Amassing over 70 thousand subscribers and generating 10 million views, all the while being an elementary teacher, Kelly Kim has mastered juggling two occupations. One being rather traditional and the other being on the other side of the spectrum. Recently, Kim’s English teaching video has taken the intern by storm going viral for its unique style and approach.
“I took the Korean teacher certification exam, which is notorious for the amount of studying that has to be invested, twice because after working as a teacher in the countryside, I realized I wanted to live in a metropolitan area where there’s more access to bookstores and cultural activities,” Kim said.
“I felt heavily pressured both times while taking the exams and that experience motivated me to lessen the burden of the exam takers that will come after me in the future.”
According to Kim, at the time of her exams there was plenty of information available about the exams on the internet, but there was little about teaching demonstrations. She got perfect scores in her English class demonstrations, so she wanted to help other students going through the same process as her.
Beginning a YouTube channel is quite an undertaking, but with Kim’s unique style, approach and dedication helped her gain the support of the Gyeonggi Provincial Office of Education. The government department wanted to encourage innovations in the teaching field with some teachers already beginning their own channels. Kim soon followed suit.
“As the channel grew, I started to produce videos about my personal life as well. However, many people made groundless accusations that I was not faithful to my main job. As a female YouTuber, I was also sexually harassed severely online, and I used to be easily agitated by those malicious comments,” Kim said. Along with this, Kim has also been exposed to many derogatory comments about her profession.
“It’s often the advantages of the job that people criticize. For teachers, it’s high job security. There are not many jobs that 100 percent gurantee your position after you return from freely using maternity or parental leave,” Kim said. But rather than taking these criticisms to heart, Kim suggests reminding ourselves to think differently.
“If anybody badmouths your job, rather than being upset, it would be better to think, ‘Yes, this position was hard-earned and I earned this position by working hard,’” Kim said.
Despite all this Kim has pushed through the negative noise and continued to pursue what she is passionate about by creating the best learning environment possible for children and showing the world her methods. Many people online became vividly aware through her videos about how time she invests and puts into research and how her students are fully engaged.
“Some students who are interested in broadcasting sometimes specifically ask to be featured in my vlogs.”
Kim’s videos have also reached into older students in university, which started trending among university students as a meme.
“I used the rhythm of a drinking game for the game activity in my English teaching demonstration video. All Korean university students must know the rhythm, so it must have looked like I was teaching drinking games to elementary students,” Kim said with a laugh.
Over the course of her journey to becoming an innovative educator Kim has seen first-hand how much the Korean school environment has changed from the past.
“Teachers used to be easily bribed and explicitly favored students with higher grades. However, the Korean school environment has changed a lot from the past and I expect to see more change as many teachers have better awareness of students’ rights and strive for high-quality education.”