Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Warning to future Expats

This is my response to Amanda's reply to my previous posts. She reiterated her own experience here of how she was screwed over twice by hogwans and the agony of it all.

I want to make the point that although I tend to sugar coat this experience, it doesn't mean I have been sitting around not stressed out or angry by this.

Let me tell you that when you are made to feel powerless it is an awful experience.

Yes I am angry. Yes I don't really understand what is happening. Yes I feel victimized. Yes I feel like a scapegoat. And yes I feel cheated.

*Let me edit this post and add some additional ranting*
I am not a strong person and it has been shown throughout my own personal history that crumble easily in the face of conflict.

I am sensitive. I can be made to cry easily.

I also don't take criticism well.

Had I known that these weaknesses would make this job challenging, perhaps I would have avoided it.

But there is something I want to make clear:

An I see it:
The hogwan system (private school teaching) is a business here in Korea. It gets their money from satisfied children and their mothers.

The people in charge of these businesses operate from a business perspective. It is their duty to make sure the business is kept up and running.

For some Hogwan owners keeping the business running might mean this:
  • If you perceive one of your teachers to be like a weed at your school (making parents complain) you should weed them out.
  • If you simply don't like one of your teachers based on reasons such as personality or attitude....then get rid of them.
Let me just get to the point:


You are stepping into a school that is run like a business. The management most likely will not care about how you feel.

The management will not consider that you were poorly trained and that is why you are making mistakes over and over again.

The management doesn't give a rats ass about your opinion when you do screw up.

They want you to be their puppet, to do everything perfectly the first time and each time again.

Some will pretend to be your friends but in the end tell you things like "I am depressed and dissapointed with you."

So please if you are chosing to work here in Korea, especially at a hogwan take a close look at these weaknesess of the management. Once screwed by these people there is nothing you can do but get the hell out of the contract.

Understand that although this is how my hogwan operates the other 3 Foreign teachers have survived. So it must be that my supervisors like them and / or they haven't caused so much drama.

KNOW what you are walking into. KNOW the risks.

***END RANT >>>

And so after feeling angry, I come to the conclustion that my only answer to all this is to get away from this hogwan and these people.

I don't fear being sent home to live with Mommy, I fear being sent home and never being allowed to see BK again.

So yes I am angry, I have been after I worked 3 weeks at the place. It has been a battle ever since and still is!

But maybe I am delusional but this doesn't make me want to say Korea sucks. I look at the individuals responsible for these actions (my supervisors) and blame them. I feel it would be futile to try and enlighten them on their ways.

I just want to be kicked out, given my 3o days and receive my release letter so I can get on with my life.


  1. Is it 30 days now? It was 14 for me, in October/November 2006.

    BTW, I didn't mean YOU were afraid to live with Mommy. I really was talking about my ex-coworker. (I also want to mention that she dropped the F-bomb multiple times in front of the kids, but because she spineless, she was "a good teacher.")

    As for being mad at the individuals, that's fine, but it IS also about Korea and
    how you don't own your own visa,
    how the tax office and pension office can KNOW CLEARLY that your boss is not paying them and yet DO NOTHING ABOUT IT (I found out that she wasn't paying pension when I went to pension and was told, "Sorry, no help."),
    how the labor office can find in your favor but has no legal teeth,
    how the labor office can know that your boss has a half dozen judgments against her and yet can't do anything to close the school.

    THOSE issues are not about individual Koreans, but about Korean law--and thus Korean society--as a whole.

    Sorry, I don't want to take over your comments section as my own blog, but perhaps these warnings fit with this post...

    Good luck finding a job--I'd send you to my decent school, but they've already hired someone now.

  2. Hay Amanda,
    Thanks.. It is important we are made aware of how the law system works for expats here. I would think most people would feel that they can go into the labor board and get their way.

    I for one don't feel like going that far, but if push comes to shove...

    Anyways it is true and reflected in these situations, that Korean society still has some development to go in terms of being fair and balanced for those working here.

    Since my company owns my visa that is why I am walking on eggshells with them so they don't ruin my next adventure.

    Allright well you can write as much as you like...;)

  3. It's good to vent! GO FOR IT!

    & Amanda.....Joy has never gone home to's Daddy for her!!

    Bottom Line Joy the way I see it....
    I believe your expectations were somewhat unrealistic. based on how these schools operate, maybe not enough research & dialogue w/other expats prior to accepting this position and knowing your personality, lack of teacher training, etc....

    SO why do you want another teaching job? UH????
    Sounds like this b.s. is pervasive in these type of Korean schools?
    Is it any better in the public schools?
    Same suggestion I've been making: Other type of work??


  4. Nobody comes here prepared for the kind of hagwon bs you're putting up with. There's not much you can do before you show up that can help you find a good school and avoid a bad one. It sucks, but such is the game. Lots of smart, talented, able people end up working for crappy hagwons and shifting around from place to place, and it's nothing to beat yourself up about.
    Everybody's got to start somewhere, so forget what people say about your personality, experience, etc. You're here because you're adventurous and trying to get experience teaching. Don't let this lousy hagwon jerk you around and make you feel like a failure - if you don't fit there, don't sweat it, and go find yourself a place where you do.

  5. Thanks everyone for your support and insight.

    Indeed I am smack in the middle of the #1 problem most expats face here. But I will survive.

    Whether I am walking into another storm is yet to be know. But at least this one is done for.

    Still though know that this makes me stronger and changes me as a person. It helps me to understand my work ethics...etc.

    Allrighty.... ;)

  6. hi Joy, I don't have anymore information for you yet on what we talked about last night. Hubby is meeting that guy tomorrow and will find out more for you. If staying in Seoul is your decision, and you can't get into a public school you may have to settle for a hakwon where you will be treated fairly, even if the hours are not what you are looking for. I wonder, does the public school require certification? My hubby asked me that last night because he's been racking his brain trying to come up with some suggestions for you... =) I know your mom has suggested finding another kind of job, have you thought of applying at the international schools for some kind of position? Other than that route I can't really come up with ideas that are non-teaching. I'll call you this weekend. If BK is busy on Sunday maybe we can get together.... Hang in there girl. It's not easy but it's not the end of the world and you'll get through it... ((HUGS)) Call me anytime. Cynthia

  7. It's very, very difficult to get a non-teaching job in Korea, and the ones there are are pretty rare and usually require some kind of specialized experience in the field. I would concentrate on finding a school (and private elementary, middle, and high schools are usually just fine, so don't fixate too much on public - just fixate on not hagwon!) Don't forget colleges, too. Fighting!

  8. Thanks Cynthia~
    Certainly right now the search will be on for what is next.

    I should figure out the difference though between a private school and a hagwon.

    I will contact you Cynthia with details about the school..etc.

    Thanks Gomushin Girl~
    I too have seen that to get a job other than teaching it requires first experience and two certifications.

    Do you know how to tell the difference between a hagwon and a private school?

    thanks again~~ ;)

  9. Hey Everybody....thanx for supporting my girl!

    Colleges.....yes....Joy is an incredilbly talented artist in case you don't know that yet about her! AND teaching art (drawing, painting, etc....) would be an excellent venue for her!
    Could she teach private art lessons?
    Of course....speaking Korean would be a great asset, but otherwise I'm extremely gratefully you're all there for her.

    And...I believe that we all have personality/character issues to work keeps on giveing us challenges to work on 'em with. Repeating the same mistakes to work on 'em isn't necessarily a requirement!

  10. Mom, the problem with private art lessons is her visa. She has to locate a school/company that will support her staying in Korea. As far as art schools, there may, MAY be a hakwon out there that would be interested in offering "english art" to their students, finding it is the issue. I know there are "english golf hakwons, english taekwondo schools... " but haven't heard of "english art" yet. I wish I had a magic solution for you Joy! Call me! cyn


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