When I came to Korea, I actually had no idea where I would be teaching and living. We only have training in Chuncheon, and in three weeks all of us are being scattered by the Powers That Be across Korea. Well, on Wednesday we had our placement announcements, and I finally know exaclty where I'll be living and teaching for the next year of my life!
화순 (Hwasun) here I come: http://eng.hwasun.go.kr/english/html/index.html
From what I can gather, Hwasun is a small, rural community in the Southwestern corner of Korea, a province called 전라남도 (Jeollanam-do). Hwasun isn't coastal, which is what I really wanted, but it's no more than a couple hours from the ocean, and I've been told it has a mountain and Buddhist temple right there for hiking/exploring. Hwasun is also about half an hour from 광주 (Gwangju), a major city in South Korea. Gwangju, from the research I've done so far, sounds wonderful - it's known as the "arts" center of Korea and was the site of the political riot and subsequent massacre of May 18, 1980 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gwangju_Massacre). So even though it isn't right on the ocean, I think it's a good placement, since I'll be able to really experience Korean culture, outside of an urban city, but still be able to go into the city and wherever I want. And the fact that this city is known for the arts and political dissent? I can't wait to explore it: http://eng.gjcity.net/main.jsp
I'm going to be teaching at a co-ed high school near Hwasun. I'll be teaching about 400 students, each of whom I'll probably see once a week. I've been told that the kids are fairly high level. Last year's native English-speaking teacher also did a lot of creative stuff with them, which is good, because that's the kind of stuff I want to work into my lesson plans.
It's hard to know much more know about my location and school, especially because I'm in a less-populated area. And really, even if I was going to Seoul I'd have no idea what this year will have in store for me. Finally knowing where I'll be, though, is making me very excited to get to my school and my homestay and see what life in Korea is really like. The whole idea of throwing myself headfirst into Korean culture has also become much more real in the past few days, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't nervous and apprehensive as well. Luckily, I still have three weeks to mentally prepare myself to teach tired, overstressed high school students Conversational English and get around on my own with a limited vocabulary!