One of the risks you take when you go abroad is dealing with foreign currency exchanges. About a year ago, the economy tanked and the floor fell out from under us over here in Korea. Within a month, without any actual changes on the part of my employer, my effective salary in US dollars fell to about 2/3 its value compared to when I signed the contract.
Today the won dipped below the 1200won=$1 rate for the first time in 2009. Yay! This is good for me. Earlier this year, when the rate climbed to more than 1500won=$1, I was despondent. Although I wanted to stay in Korea to get married this year, I had to seriously consider going home after my last contract and taking up a job in the U.S. where my salary would be three times what it is here.
When I first got to Korea, the won was 900won=$1--a much better deal for me at that time. Even though my base salary is now 400,000 won more per month than when I first arrived, the exchange rate change makes it worth more than $200 LESS than that original salary PER MONTH--gross.
Fortunately, the won stabilized around 1250won=$1 and appears to be going down even more. I hope this pattern continues, or at least holds, for the remainder of my time in Korea. I'd like to see my student loans pretty much disappear before I go back to crazy consumer-happy America.