March 05, 2019 08:31
The streets of Daelim-dong in southern Seoul, which are home to a large enclave of ethnic Koreans from China, are littered with fliers advertising sometime very peculiar vocational training classes.
"Easy to get a certificate by understanding of just a few Korean words!" the fliers promise, or, "96 percent pass rate!" Some schools offer discounts to the first three applicants each month.
There are no fewer than 22 of these vocational crammers within a 1-km radius Daelim subway station.
Most of the students are after an F4 or long-term visa reserved for highly qualified applicants with a nationally certified license of some sort. Ethnic Koreans from China who work here usually have an H2 or visiting worker visa.
Although the range of jobs eligible for the H2 visa is limited to 36 types, they only needed to undergo six weeks of training to get the visa, which allows them to stay here for up to four years and 10 months. But things changed after the Justice Ministry decided to stop issuing H2 visas this year, prompted ethnic Koreans working here to turn to F4 visas instead.
One of the most popular certificates is for cultivating mushrooms. One ethnic Korean woman from China asked what was the easiest license to get, and was directed to mushroom or laundry "technician," where the pass rate is some 90 percent.
Students said the lessons are relatively easy. In one mushroom class, when the teacher criticized a student for being less than enthusiastic, the student disarmingly replied, "I'm not really going to grow mushrooms."
Im Chae-seo, who has run a vocational school for around 30 years, said, "A lot of ethnic Koreans from China are taking classes for licenses that have nothing to do with their areas of work, simply because they heard the certificate is easy to get."
Some crammers offer intensive courses just before the national tests are held. Another staffer said, "In November of last year, my students took six-hour classes a day for just three days just before a license exam, and all of them passed the written test."
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