Thursday, August 31, 2017

What to Expect When You Start Working In a Korean Factory?

After passing the exam, taking the medical examination, going through all the troubles of skills test and never ending waiting and hoping for the best to come, the final reward is not the working visa to South Korea. While it is an accomplishment to be selected and awarded a working visa, it is not yet the final destination. In fact, it's just the first part of the game. Your next concern would be all about the kind of company where you are going to work, the attitude of the boss, your workmates and the kind of job.

It is sure exciting and at the same time challenging to work in South Korea, here are some things you need to know about working in a Korean factory. These guidelines will help you set your level of expectation and will also give you a clue about the nature of work.

1. Most Companies offer free food, but...........'s all Korean Food!!! Don't expect adobo, or sinigang or any western food on the table because no way they will offer it for free. Korean food is healthy, spicy and some may best suit your taste bud, but there are also strange Korean food that you may encounter for the first time. It really depends on the menu, the only sure thing is, most of the time, they offer just Korean food. So you better prepare yourself familiarizing and learning to eat kimchi and other "pancham" because it's the staple in a korean dining table. After all, it's for free, and you have to be thankful for free food, right?

And one more thing, don't forget to say "Chal Mogeutseumnidda" to the sikdang ahjumma after every meal, regardless of whether you like the food or not.

2.Most companies offer free "apartments", and.....

....not all "apartments" are equal. You will be lucky if your company will provide a rented apartment in some cool tall buildings complete with amenities. Most companies provide a container van converted into "kisuksa" as your home while working for them. Living conditions really depend on the people you are living with. Most kisuksa are complete with necessary appliances like for cooking, washing machine and maybe television. Every summer, kisuksa built with container vans maybe too hot, so you need to buy yourself some electric fan to cool you off. Most of the time, there are heaters installed to for the winter season. Some kisuksa have wifi, but you can subscribe to a telecom company if you want to own a pocket wifi for youself.

And oh by the way, most kisuksa are located just beside the factory, so it's just literally one tumbling away. You can even wake up at 7:30 am and start working at 8:00 AM.

3. Rooms are shared and no bed.

You can't just give your diva demand to own a room all for yourself because usually, rooms are shared by 2 or more people. Sometimes, you share it with fellow filipino co worker, but sometimes you share a room with other nationalities. Rooms generally have no bed, everybody sleeps on the floor.

4. Be The Jack of All Trades and Master of everything

While there are designated workstations and responsibilities for every worker in the factory, you must prepare yourself to do other kinds of work aside from what is assigned to you. Set in your mind that you must learn to do everything and accept the challenge of trying out other work assigned by your sajangnim. You may need to operate different types of machines, you may be asked to clean the toilet, or clean the machines, or sweep the floor, or even farm your boss' garden. Just do what you can and what is asked of you, just as long as they pay you right, then it's good.

5. Everybody is polite, you should too...

The first thing you should do the moment you enter the factory is to bow and greet every people you meet. Whether the person is your boss, or the wife of your boss, or even co workers and janitors, bow and greet. It would not take your pride away from you because it is a custom in Korea to pay respect to every person by bowing and greeting them "Annyeonghaseyo". Put that in your mind if you don't want people to think that you are rude.

6. Break time? Forget about it...

Time is too precious for the Korean boss because they know thye pay you for every single second you work in the company. There's no rule or law about breaktime, so if you have no breaktime, or if they only give you 10 minutes breaktime, no more complains please.

7. You may work longer hours

Factory work in Korea is not just an 8-5 job. Sometimes, you need to work beyond the regular working hours. For how long? It depends, the minimum overtime work is usually 2.5 hours but it can be extended up to 5.5 hours. So how does 14 hours of work everyday sound? Don' worry, they ought to pay you hourly for your overtime work.

8. Alien words, warning....

At the first day of work, you will feel like singing a "despacito" song, you can sing a long, but you can't totally understand it. Don't worry, it's normal, textbook language is different from daily conversation language, so you are not expected to really understand Korean on your first day. Korean language can be learned as time goes by, it might be difficult at first, but try your best to converse and understand those alien words, and soon enough, you will be speaking it too.

9. Holiday Bonus? Don't expect that much.

Most companies give bonus during the three big holidays in a year. First is the Seollal(February), Second is Summer vacation (July or August) and third is Chuseok (September). If the company is generous enough, they also give during the regular New Year's day, Christmas Day and even during Children's day. But as I've said, don't expect that much, because bonus maybe in the form of a box of spam, a set of shampoo and if you are lucky enough, an envelope of cash. Bonus depends on the generosity of the company, and if you receive some, no matter how small or how big it is, just be thankful for it. OK?

10. Deductions on Salary

Just like any other companies in the world, your payslip may show the gross and the net income. Yes, there are deductions and you must know these deductions. You will be deducted for your Kukmin or NPS insurance, health insurance, taxes and maybe a small amount (around 50,000 won) for your contribution for eletricity, water and gas at the Kisuksa. It is important you check your payslip during salary day so you will know your deductions.

I am sure there are other things aside from the 10 I mentioned above you need to know as a first time foreign worker in South korea. So far, these are the essential guidelines you must remember in setting your expectations of working in South Korea.

Monday, August 21, 2017

A Friendly Reminder to the Balikbayan from South Korea

Going home is always the best thing that would ever happen to an OFW. I know how rough and difficult to live in a foreign country, and every OFW in every part of the world always look forward to going home after several years of working abroad.I can still remember how I struggled to adjust a new life during my first 3 months in Korea. Everything was different, the culture, the language, the food and the people. I wanted to go home, back to the place where I am comfortable, to the country where I grew up, to my beloved Philippines. But things had changed when I started to appreciate the beauty of Korea. I was able to adjust to the lifestyle and I learned to love the country who adopted me for more than four years.

Just when I thought I could already handle everything, I was wrong, completely wrong. When I decided to go back home a month ago, I strugggled to reintegrate myself to the culture I was used to. It is the same strugggle I felt when I tried to adjust to the lifestyle in Korea. I was a stranger in my own country. I even experienced culture shock the moment I stepped out of the airport. Everything was surreal. Call it OA, but I felt it. Maybe I immersed myself too much in the culture of Korea that whatever I do, there's always a Korean residue inside of me. Maybe I explored Korea too much that I always aspire for a convenient public transportation. Maybe I admired Korean people too much that I naturally immitate their hand gestures, expressions and whatnot. Maybe I adapted the Korean culture a notch higher on the specified barometer that I can't easily get it out of my system. Maybe.... Who knows?... Just Maybe.

I miss Korea, yes, but I have already accepted that that chapter is already over. I can recall, I can remember, I can tell story about it, but I can't go back, I should not go back. However, it's easier said than done. No matter what I do, or no matter what we (ex-KOREA OFWs) do, we can't get the Hanguk blood out of our system. We have been contaminated, whether we like it or not, Korea is already a part of us. Until when? I don't know, but for as long as you do and you feel the following, the Korean influence is still in you!

1. You unconsciously clean your own table in a fast food
2. You still bow when you greet people
3. You feel awkward when a security guard make "kap-kap" your whole body when you enter the mall
4. You look for a locker instead of a baggage counter
5. You don't bring cash, just card
6. When you buy something, you ask "Olma?" instead of "Magkano po?"
7. You say "Kamsahamnida" instead of "salamat"
8. You no longer offer seats to the elderly because you think there's always a special seat for them in the bus
9. You dread the traffic
10. You give a "hateu" pose when you do selfie
11. You look for a buzzer when you want to get off the bus
12. You produce a loud "sluurrrrrrppppp" sound when you eat noodles
13. You pour water on everybody's glass during a group dine out
14. You take off your shoes when you enter the restaurant
15. You look for a kimchi and side dishes when the meal is served
16. You crave for soju or Cass sometimes

And more....much more than that....

But of course, it's different from one person to another. We each have different experiences and lifestyle.If you are about to go home one of these days and you feel strange in your own homeland, don't worry, it's normal. Give it a month or two and you will feel normal. Just don't be so hard to yourself. Give yourself a little time to readjust and reintegrate to your roots, and you are good to go. If ever you find yourself in the same situation, always remember that several other returning OFWs from South Korea feel the same. It's not bad to adapt some of their good habits, the important thing is, no matter how small or big is the Korean influence to you, you don't forget that you are a Filipino and Philippines is your home, no matter what.

Friday, August 18, 2017

YG Entertainment Confirmed Breakup of Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung

Today is the saddest day for all the shippers of the loveteam #NAMLEE because YG Entertainment has just confirmed that real life couple Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung have broken up. This is the actual statement released by YG Entertainment:

“We checked with Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung, and it is true that the two recently broke up.”

Accordingly, the couple has reportedly broken up because of the busy schedules. The industry representative added that the exact reason cannot be revealed as it is their personal matter.

Nam Joo Hyuk has confirmed relationship with Lee Sung Kyung last April 24 after they both starred in tvN’s “Cheese in the Trap” and MBC’s “Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo”. After a series of projects being together, the two worked on separate projects as Nam Joo Hyuk currently appearing in the drama “Bride of the Water God” while Lee Sung Kyung is currently shooting for a movie called “Love Sling”.

What can you say about the #NAMLEE break up?

Monday, August 14, 2017

A Walk To Remember At the Fortress Wall of Seoul (한양도성)

Straight from my shenanigans at the southernmost part of South Korea, I attended the FunDay Korea Network group to become a part of Global Supporters of Hanyangduseong (한양도성) which literally means Seoul City Wall. It was supposed to be a moonlight walk tour, but the weather was against us. We met at Dongdaemun Station, then we walked all the way to the assembly area where hundreds of participants from all over the world gathered for a small program. We made our own version of lantern which was used by people during the Joseon Dynasty. We also made our Joseon Dynasty ID while being serenaded by a leaf flute musician. It was kind of an artwork activity and I’m glad it’s not the highlight of the tour because I suck at art. I don’t have patience for it.

After our small session, we were divided into groups and we started the tour at the Fortress Wall of Seoul. I found out that the old name of Seoul was Hanyang. Every bit of the Seoul City Wall tells the story of the city. It was built in order to protect the place from the possible invaders and to set the boundaries of the city. As time goes by, the city wall started to sustain damage and eventually destroyed entirely. The Seoul City Government later on decided to restore the wall as an homage to the Joseon Dynasty era of Seoul.

As we walked across the stretch of the fortress wall, we delved into the deeper story of Seoul. As the torrents of rain started to fall upon us, we understood the true value of Seoul based on its history and the challenges it had to go through to become what it is today.

The nightscape of Seoul viewed from the perspective of the fortress wall is spectacular. I just realized that Korea is a bright city. Everywhere you go, the nightscape is something you should not miss.  You can also see the four inner mountains of Seoul which are Baegaksan, Naksan, Namsan and Inwangsan.

Although it was raining hard, we continued our journey up to the highest point of the fortress where we enjoyed the view of the city at night time. There were a lot of lovers dating in the area because the ambiance is also kind of romantic especially during rainy days. There are also a lot of cafes and tourist spots especially the Ihwa Mural Village which is just around the area.

It was supposed to be a Moonlight Walking Tour but it turned out a Rainy Walking Tour. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the experience especially the learnings we gained from our tour guide about the history of Seoul. Next time you are in Seoul, try to visit the Fortress Wall because it’s not only a park, it’s not only a tourist spot, it’s not only a piece of architecture, it is the story of Seoul!


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Discovering the Mystery of Jeju’s Sanbangsan Mountain Temple

During my trip to Jeju Island, my visit at the Sanbangsan Mountain Temple was the most extraordinary because it has the element of mystery. We went there in the late afternoon, it was drizzling and the sky was eerie. I don’t know if I would be thankful for the gloomy weather for it will keep the scorching heat of the sun away from us, or I would feel bad because hiking a mountain while it’s drizzling is pretty bad combination, at least in my book.

If you happen to pass by the Sanbangsan, it’s impossible not to notice the temple nesting on this mountain. According to the legend, this was used to be the peak of the Mt. Halla. When it was broken off, the peak was thrown off at the area where Sanbangsan is now located. If you look at the crater of Mt. Halla now, there’s a lake called a white deer lake which, according to the legend, is a space left by its crater which is now Sanbangsan.

Since it’s a mountain, we expected that the trip needs a little bit of hiking, and by little bit I meant around 15 minutes of uphill climb via the steep wooden staircase they provided for those who are interested to see what’s up there. I was tempted not to hike the mountain because there are already a lot of things to see in the area. Believers go to this place where there’s a giant statue of a golden Buddha. The statue is surrounded by golden bells. People believe that if you touch all the bells around the statue, you can make a wish and it will come true.

Since I was already there, I decided to just hike the mountain to see what’s up there. I was intrigued to the fact that people are willing to hike the mountain just to go to this very special place. As we went uphill, the magnificent view from the mountain was such a refreshing sight. Everywhere you look from the mountain is spectacular. I forgot I was tired from hiking because every now and then, I stopped just to absorb the wonderful sight of the ocean and flat plains below.

I almost forgot I have to climb up to the peak, so I decided to continue hiking. When I reached the top, there were several people resting and some were even panting. Then I started evaluating if it’s all worth the climb. What I saw up there was a very mysterious and holy place. They call this place Sanbangsan-gulsa, a mountain room cave temple. This cave has been existing since the Goryeo Dynasty in 964 to 1053. This was used to be the praying ground for people from that dynasty. According to the legend, a certain monk named Monk Hye-Il lived in this cave alone with his statue of Buddha. The cave has overflowing springwater, people drink the water for cleansing the spirit. You can also light a candle and offer a prayer for your wish and your appeals.

The drizzle turned into rain when we decided to climb down the mountain. It was obviously easier to go down than to go up, but with the heavy rain trying to intimidate us, it was a little bit of a challenge to trek the mountain. On a good weather day, Sanbangsan is a perfect place

Sunday, August 6, 2017

How to Survive 3D works in Korea

Korea is a dreamland for most people. Thanks to the advent of Hallyu Wave as it inspires people to go to Korea to either live or travel. But for some, it's a good choice of country to work at because Korea pays decent amount of money for migrant workers. However, if you work in a manufacturing industry, you have to pay the price of a high paying job. People who want to work in Korea are always warned that jobs in a manufacturing industry maybe 3D or dangerous, demeaning and dirty. Don't worry, not all jobs are 3D, but we can't discount the fact that working in a factory is daunting and tiring. It will suck the youth and energy out of you. Imagine working in a very long hour like a robot. You would definitely feel exhausted every working day. There are several Filipino workers in Korea who died at sleep, I am no doctor and I have no evidence they died from too much work, but judging from the nature of work in Korea, it is possible that exhaustion from work combined with some bad habits can cause death. The question now is how to survive working in this kind of environment for a number of years?

I've experienced working in a 3D job for more than 4 years. At first, I thought I could not survive it because my work demands so much energy. I felt like my job was a dementor and it sucks all the joy and energy out of my helpless "katawang lupa". I learned later on that however exhausting work is, there are ways to survive it without compromising the health. Here are some tips especially to the new comers on how to stay healthy while working in a very tiring environment.

1. Eat Healthy Food, Eat Kimchi!

Don't underestimate the power of Korean side dishes especially the Kimchi. This will be your number 1 weapon to fight sickness because kimchi is one of the healthiest food in the world. Sure, you can eat meat and other delicious food your sikdang can offer, but make sure to always eat heathy food, and by healthy food I mean kimchi! You have no excuses you can't eat kimchi as this is a staple in Korean table. Don't neglect it, eat it and you will surely survive the physical challenge of your work.

2. Rest well!

As much as possible, monitor your sleeping hours. Make sure to sleep at least 7 hours a day. Limit yourself from using gadgets or binge watching Korean movies and dramas especially on a weekday. You can sure find some entertainment for yourself on a weekend or days off, but discipline yourself to sleep early so that your body can revitalize the energy you need for tomorrow's work.

3. Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Refrain from drinking soju and other alcoholic drinks. Some people drink alcohol if they feel tired, but it's a very dangerous combination. If you can't help taking alcohol out of your system, then by all means minimize your intake. Don't drink alcohol every night and go to sleep. Find other ways to condition your body before going to sleep.

4. Exercise at least 30 minutes a day

You might find this ridiculous. How can a tired body exercise? Remember that working is different from exercising. Your body needs some stretching, it needs to sweat and you must always make sure to condition your body before going to work. A 30 minutes exercise a day can help you boost your body's energy.

5. Improve your immune system

Health i wealth is such a cliche. You can't work if you are sick, that means, no work no money. So it is important to always make sure you take the nutrients your body needs to answer the demand of your work. However, due to time constraint because of the busy days at work, we sometimes tend to forget about the proper nutrients. We fail to monitor our food intakes and the vitamins and minerals our body must take to maintain healthy body. For this situation, food supplements are to the rescue. Try to find food products that complete with the vitamins and minerals your body needs. Philippine food herbal products are best example to help your body improve its immune system.

There are a lot of Philippine herbal products out there but the best so far are the Addlife Juice and Coffee. These two food products have all the nutrients you need to combat the stress and the physical challenge of your job in Korea. Basically, these products contain ingredients commonly found in the Philippines.They both contain Guyabano which is a natural killer of cancer cells. They also both have malunggay which is the most nutritious plant in the world. Barley is also present which is 30x powerful than vitamin b1, 6.5 times more carotene than carrots, 5 times more iron than spinach, 11 times more calcium than cow's milk, 7 times more vitamin C than orange and 4 times more vitamins B1 than whole wheat flour.

Aside from that, the Addlife health drink juice contains 12 fruits juice blend like Grape fruit, papaya, pineapple, grapes, guarana, strawberry, blueberry, cherry, apricot, black currant, apple and red orange. It's like an all in one juice drink. How could you go wrong with vegetable and fruits? Inside an Addlife health juice drink is a powerhouse, a mixture of the best of the best fruits and vegetables in the Philippines.

No need to plan for a healthy diet or a meal that can help you boost your immune system, with addlife health drink and coffee, you can have all the nutrients you need to maintain a balance and healthy diet while being busy at work. If you wish to know more about this product, feel free to visit the Facebook page and send me a message.

With the nature of work in South Korea, health is your utmost priority. You must know how to handle the stress at work so that you can sustain the energy that the work demands.