced outta there back to CONUS. The guy that replaced him though, is such a douche that he makes Bonner seem like Mr. Rogers… :roll:

  • david wester
    5:50 am on June 3rd, 2011 76

    Thank you Jinro, Leon, and Someotherguy once again. That was very kind to take the time to go into detail in order to help someone. These are things I knew nothing about and now you all have given me a good direction to go in. I will note your warnings and try to avoid unnecessary problems. I was in Korea in ’75 and ’76 and well know how things can be different with both our government and theirs.


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