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Young Workers Betting Future on Casino
[December 21, 2005]

Young Workers Betting Future on Casino

(Korea Times)By Chung Ah-young

Kim In-kyeum, 27, begins his day by spinning a roulette wheel and dealing playing cards.

Numerous players shove their chips to the middle of the table, flip through their cards, stand up and call for cards and rattle off the odds of winning.

A casino dealer plays a key role in any card game, and is responsible for the integrity, quality and enjoyment of the game.

Kim has just completed a one-year casino dealer course in Jeongseon Vocational Training Institute located in Kangwon Province.

He recently landed a job at the Golden Gate casino in the Paradise Hotel in Incheon, just west of Seoul.

``I was thrilled at a scene aired on TV a few years ago which introduced the dealer as an emerging job,'' he said in an interview with The Korea Times.

Kim, who served in the Reserve Officers' Training Crops (ROTC) during his college days, has worked at the casino for about one month.

``I've decided to go to the institute after being discharged from the ROTC last year because being a dealer looks very attractive as a profession,'' he said.

``In particular, I think that having a competitive job is essential to surviving the soaring jobless rate and the prolonged economic downturn,'' he said.

He takes pride in working as a casino dealer and shows his professionalism in the gaming industry as one of the graduates of the institute.

``I am good at roulette, compared to my co-workers. I'm skillful and faster at dealing than the others because I was trained in field-based education at the institute,'' he said.

The institute in the mountainous and remote eastern province is gaining popularity as an increasing number of applicants flock to casino dealing at the school.

The state-run institute with an experienced faculty provides full scholarships for all of students, and boasts of a high success rate at finding jobs for its graduates.

The institute, which was established in 2002, concurrently with the launching of a local casino ``Kangwon Land,'' which allows Koreans to legally gamble.

According to the institute, an increasing number of applicants, especially those who are graduates from universities and two-year colleges, have come to the institute every year since its inception.

Casinos operating in Korea have employed thirty-three of 40 graduates from the institute this year, according to the institute.

The number of graduates casinos hire was at 35 in 2002-2003 and 33 in 2004, a more than 80 percent employment rate.

Park Chan-shik, professor of the dealer training division at the institute, said that many college graduates choose the vocational school because youngsters think the course has a lot of merits.

``Casino dealing is becoming an opportunity, especially for female students who sometimes face gender discrimination in the workplace or during the job search,'' Park said.

Park is an expert in the gaming industry with at least 20 years experience as a top manager in casinos both in the United States and Korea.

He said the job is essentially a service provider, one who is supposed to be kind when they serve customers, mostly foreigners.

``Many jobseekers are rejected several times or more in the job application process. But our graduates hardly notice there is a high jobless rate, because they are almost all hired in their field even before graduation,'' he added.

He said a casino dealer has a great potential because the job guarantees high wages and professionalism.

``Casino dealers are supposed to manage the game the customers are playing and they also need a lot of self-control, because they must stand up all day long while working,'' he said.

Park added that dealers are required to have internationally recognized manners and etiquette, as they are like civilian diplomats.

He said that when it comes to the game industry, Koreans associate it with an improper method of earning money, tricking gamblers out of their money.

``It is still true for Koreans to see the gaming industry as a respectable occupation. But in Las Vegas, the United States, Americans enjoy betting with just a couple of dollars and just for fun. In Korea, there is too much at stake, as many gamblers tend to bet large sums of money and lose it all. That is the big problem,'' he said.

However, Park said that nowadays the perception toward the gambling in casinos is changing, thus casino dealers face a different kind of challenge as compared to the past.

``A casino dealer is just a kind of job, not a gambler. People should raise the awareness about their professionalism, especially in the tourism sector,'' he said.

During a one-year curriculum, students learn foreign languages such as Japanese, Chinese and English because most customers are foreigners in casinos operating in Korea as more Japanese and Chinese come to the nation.

He said that his students continue to learn foreign languages even after getting a job in casinos to get promotions to higher positions.

There are about 14 casinos nationwide and 12 official educational courses designed to train casino dealers at institutions of higher education including the institute.

``But the number of casino dealers remains small compared to the increasing demand for dealers at casinos,'' he said.

On that score, more applicants are expected to apply at the institute.

Anyone under 26 and has a high school diploma is eligible for applying for the state-run institute.

The school will offer a full scholarship, accommodation and uniforms, and will cover other expenses.

The application period will run from Dec. 1 to Feb. 20, 2006, via the Internet, mail or in person.

For more information, call (033) 560-1075

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