Finding a Career
& Permanent Home in South Korea

Written by Vera Springett

“Working in South Korea is not for the faint of heart,” says David A. English, D.B.A. candidate, and Oregon native. “Things change very quickly and you have to be able to adapt to that.”

David A. English (D.B.A, International Business, candidate)

David English, DBA candidate, has made a life for himself in South Korea.

At first, having to shift things at the last minute was tough—and even a little frustrating—for David. But soon he realized that changes at the eleventh hour were common in the South Korean culture, and he just got used to it.

For David, moving to South Korea to teach was just as unexpected. Armed with an MBA and unable to find a job in a down market, he casually responded to an ad for teaching abroad. His application led to a surprisingly quick phone interview with the school he was going to teach at.

“When I was offered the job, the idea of doing something different was appealing,” says David who was packed and moved to South Korea within the month.

After his first year though, David took a six-week hiatus back in Oregon. He soon returned to South Korea, completed the TESOL (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) program and began teaching at yet another South Korean school. That’s when he met and married his wife Namhee, in his second year.

“Being able to work on a degree online from abroad and while continuing to teach has been helpful.”

David A. English, D.B.A. candidate

“I decided I liked it here and wanted to stay,” he says. “I’ve been here over 10 years now.”

As David continued to teach English at various South Korean schools and eventually universities, he became interested in how South Korean businesses are adapting to a customer base that has become increasingly multicultural.

He discussed the intentions of his research and earning a doctoral degree with a colleague who had recently graduated with a master’s degree from NCU. Upon his colleague’s recommendation, David enrolled in NCU’s Doctor of Business Administration program.

“I think NCU is a great place to work toward an advanced degree,” he says. “My goal is to eventually teach business and do research here in South Korea. So being able to work on a degree online from abroad and while continuing to teach has been helpful.”

Universities in South Korea require a doctoral degree to teach at that level. So David is currently an Assistant Professor at Gachon University in Seongnam, where he teaches, conducts research and works toward his degree. Doing so allows him to stay connected with others also teaching in his field.

“I have met faculty members here in South Korea who have offered me advice and help with my dissertation, and even offered to collaborate on research studies,” says David who finds himself fortunate to work with such great staff at the University.

With varying time zones and work schedules, David has been working on his degree at his own pace, on his own schedule.

“My time at NCU has helped me become a better writer and to think more clearly about the issues in business that I’m interested in researching,” he says. “Universities in South Korea have started to offer entire programs in English. I thought since business was being offered in English that it would be a natural progression for me.”

The international business classes in his program have proven most applicable to David’s research, providing him with a broad overview of diverse business environments.

“My time at NCU has helped me become a better writer.”

David A. English, D.B.A. candidate

“I especially enjoyed the international business law classes and learning about different legal systems, particularly in the Middle East,” he says.

Today, as David works hard toward his goal, he also works closely with Dr. Singh, a doctoral instructor at NCU. Living in South Korea often makes it difficult for David to speak with his favorite instructor and mentor. But Dr. Singh makes himself available on Skype at all hours just so he and David can video-conference and discuss David’s ongoing dissertation.

“It always helps me having someone like him that I can turn to for advice,” says David.

As for his own advice to others interested in pursuing an international career and lifestyle, David suggests always knowing what you’re getting yourself into. He moved to South Korea on a whim, and while it all turned out well for him, he admits jumping in head first without doing much research before he arrived.

“Language and culture barriers can be an issue depending on the work place,” he says. “You have to be willing to sacrifice the little things to live abroad and to have a flexible attitude.”