Back to Korea

November 1, 2013
Tough job market in U.S. and difficulties in obtaining work visa
are forcing more and more Korean students to make U-turn
More and more job seeking Koreans are going back to Korea. (Yonhaps)

More and more job seeking Koreans are going back to Korea. (Yonhaps)

By Kim Hyung-jae

More and more Korean students who have come to the United States to study are on their way back to Korea. They say even the Korean companies here are refusing to sponsor them in order to obtain a work visa, making it impossible for them to get employed and stay in America.

One 25-year old female Korean, identified only as K here, says she’s been spending stressful days since graduating from Cal-State Northridge this year, during an interview with The Korea Times. “I was told since I was a sophomore about how difficult it is to get a job here, so I even changed my major from straight traditional music to more practical management in music, but it hasn’t helped,” she said. “At every job interview, they tell me they find it difficult to hire me because of my resident status, to a point now where I have to seriously consider going back to Korea.”

Many of her friends are facing a similar predicament. She says it seems like one out of ten has been successful in landing a job in the U.S. after finishing their studies here and added, “I even have a friend who got married here but still can’t find a job!”

Those who came from Korea to study in the U.S. say liberal arts majors are finding it more difficult to find jobs here, and if you majored in music or fine arts, you might as well start packing. According to them, the ones who succeed in landing jobs with mainstream American companies are few and far between. The few fortunate ones are either engineering or accounting majors.

What’s more surprising to them is that Korean companies in the U.S. are also unwilling to hire them. They’d much rather do without the immigrations hassles. International Student Rights Center director Kim In-soo says, “Never mind the American companies. The harsh reality of it is that even the Korean companies are turning their backs on Korean students.”

Therefore, many Korean students here are shifting their focus to the job market in Korea. One 24-year old Korean fine arts major, Y, is one of them and explained, “It’s hard to get a job here, but the studying-abroad experience still have some merit in the Korean job market. Every time I hear about one of my friends who struggled to land a job here and getting a job rather quickly back in Korea, I can’t help but to think about going back to Korea.”

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