[Still pushing out some entries from my trip to Jeju, Korea. Which is good, because I haven't taken many pictures lately.]
I strongly suspect that English is not a required language in South Korean schools. My first hint was when I called my hotel to make arrangements, asked for someone who could speak English, and after ten minutes the only person they could find had a ton of trouble understanding me. And this is a large, Western-style hotel in an area of international tourism.
I suspect, even in Japan, you'll find a lot more people that can speak decent English.
I stayed at The Suites which was an excellent hotel if you can get past the high prices. They had an awesome breakfast buffet with both Korean and western foods, including little omelettes. The hotel, as well as the whole area (Jungmun Tourism Complex, near Seogwipo) was a strange mix of Korean and Western style.
For instance, a few blocks from the hotel was the Hooters Plaza, which, as far as I could tell, didn't even include a Hooters. Given a choice of all the American restaurant chains, why would they choose Hooters? Nevertheless, on my third day there I found out about it and got excited (not because of Hooters, but because there were other american eateries there like Cinnabun. Of course, they were all closed and deserted... maybe Korea isn't as excited about tight t-shirts and cinnamon pastries as some planner thought?
Right next to The Suites, there is the Hotel Hana, the discount hotel in the area. Of course, I screwed up and didn't get a room there before it sold out (which might have been a blessing, since 10 rooms were invaded one night and a lot of stuff was stolen). They did have a mediocre Korean/American lunch buffet (12,000 won, or about $14) which was one of the best deals in the area:
Every time I passed that sign I had to smile because it always looked like it said Born again as a reasonably clean hotel. Good to know the hotel found God though.
The best (worst?) sign I found is below. Click to see it larger if you have trouble reading it.
Why, oh why, didn't they get someone who knows English to proofread it? It has a good message though:
Do not make regretful things that your family and friends feel sad by accidental mistakes.