Kids' College Walker Hill, Seoul
Jult 7, 2015
I'd like to submit Kids' College Walker Hill in Seoul to the Hagwon blacklist. I took a job there in March of 2015 against my better judgement. I had read another review on the Hagwon Blacklist, but I needed to find a job quickly and my options were limited.
From the beginning, I was told that if I was a "good teacher" I would be treated well, but "if not....." and then the voice would trail off to let my imagination fill in the blanks. During my time there, I don't think there could be any argument that I did not do my work well. I always was prepared for class and turned in all of my planning duties on schedule. I even received praise for having good classroom management skills.
In June of 2015, the school was voluntarily closed for 4 days because of the MERS outbreak. When we returned, it was announced that the teachers would have to work four Saturdays between July and August as make up days. I brought it to the school's attention that make up days are not covered in the contract, but I was told to work "or else".
After the first Saturday that I was required to work but did not (I called off Friday night and obtained a doctor's note for an excused absence), a meeting was called on Monday when I arrived at work. I was given a letter saying that I was fired effective immediately and that I must move out of my apartment within the hour. If I was not able to move out, the cops would be called to move me.
I returned the next day to retrieve personal effects that I had left at my desk. I asked for a release letter, but this request was refused. I have yet to receive my final paycheck, but I have a very strong feeling that the amount will not be the full amount that I am owned.
I strongly discourage anyone from taking a position at the Kids' College Walker Hill.
Avalon/ LangCon Sinnae Campus, Seoul
June 22, 2015
Let’s start from the beginning…
I worked at this hagwon only for three months, which I will explain why it was so short momentarily. I am a certified teacher from the USA and I taught in Korea for one year before getting this job. I will explain the good and the bad.
- They always pay on time and in full
- The owners are hardly there and they generally do not harass the foreign teachers. If you ever have a problem (with housing or documents) they are quick to help you
- The rooms provided are close to a subway station and you are able to walk to work. Accommodations are basic, mediocre for Korea
- You will live next to COSTCO (awesome)
- The students are generally pretty good
- The pay is about average for a hagwon job in Seoul
- Within the last 9 months the entire Korean staff quit (this is 9 teachers) because they were not respected as human beings and they were being overworked
- Because of the constant changing of staff, the owners decided to hire a new manager. They put all faith in this person, as he/she was to become the savior of this hagwon. The only problem is that he/she is not only incompetent, and has never managed anything before, but also racist and xenophobic. He/she decided that the Korean staff quit because foreigners were lazy (of course the foreign teachers are what kept this hagwon afloat during the turmoil of constant staff turnover)
- Before the new director came to power, the contract was followed very consistently, and problems were dealt with in a reasonable manner, but after this person took control, the contract was blatantly disregarded
- During this time, I was looking for a job, and I notified them that they might expect a call. After receiving a call from Xxxxxx, they became insulted that I was looking for a job, and thought that that was notice that I was quitting. For clarification, if I were to quit, I would give a two month written notice as required by the contract. They instead decided to terminate me without written notice (against the contract) simply for looking at other jobs. I can only assume that they did not want to do this because they were legally in the wrong. They told me that I was being fired because I sent a resume out, but my work was fine and that was the only reason for termination.
There are better jobs in Korea and in Seoul than in this hagwon. Stay away unless you can handle being bossed around by and incompetent boss who has an inflated attitude and will disregard you completely and treat you like a piece of spoiled meat.
NGLOW Kids chain, Banpo
June 18, 2015
I STRONGLY discourage anyone from working at the NGLOW Kids chain. I have heard negative reports coming from other locations. I worked three months at the Banpo location, and was paid a total of 2.0 million won (1.5 million paid at the end of this period with my insistence). When I showed signs of stress due to the non-payment, I was accused of being "emotionally unstable." I and other coworkers were lied to countless times about payment dates. I was then told that I would receive payment from the key money refund after I moved out. It turned out that they didn't pay my rent for three months, and I never got a dime. Also the housing is tiny and your head teacher lives right up the street and there will be a security camera right above your door. In addition, the head teacher will make the homework without your assistance. Since her English is limited, it will contain English errors and be entirely unsuitable for the students (ie taken from the speaking curriculum). You will then be blamed if the beginning 6 year old students don't have the reading skills to complete the homework taken from the speaking curriculum. Also, the Xxxxx is very two-faced. One minute will act like your best friend, and the next minute won't respond to your greeting in the morning as you pass her desk, instead looking down at her desk as if Xxxxxx lacks any kind of basic etiquette. There's no communication, and you will be handed strips of paper regularly which contain your instructions. Work at NGlow Kids only if you want to head for financial and emotional disaster.
ECC in Pyeongtaek City
June 18, 2015
ECC in Pyeongtaek is a thinly disguised daycare that is on the brink of collapse. There are numerous problems that are attached to this school. There is no structure, AT ALL. You will be ordered to teach supplementary classes with no material provided. Just you, a marker and eraser with kindy children for 50 minutes. Also, they make you do insane "privates" with small children if that child has threatened to quit. The remedy is to offer "free" tutoring to that child and it will not be counted as your teaching hours unless you force it. The contracts are wording in a way that he counts minutes and not classes so you could possibly work 144/hours in a month.
The school itself is filthy and poorly lit. There is no effort made to make the environment nice for the children or teachers. There are 2 working computers for all the teachers. No wifi, projectors, laptops, or anything with technology is provided to help in teaching.
Upon negotiations with the contract you will be promised multiple things. Please do not trust that you will receive anything promised. This is a sales man and can make it seem as though you will be offered the world. It just is not true and you will likely work long hours with no health insurance or pension included in your salary which is NEVER paid on time. On payday you may receive a small increment of your salary with the rest being paid out in small increments over a series of days.
Reading Town Hagwon, Cheomdan, Gwangju
June 16, 2015
My friend and I had numerous problems with Xxxxxxxx at this academy, especially during the three months prior to our contract ending - every day was a struggle and the whole experience was exhausting.
Late payment every month, sometimes by up to two weeks - on one occasion the money Xxxxxx 'didn't have' had clearly gone into some very obvious facial cosmetic surgery she'd acquired over the weekend.
Constant lengthening of hours with no overtime pay, coercion to stay late/start early under threat of dismissal.
Refusal to pay severance fees/return flights (we managed to obtain both by producing documents from the recruitment agency she worked with that promised both).
The constantly cut the pay of the Korean staff and then blamed the 'expensive foreign teachers' when they complained - needless to say, this caused a lot of bad feeling and was entirely unfair given that we were hired us at that rate of pay - it's not as though we demanded more than we were entitled to.
At one point someone was hired who was clearly an alcoholic and who came to the school drunk on several occasions.
My contract was sold to a 'friend' of Xxxxx in a neighboring town a few months before we left to cut costs at her own school - I came in one day to be told I simply didn't work there any more.
I was constantly pestered by Xxxxxx to drive across town with him to meet other non-English speaking men for unspecified reasons. Naturally, I refused - this was punished with longer, unpaid hours at the school.
Ultimately, we left Korea with our pay and flights intact and I'm aware that people have far worse experiences, but the whole experiences was uncomfortable and exhausting. This school is run by Xxxxxxx with no business sense, no compassion and no regard for foreigners - you will be exploited at every possible opportunity if Xxxxx thinks Xxxxx can get away with it.
Question: Call for help
June 14, 2015
Jon's note: This was a request for help. Any answers will be sent to the person, and may be posted at a later date. Suspect this person is not alone with this.
I have been fired 3 months into my contract. He is asking for 800,000 won for the release letter. Recruiter called him, tells her he wont give it to me wither I pay him or not. Went to immigration, they call him....denies everything about demanding payment from me. I just signed a contract with a new school to start 5 days from now. What am I to do? He has lied about many other things as well. He is firm about not giving release letter. This is bribery. What are my rights? I am married with a baby. For how long will my alien registration card be valid after he calls migration to cancel my contract? Are we still legally able to stay in our current housing until he gives it to me? I don't have money. Live out on the street?
You & I schools in Bongdam and Hyangnam
June 11, 2015
My husband and I worked for you & I schools in Bongdam and Hyangnam. Xxxxxx seemed nice, but paid late a few times. It wasn't until our last pay, when we were due our final pay, severance and flights that they became strange. They paid us late and said the business is doing badly and in our last pay they took off the three national holidays, saying this was unpaid. Every school gets 10 days paid vacation from a school and the national holidays on top are always paid. They cheated us out of money and then got aggressive and started making up lies about us. Really bizarre behavior!
OSS English and Chinese Academy (First Building), Gangdong-gu office area
June 4, 2015
I dealt with a lot of stress from working there, where I almost left the country. This hasn't just happened to me but to other teachers before me and after me. Words can not express how
hard it can be working under one of the people there. The actual OSS hagwon itself is quite good but please avoid this place because of one of a rather dangerous teacher manager.
ECC Daechi language institute in Seoul
May 21, 2015
I recently finished my year at ECC Daechi language institute in Seoul. I had a great year, did everything they asked and finished my contract. They left shaking my hand smiling saying they would miss me.
While I did not always see eye to eye with them I held my tongue and did my job. They honored the contract and provided everything they promised.
Do not work here. The average employee turnover rate is less than a year. They will say you were terrible after you leave and never explain why you were terrible. This will put your career in jeopardy.
They never trained me and would always ask me to do something last minute and expect it to be perfect by their unexplained standards. They are very abrasive and unhelpful if you do not know something. I went to work sick many times with a fever because they are very aggressive and untrusting of foreign teachers. I had great thoughts about this school when I originally left but they seemed to be disapointed in me for no good reason. They honor contracts but they are dishonorable people. If you have a chance to work somewhere else I suggest you take the job.
Ask them how long most have been working there and the longest you will hear is 2 years; most likely an exxageration because that will be 1 or two people who are on their way out. They literally ask you to lie and cheat if it will impress the parents. I am thankful for their opportunities but they will find always find a way to make your life harder.
GNB First Campus in Wonju
May 19, 2015
Dear Jon, I would like to add a school to the blacklist. Please do not use my name or email address. The schools name is GNB First Campus in Wonju and the owner uses the English name Xxxxxxxxx. I worked for them a little over a year and a half ago, but I was still bothered about my experience because of the way in which I was treated and wanted to warn other potential teachers about this place and what he likes to think he can get away with. First the good....he pays on time and is relatively easy to get along with most of the time!! But what you are not told about this school is that the contract is a pile of a crap and lies!!
It says 30 hours a week at GNB school when in fact you are doing 18 hours a week at the main school and the rest of the hours are split between 2 other schools that are completely different and NOTHING to do with the actual named school! But he insists its ok, well we all know its not. He also thinks its acceptable to allow recruiters to deceive you into this position by telling you he owns the other school which is like I said a complete lie!
I left this school after about 6 months because one of the other illegal schools complained about stupid things that werent true and to be honest I think the owner just didnt like me. But hey we all know thats not exactly uncommon for a director to have personal grudges against a foreign teacher in Korea now is it! He was supposed to give me 90 days notice and only gave me about 2 weeks notice. He blatantly avoided his obligations and went back on my finish date more than once. Also he didnt even tell me he was going to replace me, he didnt have the guts to say anything to my face and instead took me out for dinner and told me outside when we had finished the meal that he had hired another teacher!! LOL!! Biggest kick in the nuts ever or what! and I think illegal too.
I just believe this place is best avoided as this director has no interest in following the rules or showing you respect and is completely under the thumb or his interfering wife. Thanks and keep up the good work Jon.
Tait English School (TES), Song-pa, Seoul
May 18, 2015
I'd like to add Tait English School (TES) to the Korean blacklist.
List of sins:
- Failed to provide any training at all except for humiliating test the owner has created.
- As far as I know, all teachers who have left have had huge delays in getting paid their last paycheck, and sometimes are shafted altogether with deductions. Any attempt to chase up pay is met with resistance and aggression.
- Late payments, no payslips.
- The manager (part owner) claims to be an expert in psychiatry, and will use his 'powers' to mentally torture people. He uses his methods to torture teachers and worst of all, children. He should be reported except to my knowledge there is no easy way to do this in Korea. For example, he often brags about making a child stand on a chair for 8 hours to 'cleanse his heart'.
- Manager will micromanage you into submission, all day, every day.
- Any disagreements (which you WILL have, because his methods are 'exotic') with manager will result in lengthy, non-nonsensical arguments which you will ALWAYS lose.
Avoid this hagwon at all costs.
TRUED in Seolleung Statation, Gangnam
May 13, 2015
TRUED in Seolleung Statation- Gangnam.
The management is a "Korean" style of management and meeting and requirements never stop. They demand answers to emails asap..but have no problem making up a morning meeting in your free time...unpaid.
The shifts as split and the pay is low. They first promised there would be a rewards program but instead has installed a "teacher of the month" system which comes down to who's the favorite teacher when the management isn't stressed. There is no logic or reasoning to the "point" system.
I would highly recommend that you stay away from this academy if you want to keep your sanity. They are bleeding red and the teachers and staff are suffering due to poor management.
YALE Hogwan in Yeongju-si Gyeongsangbukdo
May 12, 2015
I see a previous post has been made about YALE Hogwan in Yeongju-si Gyeongsangbukdo province. But I would like to add some more information. This friend of ours has now completed her contract even living under those conditions, without making any scenes. She did her work and met all requirements with no complaint. Upon finishing her contract her Director got very angry that she didnt want to stay longer(?!?). He has not paid her last salary or severance as well as her deposit of 900, 000 won on something that barely resembles an apartment. She has been trying to find new work and a director from Pyeontek interviewed her in person spoke to her for many hours and then hired her. They signed a contract and was to begin work at a hogwan named KIDS COLLEGE in Songton. They made her cut her hair off and asked her to get botox! and then the following day (before even allowing her to teach and merely observing classes for two days) they told her not to come back to work. No grounds for
dismissal as well as not sticking to the contract in which it states IF there is a problem one warning shall be given before being put on probation and in the case of dismissal a two week notice period would be given. This teacher happens to have years of teaching experience at home, a teachers degree and years of experience in curriculum development. There is no reason to have fired her at all. And now since this has happened she has been called by recruiters who are saying that her previous director at YALE is telling them that she was a bad worker. He is making it very difficult for her to get a new job. This guy has no scruples!
AND A REPLY:
Good day, I am a teacher from Kid's College in Songtan, Pyeongtaek. I noticed there was a post from 12 May suggesting a teacher was unfairly dismissed and told to change her appearance with botox. I have first hand knowledge that this in fact is not all true. Yes, she was dismissed, but not unfairly. She did not have the necessary skills to teach at our school. I personally watched her lessons which were not at our teaching standard. Yes, she may have experience, but our school was definitely not a good fit for her. The director of our school then spent many hours finding her a new job as well as gave her an apartment until she had a new job. She even helped and paid for her things to be sent to her new town. This said teacher in fact owes one of our staff members money and did not pay before leaving. This was over 140, 000 won. I feel that perhaps the post that was put online is out of line and unfair. Thank you
Smarten English in Ulsan, Korea
May 9, 2015
Smarten English in Ulsan, Korea
They cut insurance and refuse to pay into teacher pension fund. Work like a slave...owners know nothing about teaching- Crazy insecure owners make an "us" (Koreans) vs "them" (foreigners) atmosphere. Totally absurd business -
Feinschule in Nam-gu, Gwangju.
April 23, 2015
Hi Jon, please do not use my name or email.
This is for a Feinschule in Nam-gu, Gwangju.
I arrived at a hagwon that had seen the departure of five full time foreign teachers over the course of ten months. My replacement had been fired. There were several problems over my time there, but nothing that strongly directly affected me. Things improved over the course of my year for me, and I agreed to sign on for another year given that I was allowed a break in between. During my break, there were many changes, including management. I arrived back to a more strictly controlled school with more work than before. I came to the decision to quit, after policies were established that were absurd and enforced - these included the staff not being allowed to talk in English to me during school events (the teachers who didn't know english might think it was play), having to work four of six Saturdays without pay, having the schedule change every day and not finding out the schedule until right before classes typically started, and losing our breaks between classes.
After I quit and handed in my two months' notice - as required by my contract, I came to understand why so many teachers at my school had pulled midnight runs. My director and I negotiated an end date for ten weeks later. Two weeks after my resignation, she said she had found my replacement and my last day would be in two weeks, and I needed to be out of my apartment in two weeks as well. After those two weeks, she withheld my payment for two weeks and took out significant amounts for my apartment and taxes and insurance. She was nothing but petty and spiteful and disrespectful. I threatened to take them to the labor board for this early dismissal since they owed me another paycheck and she agreed to find me another job for a month, so I would work until the end of the original ten weeks we had negotiated. After that she is canceling my E-2 and refuses to give me a letter of release, which affects my chances of being able to work in Korea again. Most of the Korean staff in the a English department (I was the only foreign teacher) are quitting in the next few months as well because of work demands. This is not a safe place to work and most of the staff are unhappy and feel too controlled
Jones International Christian School in Songdo, Incheon
April 30, 2015
This is a review about Jones International Christian School in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea
I have worked in Korea for almost four years now. None of my places of employment have been very good, but Jones International Christian School (JICS) has by far been the worst.
I have had difficult experiences in Korea, but never was a place so bad that I felt the need to write and warn others. I will try to keep the information vague, but tell enough as to explain the situation. In short, DO NOT WORK HERE!
1. "International" is a farce. It operates exactly like a crummy Korean hagwon
2. "Christian" is a farce.
3. Teachers are not allowed to have feelings, ideas, or opinions contrary to what the administration wants.
4. Those making the decisions are unqualified to run a true elementary school. All they know is hagwon culture, and that is how they run their "elementary school."
5. Students are not placed at proper English levels. Students are unable to cope with an English learning environment, but the school is merely interested in having bigger numbers and more money--not about student welfare
6. Teachers are not supported by the administration. They are basically on their own if a problem arises
7. Little to no internal structure is present at the school. No procedures or plans are in place. It's chaos.
8. Teachers have to fight to get basic hagwon benefits (despite being promised them) Severances are not likely to be given, insurance has to be fought for, etc.
9. Teachers are overworked and given little preparation time for lessons. Again, this is supposed to be an elementary school and not a hagwon.
PLEASE DO NOT WORK AT THIS PLACE.
Edu Pro Academy, Songpa-gu, Seoul
April 22, 2015
I'd like to put 'Edu Pro Academy' in Songpa-gu, Seoul on the Black list.
-unfair dismissal and non-respect of contract
First, the school hired me-knowing that I had no previous experience as a teacher. My only training was a day of observation of a teacher. Not enough. We had to teach for 35hours/week, plus complete reports/planning for another 10-15 hours/week. As a new teacher, it's exhausting and obviously I made a few mistakes. But all they told me was 'you shouldn't take the Chuseok vacation since you're not adapting, you should stay and work'. Literaly no one works at Chuseok in Korea.
But the worse part is the dismissal. They gave me 1-week notice, blackmailing me to keep a month and half of salary, plus reference letter if I didn't show up to work. Not only I had to work for them and find a new job at the same time; they were also kicking me out of the apartment in 1 week! They fired me over an email, when the manager was there in person during the day.. They are real hypocrites and shouldn't be trusted. They wrote a 1-page dismissal saying things like 'rude to coworkers' (untrue, I was hanging out with them), and 'didn't have the heart to learn' (I put in 2 hours daily to try to catch up on the work). Also, when a friendly recruiter called them for a reference, he told me they mentioned new reasons that didn't show up in the email of my dismissal and they were basically just trying to ruin any chance I had to get hired. Basically they made things up, and were extremely rude and unprofessional. They even charged me two days of 'overstay' at the apartment when I left during the weekend!
But it got worse. I completed the week of work (wanted my salary), and my manager said to ask my recruiter to find a new job, so they were 'nice' and allowed me to take calls during work.. The same recruiter who got me the job there said there were NO jobs available in Seoul, only in Busan (impossible with the high demand). So, as a surprise, I got hired very quickly in Busan. My recruiter said, you can come tomorrow, don't worry about the reference letter -that they wouldn't give me even though I had completed my share. But they still wouldn't give me the letter of reference. Finally, as I wouldn't leave for Busan without the letter; my recruiter sent it to me by email (it should have been from the school, not my recruiter).
I took the reference letter and signed up at immigration with another school in Seoul. Which, they then tried to 'scare off' by calling and saying lies about me, then proceeded to threated to report me to immigration office when all I did was my job! Bottom line: ESL employers have way too much financial and legal power over foreign teachers and it's very frustrating, to say the least.
From the same school:
A few days after I started working at the school, one of my colleague didn't show up one day. Turns out they fired her out of the blue (giving her a month notice, after she'd been there for 9 months). After talking with her, she said only in her first weeks of training she forgot to give homework, and apparently they decided to fire her for this months later, over email. She felt highly betrayed and decided she just wouldn't come back. She was also a young newly graduated girl like me, which leads me to believe they treat young teachers with no respect because of age.
Avalon Education in Iksan
April 20, 2015
Hi Jon, a very handy blog. My son now teaches in Cheong-ju and is very happy, plays rugby all over Korea and meets lots of new friends. However it did not start all well, about ten months ago he left South Africa with a contract at a school in Iksan, with the group Avalon. In short he had to struggle each month for his salary, with all kind of excuses and lies. After seven months they said they can no longer afford him, he must look for another job. He lost his air fare, 13th pay and still short on salary. The Iksan school is only an agency of Avalon and is privately owned. I would not advise anybody to even consider dealing with them. Thanx
Feinschule in Nam-gu, Gwangju.
April 7, 2015
I knew a teacher that worked for Yale Foreign Language Institute (also mistakenly called Yale Foreign Language Academy), located in Yeongju, Gyeongsangbukdo. This Hagwon is among the worst to work for in Korea. Here are some of the reasons why: the apartment given to the teacher was moldy, did not have proper heating, hot water or plumbing through most of winter (the kitchen pipes leaked all over the floors for about six months), has only one electrical outlet and no washing machine. A portion of the kitchen ceiling was taped with duct tape to avoid collapse, and the teacher paid with her own money to have the walls wallpapered to cover the stains and mold. For a time, there was no stove as well. Currently, there is no air conditioner. The utilities for this studio cost upwards of 200,000 won each month, whereas most comparable apartments cost 70,000 or less...this inflated cost may or may not be accurate because bills were never provided to the teacher, the amount for utilities was always deducted from the monthly paycheck, and the utilities themselves did not function for months at a time. The previous teacher had 900,000 won taken from her paychecks to cover the deposit for the apartment (it may be important to note that it is not actually an apartment, but an old abandoned unit in a commercial property). Over the course of a year, the director failed, on multiple occasions, to respond to requests for assistance, promised 10 days of vacation, but then only gave six because weekends were included. PLEASE tell all potential teachers to AVOID THIS HAGWON.
J.M Academy in Songpa, Seoul
April 7, 2015
I'm like to add J.M Academy in Songpa, Seoul to the Blacklist for the following reasons:
- Incoming foreign teachers receive little to no training prior to teaching classes. At most an incoming teacher can observe a handful of classes, while it's highly possible they may observe no classes.
- There is no consistency to what benefits teachers receive or when they receive them. Some teachers came in to find no bed or utensils in their apartments. And while some teachers had their flight tickets paid for, others had to foot the bill and were not reimbursed until the year was almost over.
- The director will obviously single out teachers as her favorites and least favorites. Least favorite teachers should expect to be yelled at and humiliated in front of students and coworkers.
- There is a general "us vs. them" mentality in terms of most of the Korean vs. foreigner staff. Foreign teachers aren't trusted to have an entrance code to the building and they are the last to receive information and plans (often receiving information after even the students).
- Being sick is apparently a privilege and the use of sick days is virtually nonexistent. If you are sick, unless you are hospitalized, expect to be asked to teach. If you are incapacitated, they might suggest you teach sitting down, or rest for an hour then try teaching again. If you are hospitalized, they may allow you a sick day, or they may not. It's really just based on how the director is feeling that day and how much they like you.
I wouldn't say this is the worst school to teach in in Korea, but it definitely should be a last resort. Also, I would say it is only suitable or extremely flexible people who are not sensitive and not at all flustered by last-minute changes.
Croma international school, in seongnam city
April 6, 2015
ccis or aka croma as it is also known for is the most unorganized school I have worked with and had good goals of being an international school want to be type education institute but failed on so many levels. It took them 9 months to be registered as a legitimate school and offer benefits to their employees. Half of the staff and teachers have left voluntarily or involuntarily from the original 30-35 employees. The last two months of my employment there they were unable to pay their staff on time. The place has become an all day hogwan style school with only a few gyopo/korean american students in the entire school. The investors of the school are upset and it is due to the lack of growth and revenue as evidenced by the inability to ever grow beyond 80 students with a building capacity of 300 students and 50 staff as well as 50-75 live in students on campus. They house some their staff in the same building as the school. I recommend all teachers to steer clear of this school but it may not make it for one complete school year so there is not much to worry about.
J & U English Institute in Ilsan
April 4, 2015
Please do not publish my name. I am writing to you because I read a previous review on J&U English Institute in Ilsan and I am writing to confirm that everything written by the previous teacher is true. There are indeed two locations and I worked at the Madu-dong branch and the school has serious issues retaining teachers...everyone quits.
When I worked there, I was required to work 7 days a week with no overtime or extra pay. The owner expected us to work for free and had the nerve to tell me that I should be grateful that I was even hired by them. The school had so much trouble retaining foreign teachers they made a point of trying to only hire E2 visa teachers because they know that E2 teachers cannot quit with a LOR. When I worked there, 10 teachers quit within one year....this number includes Korean and foreign teachers.
Now J&U primarily teaches TOEFL which is much harder to teach than elementary and kindergarten and on the flipside it's also much more difficult for Korean students to learn as well. If the students that you teach do not do well, you will be blamed for being an inadequate teacher.
The only reason I lasted there for one year is because I needed the money. After I quit, I was so happy and relieved that I wouldn't have to deal with such idiotic people. Working at J&U is just not worth it. If you do, you'll regret it.
ILS (International Language School) Jukjeon
March 24, 2015
Thank you for all the effort you put into maintaining this list. It's a great help to anyone willing to put forth the effort to avoid running into a bad situation in Korea. I would like to report the following hagwon of which I am a recent teacher, having been "let go" on my tenth a half month as a teacher for "losing" three students (all of which were moving to a new area at least an hour away so who could blame them) and for which I was given the "required" three written warnings (Although they all left at the same time).
School Name: ILS (International Language School) Jukjeon
The problems don't even begin to start with me being fired a month and a half from completing my contract and receiving my severance pay.
1. The "apartment" promised in the contract is actually a Goshiwon, which is like a small study room with a bed and desk, and a bathroom that's shared with the entire hall. You're not allowed to have guests, and the landlord for the goshiwon will yell at you in Korean if you use too much electricity (she posts the #s on a bulletin board in the hallway).
2. In addition to teaching, lesson planning, and test creation/grading, you'll also be responsible for riding the bus every morning with the children (it starts at 8a.m. where it picks you up in front of the goshiwon) and arrives around 9:30 at the school. This is when the work day actually starts. You will work the full 30 teaching hours every week, and will spend an additional 15 hours outside of class preparing lessons, writing daily report cards for students, making decorations, doing phone class for students when they get home, and cleaning if it's your designated week to be on cleaning duty.
3. If you argue against anything, or even somewhat disagree with what the director or vice director says, you will be loudly berated in front of your students and co-workers in Korean. At best, you will feel like a terrible teacher with no sense of worth. At worst, you will use your limited bathroom time to sob before begrudgingly swallowing your pride and carrying yourself to class.
4. Your recruiter and interviewer may tell you you are close to Seoul and it's a 30 minute bus ride to Gangnam. They may also tell you that Jukjeon has it's own subway station. On a good day, the bus will take an hour and a half.
Jukjeon Station is located in a very different area of Jukjeon, and is at least 20 minutes away by bus (Walking would take about an hour).
5. You will be given extra work and guilted into accepting it without overtime.
6. You're expected to "volunteer" one Saturday per month for outdoor advertising, which involves wearing an ILS uniform and standing outside with a sign smiling, while the director shouts into a megaphone about how white and foreign their teachers are and how well-trained and disciplined they keep their staff, translating to a top notch experience for the students.
7. If you weigh over 120 lbs, you will be fat-shamed. Not fat? "Yes you are." The director called one girl "pig teacher" on multiple occasions, and would restrict her from eating rice at company get-togethers.
After realizing all of these problems, it's amazing that I had resolved to fulfill my year-long contract and stick it out til the end, where many other teachers did midnight runs back home or re-collected their documents for a visa run with a different school. After being let go right before my completion, and after having provided what was in my opinion very adequate instruction to the students, I am a true believer that hindsight is 20/20.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have never signed with ILS Jukjeon.
Austen Academy in Pangyo
March 20, 2015
I'd like to add Austen Academy in Pangyo to the list.
From the start, they found me on Worknplay and seemed really friendly. I had an interview and, again, they offered great benefits and seemed really nice. They usually SEEMED nice--even though they took away days of pay for miscellaneous things and refused to sign me up for pension and healthcare--until we got to the end. I let some things slide a little after they refused to change their decision because I didn't want to rock the boat. However, it turns out that this hagwon has a history of hiring and firing teachers over and over within 5 months. They do this so that they can avoid paying severence, pension, and other benefits and fire teachers with only 2 weeks notice for no good reason. They use the excuse that students didn't like you, that they had lots of complaints etc (even if its obviously not true- I had glowing reviews from students and no students were leaving) in order to get rid of you. They will give you little or no warning that they will do this, and they will keep your letter of release until the end to make sure you stay in line. From what I saw, the only guy who they kept after their latest firing spree was a Korean who had an uncle who was a lawyer...
It goes without saying that I'd strongly recommend not working for this school unless you want to work at an tiny academy with an illegal contract and don't care if you get fired after 5 months. They are a very small school and have a history of mistreating teachers and abusing the law against foreign teachers. Sign a contract with them at your own risk.
March 20, 2015
Under no circumstances should any expat work at SLP Cheonan. The director is lazy and condescending, particularly to his female staff. More than once we caught him asleep in his office. When we went to ask him about certain practices and how to change them to benefit the students better, he would lose his temper and scream about how we were lazy and stupid if we couldn't figure out how to work within the (poorly conceived) rules that already existed.
The vice principle is abusive and conniving. If she doesn't like you for ANY reason, and 99% of the time it's a personal reason that you can't do anything about no matter what, she will make your life a living hell. I was forced to write an essay about "What SLP Means To Me" because I yawned while teaching a class once.
The students are miserable and leave the school at a high rate -- something the expats are always blamed for. Both the expat and Korean staff dread the workday.
LCI Kids Club in Masan
March 18, 2015
Please dont include my name and email.
I would like to add LCI Kids Club in Masan (habphogu) Firstly, when i was hired they let me believe it was in changwon city....when i arrived i ended up in masan which is in changwon but not changwon city itself and therefore should have been listed as masan but it wasnt.
Throughout my 6 months here I was made to feel small and stupid for asking questions in meetings...the head is very sexist and treated me as less of a human for being female. Nothing was taken anything very seriously. I had to put in extra hours work and didnt get paid, we taught 9 classes a day with no prep time breaks so prep time is in your own unpaid time. One computer to share between 6 members of staff...we had sewage outside our house for 2 months....when the problem was finally fixed suddenly our bills were higher...when we ever questioned about the bills she said there was no bill for us to see...so we had to take her word...bills were a nice rounded 100,000 a month (suspcious?) Also we couldnt control when our heating went on ( director owns the building) She didnt pay into pension straight away....when i had the flu they came to my house and got me out of bed and drove me to work after being confirmed by doctors that i had the flu...no sick days in contract...flooding bathroom...director and korean teachers shout and tell you off in front of children, very degrading, they make you lie to parents so she charges parents money for contact hours even when we arent teaching.
When i asked to leave i gave just under 3 months notice. On my last day she tried to pay me half my monthly wage even though i was 2 days off doing a full month, i questioned this and she started shouting and raving about not giving me a release letter which we had previously agreed on and threatened to make sure i never get another job (all because she didnt want to pay me what i was owed) finally i had to negotiate my pay down until she was happy and gave me my release letter. Since then they have yet to pay me my deposit back. I have interviewed with other jobs since and they phoned lci for a reference and she lied about me so i didnt get the job. I guess she is keeping to her word about making sure i never get a job again.
In my 6 months here they went through 6 members of staff! ( supposed to always be 3 foreign teachers at any given time). Nobody ever stays here because when you work here you are giving up your life, morals, dignity and pride.
Avoid at all costs!!!! ( im already out of there and the director is still trying to ruin me, just out of spite)
Korea POLY Songdo, Incheon
March 9, 2015
Stay away prospective teachers and do not be fooled/deceived by any good claims made about this particular hagwon. It is not paradise there. It’s a typical hagwon that will abuse their powers/authority. Manipulation and corruption exists. Nothing is fair/justified. Nothing ever is.
You do not want to be exploited puppets. The situation is bad enough that four previous teachers has pulled midnight runs together (it is a pretty famous incident) and another four left early without finishing their contracts.
AND A REPLY:
The statement made about this hagwon is true. DO NOT believe in the false advertisements nor anything positive about this cram academy. Countless unfortunate teachers has been treated poorly and scammed.
CRADA International Academy in Apgujeong, Seoul
March 6, 2015
I would like to add CRADA International Academy in Apgujeong, Seoul to the blacklist. It has been nearly a year since I left CRADA and I still often think about the poor souls that are continuing to work there unknowingly.
To begin with: CRADA will deduct taxes and pension out of every paycheck, varying greatly from teacher to teacher. The ones they like "more" have less "taxes" whereas the ones they dislike have more. Funny. The more you got written up the higher your taxes managed to go. You live a staggering 45 minute commute from your location in absolutely subpar accomdations. Some teachers will receive beautiful corner room apartments while others recieve stained, dirty places with broken appliances. Once again, the rate at which things get fixed seemingly have to do with how much they like you. I paid 300,000 won (300$) for a new washing machine after mine was (already) broken when I arrived and did not recieve a new washing machine for 4 months. Every month I was told they had "no money" and would do it next month, to which I requested my investment of 300,000 won back so I could purchase my own at the local E-mart. They informed me they could not give my money back. Later I would find out they had invested 3,000,000 won into a brand new bathroom and kitchen for one of the other ex-pat teachers during this time.
I also witnessed a student being bitten by a snake. On a monthly basis CRADA brings in an event titled "Happy Zoo" where highly sedated animals are paraded around while children are shouted at to stand straight and smile for a photo to share with the parents. On one occasion a snake was draped over the arms of one of my 6 year old students who was visibly terrified. The snake lashed out and attached itself to this child's arm. The child was ripped from the room as Korean teachers pulled at the snake attached to his arm. I crouched down to knee level to calm him and speak to him, asking him to look into my eyes and not at the already bleeding wound on his arm. I was told the Korean teachers "did not need my help" and was asked to leave my student alone. We were told Happy Zoo was responsible for an untrained animal keeper and that CRADA would never bring this event back to the school. 2 months later it returned with a giant iguana and the same animal handler: a direct slap in the face to any teacher who witnessed the original attack.
Your pension is never paid. You will funnel 100,000 a month into the pension system and never see a dime. In fact, when I called the pension office to confirm what amount was in my fund I was told that I was not listed as beginning payment until 4 months after I'd arrived and, furthermore, I was not found as working at CRADA but another institution whose name I did not know or recognize.
Although it states in every contract that, should you make it the 12 months, you will receive a severance check and a paid flight home, this is not the case. In your final month they will fire you leaving you with nothing. Many times they will request you move out of your housing 4 days before your contract ends, otherwise they will not pay you. This means you must find a NEW place to live for 4 days so you are able to come to work and recieve your money. They will also frequently adapt and change the original contract that you signed with the institute, deducting paid sick days and changing mentions of overtime as they see fit. You will never recieve overtime and you will be working 9am to 7pm every single day (plus a 45 minute commute to and from work).
I left after 6 months because of the sheer insanity at this hagwon. Potty trained students are often put in diapers and left to urinate on themselves. Korean "co-teachers" will take one class of yours a day to teach Math or Korean and instead run your students around the hallways and gymnasium, doing absolutely nothing but disturbing the other classes, while American ex-pay teachers are written up for any infraction whatsoever, namely if the boss thinks they are not getting work completed in a timely fashion.
Nonhyeon Ehwa Language School Incheon, Nonhyeon. AKA: GDA Hakwon, ALS.
Feb 26, 2015
Please add Nonhyeon Ehwa Language School Incheon, Nonhyeon. AKA: GDA Hakwon, ALS. They lie and use deception. The contracts are called E-2 Visa holders "sub-contractors" (which I believe is not legal) ... When leaving due to family matter, they used every avenue to refuse me any pay. Apt cleaning, Pay for remaining months of extra rent on apartment, fine for lack of notice, pay to recruit new teacher (I believe it was pay for his time, no recruiter or other fees were incurred), and one person there tells you how other teachers have left without notice, etc... and so he is making sure you won't cost him. But then you realize why other teachers left.
Pagoda Jr in Gae-geum, Busan, South Korea
Feb 20, 2015
I would like to add Pagoda Jr in Gae-geum, Busan South Korea to the Korean Black List. I was given an unclean apartment completely infested with cockroaches. The owner or assistant director did not receive my calls when I moved in to ask for help with the problem. They claimed they were not aware of the problem, but after speaking with previous tenant it became obvious they knew. After cleaning dozens of hours and applying pesticides at my own expense the problem did not resolved. They acted as if it were my problem. Later, a water pipe busted, ruining personal belongings. I was treated hostilely for requesting monetary reimbursement for both problems. I was given absolutely no training for a "grading" system that took 8 plus hours of un-paid extra weekend hours per semester. Treatment by Owner and assistant were degrading and borderline racist. I was sent to Japan for a visa run, due to an error by my hiring employer. For several months I was not covered by health insurance or payed into my retirement. When I finally quit I was charged for visa fees to go to Japan, that clearly stated in my contract that I was not responsible for. I refused to pay but employer later took money out of my apartment utility deposit after I had gone. The overall state of the school was bad, and management, worse. Stay away from this school.
Canada International School (CIS) Uijeongbu
Feb 13, 2015
Please do not list my name or email. I would like to add Canada International School (CIS) Uijeongbu to the Black List. I was contracted to work there for one year, and I was lied to repeatedly. The school changed my arrival date three times, failed to pay for my hotel as promised, was late on providing the housing promised, never provided the full furnishings for the housing as promised, never provided the insurance I was promised in the contract (even though I was very ill for several weeks). I asked to take offof the sick days in my contract and was told that would not be possible. I was forced to work more hours than I was contracted for, and I was not paid the overtime promised in my contract. The school was unbelievably disorganized and unprofessional, and there were constant communication problems. The school lied to the parents, and the supervisors frequently failed to inform teachers of events, of curriculum changes, meetings, and even of basic day-to-day changes. T
he principal was rude, dismissive, and petty toward the American teachers, frequently raising her voice and berating the teachers. Two others branches of the school were shut down because the Kims were not paying the Korean supervisors and/or the American teachers. I would never, ever work for them again. There were also problems with pension (they were not paying it) and being payed late. This is only a few of the things the school did that were dishonest and unethical, but this list should be sufficient to give you a feel for the terrible situation there.
YBM ECC - Noeun in Daejeon
Feb 12, 2015
Hi, this is about the problems I faced at YBM ECC - Noeun in Daejeon:
I started work at this hagwon last year. For the first two months, I had no problems, as this hagwon answered directly to the head office located in Seoul. However, my third month there, it became a franchise, so the old manager was forced to quit and be replaced by a new manager, the one who had bought the hagwon I was working at from the head office. Since then, there had been many problems. First, the manager did not make us native English teachers a new contract with her until about a month and a half later. Had we not kept bugging her about it, she probably never would have even bothered making it for us. Second, both our health insurance and pension were cancelled once the new manager took over, and despite informing her of this problem, she did not resolve it until two months later. As a result, we were forced to pay almost three times what we should have for our appointments with clinics, pharmacies, etc. during that time frame, as well as 3% in taxes rather than the normal 1.1%. What concerns me even more is that when she finally applied for the health insurance, she took out money for health insurance for the months we didn't have it in addition to the month that we did. When I questioned her about that, she later informed me that I cannot get my money reimbursed for my appointments with clinics, pharmacies, etc. because it was already past the allowed time period. When asked whether she would reimburse me for the amount she took out for the two months I had no health insurance, she said she “might” give me back the money she took out for the first month at the end of my contract, but she will not do so for the second month because “we both took a loss,” and she supposedly applied for health insurance at the end of the second month. This was inexcusable, as it was her responsibility to ask the health insurance company in the first place whether I could get my money back from health visits and prescriptions I received from them before she actually took money out to pay for those two months. The past is past; she should have asked to make sure, and now other teachers and I are owed a little over 140,400 won that we will most likely never get back. Why should we pay for something we did not have? Even if the manager also took a loss, it was her own fault, not ours. Hence, we should not have been penalized for her own mistake.
Even worse, she had been exploiting me, personally, since she first started work at our hagwon. Although another native English teacher had taught in Korea for two years like I did, the manager gave me more work than any other native English teacher, having me teach as many as 11 classes in one day without a break and do evaluations and give and grade tests and other assignments for a much larger portion of all elementary-school students attending our hagwon, while the other native English teachers were given much free time and only had to do as few as 10 evaluations for students (I had to do as many as 25 a month). Considering how at the first get-together with teachers, the manager made the comment that she hates America because it negatively influences Korea, it may have been an act of discrimination. Even more shocking, she opened a confidential envelope addressed to me by my future workplace, read its contents, and even admitted it when I asked her face-to-face. This was an invasion of privacy, and from what I had heard, was also illegal. What did she think she'd get out of doing that? Lastly, the manager refused to honor the airplane ticket portion of the contract, despite past teachers of YBM ECC - Noeun receiving that part of their contract, and this was only resolved after contacting the Labor Board.
However, now more problems have popped up: not only did she not keep her promise to pay back the health insurance amounts for the two months mentioned earlier, but she also took out taxes on my final month's pay, severance pay, and attendance bonus, all separately, which seems rather fishy (shouldn't taxes be taken out for the total amount of money received for that month?). In addition, she further took out 50,000 won for an apartment cleaning fee that never happened. In fact, I had said to her that I could clean my room myself and didn't need to pay for apartment cleaning, but she claimed that we had to pay for that regardless and that I didn't need to clean myself, so considering that, I just left the room as it was, expecting maintenance to clean it, as did the new native English teacher (she heard the whole thing). Unfortunately, according to the new native English teacher, maintenance did absolutely nothing, and she was right, as I saw the pictures she took of the room. I was so angry because she had to clean all the dust and stuff herself when I could've had everything clean before she moved in. When I talked about this to the manager, she repeatedly claimed she called maintenance and that the landlady said the person came to the room to clean, but then why was the room exactly the same as it had been left? That makes me wonder whether the manager just took out the money for herself.
After all, she also took out over 100,000 won (equivalent to the utility bills I had to pay for the month before my last month working there) from my final paycheck and promised to give me back the difference after finding out how much I was supposed to pay up until the day I moved out, but two weeks had gone by, and she had neither responded to my messages nor given me the difference she promised. Consequently, I contacted the Labor Board once again to resolve the issue, and it was only then that she sent me a couple of e-mails regarding the issue at hand. However, her explanation, as always, was ambiguous and illogical, and she ultimately said to come to the hagwon in person to get my money back after I explained to her numerous times that what she said made no sense. The funny thing is, another Korean teacher explained the problem with the utility bills to me (also in English) by text message, and it was so clear and understandable (she explained that someone could check the meter for the different utilities used only once a month, and on a specific day, so it is impossible to get any information until then). Considering how a different Korean teacher was able to explain something so simple, yet the manager was unable to, perhaps many of the problems I faced were due to the manager's incompetence and lack in English skills. Anyway, to make a long story short, I did get the money back for the utility bill problem (I still lost the other money, though, but I was already too sick of all that crap to take it further, especially since I had to move to a different province), but not without having a huge argument with the manager about her crappy attitude and poor explanations for things. Not only that, but the manager was only willing to give me back my utility bill money in exchange for writing a letter to cancel my reports to the Labor Office. Hence, I can say with certainty that I will never go back there. Sure, the kids and Korean teachers are great, but the manager is not someone you want to deal with, as she is very egotistical and refuses to admit her mistakes and inadequacies, blaming others for them instead.
Considering all this, I would strongly advise against working there. YBM ECC - Noeun may have been fine years before, but according to Korean teachers and native English teachers working there, as well as my own experience, it's not worth it. Heck, the person replacing me also had two years of teaching experience, yet is getting paid 100,000 won more than I was, despite doing much less work and preparation than I did. I guess the current manager doesn't value hard work at all, seeing as how she paid me less and constantly gave me unfair treatment. Beware, hard-workers, if you work there, you will regret it. You will be treated worse than people who do not work as hard or prepare as much as you. In other words, if you work hard there, you will be treated the same as the Korean teachers: like lowly creatures. I felt so sorry for the kids attending that hagwon and the Korean teachers working there, as the manager treated the kids like college students, never allowing them a break to just be kids (note that the kids were kindergarten and elementary-school students), and the Korean teachers were treated pretty badly, never getting overtime pay for the extra classes and work they were given. I'm not sure whether that's common among hagwons, but if it is, just stick with a public school. At least kids can be kids there, and teachers are treated with more respect.
E Clock English Academy in Tongyeong
Feb 8, 2015
I would like to place E Clock English Academy in Tongyeong on the black list. The director's name is Yongkuk Koo. When I started working for him, I was the only teacher, which I wasn't told during the interview. He made me sign a new contract, denied my medical, severance and pension. He would get angry when I would ask him about my new contract, or anything money related. He would try to guilt trip me on matters that were out of my control, basically because he was stressed he wanted me to be stressed as well.
He is very unprofessional and he is very rude to work for. I wouldn't want anyone to work for him. I hope you consider my request to blacklist Yongkuk Koo and his school, E Clock Academy.
Thank you for your time.
Winners Club in Daegu, South Korea
Feb 5, 2015
I would like to add Winners Club in Daegu, South Korea to the black list. This school is highly unprofessional and does not abide by the contract. When I worked there I did not get my pension, health care, or my bonus in full at the end. They also did not pay me over Cheosuk and I never got a written pay stub. So, I never knew how much money was going towards bills, taxes etc. The owners also do not speak English very well (intermediate at best) so whenever I had a problem they acted like they didn't understand me or it was a cultural thing. The facilities are awful with a chalk board that you have to buy your own chalk for and there are absolutely no books, lesson plans, worksheets. You have to make EVERYTHING from scratch. And they do not provide any help with opening a bank account, getting a phone, or providing a tour of the city.
However, on the plus side- the apartment they provide is very spacious with two bedrooms. Since there is no curriculum it makes you a better teacher in the end and there is a lot of freedom in what you teach. The coworkers are overall friendly and the class sizes are very small.
'W Language Academy', in Yongin
Feb 3, 2015
Could you please post this on your blacklist.
I would like to blacklist a hagwon by the name of 'W Language Academy', in Yongin (close to Bora Middle School). I was employed by them for 1 year from March 2013. During that time, by bosses seemed nice and helpful. But over time they regularly failed to pay my wages on time. It has been about one year since then and I am still due a lot of money. They have consistently lied and failed to turn up to be investigated by the Labour board. I would strongly advise every English teacher not to work for this school. They are no longer trustworthy and will be kind only to cheat you.
VIP English Academy in Ansan.
January 24, 2015
I have a school to add to the blacklist. VIP English Academy in Ansan.
Issues with the school:
1) Work environment. You are expected to do physical labour after the finish time. Teachers do the interior work here, as they don't want to pay anybody to do that. To prove you are worth what they pay you, you should move couches to the street, cleaning bathrooms, powerwashing the floors, or picking up glass. I was not good at lifting heavy so I had the manager rub it in my face every day calling me lazy, and bad for business. I don't lift heavy because of lower back problems--if you don't have any, you can be sure to get some from lifting couches and armoires. Their last 2 teachers were big muscular guys that were happy to help so they expect the same from every teacher regardless of what it does to their health. There are no classrooms. It's a big open room where there are many classes going on, and the manager regularly stops the teachers to yell and show them how to teach. No bathroom breaks, no water breaks. No breaks in between classes. You are tutoring every student individually, so you become like a card dealer dealing textbooks.
2) They are huge cheapskates. No lunch, no immigration fees. Visa run? forget it. Anything besides your base salary will not be paid. If someone takes a sick day or if the boss decides not to show up that day (happened frequently while I was there), you are working without dinner or pay. Also forget about having them pay for your dinner.
- Unpaid overtime - This is the main problem. They never paid overtime, they always asked me to work more than 33 hours per week. an hour overtime every day adds up to 20 hours a month, maybe 30 if you are also giving up your dinners. 30x20,000 an hour .... 600,000 that's not a small amount to lose every month.
The students are largely good, although some of the adult students don't really want to study and just want a chat -- which is fine by me, but I had to teach the textbooks, which are written by the owner who is an egomaniac.
DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME ON THIS PLACE. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO SPEND IN THIS ENVIRONMENT.
E Bo Young Talking Club in Dogye-dong
January 22, 2015 11:12 AM
I've just come through a grueling year and then some working at E. Bo Young Talking Club in Namgu, Daegu. I know some people have been suckered into working here (myself included), and I feel I have to get this school put on the blacklist, if only as a vague satisfaction after a miserable year of my life.
1. Tyrannical *********. She often chooses a target to criticize and emotionally abuse. Her personal issues are thrown all about the office, and she has her boyfriend come in for private lessons from foreign teachers five times a week. She personally attacks employees for everything from making copies, to not having books she's forgotten to order, to things they've done in her dreams.
Constant, passive aggressive emails in broken English designed to embarrass workers. Kept firing Korean staff then rehiring them. Shouting. Lots of shouting.
2. Mismanagement. Students are thrown into classes haphazardly without any regard to level. The worst students are often paired together because the director wants to pander to their requests. This is pretty standard hagwon, but the complete lack of oversight is beyond any other hagwon I've worked at or seen.
3. Payment. Didn't pay last month's salary. Refused severance until two months past contract. Inexplicably charged rent for the last two months, refused to return housing deposit. Changed payment date halfway through contract.
Overall, it was just a complete collapse of logic and an extreme mental strain working here.
E. Bo Young Talking Club in Namgu, Daegu
December 8, 2014
I'd like to add the E Bo Young Talking Club in Dogye-dong to the Korean blacklist. I already knew that other Talking Club franchises were blacklisted, but the foreign teacher working there before me sold me on this place. Big mistake. Before leaving, he found out that the owners had not paid for his insurance for 8 months, effectively stealing his money. To add onto my worries about the school's financial state, I found out mid-November that the three Korean teachers had not been paid on time. One of the teachers is quitting by the new year because of this and I believe another teacher was still not paid for November by the time I left at the start of December.
On Nov 26, my recruiter called to tell me that the directors had been complaining to her about my teaching aptitude and wanted to fire me at month's end. The directors also refused to pay my recruiter's fee and so she stated that she will be filing a law suit against the school. On Nov 28, I was fired without the 30-day notice and was given only a quarter of my monthly wage; they deducted the plane ticket to get there, among other expenses. I realize I could have gone to the labour board, but that would only elongate my stay in the school and anger the directors - they had explicitly told me to not contact my recruiter because "she could not be trusted". They were clearly just trying to cover themselves and I decided to act ignorant over the matter. I also realized at this time just how vague the terms of my contract were. Anyway, I left Korea on Dec 3, paying airfare myself, and decided the best thing I could do was blacklist the place. Oh, and the apartment was a mess. Please contact me for any further details.
UPDATE: E Bo Young Talking Club in the Dogye-dong neighborhood of Changwon:
Wednesday, January 15, 2015, 11:44 AM
Hi, I'd just like to confirm the other mention of this school here. Near the end of my contract, when I went to the pension office to withdraw the money, I found out my director hadn't made pension payments for seven months! He still made deductions from my paycheck for pension payments, but he kept that money for himself. I ended up losing about 1.3 million won (about $1,200 bucks).
Until then the school had been good to me, decent workload, nice Korean co-workers and kids... but if you go here, watch your pension balance regularly.
Richie Academy/School, Songdo, Incheon, Korea
January 15, 2015
I feel obligated to warn other expats and teachers about this school. The school has a complete a**; a slimy, greedy, and unscrupulous man. Every day my scheduled changed drastically and I was never given any time to prepare for classes; he used constant verbal abuse against teachers, staff, and even berated students constantly; The staff and everyone else there hated him and he could barely keep new (Korean) part-timers for more than three weeks; the school was a nightmare for the students, and he would constantly barge into classes and not only yell and demean teachers, but also yell at students and destroy the class atmosphere. At the end, when the hagwon started to lose tons of students, he of course told me I had to leave, but before doing so he took my entire (1 million won) housing deposit for bogus charges and propped up utilities (I lived in a tiny studio in a cheap, seedy area of town) and half my final paycheck.
Please, do yourself some good and AVOID RICHIE SCHOOL/ACADEMY!
Talkster Waegook Hagwon in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do
January 1, 2015
I'm submitting Talkster Waegook Hagwon in Suwon, Gyeonggi-do to the Korea Black List. Here is my experience working with them.
The positive: We did get paid on time. Our foreign co-worker was friendly. The negative: My husband and I got fired in our 10th month working at the school. They said they wanted us to work one more month (even though we were fired), and if I had done that, it would only have been 30 days short of finishing my one year contract, but they wouldn't have given us the final payments including severance, flight home, and the final month's pay for both of us (we lost around $10,000).
The American boss, I'll call him Boss 1, and his Korean wife, Boss 2, said that we were fired because, despite the 98% high approval rating from the 200 students at our last hagwon, they said, "You are like an infection in the school." We originally decided to take the job because the Boss 1, said, "I want teachers who make the students laugh. We do things unconventionally here. The best class is one where you don't even open the book because the students are talking with you the whole time."
For the first few months, both my husband and I threw ourselves into making interesting activities that made the kids forget that they were "studying" because they were having so much fun. Unfortunately, when their parents asked the kids, "What did you do today in class?" the students would say, "Play!" And when the parents called the hagwon, Boss 2 didn't offer to explain that the activities were English related and approved by the school. Instead, Boss 2 told my husband and I just to stick to the book from now on. That was our 4th month at the hagwon.
After that, we stuck to the book completely. The kids weren't as happy because we had to do more mundane book work, but the hagwon doesn't care about happy kids, just money. Fast forward to the 10th month. Boss 2 was in America on summer vacation, and his wife (Boss 2) tells me and my husband that we are both fired because "so many" students hated us and that the teachers did't like working with us, and she didn't either. We were both totally shocked. One student that she sited as "complaining" about my class had just told me that same day that she wished we could have class together everyday. We tried to get details about which classes had problems so that we could fix it and what exactly the complaints were from the co-teachers, but Boss 2 said she couldn't tell us.
We asked her why she didn't tell us about all the problems until now, and she said, "I feel uncomfortable approaching you.I just hoped that things would change." Huh? But it's her job to tell the employees about problems. After talking with the co-teachers privately, it's obvious that the complaints were completely unfounded and the Korean co-teachers said they were seriously considering quitting due to the slander the boss had said about them. Our contract said that we need 3 warnings before getting fired, but we were given none. She did say that she would give us a letter of release and said, "I'll lie and say you're good teachers." We had been in Korea for almost 3 years and were planning on leaving after this contract, so we wouldn't be needing a letter of release. After we got fired, we continued working for a few weeks while planning what we would do next. We had no will to please them anymore, as we'd already lost around $10,000, and just felt trapped under their grip. Once we had plans and we got our paycheck for the month, we told them we were leaving that night. Boss 1 yelled at us and asked if we were prepared to go to court. Boss 2 shouted that we must just hate them and want to spite them. We just walked out, and as our stuff was already moved out, we went to a friend's house where we were planning on staying.
Another negative is that the teacher apartment is in the basement of the school. The wallpaper was yellow and smoke stained from years of use and no up-keep. When I asked what to do about a terrible smell coming out of the drain in the bathroom, our boss said that it was caused by a vortex of air being sucked out of the drain when I turned on the bathroom vent/fan (it was barely an audible whir). He said it with a straight face, too. I was just dumbfounded.
Also, both bosses scream at their two teenage sons SO loud almost everyday. I was woken up almost everyday during the public school vacation by one of them roaring their lungs out at their sons to "do something." And the one time I got to have a nice conversation with one of the sons, Boss 1 came in and had the gall to say, "How did you get him to talk to you? He never talks to me." Errr... Can someone be so blind? If after all of this you still say yes to this job, make sure that every month you write down the birthday of the kids on a new paper, otherwise Boss 1 will yell at you and tell you that "the kids won't think that you care for them if you don't tell them happy birthday, even if you don't have class with them that day." I could go on and on with preposterous stories like that.
Thankfully, I had two beautiful years of experience in Korea at another hagwon (JLS, review on the green list), so this wasn't the only taste I had of teaching in Korea.
Dec 27, 2014
1) Icon Institute: Ori Station, Bundang, Seongam.
This place is a mess. This is a 'English however the moms want it' kind of hagwon, so my schedule ended up being all over the place. I was also expected to work Mon/Tue/Thu/Fri/Sat even though my contract stated Mon-Fri or Tues-Sat. I was waiting on my first paycheck and made my first complaint to the owner when I wasn't paid on time. He fired me 10 minutes later, just before I needed to teach my next class. When I said to him that I was fired without warning and with no reason, the reasons he gave were: 'we're better off than the other hagwons' and 'he doesn't want to wait for me to feel more relaxed with the hagwon and its management'.
2) I Love English (ILE): Hanti Station, Daechi-dong, Seoul. There were differences in the hours they asked me to work during the interview and what they asked for when I went in to sign the contract. They wanted me to be clocked in 48 hours/6 days a week. This is probably because they not decide what I would be teaching when I signed, so I ended up signing a lot of different versions of the contract. They also asked for my original UG diploma which is not required by the Education Board. I left after two days. This may not be a horror story, but I'd recommend people be wary of what they claim. The pay might seem good, and the work environment is more professional, but it had a bad vibe. The teacher I was observing just could not teach -- I've never seen someone so stressed out.
3) Prize, Result & Pass (PRP): Hanti Station, Daechi-Dong, Seoul. I was contracted to start work in January. When I went in to sign the contract, the owner unexpectedly asked me to start training on the same day. I realize now that the owner was essentially protecting himself by giving himself extra time to figure out if he wanted to keep me. However the way he went about was a bit sneaky since he suddenly put it on me after the contract was signed. As a result, I had to let go of other offers, and the training period was unpaid, so I lost a week of pay. While observing classes, I asked a teacher what is the difference between a score of 29 and 30 on the reading section of the TOEFL exam. A student overheard and a parent made a complaint, and I was fired the next morning. This place really emphasizes that a teacher should be popular with students and that the "worst case scenario is if a student makes a complaint".
I'd like to be kept anonymous, so please don't list the dates I worked!
Chungdahm April in Hwajeong
Dec 20, 2014
I worked for Chungdahm April in Hwajeong from May 2013 - August 2014. For the first few months, I thought it was a dream job. The manager was a little nutty, but nice towards me and the Korean teachers were lovely. However, everyone that I worked with warned me that the kindness wouldn't last. And last it didn't.
Every term (3 months), our manager would add more work for us. It didn't seem like much, but by the time I left, the foreign teachers were completely overwhelmed, doing about 110% more work than when I started, with no extra pay to compensate.
December 2013, I needed surgery for a broken ankle. I ended up taking 6 weeks off from work (1 week was our winter holiday, another week we had many vacation days due to Christmas and New Years). My manager first said I would need to extend my contract by one month to make up for the month I was taking off. Fair enough, I thought, but when it came time to sign the new contract, she said I would need to extend my contract for a full term. I was already planning on extending my contract anyways, so I went with it, but I thought it was pretty dodgy the way they went about the process.
When I came back from surgery, they treated me horribly. I was still on crutches and in a walking boot, I couldn't stand on my leg, which they were very unhappy about as "standing during your classes is a requirement" of CDI.
By May 2014, it was only myself and one of the Korean teachers staying for the next term. As per CDI, you need to be to work 30 minutes before your class. When I began, we had to be to work by 1:30: an hour before classes on MWF, but 1.5 hours before classes on TTh. Our boss decided to change our start time to 1:00 every day, explaining that teachers needed more time to get their work done. Considering we had to get our work done daily, before we left, this was a complete BS excuse. When I questioned management's decision to change the time, I was given a lecture about Korean culture and told it wasn't my place to argue about management decisions.
Even with all of this, I had decided that I wanted to extend my contract for one more term, to have extra money saved up when I returned home. Management came to me in June and said they did not want to extend my contract, saying I needed to "rest" as I was just coming off crutches. When I started to tell my students that I was leaving, my HI approached me and said that I can't tell the students I was leaving because he had a complaint from a parent and had to explain to them why I was leaving...he said "he didn't want to have to do that" (tell parents why I was leaving).
Teachers at this branch don't last for more than 1.5 years. Management won't allow it. I had great rapport with my students and fellow Korean teachers. It looks bad for a company that doesn't have a good retention rate.
Also, when I was off from surgery, I had to pay, out of my wages, a teacher to sub for me. This teacher, because he was a sub, made more money than salary teachers. I had to pay him 2 month's salary for 1 month of work. Ridiculous!! Luckily, he was based in Hwajeong, or I would have had to pay his accommodation as well!!
Basically, this branch is a polished turd. On the surface and in the beginning, it's nice and shiny and lovely. But when you get into it, it's just a steaming pile of sh*t.
Gukje Foreign Language School, Suwon
Dec 19, 2014
Gukje foreign language school in suwon near ajou university. Pay manipulation, unfair dismissal, goshiwon housing, and forced to teach in other schools. Lots of lying and high teacher turn over. Also they insisted I go to church since the boss is like a christian church group leader.
Norian kindergarten Bangeo dong, Ulsan
Dec 18, 2014
Just thought I would give some advice on anyone who wants to work for this school. DON'T. Plain and simple. The Xxxxxx runs it purely to pay off debts that every Korean teacher at the school confirms it.
She lies about your working hours as well as violates your contracts. Instead of working 9 to 5 expect to work 8 to 8 without any breaks. No time to use the restroom, drink some water, and barely 2 minutes to eat lunch. She lies to everyone, even the Labour Board and parents of the students. Expect no overtime pay, no severance pay, and she has illegal fired every foreign teacher she had.
The school is poorly run and gives ridiculous assignments last minute. Demanding teachers to out together a show and expect the kids to be able to role play, sing, and dance in 2 days. Along with that she screams at teacher and belittles them in front of children. She also screams at kids and cussed at them.
The school has had to close and open under new names before because even Korean teachers hear about the school and refuse to work there. Be careful if you decide to risk it and sign a contract here. I am lucky I got out in less than 6 months. It was pure hell.
SLP in Bijeon Dong, Pyeongtaek
Dec 17, 2014
This review is regarding an SLP franchise hagwon located in Bijeon Dong, Pyeongtaek. I worked here for far too long and would hate for someone else to fall into the same trap.
Multiple lies were told during my interview, contracts and any verbal agreements are generally worthless. Working days are very long; often going from 10:00 until 19:45 with lots of small breaks in-between. Schedules are set so you will teach 30 hours per week with zero time for prep, lesson plans, monthly schedules or student reports. The director can’t hold a conversation in English so any problems (you’ll have many.. ) have to go between Korean teachers. They’ll fret anyway from such confrontations as this can lead to a shouting match and sometimes tears. A 1 million won housing deposit is generally withheld even for teachers who complete their contract or work the required minimum 8 months.
Korea is a fantastic place to live and work but spending 50+ hours in this place will make you miserable. Don’t even consider taking a chance with this place.
LCI Kid's Club Jamsil, Seoul
December 7, 2014
I would like to add LCI Kid's Club Jamsil to the blacklist. I know that a former teacher already added this school to the list, but I would like to verify that this is truly a horrible school to work for. The work environment is terrible and the boss will do everything she can to nickel and dime everything she can off of your pay-check. Teachers often work 10 hours a day, but the pay-stub will say only 6 hours so that the school doesn't pay any overtime. There are better schools to work for in Korea, so please look somewhere else if you are considering a job at LCI Kid's Club.
The Princeton Review, Apgujeong, Seoul
December 6, 2014
Please add The Princeton Review, Korea to the list. There are some advantages to working for them, namely the ability to teach only adults and an always on-time paycheck. However, you take a huge risk by accepting a job from them because they are known to fire teachers within a couple of days. On top of this, the company is extremely disorganized and working for them is a very frustrating experience. There are lots more details on the thread over at Dave's ESL Cafe: http://forums.eslcafe.com/korea/viewtopic.php?t=42724
The headquarters are in Apgujeong, Seoul, but they send people to many different places. They specialize in teaching business English. You get a job working for them, and then you are assigned to work at a client company teaching the employees there. It seemed like a very nice setup, but it turned out to be a giant nightmare. They did not decide my schedule until long after I arrived, and the days were much longer than they had led me to believe prior to arrival. Training is as short (one day) or as long (3 weeks) as they have until a new schedule starts, and during that time the hourly wage is only 5000 won an hour (with base pay). You really never know what to expect from them. However, the main reason to avoid them is that there is no job security. The contract is very one-sided, and I found out after flying to Korea that they hadn't signed it yet (I felt very stupid for not confirming this). They let another employee go after two days of training because they just weren't feeling it, even though they had interviewed him twice and then hired him (meaning that he turned down other job offers).
Let me know if you need any more information.
Geumcheon in Chungdahm CDI
December 6, 2014
Do not work at Geumcheon location of Chungdahm. It is a franchise owned by Mr. Xxxxx. He does not pay his employees nor does he do any of his contractual obligations. He was a nightmare to work for. I had to quit after not being paid and he has a 100% teacher loss rate.
CI Academy located in Ilsan, Gyeonggi-do
November 26, 2014
I would like to add CI Academy located in Ilsan, Gyeonggi-do to the blacklist. They have two branches, one in Ilsan and one in Hwajeong. The reason for thus blacklist request is due to the management and operation of the establishment. I will explain further and try to keep it short.
First, the Academy has a semi-standard contract for foreigners. However, the contract stated that foreigners have off on all Korean national holidays (standard) and about 6-7 extra vacation days throughout the year (called summer and winter vacations). Well, that's good and all, but the Academy didn't give its workers off for August 15th, Korean Independence Day, and actually made them work extra on that day without change to salary. This includes the foreign teachers. Essentially, you are working harder on a day that everyone else has off on, and for free! In addition, the vacation days for winter/summer were written as '2-3 day vacations' in the contract and are given since the hakwon shuts down on those days. So, why would they choose 3 days? That's money to be made, why would they give you 3 days? They closed 2 days every time! (Just to note, a paid, personal vacation day is owed for every month worked, except the first and last month of a 12-month contract. This is Korea n law and is mandatory.) The Academy never gave me days I wanted off, and would later lead to them owing me for that.
Then, let's discuss the health care and pension. Health care is standard for this type of contract, so it all seemed fine. However, pension has 'optional' written next to it in the contract. Being experienced in Korea (worked there for over 3 years), I said that I wanted pension while I was on the phone with the Korean guy in charge of hiring foreigners. He agreed and said it's included, of course. This guy is also basically the right-hand of them and is equally faithful as a lapdog. Well, after each month rolled by, I noticed that my salaries were never reduced for health care OR pension. Finally, after much arm twisting, I was able to get health care and pension (5 months after beginning work). That's about a $500 loss for me due to not getting that pension and was vulnerable to health problems the whole time.
So, after 7 months at the Academy I decided to leave due to personal reasons which the Academy had no problem with. But, once I mentioned some money that they owed me (including owed vacation days), they showed their ugly side. They fought tooth and nail, claiming that I was owed nothing and that I would then not even receive my 2 months salary that they were late to pay me. I mentioned the labor board as a method of getting this resolved, but that just enraged them further. They then fired me before the 40-day notice I gave them (as stated in the contract) and kicked me out of the office-tel that I was staying at (1-day notice was given). They also refused to provide a "letter of release" to even let me try to get another job! Basically, they wanted me to lose lots of money and wander the country before my flight home a month later. They knew my departure date and had obviously plotted this grand scheme just to cause me strife for requesting money they owed me. Oh, and they also relayed an email to me saying he was going to sue me for blackmail. He owed me money for work done! He was the one holding onto my money and not giving it to me! Wow!
This brought me to the labor board to try and resolve everything, but it ended up with bad results. The labor board worker didn't speak English (understandable, this is Korea). But, she said I was rude for not bringing a translator (I never needed one before for the 3 previous Academies that I took to the labor board and won). She even said I would likely lose the case just because we couldn't communicate. Anyways, they and thier loyal hound hunter lied out their backsides to confuse the labor worker into creating an unsolvable case for me. Essentially, because they told his hound who then told the recruiter that hired me (a 3rd party) to tell me that I was fired prematurely to the last 40-day notice date. Because the director had used a form of "grape-vine" communication, they blamed the situation on the recruiter, and he couldn't be held accountable. The end result was for me to sign an agreement for a fraction of the money which I was owed.
So, in conclusion, make sure you get a formal written notice when being forced to leave for any unexpected reason, and don't work at CI Academy. Thus they have two faces; one of kindness/friendliness, and one of plotting/backstabbing.
J&U English Institute, Ilsan
November 16, 2014
Please add J&U English Institute to the blacklist. There are two locations in Ilsan and I advise that all foreign teachers stay away from J&U. The only positive aspect of working there is that the owners (husband and wife) did always pay on time. Other than that, the working environment is poisonous. While I worked there, the turnover rate of teachers exceeded 100%. Let me break it down for you:
The they are dishonest and manipulative and verbally abusive. They don't treat their teachers as important resources, but merely as indentured servants to make money.
They will work you to the bone....including weekends and summer and winter vacation classes. I was also only given 3 days vacation during the summer. I have noticed that recent job postings put up by these people are now offering 20 days...looks like they are getting desperate. Working there was nothing but stress and worrying about how the owners were going to try to screw me over. Working at J&U is just not worth it. There are so many other schools that pay the same or more for less hours. Stay away from J&U.
SLP Pyeongtaek, Wonderland Cheonan, and Wonderland Dangjin
November 14, 2014
Hi Jon. Please add SLP Pyeongtaek, Wonderland Cheonan, and Wonderland Dangjin to the list. I taught at SLP Pyeongtaek and I want to confirm what others have said. SLP Pyeongtaek finds reasons to fire people. They let one or two of the foreign teachers complete their contract so that the school appears stable in the eyes of the parents and students, and then the rest they fire in order to avoid paying the contract completion bonus and the return airfare.
I was given the worst schedule of the foreign teachers. I had to be there Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 9:30am-7:45pm, Tuesday, Thursday from 9:30am-4:30pm. So I was definitely at the school over 45 hours a week. They expect you to make schedules and write report cards, which is rare for foreign teachers. Luckily, I was able to find a report card comment generator online because before that I found that it was extremely tedious and time consuming.
I was given the worst class, the 1st graders, who wouldn't stop crying or fighting each other. Every day there was an issue with that class and the management acted like it was my fault. The class was simply too big. ~25 kids crammed into a small room. Then when they gave me a schedule that had less hours, they gave me an evening class of four older middle schoolers (or maybe young high schoolers) who refused to do anything and disrespected me every class.
I had a little bit of stubble on one occasion and then they had it on a list of reasons for a warning, which is absurd because another teacher (who was a nice guy nothing against him) had a goatee. I also avoided talking to any of the female Korean teachers because one day at a field trip I was told that one teacher didn't like me talking to her. Apparently, just talking to them about life outside of school means that I'm being creepy and that I'm interested in them. Uh, no. I guess it's better to work with people and not know anything about them?
Add Wonderland Dangjin to the list because I was originally sent there by my recruiter and after a month Wonderland said they couldn't keep me and then they sent me to SLP Pyeongtaek. I had to say bye to nice friends in Dangjin, pick up everything and go to Pyeongtaek, then when I get to Pyeongtaek I'm not even appreciated after the first couple weeks. These two owners were working together, probably to save on recruitment fees. And from what I understand, the owner of SLP Pyeongtaek also owns Wonderland Cheonan.
To those thinking about Korea, don't do it. You can find better people, less spoiled kids, and better situations elsewhere. I would say that China, Taiwan, Japan, and Vietnam are better countries. I'm pretty sure that in China and Vietnam it's possible to just go there on a tourist visa and find a school that you like and the school will take care of the rest. You find your own place to live. You don't have the school trying to keep you on the hook with airplane tickets and bonuses. If you want to find a different school, you just do it. That's how it should be. Buy a ticket to Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hainan, Hanoi, Da Nang, or Ho Chi Minh.
SLP Pyeongtaek and Cheonan Wonderland
November 3, 2014
Please add, for the third time, SLP Pyeongtaek and Cheonan Wonderland to your list. I had to pull a midnight run from SLP Pyeongtaek (the main hagwon for which I worked). The evil ******** and *** ******* pushed me into working at another hagwon, Wonderland in Cheonan. I was underpaid, over-worked, robbed from my contract and disgraced by the Koreans at those hagwons. As a licensed teacher, I really walked into a trap and would not recommend that anyone help those hagwons out irrespective of how much they play nice. PLEASE STAY AWAY!
CDI (Eungpyeong branch)
October 30, 2014
I'd like to add CDI (Eungpyeong branch) to your blacklist. After quitting facing cut hours and poor administration, they withheld my final paycheck of 700,000 won claiming that I had to pay for the paid training. They then tried to have me fired from my new position because they felt that I was "stolen" from them.
ECC in Sejong, Segonsi Nasungdong.
October 23, 2014
I would not work for ECC Sejong. They go through so many teachers. They fired a foreign teacher after 6 months, another teacher left after 3 days. They told me that I had to work 30 teaching hours, and that working hours is 11:30-8:30, but not more than 6 hours teaching a day. I thought that I would be working 6 hours plus 1 hour or so to prepare, so that would put me at around 7 hours, or 35 hours weekly. Instead they expected me to work 45 hours a week, which is more than full-time status, and when I compared my hours to the other teachers, I was getting to do way more work. I got a warning for initially coming in late, then I was scolded by the senior teacher. I was told to write a lesson plan, so I copied one right out of the book, and that wasn't good enough, it turned out to be one that had to be done her way. After the 3rd try, she finally drafted one up for me to follow which ended up to be very simplified. I was accused of not following instructions, and I was expected to know everything by the 2nd day which is nearly impossible. I was told to observe the outgoing teacher for two days, which I did.
I was given one warning, and then two days later, a final notice to leave in two weeks. Their pay was lower than the standards of the ECC company, and they claimed they own their own franchise so they don't have to follow their ECC Policies. I told them that I didn't have my f-4 visa yet, but they insisted that I hurry over, said that it was okay, and they would pay my ticket, so I ended up working on a tourist visa. I think they could get in trouble, and I really hate for it to end this way, but their unfair treatment is uncalled for. I had to work more hours than any other of their teachers, and because I was a so-called 1st year teacher, not even considering the 4 years I worked as a teacher in America. Still they claimed I was incompetent and disgusted in my teaching. Another new teacher who completely missed the staff meeting, and missed teaching his class, needless I say, they didn't care about that and practically laughed it off. I hope they find someone else to pick on, and vent their insecurities on after I leave.
And the story goes on, the students wanted to visit me in Hawaii, so I told them to give me their parent numbers. The head director walked in to give candy on Halloween, and saw the paper, and demanded I give it to her. When I refused, she and her husband threatened to call the police, and so I got my bag and left. Because first of all, I am on a tourist visa, and didn't want to be caught dead working there.
I went home, and the next morning, my computer and electric went off, and I saw her outside. She told me to "get out, that this was her place, and that she wanted the ECC papers." I called the police, and the police talked with them for awhile. While waiting for the police, I was showing the two Korean bystanders that I have a paper here that says to leave on Nov. 7th, which is one week away. The head lady tried to take it away, but I took it from her, and actually called her "Stupid!" Keep in mind, she can't even barely speak English!! The police told me I could stay until the end of the date as agreed and they turned on the electric.
They said, that If I should good teacher skills, that they will write me a good report. Yah right!! After they fired me, and they will write me a good letter of recomendation and a transfer international certificate. I've been lied to, they breached their contract, which stated I was to be paid on the 30th, and they never gave me my medical. Instead they wanted me to work a full month without getting paid to pay back the $800 airfare and the $1200 recruitment fee, which would leave me with nothing. So I said I ain't coming in the final week. That's when they got pissed, and I took my testing papers home with me!
They rushed me here knowing that I didn't have my proper F-4 Visa yet, and said it was okay to be on a tourist visa. They never told me exactly how much time they were allowing me, as I waited for my final marriage document to come in to verify my name change for my Visa. Instead they fired me after 12 days, with only one warning letter. After they fired me, they asked for a copy of my passport, and I said "Hell NO!".
What really got to me, is that they called the cops on me!! I think some of it is a misunderstanding and they was wondering why the children were giving me their names and numbers. So I didn't give them an answer right away, and just to leave them wondering. In fact, after they turned off my electric, I went downstairs, and the husband was kind of laughing like this is some big joke. Their only lucky, that I am able to turn any situation into a positive one, and that I stood my ground.
I have done everything on my part, but these guys were just constantly nick picking at me. I hope that they don't do this to other teachers. And actually I feel sorry for any teacher who succumbs to their mercy till the end hoping that they will get their severance pay and final paycheck, because they could easily fire you the last month to avoid paying those dues. Remember, they are business people, and it's just all plain business, nothing personal.
E-Bo-Young Talking Club in Samgye-Dong/Bukbu-Dong in Gimhae
October 18, 2014
I would like to add E-Bo-Young Talking Club in Samgye-Dong/Bukbu-Dong in Gimhae to the list. To start with the good: payments were made on time. That's it. This is a mom and pop operation and their two kids are students there which caused several conflicts of interest. It was quite stressful to teach the ones who would be spying on you and aiding the micromanagement. The owners automatically found me guilty as soon as complaints were made and of course, I made mistakes every now and then, but when parents complain, it's too late and there were many and apparently from the same individuals. My contract had a two-warning-letters-and-you're-fired clause which were handed to me easily. The contract was essentially meaningless when things went wrong (break time, health insurance etc.). So I was eventually fired and the reasons were, you guessed it: receiving two warning letters among other nonsense.
Upon getting fired, I demanded my release letter. They said that they were not obligated to provide me with one. I decided to ask for my healthcare since it was in the contract. Of course at this point, the contract was negotiable. After a few days, it had turned into "if you are nice and work well for a month..." I had no reason to believe them. Refusing to be an indentured servant, I eventually said that I would not work anymore without my release letter and that's when they finally decided to give it me the same day and not a week before my last day (when it would have been too late) but not before threatening me with eviction the same night, that I would have to leave Korea the next day (I didn't believe them) and that I would not be able to return to Korea to teach English, all of which I accepted without hesitation.
The school overall was a pretty bad learning environment and no place for professional growth. I tried to apply as much Korean etiquette as I could but I discovered that it was everyone else losing face far more often than I had. I told them that I knew the person before me ran away based on the evidence left in the apartment and that was before I found the warning letter hidden in the laundry detergent. The supervisor still yelled at me on the first day before any work started. I had calmly asked for my break (which was about to be omitted completely due to not having read my contract) to be put in the middle of the day instead of before last period.
It's clear that things were aggravated by the fact that students were leaving the academy at a high rate. It seems that due to financial difficulties, I was given bus money to go to another school and thankfully only had to endure that school three days a week. So I walked off before my last day of work when I found out they would withhold my payment until the very last day, foregoing around 2000$. I was worth it since I no longer had to suffer management, their rude biological children nor many of their rude students. They actually had the audacity to send me an email saying that they were going to tell immigration and to get a lawyer to get compensation, still believing I was in Korea.
Noumena Education Initiative in Gangnam, Seoul
October 03, 2014
No one should suffer the fate of having to work at Noumena Education Initiative in Gangnam, Seoul.
Things got off to a bad start when they insisted I come to Korea immediately after graduation from university. I landed in Korea at midnight; my first day on the job started at 7am the next day.
The work is some of the worst you'll find. As for teaching, half is SAT review consisting of day after day, hours on end of reviewing dubiously obtained photocopies of CollegeBoard and Princeton Review materials. The other half of teaching is "College Application Consulting", which at the end of the day boils down to writing college application essays for the children of the upper crust of Seoul.
The other half of your time consists of going through each of their dubiously-obtained SAT exams in order to compile lists of vocabulary words ("find hundreds of words per exam!", they insist). For three months, I have spent on average three hours a day making these lists.
The school aims to be a one-stop-shop for exam prep, and so be prepared to be asked to give review classes for literally any subject. I was once required to give a two-week course on US History to two girls who had never taken a US History class in their lives, with the expectation that they would receive "at least a 700" on their SAT subject test.
Starting from the day I started, for three months straight the schedule called for 52-55 work hours per week, with only one day off per week. On top of that, they require their new teachers to do "homework"–a full-length SAT exam each night, every night for 2 months. Also, if they don't give you enough class prep time during work hours, it is your responsibility to take care of class prep at home.
Despite the contract promising all public holidays off, plus American Labor day (September 1), all holidays were worked.
They do not pay holiday wage for working holidays, and they pay less than the legally-required amount for overtime pay. The wage itself is a pittance–1.5million/month. The contract's length is 15 months and of those 15, three are to be given as vacation (unpaid, of course). While that setup might seem good, the scheduling of these months is up to the whim of the owner, and are liable to change at a moment's notice without any regard for plans made or tickets purchased.
If you dare point out any inconsistencies between the contractual and legal obligations and actual practices, be prepared to be subjected to extended beratement. Despite having always performed my job very well and as requested by my boss (a point they continuously acknowledge), they have accused me of being a "dishonest liar" who "doesn't care about the kids". Standard issue bullsh*t, of course, but still terrible to deal with when asking for fair treatment.
The contract itself is an unbelievable 24 pages long, all in English. The language is intentionally convoluted in order to both try to loophole the employees in as much as possible and to make it impossible to take to the authorities in case of an issue. The owner intends to make the contract so impossible for the authorities to understand that the legal costs involved in navigating everything would be prohibitively high. I decided to spend the money to get out; future victims might not have that ability.
If you want to avoid being treated like an indentured servant, with all the gravity implied in that term, then stay as far away from Noumena Education Initiative as you possibly can.
Atlas Academy in Changwon
Sept 25, 2014
I am afraid that I have to add Atlas Academy in Changwon to the blacklist. I worked there a while ago, and initially wasn't going to say anything because part of me felt bad but the way I was treated continues to bother me, so I feel I must say something. I was the only foreign teacher, and on the very first day the owner took one look at me then went to the teacher I was replacing (who had also hired me) to complain that I looked 'too strong.' My hair was short and she insisted that I grow it out, saying that it was 'not handsome.' I relented and grew it out a bit, but things only got worse from there. She accused me of 'not caring' about the kids, but gave not explanation as to why she thought that, she had me making phone calls to every student, every week which added up to a lot more than 120 teaching hours, and had initially said that I would be compensated with overtime each month but by the second month she stopped paying overtime, saying only that my phone calls 'were not of good quality.' Again, she gave no explanation as to why, and I was still expected to make the calls despite not being paid overtime. She made increasingly rude comments to me as time passed, she had my co teachers report every word I said to her, and had absolutely no privacy or professional respect paid to me. She also forged my medical insurance and pension papers, and gave me 1200 dollars in pension at the end of my contract but she had merely siphoned 100 from each of my paychecks and gave it back to me at the end. The kids there are ok, but the boss, Joy, is the most uptight, angry woman I have ever met; she will smile and be polite when you meet her but don't let that fool you, she is capable of an anger level I have seen from no one else in Korea, the way she screams at the students is ridiculous and most of them are completely terrified of her. Regarding myself, I taught at two other schools in Korea and had great experiences and great coworkers, but do yourself a favor and AVOID Atlas Academy in Changwon at all costs! She will probably change the school's name if she gets wind of this blacklist entry, so be cautious of any school in the Skywellbeing park building. Good luck to all you aspiring teachers!
St. Paul's "International School" in Busan
Sept 24, 2014
I'd like to see St. Paul's "International School" in Busan added to your blacklist, as well as every other blacklist around. The school is in Jangsan overlooking the harbor. I was one of the original 10 teachers recruited to work at the school when it opened in August of 2013. During the first month of classes, they continuously fed us lies about working to get international school certification, which they were not doing. After about a month of this, with no warning, they fired 6 out of 10 of the teachers. We were able to keep our apartments for a month, and they paid us for the days we worked and offered tickets home to those who asked, but they essentially deceived us and left us jobless and homeless.
I met a guy recently who just started working there this month (September 2014). They have had a 100% turnover rate with teachers after 1 year. They are still calling themselves an "international school", even though their students go to public schools during the day and go to St. Paul's in the afternoon. Basically I want to inform anyone interested in applying at this school of what they are really getting into. You would probably have students with good English skills, and I assume you will keep your job if you jump through all the hoops, but you will not be working at an international school. Not even close.
Subject: Raffles Academy in Gwangju, Jellanamdo.
Sept 19, 2014
I would like to add Raffles Academy in Gwangju, Jellanamdo to the hagwon blacklist.
The students are fantastic, but they treat foreign teachers terribly. When I first arrived I was given a very small room, like a dorm, to live in, which was owned by my director's father in law. Therefore, she did not maintain the room, allowing its walls and wooden doors to be covered in black mold. The hot water worked occasionally, and even then only for five minutes, and there were constant problems with the electricity. She treated me terribly whenever I asked her to fix the room.
Then there was the electricity bill. I was given the electricity bill written in Korean on a small piece of lined paper. She charged me $99 for a month in a very small dorm which used little electricity. When I left her a note asking why the bill was so high, she came to my apartment, knocked on the door, and screamed for a half an hour about how much she hated me.
She screamed at me all the time, in front of my coworkers and the students. She treated all of her employees terribly and unprofessionally.
Finally she fired me on pay day and said she would only pay me half my paycheck. She also said I had to stay until the new girl came in a month, and that she would not pay me for that time. When I tried to reason with her to be paid until the new girl arrived, she screamed at me and called me selfish and stupid. She also refused to give me my release letter until after the new girl arrived, even though I'd been fired.
I would warn anyone against working at Raffles. The kids were incredible and so much fun to teach, but I do not the think the hagwon is doing well financially, and I think that has seriously affected the director's treatment of her foreign teachers. She is dishonorable and stole a month of pay she owed me. There are plenty of other wonderful hagwons... if you want a great experience, stay away from this stressful and demeaning hagwon.
Subject: Reading Town, near Mangmi Station in Busan.
Sept 18, 2014
The name of the academy is Reading Town, near Mangmi Station in Busan.
Anyway, the housing is decent, as I had been given an actual tow bedroom house. The hot water wasnt always functional, but tolerable.
The working environment is different. I was paid late every month. Keep in mind that I have been in Korea six years and this is the first such instance.
We quarreled about teaching tactics, which left me confused. I had decreased the occurrences of disobedience and speakong Korean in class. In fact, I gave incentive for children behaving well and finishing assignments.
After 5 months on a Friday was told that it was my last day and that I am promptly fired. Added to hassle, I had to evict myself from the house in 4 days. He had hired someone to replace me without telling anyone. He did this to the last guy, which is how I got the job.
His antics get worse. He then told me that I need to pay back the initial airfare which he will take out of my salary.
I went to the Labour Board and discovered a few illegal activities. First, he cannot fire me without either three written warnings~I had none, and 30 days notice. I had 5 minutes notice.
In the contract it says nothing about paying back airfare. This is just him being very passive aggressive.
He also didnt contribute to my pension but compared to the other problems this one seems minor.
Avoid working for this guy. I understand Korean and he didnt treat his kOrean teachers well. He was condenscending. Istood up to him and so he reacted in this manner. If he goes bankrupt I shall not shed a tear. He brought this on himself.
Subject: Songpa Bambini, Seoul
Sept 16, 2014
I strongly advise against any teacher accepting a position at Songpa Bambini. They have proven to be dishonest, and lack any respect for her employees’ rights or their contracts.
Songpa Bambini was previously at a different location, and was known as Mokdong Bambini. Of the last 6 foreign teachers there, none completed a full year and had their contract honoured. All were lied to and/or cheated by them. There are too many incidents detail them all, so here is a summary:
At one point, they disliked the timing of contracts, and so two foreign teachers were forced against their wishes to resign early. They were not given their full severance packages or airfare, and were bullied into signing resignation letters.
The next teacher to leave completed his/her full year contract, but was denied the full coverage of his/her airfare. This teacher spent a great deal of time pushing for what had been promised in the contract, but was still denied it. In retaliation for protesting the decision, the school later gave a bad review when other schools called for a reference, and successfully sabotaged their efforts to find a new job, even though this teacher had continued to do his/her job properly during their entire period of employment.
During the last year that this branch existed in Mokdong, they decided to move to a new location. There were three foreign teachers left at this point. Two of the teachers were to have their contracts finished at the end of February, and another in June. They decided to move the graduation date to the middle of February, and “close” the school. Another school would “reopen” in March as Songpa Bambini.
All of the foreign teachers were denied any of their severance packages or airfare because they did not complete one year of employment since the school was closing. Essentially, the English staff was fired with two weeks until the end of their contract to avoid paying severance packages or airfare. Because the official status of the school was “closing” and a new business was “reopening”, rather than one school moving location (which was what was really happening), this was considered legal.
When asked about the ethics of their actions by one teacher, they responded by literally laughing at the question.
Throughout the year, there were many other incidents of them lying to employees. Here are a few more examples of mistreatments and dishonesty:
- During one round of hiring, teachers were told they would need to clean just their own classrooms. After hiring, they fired the janitor, and divided up cleaning duties for the entire school (including bathrooms and the owner’s office) among the teachers.
- During an interview, one teacher was lied to about the amount of payment that other teachers were making, so that they could negotiate less pay.
- Several Korean staff members were let go over the course of the year. Their duties were passed on to the existing staff. They promised that if the school could increase to ‘x’ number of students, more staff would be re-hired to cover the extra duties. After several months, ‘x’ was achieved, but instead of hiring new staff, again extra classes/duties were assigned to existing staff.
- When the last three teachers were let go early, they refused to tell them how long they had to move out of their apartments. They were told “sometime in February” but that they might only receive a day’s notice. The contract with the landlord was also broken.
I strongly urge anyone considering a job at Songpa Bambini to look elsewhere for employment. Good luck with your job search.
Subject: Sterling - English for Children, Yangcheon-gu, Seoul
Sept 11, 2014
Thank you for your time. I need to warn people away from this work environment.
This is to warn anyone considering working at Sterling hagwon. I just want to explain the reality of what to expect, which they won’t warn you about in the interview. There’s a significant possibility that the place is having major financial issues and may be losing business regardless, but essentially; you will be paid late. Also, you will have to deal with terrible organization.
Although it is illegal in Korean law to pay severance pay later than 14 days, numerous people have had their payments delayed for months, with no date or reason given. Many others also have money taken out of their paychecks for things vital under Korean law, such as health insurance and pension, but these things are not actually paid. Despite taking the money from these things and illegally retaining it, Xxxxx, the CEO, is still unorganized enough to not pay people on time; occasionally weeks or even a full month late. People were/are getting their money a whole month later when the next payday should have already rolled around.
In addition to treating people’s paychecks as a gift or a favor, rather than a contractual obligation, Xxxxxxx will tell excuses to people who ask for their money on time. Often in a condescending way, for example, telling those waiting on their severance pay or pension payments to kick in that they “don’t really need it now. Why can’t they just wait?”
You will also have a ton of busywork and last minute schedule changes due to the terrible organization. If you can’t deal with these problems and wish to resign according to the contract, they ask for a massive 2 months notice, and the contract says they can pay you only 50% of your regular salary for those 2 months. They may refuse to pay you the final paycheck that you are owed, anyway.
While there are an amazing group of teachers working at Sterling, maybe even to this day without their severance pay, just be aware of what issues you can expect from working there. If 2 or more of the following factors would antagonize or upset you, then you should look elsewhere; because you will encounter at least some of them, maybe even all:
• Being paid late (2 or more weeks)
• Being paid the wrong amount
• Not having your health insurance and pension paid while being told that they are being paid
• Not getting severance pay
• Not having the teaching materials you need, such as CDs for textbooks that are dependent on the audio
• Being blamed for petty issues, but never being thanked for things you do for the company
• Being lied and condescended to
Subject: E.P.A. Myeongil
August 31, 2014
Highly recommend you avoid.
Micromanaging beyond belief. You hardly have any personal space, time, or freedom to work.
Cheap. They will try to screw you out of money at any given chance. Especially when you leave. They will book a 50 hour flight that goes through 12 countries to avoid spending an extra $50. And better double check your pension is right. And constantly remind them about your severance. Don't be surprised when they fight you every step of the way.
Contract is full of potential loop holes for them. Including things that work against you if you don't renew your contract for a full year. Even if you extend 6 months they will still try to screw you.
They have fired two teachers for absurd reasons. One of those teachers had to go to the labor board to get their full benefits. They were lying about what they paid teachers and reporting wrong information to Immigration and the government. The school was a mess while this was happening and they had a hard time getting replacements.
Stay away from E.P.A. Myeongil.
Subject: Raffles Academy in Gwangju, Jeollanamdo.
August 27, 2014
I would like to add my former hagwon to the blacklist. Raffles Academy in Gwangju, Jeollanamdo.
The living conditions provided are dismal. We are not given an apartment, but a small “dorm” in a business building owned by the school in the same parking lot. We are also not given proper bills but handwritten notes with numbers, sometimes up to 200,000 won. I asked many times to see a bill since this seemed high and was always refused. My apartment was covered in mold and had wooden doors covered in black mold. This issue was always ignored when I tried to address it.
They are argumentative. Even after leaving, she sends me angry emails. My replacement has been yelled at, with going so far as to shout “I hate you.”
I was working over my contract for two semesters. Many outside events such as monthly field trips are mandatory with no overtime pay. One time I was expected to work an additional 14 hours in two days with no overtime.
They also emails me during my vacations and weekends to grade papers. Not for my classes or even the academy but for my student’s school work.
It's really just a rotten work environment where teachers are treated like indentured servants.
Subject: Raffles Academy in Gwangju, Jeollanamdo.
August 7, 2014
Hey First of all I have completed two contracts in Korea But I have a bad hagwon for you to post .yes accademy ( or no accademy as it's known in the foreigner community) in Samsandong Ulsan
The Xxxxx took 3000 won every month for 6 months out of my pay incase I ran away as other teachers had done a runner. This wasn't in the contract. Then she fired me at the 6 month mark because I went to the labour board to report her. She then kept the money to pay for my flight out ( there was nothing in my contact to protect me for her taking money for my flight) held the letter of release over my head so I was forced to work for her when she kicked me out of my apartment to make way for my replacement. She didn't even put me up in a love hotel, I had to sleep on a friends floor. Not only this but she made my life a living hell with her bullying and control freak behaviour. Its not just me. In the six months I was there 4 Koreans left and 2 native teachers. one native teacher was only there 10 weeks before he cracked.There's a native teacher who has somehow stayed there for 4 years. Do not listen to her, if you still want to work there at least ask for another reference
from a previous native teacher I bet you don't get one. Stay away from this hagwon
Subject: Nova English Academy, Chungcheongnamdo
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
I strongly advise anyone thinking of accepting employment with this school to reconsider. I have just lived through a 7 week nightmare with this school and do not wish anyone to endure the same experience.
Without going into too much detail, problems included pay (including overtime), contracted hours, accommodation, age of students contracted to teach, working hours / teaching hours, security deposit, medical insurance.
To sum up my experience with this school, they invited me out for dinner, on arriving at the restaurant she ordered a meal for everyone present (2 Koreans and myself), half way through the meal she mentioned that I would be paying for the meal, I thought this was a joke until we had finished the meal and the Koreans left the restaurant saying they were going to the toilet, leaving me to pay. When I confronted her about how she had gone about this she laughed at me and pretended not to understand what I was saying. This woman will take everything she can off you whether you give it voluntarily or she cons / steals it from you.
As I have mentioned before this school is best avoided.
Subject: ILS SUJI (International Language School - Suji Campus)
Sunday, July 11, 2014
I would like to contribute a school to your list.
I have recently severed my relationship with this school and returned home after several months of relentless inappropriate behavior exhibited by the xxxxxxxx of this hagwon. First, I have to say that the housing was fine and in a good location, pay was always on time and in the full amount, and we were only at the school a total of 8 hours a day (including the hour for lunch!).
The problem? The xxxxxxxx was a sexual deviant, and an exhibitionist.
The xxxxxxxx's office (Mr. Xxx) was next to my classroom, and on several occasions he would have sexual relations with the cleaning lady, who was not his wife, in his office. The walls were not thick, so I along with the children could hear EVERYTHING that was going on, and at one point they managed to make a picture hanging on the wall fall down, and one of the students cried. This happened at least once a month, and I was always left speechless and unable to explain it to my students. At least two students quit as a result, and their "loss" was made to be my fault.
On one occasion, I walked into my classroom to find the children playing with a USED condom, so his activities were not just confined to his office, but likely everywhere in the school after hours. The horrible thing is that the kids thought it was a balloon and one boy even tried to blow it up before I had the Korean teacher remove it from the classroom (apparently they kids told her they had found it in the trashbin). I confronted xxxxxxxx about this and he just tried to make a joke and blame the kids. I told him to check the CCTV which is installed in all the classrooms and he refused and made some excuse about the video feed recycling after 24 hours, which I know was a load of crap.
Lastly, on TWO occasions xxxxxxxx walked into the teacher's room with his fly undone, exposing himself. A male teacher quickly corrected him on both occasions, and he fixed himself and laughed it off, saying he forgot after using the bathroom. It was this perverse, sexually aggressive and morally unsustainable atmosphere that led me to leave the school abruptly at the end of last month.
As a warning to anyone who might be considering teaching at ILS in Suji, the job may look great on paper, but xxxxxxxx makes the environment miserable and downright scary. Be careful!
Subject: Kid’s College, Yongin, Suji
Sunday, July 2, 2014
I would like to nominate the following Hagwon.
They did not pay three teachers for two weeks worth of work when they started, claiming that it violated “the rules of Kid’s College.”
They deleted one teacher’s calling logs to make it look like she hadn’t been doing her work. They then said to her face that she does not have evidence of the unfair firing.
They had one teacher sign multiple warnings then told him he would not be fired. They then fired him less than two days later. They later revealed to the remaining teachers that they only hired him so that his girlfriend would come work at the school. So they never intended to keep him in the first place. They then took a substantial amount of money from his last paycheck claiming that it was for utilities (even though they made him live in a spare room in the director's house), so he never got his deposit back.
They have some teachers live in a spare room in their home so they don’t have to get them an apartment. There, they have been known to enter teachers rooms and rearrange things without informing the teachers.
At one point, they refused to order more paper towels and tissue in an attempt to cut spending so every single student had to share a single hand towel.
During winter, they refused to put on the heating in the teacher’s room and the classrooms and they wouldn’t allow the teachers to use a heat fan because it used too much electricity. Now in the summer, they are adamantly opposed to using air conditioning even when one teacher had to go home sick because she was overheated.
They have no regard for the students education. They repeatedly use books the students have already used before, in an attempt to save money. Instead of ordering enough of the needed books, they photocopy material when they can get away with it. They assign students books which are nowhere near their level and show no interest when the teachers bring up the issue. Their timetable only allows teachers to cover two pages per lesson so they can make one book last six months (thus increasing the increments between needing to purchase books).
Also, the job will be advertised as 10 am til 6pm. This is not true, you will be working from 9:30 am til 7pm, with minimal breaks. Also, in these breaks your time will be spent either doing monthly report cards, bi-weekly assessments, kindergarten plans or grading tests and diaries. You are constantly bombarded with deadlines and if you do not meet them, you will be expected to stay late.
There is also a high turnover rate of Korean staff, especially managers. The last manager we had lasted about 3 weeks, the one before that about two months. As the managers are not properly trained there is a grave lack of organisation and it is up to the teachers to inform the manager of procedures, making more work in an already stressful environment.
Subject: Janes Foreign English school in Gumi, near Daegu
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Do not work for Janes Foreign English school in Gumi, near Daegu. I worked for another Hogwan, originally. but was loaned out to her school two days out of the week. She started out by being really, nice then getting nasty about a month into my stay there.
She is a very condescending, arrogant woman who gives you NO curriculum what so ever. You have to do everything from scratch. But she never liked what i did. Instead of trying to help me she just made nasty remarks. The work environment was essentially just bad. Thank god i was only there twice a week
Subject: Avalon Seongnam (Sinheung), Siji Oedae campus, Daegu
June 21, 2014
Please blacklist Siji Oedae English School, Daegu. This is one of those schools in a "posh" area.
If you work here be prepared to be called in to the office over "serious" issues like the children complain when games they play are not fun enough or they don't get enough candy during a holiday activity or when parents call because their kid bombed a test for not studying, even though you made sure they had the answers.
You will be micromanaged to death and beg to be fired. You will be made to feel like shit because you don't fit the Korean physical ideal. You will be called into a "serious" meeting for each and every time you need to have a kid to stop disrupting the class.
This place may sound like any other Hagwon in Korea but trust me it's not. I am the fourth foreign teacher to leave in less than six months.
Subject: SLP Cheonan
June 17, 2014
It is a horrific school! Do not send teachers there. The principle F***** is a creep, the admin ***** is verbally abusive. The treat foreign teachers like cattle. Avoid SLP they have a bad reputation for expats even though their Korean reputation is high. You will get fired without notice. F***** fired a Korean teacher and rehired him as a janitor. Made him sit at a children's desk infront of washrooms instead of with other teachers. Children would tease him, this created a very awful work environment.
Subject: Little America Daejeon
June 17, 2014
I would like to add Little America Daejeon to the blacklist. Problems at the school include long working hours, no training, verbally abusive managers (including the lead foreign teacher), no pension, they do not pay their half of insurance per the contract, 11 month firings to avoid paying severance, and no support from the managers. Most teachers must teach 10 classes a day, make copies/materials for class and grade texts and notebooks. No time is given for planning/grading, this must all be done on your time. 12 hour days are typical, and combined with the horrendous managers screaming at you, this place is just awful.
June 12, 2014
Just writing this to help someone if they just got offered a job at this school. Do not work here. The turnover rate is insane at this school... no one likes working there.. very shitty work environment ...very negative .... the director ..she has a few screws missing.. expect her to be screaming at someone .. ..your'll be in the office 50 + hours a week which isn't really uncommon for a hogwan job but still sucks.. No one has any idea of what's going on because of the turnover rate ... Expect to get no notice for changes and no time to prepare......everything is done at the last second ... The Korean teachers will blame everything on the foreign teachers which again is not uncommon at hogwans but still sucks ... No health care and pension .....straight up lie on your contract .. There are much better jobs out there in Korea... This one is bottom of the barrel
Subject: Pyeongtaek SLP (Sogang Language Program), pyeongtaek city, gyeonngi do province
June 10, 2014
I would like to add Pyeongtaek SLP (Sogang Language Program) to the blacklist. I am in the 10th month of my contract and they have fired me to avoid paying my severance and flight home. They started looking for my replacement without any warning of dismissal. I only found out because I overheard them interviewing someone and confronted them. Then I was met with two typed warning letters and a dismissal letter that same day because I told them that they could not fire me with no warnings as my contract states.
It should have been a red flag that since I started at the school last July 2013, all of the Korean teachers have quit and been replaced and two foreign teachers before me had been fired since I started working there.
The director Gxxxxxx is a tyrant and the last guy that she fired, she showed up at his door with a posse and tried to force her way in to get him to sign a letter saying that he would not pursue legal action.
I am currently awaiting a meeting with the labor board this week to see if I can receive even part of what I am owed. Please warn others to avoid Pyeongtaek SLP, and this director has another school in Cheonan called Wonderland.
Subject: Kangnampride Institute (KPI) in Gangdong-gu
May 27, 2014
I worked at Kangnampride Institute (KPI) in Gangdong-gu for a year, and the experience was so bad that I decided to leave Korea for good. I agree with another poster that they work you for hours beyond what they are willing to pay you. I had the experience of suddenly being demanded to do more work than work time allowed, but being told that I would not get overtime pay, because that's just the way it is, or that the work should have been done earlier (even though it was always the first we had heard about the new project or task), or that Kangnampride is my family, and we have to put in more for family. Even though this is illegal, the response is generally 'what are you going to do about it?' They also hire foreigners on E-2 visas to do largely non-teaching work -- most other chains, like Poly School and Pagoda, do not hire E-2 holders to do curriculum development, because that is illegal.
Kangnampride used to be a very successful hagwon. This was back when it was called Kangnampoly Returnee Institute. When it first started, it was a franchise of the well-established Poly School chain, but broke off about twelve or thirteen years ago. Kangnampoly was supposed to stop using any part of the Poly School name and stop using their curriculum. They did not do so, and about three years ago, Poly School took them to court. Kangnampoly was ordered to change their name and curriculum within three months or pay Poly School retroactively for all the years they used the name and curriculum. At the 11th hour, Kangnampoly took down the Poly School sign and held a contest with the students and parents to choose a new school name, under the guise of celebrating the school's 10th year. But what established business celebrates 10 years of business by *throwing away* their brand?
The winner was Kangnampride Institute. The school threw millions of won into changing the name, including creating music videos and commercials to show at kindergarten orientations.
Since suddenly changing the name, Kangnampride has seen a loss in student enrollment and of experienced foreign teachers. Each year sees less students and less foreign teachers.
Having worked in R&D at Kangnampride, and being somewhat familiar with Poly School's curriculum, I believe that Kangnampride still has not honored their court order to stop using Poly School's curriculum. This was one of the reasons why people in our department were suddenly no longer allowed to have copies of the textbooks and study guides that they worked on (the other reason being that a lot of the material in those books is plagiarized and/or used without permission). The people in the department are fully aware that they make their money by stealing, but do not care.
My year at Kangnampride was like riding in a clown car. The culture is creepy. I mean, it isn't just weird because it is foreign -- it is nothing like a normal Korean workplace. Forget having any personal boundaries if you work there, or your personhood respected. If there is a family emergency back home, you still cannot check your email during your downtime. Expect the director to want to hug you. You have mandatory birthday parties each month. You can go out to smoke fifteen minutes every hour, but you are forbidden to take five minutes and go to the pharmacy downstairs to get cold medicine if you need it. I found a racist cartoon being used in a 1st grade vocabulary slideshow, and when I was upset about it, the other foreign teachers laughed it off. The problem is that the slideshow had been made by a foreign teacher and used by many foreign teachers for years. The name of the cartoon .gif was racist, and yet, no one seemed to be alarmed. So, if you are Jewish and want to work at Kangnampride, I would suggest that you keep that a secret.
Culturally, Kangnampride is not like a normal hagwon or any Korean workplace. It is more like a cult, and everyone is too afraid to point out when something is wrong, or not working. This makes sense, because there is a see no evil, hear no evil policy that is heavily implied in everything. Yes, they do record the audio and the video of every class. The problem is that the culture encourages people to act as if their workplace is their home and their coworkers are their family, and that they somehow owe it to Kangnampride to do things that they shouldn't have to do, like work 24 hours straight at the end of the month. A monthly pizza and cake party and 20,000 won in happy money doesn't make up for that.
In fact, we had been told to just shut up and do what we are told by a foreign manager at the end of a biannual meeting, in a speech titled 'Learning to Say Yes,' in which we were basically told to agree to do things that we don't want to do, because we, the foreigners, were not adult enough to actually know what is and isn't good for us.
Hagwons are businesses, but Kangnampride Institute is not run as if it were a business, and is not run by people with business sense or integrity. It will probably, and rightly, continue to decline in the face of competition and the changing market.
Subject: Feinschule sanbon near Dangjeong
May 16, 2014
This hagwon doesn't like to pay employees on time. I waited for a month to receive my payment. The old owner always went to the philppines for business .He did not care much about the students or staff. There are few students and the staff are always worry if the school is going to stay open. Beware of this school. If you want to wait to get paid this is a job for you. It is hard to communicate with a boss when they are not there. Most meetings are in korean only. So if you can not speak korean well you will feel out of place .
Subject: Wizisland Gwangali in Busan
May 13, 2014
I've had a rough experience with Wizisland Gwangali in Busan. It sounds like a dream job, part time, right next to the beach, but it was actually pretty terrible. I've worked in Korea at hagwons for nearly 3 years and I've never seen Korean teachers treat the kids so badly. For instance, I saw a kid pick his nose. I told him to stop, and he did. One of the Korean teachers saw that, and made the kid keep picking his nose while she yelled at him until he cried. I was also fired under bizarre circumstances. I went to work on time, professionally dressed, prepared for class. But about 4 weeks into my contract, the director threatened to fire both me and the other foreign teacher for reasons that were unclear. We were required to stay for an hour after work for "training" which was unpaid, and which consisted of making alphabet flashcards. No advice was given on how to use the books, or on how to improve our teaching methods. A week later I was told that they'd be ending my contract. I was told they'd have me continue to work there until I found another job, and that they would give me a good reference, as they thought I was a good teacher. Instead, the other foreign teacher was the one to tell me on April 17th that April 18th was my last day. They still have not paid me for the 3 weeks I worked last month. Tellingly, my replacement quit this job after 4 days. For anyone reading this, or who has found themselves in a similar situation (unjust firing, unpaid salary) I would recommend contacting a labor attorney. Yep, foreigners have rights too. The word for labor attorneys pronunced "nomusa" and best of luck! Also, don't work for Wizisland.
Subject: Chungdahm Institute in Geumcheon-gu and Anyang
May 3, 2014
I also worked for Chungdahm Institute in Geumcheon-gu and Anyang back in 2010. The 2013 report of this school is spot on. Back in 2010, if you were from an Ivy League school or similarly elite university, you were likely to be adored and shown off, as well as, paid more.
I did not have an E-2 visa when I arrived. I technically came in as a tourist and had to make a visa run to Japan at the end of my first month.
During my second week I had to go to CDI training, which was unpaid. My meals and transportation I was told would be covered, but were not. Never mind that I had to be up at 5:30 if I hoped to get a seat on the subway for the hour ride to the training center. The training really had nothing to do with what I was teaching as my students were three years old and using an American program meant for native English speaking five year old children. (I had contacted the program's company for advice on how to teach their curriculum to three year old children who could not read the story books in the program. They told me it was meant only for American children.) My boss was calling that part of the school SFA at the time. They had called it part of CDI, but I guess he got in trouble with CDI for that several times.
Now this teaching job was not my first time teaching, I had taught the previous year in Seoul and five years in China. I took the job seriously. I asked the administrator to help me with some Korean phrases so I could better communicate with my three year old students until they were able to understand those phrases in English. (In China, I used English and Mandarin together until my first grade students could understand the English words.) This school did not want me using any Korean in the classroom. It was very frustrating for my students since I could not understand what they were saying and they could not understand me.
Since the curriculum the school provided for me was a little advanced for my students, I had to make up my own. The school seemed to think the two hours I spent in my classroom without students was free time for me. I spent that time, and more(often lunch), trying to find or create subject matter appropriate for my students' abilities. The boys still had issues with fine motor skills so even crafts could be difficult to do. Then the printer was continuously broken so printing off what I created was not happening at school.
The administrator seemed to have issues with the fact that I actually cared about being a good teacher. The other teachers in my part of the school (SFA) seemed more concerned with their running times, a local sushi buffet, and video games. They didn't really care about the job, just the pay.
As often seems to happen in hagwons, the administrator thought she could come at me about something (I can't remember what) and that I would just take it. I didn't and let her know what I thought. After that, she was on the war path. She constantly changed my schedule around for which classes I was teaching after my three year old students left. Sometimes I was in Anyang doing CDI stuff or I stayed in Geumcheon and worked with the SFA stuff with other students. I might add that in Anyang I never had a clue as to what the students were supposed to be doing on what days because no one bothered to fill me in. They said here is the classroom, and that was that. Plus, the computer program CDI uses was down or halfway crashed at the Anyang school most days. I did the best I could with what information the students could give me about where they were in their books.
They also had a habit of asking you to stay after the school day was over and then make you wait for an hour or more to discuss contract changes or schedule changes or whatever else they wanted to change around.
I injured my knee while working there and that's when I found out the school had not acquired medical insurance for me. It turns out that most of the teachers who had insurance had waited months to get it. The doctor recommended I get an MRI since he felt my meniscus was torn, but since I was never paid on time or in full I couldn't afford that without insurance. The doctor prescribed that I stay off my leg for two weeks and I was put on crutches. When I told the administrator what the doctor had said, she fired me. However, she said I had quit.
When I went down to the school to settle up the money they owed me from back pay, they tried to say I owed them money. I had to wait for over two hours, with my leg cramping with pain, before they dropped that bomb on me. Fortunately, my recruiter argued them into giving me what was owed to me. That only took an hour and a half past the two hours I had already waited. What I found really crazy, was that they told me they have a lot of trouble with teachers leaving before their time is up. They seemed genuinely surprised by the fact that teachers wouldn't want to stay to be berated (if they cared about the job), paid late, not paid in full, not provided with their insurance, and dealing with continuously changing schedules.
Subject: Walkerhill Kids College (KC), Seoul
April 22, 2014
I'm submitting Walkerhill Kids College (KC) because of numerous things they've done. Previously Reliable Teacher held reviews on this school, but they've shut down.
1. One teacher was shown a falsified contract to make them stay an extra month. They spent the last two months in a living hell.
2. One teacher turned in their notice after six months. KC asked them to stay an extra month and teach winter special, they agreed. Then KC took away their last month of pay and claimed it was for 'recruiter fees', which were nowhere in the contract.
3. One teacher went without their own apartment for over two months. Moving between a friend's, a homestay, another teacher's apartment (they were visiting their family) and another homestay.
4. One teacher was charged for a cleaning service twice on their housing deposit, because the first one didn't clean it properly.
5. One teacher was charged for blankets in the apartment they were leaving and accused of stealing, despite having bought their own blankets because the apartment came with none.
6. One teacher lasted a week and turned in notice, KC tried to deny them a letter of release. They followed the contract, KC backed down and gave the letter.
7. One teacher was part time and turned in notice for personal reasons. They were denied a release. They followed the contract.
8. One teacher was asked to re-sign and when they declined the director accused them of not caring about the children and yelled and screamed at them.
9. One teacher was fired because they were black. KC tried to deny them a letter of release and their pay. They brought in the labor board and KC backed down.
10. The director will yell and scream at you in your classroom and in front of your students.
1. They pay on time.
2. They pay overtime for special events.
3. The work dinners always have good food.
4. The students are the best.
5. The foreign co-workers are a good group of people. As are some of the Korean staff, those that are still there.
Subject: IJQ English Institute in East Seoul
April 11, 2014
IJQ English Institute in East Seoul. Withheld wages. Provided a small, sub-standard hole for me to stay. Students are commodities. Test scores and abilities doctored. Did I mention I wasn't paid for 3 months? DO NOT WORK HERE!
Subject: J.M Academy in Songpa
April 10, 2014
I want to place on the blacklist J.M Academy in Songpa and the director **.***. This school is no place that most people should have their first or last job in Korea.
1. The director changes the curriculum on the fly whenever she pleases. This stress is passed on to the Korean teaching staff and then passed on to the Native Teachers.
2. The director will come into the classroom and yell or even slap children on the back if they are not performing correctly.
3. If the Native teacher does not do something how she wishes it to be done, she feels the full right to yell at you in front of your students as well as other teachers.
4. There is no adequate way to perform due to the fact that there are no clear answers to half of your questions and just a general lack of communication between even members of the staff to one another.
5. If the child has received a gift (usually during the Christmas day activities), and the child does not act properly to take a picture or anything else, child will be threatened with the gift being taken from them.
6. The food that the school provides for lunch is of child-sized portions and is also possibly the worst of the food. Multiple teachers have gotten sick from eating the food.
7. The Korean staff generally do not interact with the Native Teachers except through classroom discussion or workshops. There is no general conversation or wishing to spend time of any kind from the Korean staff except for one teacher who chose to do so.
8. New native teachers are given only 1 day to observe any previous teachers before having to teach themselves.
9. Outgoing native teachers are required to make one month's lesson plans for the incoming teacher before leaving and may be asked to make extra documents for the new teacher if the director says so.
10. A coworker of mine was sent to the hospital for having food poisoning during work. The school chose to take one of her sick days, and then state that she had not given them enough notice, and so her pay was docked for the day.
11. Said pay from the coworker was given to other teachers as "overtime bonus" pay that appeared on our paychecks the next week.
Beyond these things, the attitude of the children is very rude and the children are disciplined extremely harshly for very small things, and other things are glossed over which could be more serious. One student got into a fight with another and was warned, while another student that same day didn't listen to a Korean teacher and was dragged kicking and screaming out of the classroom. It is very mismanaged and I don't think it is a good place for children or teachers to be.
Subject: Hwajeong Poly School in Hwajeong (Goyang City, close to the Ilsan area)
April 6, 2014
Pros: Paid in full and on time for the first 11 months. Apartment is within walking distance of school (2 minutes, its across the street). Convenient location. Lesson plans and curriculum are laid out for you.
Cons: They made getting my final paycheck difficult. They don't have the decency to pay you early enough on the final Friday so that you can take care of errands, such as closing your bank account or sending money home. If you close your account before their pay time (which will be around 5 pm on the last day) expect to receive your last paycheck in cash unless you want to pay the fees for them to wire money to your bank account in your home country.
You will have no relationship with the director, **** ***. He is rarely around and I have actually seen him change direction in hallways or enter empty classrooms to dodge a teacher (especially foreign teachers). He leaves everything up to the new vice director, ***, who has worked at Poly for just over a year (as of March 2014) and knows next to nothing about the curriculum or software used for lessons. Thus, because of her lack of knowledge, you will receive little to no training. I started without ANY observation and 90% of my questions were returned with "ask a senior teacher."
Good luck getting help from the senior teachers, at this point there are only two of them left and they are going to be stressed and busy doing their own thing because *** has them do her work for her (because she doesn't know how to do it!) - Not to mention one of these senior teachers is also the academic coordinator, Nicole, who has a tendency to use a condescending tone with teachers, especially if you are not "certified" - I guarantee within 1 month you will have rhetoric thrown in your face in one way or another about how "just because you have a degree in something doesn't mean you can teach it to kids." Even if she is saying it in conversation with someone else, it was meant for your ears, trust me.
Back to ***, she has poor management skills and poor communication. Important things are told to you at the last minute (if at all) and usually begin with "Oh, by the way" or "Sorry, I forgot to tell you..." as if saying this is going to soften the slap in the face you're about to get. She didn't forget, she just tells you at the last second so that it lessens the time she has to deal with your concerns or questions (which, as stated previously, she does not have the answer to). This selfish move leaves you ill-prepared, and then, if you make a mistake, you will be blamed for it, even though you are constantly feeling like it "would have been nice to know."
A new teacher once got stuck waiting at the airport one day because *** thought the arrival time on the ticket was for her home country and not Korea time. She is the most incompetent person in a managerial position that I've ever met. She also makes disgusting comments in the office about sex, teachers' bodies, or whatever else she finds funny that is really just inappropriate.
*** is also a racist. There were a few teachers of color that got treated by *** in a way that made them want to leave. Once their contracts were up, none were offered a renewal, and they all got replaced by white teachers and gyopos. I didn't want to jump to conclusions, so I asked the previous vice director (he was still teaching at this point) what he thought of this, and he confirmed that there was a black woman he wanted to hire but she got denied despite having a master's degree and several years experience of teaching in Korea, because according to ***, "the parents would complain." That is disgusting no matter how you want to look at it. *** has out gay staff members to everyone in the office. Back home this is against the law, but you will be the one going through extensive background checks and drug testing before and during your employment to make sure you're safe to work with the criminal that runs this hagwon.
Also, if you are a gyopo with fluent Korean ability, DO NOT LET THEM KNOW. Pretend you don't speak the language. You will be asked to do tasks outside of teaching which are NOT in your contract (such as interviewing parents or preparing documents) - they will take advantage of you in every way and you will not receive extra compensation for it.
Be prepared for parents to dictate how your classes and grading are done. Be prepared for "tiger moms" peeking through classroom windows. A single complaint from a parent can absolutely cause changes because this school bends over backward to keep them happy, you will be told differently how to handle things sometimes even on a weekly basis - but I'm pretty sure this is something that runs across the board for most hagwons, not just Hwajeong Poly.
Bottom line: save yourself the trouble, stay away from this awful school run by an awful vice director.
Subject: Brians English Academy - Ulsan
April 4, 2014
I’d like to nominate Brains English academy in Ulsan.
He was constantly making trouble with the staff and seemed to use intimidation to stop people questioning him. ******** was also a massive racist and constantly made inappropriate comments about Koreans - often in front of Korean staff. He also had an 'army' type approach to disciplining children.
The specific complaints are too many - I will just recommend you don’t work there and save yourself any misery.
Subject: Blacklist Reading Town Dongnae Campus in Busan
April 3, 2014
I would like to Blacklist Reading Town Dongnae Campus in Busan. The Hagwon tried to take extra money out for utilities but were forced to give me a refund when I confronted them about it. They also continuously paid me late every month and would not pay until I had to ask many, many times. Before I left I checked and they had not been paying my pension even though they took it out of my paycheck each month. I spoke to the director about this (he doesn't speak english, so a coworker had to translate), and he promised it would all be paid. When I received my pension check it was for half of the amount it was supposed to be and less than the amount the director had been taking out each month. Korean teachers are also never paid and there is heavy turnover. Do not be fooled by their nice appearance, this hagwon fully takes advantage of foreigners.
Subject: Pagoda Junior in Yangsan
March 4, 2014
Long story short, my canadian wife and I worked for Pagoda Junior in Yangsan in Korea.
We didnt get paid on time and they dont care if we get paid on time. After getting several calls from us, they paid us. And they didn't pay for my coworker's severance and flight to back home. After she reported them to Korean Labour Board, they paid for only severance.
They ignored the contract and many Korean teachers dont even have their contracts.
They blame their lossing business on teachers..
They are... immature for the business.
Subject: Bewegung Kinder, Yongin, Jukjeon, Center Plaza 7th floor.
March 2, 2014
I worked for the same school for 2 years. I completed my contract and I only received my plane ticket. She did not pay me my severance, pension, or tax returns. A very shady director with no concern for her employees.
Name: P** S**
School: Bewegung Kinder
Located: Yongin, Jukjeon, Center Plaza 7th floor.
Stay away, far away from this place.
Subject: Lynn Academy in Jeongneung, Seongbukgu, Seoul
March 2, 2014
Lynn Academy in Jeongneung, Seongbukgu, Seoul, pays employees 3 weeks late, in two instalments. They have been sued twice in a year.
Subject: YBM ECC Sangin, Daegu
February 26, 2014
I would like to give teachers some warning of YBM ECC Sangin in Daegu. During my time working for the director, I found him to be very dishonest and unfair to workers. The school wasn't paying into my pension fund, nor paying health contributions - which I later found out after expensive hospital treatment. Several other deductions were made from foreign teachers' monthly pay that were clearly not proper. When asked about it, the director made employees feel their job was not secure ('It's easy to find a replacement teacher very quickly these days', etc). I was also told that most Korean employees weren't paid on time and were owed several months pay. I regularly worked 8+ classes per day with no break and the director would often just walk into my class (without saying a word), caress students' hair, and then leave. It was all very odd. When I finished my contract, I was told I should give them a 'discount' on the severance payment and then told they couldn't pay me now but instead would send me payment through a bank transfer once I was home. They also booked my ticket for the next day without consulting me - presumably to force my hand. All in all, a shady place. I recommend you avoid it.
Subject: Avalon English Namcheon, Busan
February 22, 2014
Please add Avalon English Namcheon to the black list of Korean academies. Here is what I consider a very fair appraisal of the academy; Pros - you are paid on time and in full. They are flexible with your apartment (they helped me get a more suitable apartment for myself). That's about it. Cons - A disregard of the contractual terms. Heavy workload, including a lot of unpaid administration work (expect to never get more than 30 minutes break per 8 hour shift). Poor management of well, everything. Schedules are unfairly distributed and given late, or even last minute. Teaching skill comes way down the list of expectation and appreciation. Most importantly; do as you're told. Next ensure students have ticked every box in their books, before acting as a clown in class. If these are duly complete, you may teach but it's optional. You will be required to work substantially more than 8 hours every day. There is a lot of extra paperwork, I was often forced to work later than 10:30 finishing daily reports and grading papers. Co-workers are a nightmare. There is no support from Korean teachers. They're rude and disrespectful. The native teachers (about seven) are not much better. Several weekend and after hour engagements that are unpaid and mandatory. I was even forced to cross-dress and dance for 50 onlooking students, in the name of entertainment. I was the only one, may I add. I was later fired for no reason (other than my face didn't fit) and told they would cause me visa problems if I didn't leave quietly.
Subject: Creative Children's Learning Center (CCLC) in Gangnam-gu.
February 18, 2014
I would like to add CCLC (Creative Children's Learning Center) in Gangnam-gu, to the blacklist. They treat their employees very poorly and for some reason are extremely sexist towards women, even though the owner, manager, and co-teachers are all women. In the year that I worked there, at least 8 people left before their contract was up because of negative working conditions. Even after some of these teachers left (even after giving proper notice), they tracked down some of these teacher's and complained about them to their current employers. Overall, I found CCLC to be poorly run and vindictive, with an extremely poor working environment. DO NOT work here.
Subject: Worwick Franklin Institute Namgu, Busan.
February 13, 2014
Worwick Franklin Institute Namgu, Busan
I would like to add Worwick Franklin Institute with the director of J***e ***** to the blacklist because the school has lied and deceived me for an entire year. I personally have been paid late 9 out of 12 months. This lateness can extend up to 3 weeks. The woman who runs the school will break your contract, not pay you on time or at all. She is rude and deceiving and all her workers (Korean and foreign) are miserable. The turnover rate at the school is extremely high for employees because of this and she will go out at all lengths to benefit herself over the school and her teachers. My main problem is that she has not paid my severance bonus and will not! Avoid this school at all costs!
Subject: Yonsei University in Wonju.
February 12, 2014
Please add this University to the list of Black listed schools in Korea. Yonsei University in Wonju. Several reasons for not working at this school. First, they will ask you to sign a contract only in Korean, promising the normal perks for working at a university, including severance at the end of the time with the university, then deny the payment. Two years of working, contract was changed and benefits were removed without discussion. Example, after the second contract, three months into the term, medical benefits were removed. Seclusion from department and non working relationship with director who refused to answer emails and only addressed issues through other workers given his lack of English skills and communication abilities. Now contracts are based on no medical benefits, cutting hours to allow for such deletions of benefits, after contract is signed. Also do not trust if they say severance is part of the package, because they will blame administration at the end saying sorry you did not qualify. If you work here, be warned....get everything in writing and only in English because this university is far from being ethical.
Subject: Global English, Samgye, Masan
Saturday, February 1, 2014
I would like to add "Global English" to this list. The owner R***** does not run a completely legal school and will dismiss you for the day when Immigration is about to show, as they phone her first. She will renege on return flight payment and bonus after the year is up. She will also get moody in the 10th month and try her hardest to make you quit, if you are not going to sign another contract. She comes off as very trustworthy, but be careful of this she wolf in sheeps clothing. She will tell you you are not their to teach English, but only for the parents to see a white face and then reprimand you for not teaching more and then tell you you are not their too teach and the endless cycle begins. Be careful of this one and after 7 years teaching in Korea, this is my only bad experience.
Subject: MLS (My Language School) Nam-gu, Busan.
Friday, January 17, 2014
This school isn't completely horrible, but it's pretty bad. I worked here for 4 months before I quit. The students and co workers were really great. Unfortunately the owner and the management were terrible. Before signing a contract at MLS, both the owner and the manager assured me that my plane ticket to Korea would be paid for. It was clearly stated in my contract. Upon arriving to Korea, they changed their minds and decided that they were not going to pay for my flight. I asked for a copy of my contract several times and they refused.
They also assured me that I had been registered for health insurance. After 3 months I figured out that I had not been registered but they were charging me anyway. Of course they refused to refund any of the money.
After my first 2 months, they made all the foreign teachers sign a new contract. In the new contract, our sick days were reduced from 2 days a year to 0. Teachers now have to pay a penalty for taking a sick day.
At MLS, teachers work more and are paid less than most other schools. They will only hire those with teaching experience. However, they refuse to pay you any higher than 2.1, regardless of how much experience you have. Their contract states that you will teach a maximum of 7 classes a day. There are no books for any of these classes, so you must come up with the material yourself (which requires outside preparation). Preparing for and teaching 7 classes a day is a heavy work load. Regardless, the management will ask you to complete redundant tasks and take on additional classes during your free time. Of course they are not going to pay overtime.
The management is completely incompetent. They are unable to complete the simplest of tasks. This causes more work for all of the teachers in the office.
The apartment they put me in was pretty bad. It was tiny by Korean standards. Everything in the apartment was broken when I moved in. It also smelled like dead rodents were trapped in the walls.
There is absolutely no job security at this place. The the contract is supposed to be for one year, but it's actually month by month depending on the school's attendance. From the first day of work, the owner and the management threatened to fire me if I did not have a certain number of students sign up for my classes. The following 2 months, I exceeded the enrollment number they wanted for my classes. However, this did not stop them from threatening to fire me on a weekly basis if my numbers dropped. After 3 months I finally decided that this type of office atmosphere was too stressful, so I gave notice.
MLS has a very high turnover rate of both teachers and office staff. Nobody likes working there. People usually quit after several months. The school is losing business to another franchise which just opened across the street. With any luck this school will be closed by next year.
Subject: Kids Club Fun Languages School, another response
Friday, December 22, 2013
I worked for Kids Club Fun Languages School in Uiwang under the director Mr. L** for four months (pulled a midnight run). I believe it is associated with the LCI schools. When I was hired, I was told it was in Anyang and could not find any negative information on it so I thought it was a good school. I even contacted the person who wrote the good review about it on this website, and he had only good things to say.
Unfortunately, this school was terrible. The first issue I had was getting my ARC card. It took my director two months to even get me the paperwork I needed to go to immigration. I know I have up to 90 days to do it, but I had to go to HIM and ask about it because I was getting worried. Other teacher friends received their ARC within a month. I didn't get mine until almost the 3 month mark. This was very frustrating because you cannot get cell phone contracts without the card.
The next issue was that my director refused to pay into my pension. He said he registered me as an "independent contractor" through the tax office so he didn't have to pay my pension that way. However, my contract states over and over that I am an "employee" and not a contractor. As an American, I was sponsored on an E-2 Visa which means he had to pay into my pension because of social security contracts between the US and Korea.
I also did not have health insurance for the four months I was in Korea. My contract stated that I was to pay 50% of the National Health insurance while my director paid the other 50%. I was never enrolled in this. Instead, right before the fourth month, Mr. L** tried to enroll me in an outside insurance company that was only 10,000 won a month.... No way was this up to the level of the national health insurance plan I should have been receiving.
The school was very disorganized and there was very little communication. Often times I would walk into school and the schedule would be completely changed without letting me know. This was very frustrating since it didn't give me time to prepare for the correct classes. I also had no resources except for the student text books. Some classes did not even have books at all. I didn't have any construction paper or glue to do any projects. I had to buy crayons for the classes because the crayons the school had left were really old and all of them were broken. I did not have a computer to use. If it weren't for the laptop I brought from home, I would have been completely screwed.
It didn't take me long to realize my apartment was infested with roaches. I told Mr. L** immediately, and he gave me some roach traps that didn't work. I went to the pharmacy and bought boric acid and lined my apartment walls with it, but it didn't help much. Mr. L** would not call an exterminator to get rid of the bug problem. It was very frustrating and disgusting.
Living in Korea was exciting. I met awesome people while I was there, but my job was not good so I left. I strongly advise anyone considering a job with this hagwon to look elsewhere.
Subject: ETCco, Seoul
Friday, December 20, 2013
I would like to add ETCco and its owner Xxxxx Xxx to the Korean Black List. She has several After School programs primarily in public schools in Seoul.
I am adding her because she simply has very bad business practices. (1)She uses two different contracts. One to give to Immigration's with a different name Mac Academy EWAS and an actual one with her companies name on it, ETCco. That should have been a big red flag about her integrity. (2)she adds extra responsibilities to your day that's not in the contract. Like, she expects you to make weekly phone English calls to 45 students, @ 10 min per student, (in my case) on your personal time with no additional compensation. That was Mon-TU-Wed, from 7:30 until 10. (3) She expects you to buy any supplies; printer paper, pens, pencils, etc and then submit a receipt for reimbursement with the monthly pay. (4) Monthly pay is almost always late. And then the typical short notice "I need it right away" demands that we all have come to deal with, although we hate it. Reports, lesson plans, etc.
(5) You can't discipline the students. And this was my undoing and why I'm no longer there. (6)It has taken better than 2 weeks to get my pay. When I asked she said next week. When I asked for specifics, she said "that's it". When next week came and went, she said tomorrow. When I sent a late text she said midnight. Then she made the deposit and shorted it by 602,000. I sent her several text in the early am. The next morn she sent a text saying she came to an understanding that there was an error on her part. So she sent the remaining portion save 100,000. So I again sent her a text.(7) She wants me to mail her the phone with my money that she had installed in my place. And she said she is holding my remaining 100,000 that she rightfully owes me until she gets the phone. Unbelievable. Work for her at your own risk!!! She said she prefers to work with men because the women always run. Hmmmmmm wonder why!
Subject: English 3000 (or, Ummapyo 3000), Pohang, ROK
Friday, December 11, 2013
You should at least consider posting the school, English 3000 (or, Ummapyo 3000) to the blacklist, for the following reason : I signed on with them in June 2011 and I remained with them thru July 2012, which is 2 months longer than I was obliged to. Before my renewal time came up, the principal renewed my contract w/out first consulting me. When I learned of this, I spoke with him, and his wife, about my plan to return to the States to pursue a particular grad course for sci teaching, and I explained that leaving in July or August would be necessary in order to orchestrate this goal.
They appeared disappointed and they asked me to stay, if possible, at least thru July, to help find a new foreign teacher. I agreed to do this, then the HP "un-did" the new visa fix at my request. I left in late July, and for my efforts in assisting them the HP slammed me with a very bad review once I got back to the USA. This, after they renewed my visa and repeatedly stated how they liked having me.....
So now, I have no reference letter, no way to safely use their school in trying to get new work.
My co-teachers had warned me about the HP while I was still there, but you know, I gave the SOB the benefit of the doubt. In the end, he lived up to the reputation known only to an inside circle. Use your discretion in posting this, since the school itself seems friendly, the students were terrific and ALL my co-teachers were pure gold to work with----as were the HP's children, too. I don't want to get the school itself in trouble BUT .....I do want other teachers, foreign or Korean, to be forewarned of said HP. All my friends, while in the ROK, were Korean, and my overall time there was outstanding.
I was hoping to return to work there, but.....w/ no referral to fall back on, that hope is now shot to hell.
I miss my students dearly, and I am thus forced to consider other countries instead.
Subject: Be Smart Cheongju, San-nam Dong
Dec 3 at 10:42 AM
This hagwon is rife with corruption and human rights violations to teachers. School director will dock your pay if a student that you teach cancels their enrolment. Do not consider employment even under desperate circumstances.
Subject: Pilgrim International Christian School, Gumi City near Daegu
Nov 15 at 8:57 PM
Before I start, I wish to mention the recruiter that contacted me about this job and who lured me to this position. He was very aware of the deceit and partook in and told me lies about the job to lure me into getting on a plane to Korea. The recruiter was VivaCom otherwise known as eslcom and the guy's name was D**** the director.
I'm writing this not because I want to but because I feel that it is necessary to give a heads up about this so called Christian school. The last thing I want to do is criticize a "Christian" school as I am a devout follower of Jesus Christ. Yet my conscious urges me to warn any foreigner about the pitfalls of this job. This would be especially perilous if you came here on an E2 visa. I myself am here on an F4 (Korean descendant) visa. One of the implications of my visa (F4) is that I don't need a letter of release to get a new job. You very well may be deceived from day one and if you are on an E2 visa your options will be very limited. In other words, you may just have to go back to the country you departed from and you will bear these costs on your own.
Before I lay in to my bad experiences I will note the one good point about my experience here--at least they pay on time, that's it. Me, I quit the day after I got paid because I feared that they wouldn't pay me if they knew I was leaving. And I turned out to be right as the director--I will call him K--demanded that I pay him the fee paid to the recruiter. He said he would sue me if I refused to pay him this fee and to which I replied “go ahead--sue me.”
So, here I am in the US and I get this offer from ***** for the position at the school named Pilgrim International Christian School, PICS for short. He offers me a contract with shared housing and I responded that I would like to negotiate single housing instead. He responds by saying that “Oh no, that was my mistake. That housing was for a female teacher because there is another female teacher already living there.” They adjusted the contract and offered me private housing. When I got to the job location, I was immediately put into a dormitory with the students. There was no housing let alone any female teachers that had any off property shared housing. It was all a lie. In case you think this is a fluke, I was told by a previous teacher that housing has been promised to the two previous teachers but they were all given the same story that I is under renovation at the moment. This same story has been told repeatedly.
Next, I was asked if I ever taught SAT/TOEFL classes. I never did, so I mentioned that I wasn’t qualified to teach this subject matter. I thought that was the end of it but lo-and-behold, I was teaching this the next day. The only material I was given was a soft covered SAT prep book to work out of. I had to develop the curriculum. Well, you may say, that’s not too bad. But, here’s the clincher. You teach one classroom the whole day—yes, this is the only schooling these high schoolers get.
These students bank on the director’s referring them to study in America after they graduate. If they are lucky to get the director’s recommendation to study abroad they will be placed in Pensacola Christian College. This school is not accredited as far as my research has led me. In other words, these students’ credits will not be recognized and transferrable once they graduate from Pensacola Christian College.
So, the bottom line is this. If you get offered this job and feel tempted to accept it, feel free to contact me for more information. If I were coming here on an E2 visa, I would take the nearest exit door on this job. If you are coming here on an F4 visa and you don’t mind living in a dorm where you will likely be sharing the bathroom and shower facility this job may be okay for you. Anyway, I hope my review of my experience will be of some service to you. Again, I’m not one to bash but I do feel a responsibility to save another from a potentially very, very bad experience…especially if you are on an E2 visa.
Subject: EPL English Institute, Incheon
November 5, 2013 10:28 PM,
I'd like to add EPL English Institute to the Hagwon list after a year of completely unnecessary drama. The owners are liars (more like terrible actors) who have no problem with bullying their employees. Broken promises and instances of seriously dick-ish behavior had me counting the days until my contract was up and I could leave Korea forever. They'll fool you into thinking their a couple of level-headed, real people who want to offer you a great job but there's another side to them which I wouldn't trust for a second. Exercise caution.
Subject: EOS Wingsley school in Suwon, Yeongtong, South Korea.
October 23, 2013
I would like to contribute to the blacklist EOS Wingsley school in Suwon, Yeongtong, South Korea. This schools upper management is leaking in forethought, compassion, and sense of right and wrong. Recently one of our teachers was hospitalized. The CEO and Principal were not going to pay for half of her medical expenses, as promised in our contract, on the grounds that they went to visit her in the hospital. The work environment is degrading and poorly managed and the school has a very high turnover rate. I am not leaving the school yet out of pure stubbornness, however I want to save any unknowing teacher from pain in the future. Don't sign with EOS.
Subject: KDLP in Imae, Bundang
September 14, 2013
KDLP in Imae, Bundang. My boyfriend and I worked at this private hagwon just short of one year. First, let me explain how the school is structured. Each kindergarten class has a Korean homeroom teacher, and when I left there was one 5 year old class, two six year old classes and three seven year old classes (Korean ages, all varying levels). Four "foreign teachers" were responsible for the following subjects: reading/phonics, science/math, PE, language arts and creative arts. A typical kindergarten day for a foreign teacher would consist of four 30 minute classes, hour lunch*, three 30 minute classes, and then snack before the children left. So before three and a half hours of elementary classes began, I would usually have six or seven DIFFERENT kindie classes. The Korean homeroom teachers were responsible for two 30 minute classes in that time; a craft class and a phonics class with a completely prepared curriculum. The amount of work foreign teachers did compared to Korean homeroom teachers was outrageous. The only reason I bring it up is because these Korean teachers CONSTANTLY complained to the owner/principal about how little we did and how busy they were. They also tattled on us if we ever thought about coloring for three minutes at the end of a class on a Friday. The owner always took their side. Always. Over the course of the year more and more work was piled on us and our Korean coworkers (owner included) treated us as if we were the enemy. There was no curriculum for the classes we taught, and it would not be uncommon for the owner to come up to you and tell you to teach a class about sexual reproduction that day, with less than 20 minutes to plan. I learned to allot about 5 minutes of planning time per class. I simply refused to work overtime, not be paid for it, and never thanked for it. With exactly one month left on my contract I was fired because I communicated with a prospective teacher about the negative work environment. I lost out on a lot of money but was so happy not to have to go back into that school.
*For the first nine months of our contract we had an hour lunch. After the ninth month the owner insisted that we eat with the kids. This would have meant that on most days we would be in the class with children from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. with no breaks. When my boyfriend brought up that that would put our contract hours over, so we would have to be paid overtime, the owner was beside herself and insisted that that time spent with the students would not count as instructional time. We refused and had labor laws handy.
Subject: INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL (ILS) in Dongbaek
August 26, 2013
Do not work for ILS (INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE SCHOOL) in Dongbaek. All the korean staff are unpleasant and talk behind your back. The director is cheap and will try to cheat you out on whatever she can. They make you work long hours with no sick days. Overall, terrible work environment. Housing is basically a teeny room. You won't have space to walk around.
Subject: GLI (Yangcheon-gu. Seoul)
August 12, 2013
I would like to add GLI (Yangcheon-gu. Seoul) to the black list. The reason is that you do not get paid on time or in full or even at all. My first few months there it was fine and the director (D*****) paid me on time and in full. Then the payments started to come late by a few weeks, but still in full. By my 4th month payments were never on ti,me and never in full. He would pay me 500,000won here and then another bit there but never the full amount on the date stated in my contract. After a while it got to the point where he was 2 months late paying me. He would tell me he would pay me and either not pay me anything or just a small amount. Not only is this hard to keep track off but gets very frustrating and confusing. I would have to go down to his office and practically beg to be paid. The reason behind this are not becasue he is a bad person or doesnt want to pay but he is in big finacial difficulty and cant pay teachers but is still hiring them. I forefilled my one year contract but by the end I was 2 months pay down. The director asked if I would do an extra month to finish the semester and I said I would if he paid me everything he owed in full. After endless empty promises the money didnt appear so I ended up having to walk out after my year. I am now taking him to the labour board to get my money but it is really stressful not knowing when your next pay check will be or how much and I don't want another teacher going through this.
Subject: LCI Academy Jamsil
Fri, Aug 2, 2013
Avoid LCI Academy Jamsil. They pay you on time, and that's about the only good thing I can say about the school. They've fired three people in the last year. One girl was given only two weeks notice and another had one day. She was given 24 hours to get out of her apartment. She was fired for leaving class to go to the hospital after getting hit in the head at work.
The director of the school, Ms M****, spends most of her day spying on the teachers through the CCTV cams in every room. She even listens to the teachers talking during lunch about their personal lives. The manager Y***** is considered weird by even the Korean staff. Their English is so poor no one understands them half the time anyway.
The work hours are long. I was teaching 35 hours a week plus all the grading, test making, weekly evaluations, and daily reports they expect you to do on your lunch break. For seven hours of teaching in a day, you only get the one hour lunch. Some teachers never even had time to eat. I was expected to grade all the homework done by 9 students in ten minutes. No one has ever been allowed to use one of the 3 sick days stated in the contract. One veteran teacher was literally vomiting in front of her class from a viral infection and she was not allowed to go home.
LCI Jamsil seems like a great school at first but then all the bad things start to show. Your first and last paycheck are paid on hourly instead of salary, so instead of the 2.4 mil salary promised, you get paid significantly less depending on your schedule. My first pay check was a measly 1.3 mil. They charge 600,000 for a housing deposit and then will keep half of it if they don't like you.
Several teachers who completed their contracts continue to work in Korea, but don't go anywhere near the school. Nobody has ever signed up for another year. The director confiscated teacher's day presents the students brought in from the teachers she didn't like, and "returned" them to parents. She did the same thing for Chuseok gifts parents sent to teachers.
Stay away from this school. There are better places to work in Seoul.
Subject: Poly (Korea Poly School aka KPS) in Mannyeon Dong, Daejeon
Tue, Jul 30, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Teaching at Poly (Korea Poly School aka KPS) in Mannyeon Dong, Daejeon was a nightmare. The management was not only ineffective but, they were actually hostile towards foreigners. It was clear from everything they did that they thought foreign teachers were lazy, useless, and, above all, replaceable.
* The hours are incredibly long.
When the assistant director) sent me my contract, I questioned the hours in the contract. The hours listed were 9am to 7:30pm. She told me that this was the absolute longest I could be asked to work. So, I assumed that these hours were for intensives. (Intensives are the extra classes academies offer when students are on breaks from their regular schools.) Well, on my first day, when I complained about the long day, I was told that these were the regular hours (9:30am to 7:30pm MWF and 9:30am to 6:40pm T/Th). I reminded her that she had told me that these were the absolute longest possible hours and not normal hours. She then denied ever telling me this. She even denied knowing what intensives were - as in “How could you assume that these were the hours for an intensive when I don’t even know what an intensive is?!?!?” So, for several months, I worked 9:30am to 7:30pm. Then, on March 1st, the hours went to 9am to 7:30pm MWF and 9:00am to 6:40pm T/Th. To give you some perspective, other schools I have worked at were from 3pm to 10pm each day and 4:00pm to 10:30pm each day. Plus, within 6 weeks of me being hired, Poly had summer intensives. Clearly, she was lying about the hours and about not knowing what an intensive is.
* The salary is too low for a 50+ hour work week.
Salary is another terrible issue at Poly. Poly’s salary is low. I accepted the job because they matched my previous salary of 2.6 million won a month plus a housing allowance. I thought I was getting a good deal because I thought I would be working a similar amount of hours. Nope! It turns out that with 2 years of previous teaching experience, I still made less than first year teachers who were hired three months before me. Poly had started new teachers at 2.8 million won plus benefits. However, I was hired, with experience, at less money. They also never pay you one penny of overtime for all of those hours. They just play with your salary to justify the hours to the labor board. My pay stub stated that I made 1.8 million won as a base salary, 100,000 won as a meal allowance, and 700,000 won as overtime. When you add it up, it’s just my regular salary of 2.6 million won. People who were hired after me make even less money for the same amount of work.
* Poly clearly does not value their foreign teachers.
An example of this is their Teacher of the Term award. Originally, this was awarded to one foreign teacher and one Korean teacher each month. This lasted for about two months. After that, it was awarded to two Koreans employees of the school who, more often than not, rarely even interacted with students. Eventually, the award was discontinued.
* Management is ineffective.
Poly’s management is horrible. During our Monday afternoon meetings (foreigners only), we were regularly given lists of 15 to 20 things that we were doing incorrectly and had to change immediately. It’s very discouraging to get such a list week after week.
In addition to this, the director is pretty much never there. I could go a month and only see him once. Now, he is regional director of three Poly locations but, as those locations are within an hour of each other, it does not make sense that he was in Mannyeon Dong so infrequently.
* The parents rule the school.
The majority of Poly’s considerable rules and regulations are created to keep parents happy. Teachers must sign each page of each child’s workbook to signify that they checked each and every answer and that all of the answers are correct. Teachers must also sign underneath each homework assignment that a kid writes down to verify that the assignment was written down correctly. I understand that, as a private business, Poly does need to keep parents aka paying customers happy but, there is a limit to this.
There was an instance where a teacher signed a page of a kid’s workbook and one of the answers was misspelled. This led to about 5 hours of meetings for that teacher. Poly’s managers said they did not agree with the parents getting so angry about this but, neither of them did anything to stop it. The parents would not have had access to this teacher if the management didn't allow it.
In conclusion, work anywhere in Korea but here. Sure, they’ll pay you on time but, you’ll be miserable.
Subject: CDI in Gwangju
Wednesday July 24, 2013
Stay away from CDI in Gwangju.
So without going into too much detail about who I am, let me tell you some things about these employers: - promote unqualified managers whose word means nothing when bosses decide to change their minds ostensibly based on who they like more
- While bosses can choose to give holidays, they do not offer any vacation at all, other than the 5 days you're allowed contractually. And even sometimes they move that around on you.
- Your relationship and dedication to them matters not if it's not written and signed: employee asked manager if he could be reimbursed for plane ticket months after contract, was given OK; months later, bosses deny reimbursement and say manager was wrong. Technically yes, but poor business practice and reneging on spoken promise.
- told to come in at 3 pm and not leave until 10, when contract states you don't have to be in until latest 3:50. For some people, this became a terminable offense.
- Employees have more weekend working hours than managers, who are paid more and work less.
- You may be forced to teach very young children, even if that wasn't discussed at all prior to hiring.
- They might ask to rewrite your contract significantly upon arrival (has happened 4 times thus far), and refusal would result in immediate termination. This is being practiced more and more on new hires, and is essentially a chokehold b/c you likely have no other choice.
This school is going to fail soon, so this likely won't matter for long. But do yourself a favor and find any other school to work for. Many CDIs are fine, but this one is toxic.
Subject: JM Story School (also known as JM Kinder) in Cheongju
Monday July 22, 2013
I would like to add JM Story School (also known as JM Kinder) in Cheongju. My husband and I worked at the school and ran into some very unfortunate situations.
The director would not get us an outside apartment, so we had to live above the school and also charged us far more than she should have for utilities. We're fairly certain we were paying most, if not all, of the school's utility bills for this reason. She also lives above the school, so the independent living factor goes out the window as she is across the hall, or depending on where she wants you, right underneath her room and sharing a bathroom.
The director did not pay into pension, or health insurance, and refused to pay me more than 2 million won in overtime. After confronting her about all of these things, she did pay for several things she was not obligated to, but in doing so wanted us gone from the school in 3 days time which is a contract violation (the contract stated that she needed to give us 20 days notice). I was also called a liar after giving her the amount calculated for the overtime owed. She told me that the contract stated that overtime was 15,000 won an hour, when it was in fact 20,000 won an hour and she had previously paid my husband the 20,000/hour for overtime hours he worked.
The school itself sees little money returned to it. The director will buy books maybe once a year and won't order new ones. Classes are a mess and she'll toss in varying age and skill levels together with no materials or any sort of plan.
It's not a place I would recommend going, definitely. I would advise that if you would decide to go, stay on her about everything, saying no to her is good and encouraged, calculate your hours monthly, make sure you get what you're owed per the contract (in ours that was health insurance, severance, pension, 2.1 million a month/120 teaching hours, apartment, etc.), and don't be afraid to use the words: labor board, illegal, and lawyer.
Subject: iSponge English in Pohang
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
I worked at iSponge English in Pohang. The working conditions at this school are terrible. You are told everything last minute from adding new classes, new students, open classes, etc., which means you have no time to prep. You dont get any breaks, and you have to spend your lunch break feeding kids. You will be expected to work past 6pm (work hrs 9am-6pm) almost everyday. They will try to cheat you out of every penny you work. They were late many times with my pay checks. In addition they scammed a lot of money from me when my contract was completed. They deducted holidays from my pay and also deducted days when the school wasn't open. I am still waiting for them to finish paying all of my pension.
My electricity wasn't working properly for the last 6 months I worked their and they refused to fix it. At one point my toilet was blocked and they didn't help me to find a plumber, I had to ask my Korean friend for help.
These people treat their employees terribly. If you're still on the fence, ask people in the Facebook group "Pohang Legends" what their friends have experienced at iSponge English Pohang.
I heard the school might change their name but the management will still be the same. The owner's name is Mrs. K*** and the head teacher's name is N** C**
Please spread the news, so other teachers don't have to experience what I did.
Subject: EWAS located in Guri City
Saturday, July 13, 2013
The hagwon is EWAS located in Guri City. The director's name is Mr.L***, who likes to be referred to as "Elder L***". At this time I do not have a contact number for this school, but as far as I know, it is the only EWAS hagwon in Guri City so it shouldn't be difficult to get the contact information with a simple Google or Yahoo search.
I believe this hagwon should be added to the blacklist for many reasons, but five of the most important ones are:
1. If the student enrollment goes down, so will your pay.
2. If you don't fight for your pre-arranged vacation time, Mr.L*** will try to cut it a few days short at the last minute because the parents want the kids to study more.
3. Mr.L*** demands all of his foreign teachers attend his church on Saturdays and participate at least one a month by giving a children's story (Yes, it's actually in his contract that teachers attend his church).
4. If Mr.L*** wants to keep you there, he will continually give you a bad reference to other schools or recruiters behind your back, while at the same time he will ask you to continue working at his school. He did this to me and I had such an impossible time finding another job in Korea, I had to get a former employer in China to give me a good reference in order for me to actually get another job in Korea.
5. The working schedule changes on a monthly basis, so you never know from one month to the next when you'll be working, how many hours you'll be working, or what those hours will be.
As I said, there are other reasons this hagwon should be blacklisted, but I have given the top five, in my opinion. Please avoid this hagwon like the plague. Everything sounded fine before I got there, but things turned ugly pretty fast. I hope future teachers can avoid the nightmare I went through at this school by not working there.
Subject: GKI school (Global Kids International) in Guri
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
I would like to add GKI school (Global Kids International) in Guri to the blacklist, because I know that they are hiring now. In the past 6 months, 4 teachers have quit this school early because of being mistreated (there are only 5 teachers at the school at a given time).
You work all day and have to take home work every night as well. You will be constantly screamed at and made to feel less than human. Korean teachers and foreign teachers are not allowed to be friends outside of work, and are often pitted against each other by the boss. This creates a really hostile work environment. You are given 5 sick days in your contract, but you are never allowed to take them. It doesn't matter how serious your illness is, they will never let you rest at home.
Don't work here. It's difficult to describe the situation without giving specific examples that could get us in trouble by Korean law. But all of the teachers are miserable at the school, and you will be too.
Subject: Gwangjin SLP and Top Secret English in Gangdong
Monday, July 8, 2013
My husband and I worked for Gwangjin SLP from March 2012 through February 2013. Coming to Korea for the first time we were very hesitant about working for a hagwon as we had read the many horror stories online. However, once we arrived and started working here we had a great experience for quite a while. Yes the working days could be long, 10:00-7:20, but we both had some breaks in the afternoon and did not find the work to be difficult at all and we loved the students. We did not have much interaction with the director and her husband (Ms. Jung and Mr. Kwak) as they did not really speak English. However, they did give us a few extra things for our apartment like a table, chairs, microwave, etc. when we first started working there. The apartment they provided was a typical Korean studio apartment. They let us move to a different apartment (that we chose and put down the key deposit for) and then paid their part of the housing allowance as rent every month. We were always paid on time and given everything we were due. In fact we were so satisfied with the school that when we decided to stay in Korea for a second year we went ahead and signed contracts for another year at Gwangjin SLP (another foreigner did as well).
Unfortunately, in February things began to change quite a bit. We found out the director had not paid her portion of the rent for our apartment for the month and we were paid a good three or four days late. We began to get very worried about the financial status of the school and director around that time and actually decided we wanted to complete our current one year contracts through the month of February but not continue working there under the new contract. Upon telling the director this, she began to threaten us saying she would have our visas cancelled so we would be forced to leave the country and never come back and refused to give us our release letters which we would need to find other jobs. After the director had had a few days to cool down (it is evident she can have anger management issues at times as we sometimes heard her screaming at someone on the phone), we were told we would be allowed to leave after our current contracts were up and she could find someone to replace us. In the meantime, the director’s husband contacted the schools we would be starting at as soon as we were finished there and said some awful things about us as people and teachers which nearly cost us our new jobs. We definitely made the right choice to get out of this school when we did because since then the school has tanked financially. My husband went to the labor department and they forced her to pay us our severance pay (much later than the contract states) and our last paychecks were nearly twenty days late. After talking to people who still currently work there, they have been getting paid ten or twenty days late every month as the director is very clearly not stable financially.
I would NOT recommend anyone take a job at Gwangjin SLP or Top Secret English in Gangdong (the directors own this school as well) at this time. As I stated originally we had a wonderful experience here until the financial problems began to hit. Until the director can get her finances worked out to be what they used to be I would not advise anyone to work for her at these two schools.
Subject: EIEL in Yeongtong dong, Yeongtong gu, Suwon, SK
Friday, June 21, 2013 6:16 PM
I'd like to add to the blacklist:
EIEL in Yeongtong dong, Yeongtong gu, Suwon, SK. * This school will probably change its name: It has been the Tweed Institute and TIMA before it was EIEL. This school makes you work 10 hours a day plus about 2 hours of marking. There is no curriculum, structure, schedule or rules. It is the most unhealthy environment I have ever seen for children. I have had to stop fist fights, kids fighting with scissors, etc. There are no breaks, only 40 minutes for lunch. The native teachers are not allowed to discipline the students. It is an atmosphere of oppression; the director won't allow the Korean teachers to talk to the native teachers. The director will do everything to prevent the native teachers from getting an ARC card, therefore you can't set up a bank account, get a contract for a cellphone, etc. I had to wait 1.5 months for my ARC card. They also refuse pension and healthcare . Do not work here.
Subject: English 2020, Changwon Elite School, or Yoons, in Sangnam-do in Changwon, South Korea
Friday, June 14, 2013 9:15 AM
I would like to put "English 2020," "Changwon Elite School," or "Yoons" on the Hagwon Blacklist. It is located in Sangnam-do in Changwon, South Korea. They are the same school. People are usually hired under "Changwon Elite School," but it really goes by "English 2020." It is an awful school. I'm a certified teacher with 7 years of teaching experience and "teachers" by no means actually teach. I had taught in two other countries previously -issues were more than cultural differences. The apartment was disgusting and literally had mold growing from the ceiling. One day I was sick and had to go to the hospital. The director FORCED me to sign a paper saying I was not performing job duties. She said if I did not sign the paper, then she would fire me. Her husband is from England. He "trains" the teachers but has zero education background or training. The school is deceitful and manipulative. They use CCTV not to check on students, but to spy on employees. No one has ever resigned and the employees who do stick it out want to leave. This hogwan put a bitter taste in my mouth of Korea. Fortunately, I was able to leave and go to a different school. Out of care and concern for you, please do not work there. It will make you want to buy the next ticket home.
AND A REPLY:
Subject: Reply: Changwon Elite School, or Yoons, in Sangnam-do in Changwon, South Korea
Friday, June 14, 2013 9:15 AM
Thank you for your prompt response to my email.
Response to the blacklist posting "Changwon Elite School" on Friday June 14th.
I would like to make a brief reply to her posting. We are one of the largest schools in Changwon, Sangnam-dong (not "Sang-namdo"). Firstly, regarding accommodation, anyone who would like to work in this school may speak to our foreign teachers to ask about the apartments we provide. I'm sure these teachers will not endorse her opinion. Furthermore, foreign teachers have in the past renewed their contracts. To claim that "No one has ever resigned" (I think she meant 're-signed') is something she could obviously never know, particularly since she only worked here for two months before being dismissed. Experience of teaching can be a great attribute. Clearly, however, those with experience of teaching in their home countries will not always become good EFL teachers in South Korea. Incidentally, the writer of the above posting only completed six months of the contract in her new school in Changwon before quitting and leaving the country. Finally, our school (like many others) does have a camera in each classroom. It is actually a vital tool when training new people who have never taught before. Again, any individual interested in working for this institute may speak to teachers who currently work here. That will provide a much more accurate and objective view of the school. Thank-you.
AND YET ANOTHER REPLY:
Hello, I am responding to the post about Changwon Elite School, English 20/20, or Yoons.
I hardly think accidently leaving off a hyphen or misspelling a Korean word takes away from the validity of placing the hagwon on the blacklist. (The message was typed on a touch screen in a moment of concern for prospective teachers.) I don’t care to talk or think about the school anymore, but I am doing it just because I was disappointed that I didn’t have any kind of warning before my husband and I resigned from our jobs in our home country, sold our cars, packed our possessions into a storage unit, and traveled across the world to teach at their school. It’s a big commitment to move to another country and I feel terrible for English teachers who have experiences like we did. However, do not be discouraged, I did have three other positive experiences teaching abroad...this was the only negative one.
I want to start by writing positive aspects about the school to be as fair as possible. Since it is a bigger school, they do seem to follow the rules set by the Korean law. They provided insurance, paid us on time, and gave us a pay stub. The director’s husband, though he certainly keeps the hagwon’s best interest in mind, is a native English speaker and that helped with communication.
I worked at the school for three months. I would have left earlier, but they said I had to work another month to get my letter of release to work somewhere else. I found another hagwon that was a better fit within a week of when I decided I was ready to leave. I got to create the reading and writing curriculum and I successfully prepared students to get into international schools. I had a literal waiting list of parents who knew I got academic results and wanted me to teach their children. I worked at the other school for eight months. (I was working at both schools for over a month because the second school needed me as soon as possible.) Though I was treated well, got to pick my own housing, etc., I did find out that I didn’t actually have health insurance near the end of that time. When I first realized that I wasn’t covered, I confronted my boss. She said she would resolve it, but never did. Since she had broken her end of the contract of providing me proper insurance and never corrected the problem, I gave her a month’s notice and applied to other teaching positions. I took a fantastic international teaching position outside of Korea. I’ve never broken a contract outside of my time in Korea, and in this case, the contract was already broken by the employer.
While at the second school, the director consulted with me and had me interview all incoming teachers. During that time, I interviewed THREE current employees at English 20/20 who wanted to leave (2 foreigners and one Korean national). After I left Korea, I found out that yet another unhappy English 20/20 employee was hired (before the completion of her contract at English 20/20) to work at my second school. I was told by one of the English 20/20 employees that the only teacher that ever re-signed was the director’s husband. I cannot verify the accuracy of this information, but I can easily see how it would be true.
During my time at Changwon Elite School or English 20/20, I never felt respected as a professional. They most likely believe how they are teaching is best for the kids (or at least that it makes them money..regardless if the kids are learning or are truly engaged), but drudging through workbooks, doing the same 4-5 activities, and timing how long each activity is on CCVT are far from best practices. Workbook pages on an excel spreadsheet is not a curriculum! No critical and creative thinking was involved, the teachers were bored, and the kids were the most miserable I had ever seen. It was depressing being a part of such a business and I obviously couldn’t tolerate it.
Speaking with a currently employed teacher would not provide you with an objective point of view. Those teachers would not be comfortable sharing how they really felt because the school could possibly hold letters of recommendation, return flights, and pay over their heads if they were truly honest.
In sum, this is my warning to you if you are thinking about working at the school. I wish I had had one myself. I wish you the best in your search!
Subject: YBM Ssangmun ECC
Wednesday, June 12, 2013 9:35 AM
I would like to Blacklist YBM Ssangmun ECC, a school that still owes me over $1,000 while I am at home and unable to do anything about it.
I was a bit naïve coming into this and I highly recommend that you do not work at this place (or any YBM HOGwan) under any circumstances. My experience was so awful that I did not finish my contract. It was the worst experience of my life and I don’t say that lightly. I left behind my apartment and boyfriend to come home due to this job.
-The day I started work, I was told I would have to work 12+ hours a day for “Intensives” (not mentioned in the contract) as a brand new teacher. Yes, I was working up to 13 hours a day for at least 3 weeks. I felt trapped as I was in a new country and had nowhere to go. This was a nightmarish period. I am 24 years old and this is not my first job and I was so exhausted I cried every night. What the job did not tell me was that the person before me quit and they desperately needed me as a replacement for intensives. Intensives happen about 3 times a year and you get barely any overtime. They will find any way possible to keep you there as long as humanly possible and take away your overtime.
-I taught 8-11 classes on a regular basis., often with no breaks. Believe me, 8-11 40 minute classes is EXHAUSTING.
-My supervisor J******** forgot or neglected to pick me up from the bus station upon arrival. About 2 hours late, 3 Koreans who spoke absolutely no English picked me up. I was given a note I could not eat until the morning due to a blood test (after a 20+-hour fight. I was starving and the next day I had my blood test. Then I was brought to work and told I couldn’t eat until hours later.
-WORKSHEET TIME! Rather than give us our scheduled breaks, this school forced me and my coworkers to stay inside the office and make worksheets. These worksheets were absolutely pointless and I never saw one of the worksheets used. When I asked to make worksheets for classes I actually teach since we never seem to have enough material I was told I was not allowed. The worksheets were checked by our supervisor Jeannie (now promoted to manager) who yelled at me for not finishing one once when all the computers were broken. When I complained about worksheet time my supervisor said I was “Weird.” When I threatened to quit, I was threatened with very expensive penalties. My supervisor Jeannie took delight in forcing me to do the useless worksheets. On the YBM website it clearly states that teachers are not supposed to provide the teaching materials.
-My apartment in “Anyang Apartments” had cockroaches, and wasn’t clean. I was given no bed and an absolutely filthy smelly mattress to sleep on and used sheets, and a used blanket and used pillowcase. The apartment came with no curtains (I was woken up at 5 am on a regular basis) and no Tupperware. The stove had to be replaced as it was broken and the shower and sink were broken. The air conditioner (in 105 degree weather) broke shortly afterwards. When I asked my coworkers they had the same problems and or worse, especially with roaches, which infested the entire building. The walls were filthy and covered with random brown stains (which they school cleverly tried to cover up with furniture) and the torn, filthy furniture had literally been dragged in from the trash (this was confirmed by my coworkers.)
-Sick days! I was under tremendous pressure not to take a sick day. Having taken only 2 sick days I set the record at YBM Ssangmun ECC for most sick days. Eventually I developed several infections that went untreated and had to go home without even telling them because I was soooo ill and was having severe kidney pain I felt my life was in danger. I discussed the pain with my supervisor S**** and the possibility of having to go home and the only thing they could offer me was switching one class around. The did not offer to cut a single class to help me. At least I thankfully caught an emergency flight home and YBM immediately proceeded to harass my boyfriend who worked at another school and his coworkers trying to find me. (They gave me no help beforehand in finding medical care except to say wait 2 weeks or go to the ER-, which I had already done, but had nobody to translate)
-Upon arriving home, they told my boyfriend that he (who worked for a different school in the same company) would have to pay the overtime due to my coworkers. That’s right. They tried to get my boyfriend in a different school to pay THEIR overtime. -My paystubs were withheld from me almost every single payday. I had to send 4-5 emails begging for a copy of my paystubs every time we got paid, sometimes to no avail.
-In the winter, there was NO HEAT provided in below freezing temperatures for the afternoon students who paid slightly less to go to the program. Students sat there in their full winter coats gloves, hats, and scarves and complained it was too cold to learn. I stood there in my coat and scarf and was too cold to teach. People were constantly ill and still showing up for work and school. I had to beg from the main desk for the remote to turn on the heat, which was often withheld from me. You can forget about heat or AC in the teacher’s room. Oh, and summer is worse. Expect to be working weeks in 90 degree weather with no AC.
-We went through 2 managers and 2 supervisors and several people quitting within just 8 months of being there.
There is so much more to say about the awful time I had there, but to shorten this long, horrible story, I learned my lesson the hard way. Upon arriving home I understood the exploitative and slave driving nature of the YBM ECC Company. I heard even worse experiences from other schools. Do not work for this company especially YBM SSangmun ECC, that’s all I can say.
Subject: Kings Kids in S. Korea
Saturday, June 8, 2013 9:40 AM
Anyhow, don't work at Kings Kids in S. Korea. I want to show you what happens when you mention to them you have an honest concern about working in the wrong school in Korea upon initial recruitment phases. This is word-for-word after I mentioned I wasn't inventing concerns in my imagination. I sited two US Embassy warnings, because the director of a school was very rude about my questions and concerns, and this was his response in an email- copy and pasted here:
"why should i am interested the warning of us embassy? did i break the contract?
i have hired over 100 foreign teachers. but i have never broken the contract. that's it.
do you worry about working in kroea? if so, you had better search for your job in any other countries."
Well there you have it, don't work at Kings Kids. If you have any fears or concerns, you are told to move to another country- and OH, don't forget. They've NEVER DONE ANYTHING WRONG EVER AND DON'T YOU FORGET IT, YOU STUPID AMERICAN.
Subject: Daegu University of Foreign Studies
Wednesday, June 5, 2013
Daegu University of Foreign Studies - didn't pay severance, which was stated in the contract. Only gave 3 weeks notice of non-renewal.
Subject: Gangwon International Language Institute (GILI)
Wednesday, May 29, 2013 2:10 AM
We would like to put GILI (Gangwon International Language Institute on the Black List.
I worked at Gangwon International Language Institute from 2010-2011 and friends of mine completed their contracts recently.
This is by far the worst place to work at in Korea. The Korean staff will do the following:
1) Treat you horribly
2)Students and staff will rate you on a weekly basis and will fire you of your ratings are not at least 80 %
3) There will always be issues with your pay. I had to wait 5 months to receive my severance pay
4) Contracts change on a regular basis and mean absolutely nothing
5) You will be shouted at, yelled at, and treated like you are an alien
The best thing that happened to me was to leave this Horrible Place!!! If you want to be treated like an animal, this is the place for you!
Subject: SLP Gwanak-gu
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I would like to add SLP Gwanak-gu to the Blacklist.
I worked that this school for 8 months before I pulled a midnight run.
The pay was decent, 2.3 million won. We teacher were paid on time. We received Stubs with notices for "extra-fees" taken out every other week. When I asked about the money being taken out I was told is a security fee for the watchman. I was told that was necessary to pay the doorman a fee for keeping the lobby clean.
My head teacher that hired me was fired the 2nd week I was there. She recently changed the entire school curriculum to a new book series, and surprise as soon as she created the schedule and taught all the helper teachers how to use the books, she was fired. Her replacement, a brown nosing little shrew of a woman.
With the old head teacher gone, as did our collective contracts. The pay remanded the same. however we could not leave until until 30 minutes after our shift. (seems trivial I know, but its mostly just irritating) When I was hired I was told I could wear t-shirts, and shorts to work, well once again that was the old head teacher, The new head teacher attempted to make us where dress khakis and oxford shirts everyday. It was not until everyone of the foreign teachers banded together and put a stop to that. We still ended up having to compromise and never wear shorts, or sandals. (people I teach 4-10 year olds that throw kimchi at others for fun) how long would a nice pair of cloths last there?
I received a written warning which they required me to sign once they had given me the wrong set of books for a class. I ended up using the books for 2 months before I started noticing that these books were completely above there level.
I received another written warning a month later. A young boy in my class who picks his nose constantly developed a daily nosebleed from said picking of nose. I had the child go to the bathroom literally 3 meters from my door and pull tissue paper from the dispenser to hold on his face. I am called to the head office where I was shown footage of me sending the child to the bathroom with a "facial injury". After I explained to the owner of the hagwan and the head teacher what happened, they insisted that I sign a paper saying that I was guilty of not attending to a child's needs. I signed the paper as ZORRO, in cursive so they have no idea.
The last straw was when I was told that my teaching "style" is not helpful to the students. This comes after 3 months of the highest test scores in the school. I was once brought in and told that If I did not "fix" my teaching style I would be fined 500,000 per month. At this point in time I know that my number is up.
The school is doing its best to get under my skin and pay me less. I ended up booking a flight from my computer using my bank account from the United States, (the reason for this is that the school monitors our bank accounts, and if any transactions over 400,000 happen, the bank notifies SLP of the withdraw date time and place. Another teacher actually had his bank account frozen when he was sending home 1.5 million won a month back home.
By using the account in the United States They did not know that I had purchased the ticket for a one way trip home. I withdrew all 4.5 million won out of my account over a one month period in increments smaller than 300,000 won. (as not to raise suspicion). And as with any midnight run, I did not inform anyone that I was going to leave. I feel bad for leaving them to take my spot, but in all honesty I was going to be fired and possibly have my accounts frozen, trapping me in Korea.
It was a rainy morning when I left at 530, With a duffel bag on my back, my laptop bag wrapped in plastic, and my fedora soaking wet from the downpour. I knew when I saw the bus to Inchon roll up I was almost gone.
Subject: iSponge Yeonje Campus and Wiz Island (near Busan Nat'l University of Education) in Busan
Thursday, May 9, 2013 7:01 PM
I would like to add iSponge Yeonje Campus and Wiz Island (near Busan Nat'l University of Education) in Busan, South Korea to the black list.
The director of these hagwons, J***, fired me a month before my contract ended and refused to pay my severance and flight home.
Here's the story:
From the beginning of my contract, there were so many thing wrong with this school. The working hours were 9-6, however we were not allowed a lunch break. We were forced to serve, feed (if necessary), and clean up after our students during our lunch period. This was addressed continually to management to no avail.
We were also made to work an extra hour (3 days a month) phone teaching, for which we were not paid overtime.
I was told that I would get 10 days vacation time (5 days winter, 5 days summer). However, I was only given 3 work days summer/winter and the adjacent Saturday and Sunday.
The director blew me off for months when I asked for my pension and medical insurance to be paid. She finally paid my medical insurance 7 months late. 10 months after my start date she paid into my pension, but she told the National Pension Service that I made 1.3 mil instead of 2.1 mil. So when I went to the NPS to apply for my money half of it was missing because she had been paying a lesser amount while still taking the full amount from my paycheck every month.
After dealing with nearly a year of this, the director hired 2 new teachers. I told the new teachers the facts concerning how I had been treated, and the new teachers quit. She then fired me claiming I had given them a negative image of the school.
When I reported her to the labor commission, they called a meeting to negotiate terms. When I arrived, my boss had already been talking with the mediator/counselor and she appeared to be on my boss' side during the entire "discussion". They had already drawn up a contract offering me $500 to drop the case and forfeit my flight and severance. When I refused the offer several times, the counselor advised that I couldn't do anything further with my case. She stated that the Labor Commission would simply dismiss the case because my contract ended before their legal process would start.
Basically, this woman was the only negative thing about Korea for me. Stay far away from these schools and anything to do with this director. She is a lawless snake.
Subject: LCI Kids Club- Yeongtong Suwon
Tuesday, May 7, 2013 12:15 PM
The "Director" and his wife are the C***'s. I say that word loosely because he was an incompetent manipulative liar and didn't care about the children. Mr. C** does not have any people skills, all he does is smoke cigars in his office and watch all of the foreign teachers through CCTV (There are cameras in each classroom).
His wife Mrs. C*** was in charge of all of the classroom materials and the class schedule, the problem with that was that she didn't speak English! they owned the franchise for 6 years and she couldn't bother to learn the language! it was a complete joke, she would give you a fake smile and say "take care please" or "how about"...which was funny at first but just became annoying and a slap in the face.
There was a head teacher when I was there...she was a complete brown noser and fake with the foreign staff. Mrs. C*** loved her and would always compare everyone to her, the worse part was that this "head" teacher was doing private lessons in the afternoon and weekends (which was forbidden) she even left a school dinner early because she had plans...we eventually found out it was because she had a private to teach. If you are not well liked then they will give you extra work to do and definitely give differential treatment.
You are also told that you get some breaks throughout the day what they don't tell you is that they give you incredible amounts of busy work. Helping the older children with speeches, making up a dance and performance for kindergarten graduation, tutoring their kid for FREE all of this while you still need to write in memo books, write and grade tests and plan lessons.
He was also caught going into the teacher's apartments when they weren't there...he had extra keys and knew the codes for all of the apartments. My friend changed her code and when he found out he made up a lame excuse while she was teaching so he could get her code and go in there. They only hire young American or Canadian women, he said boys are too much trouble. He would get drunk at work dinners and start hitting on the staff saying "American women are so much prettier than Korean women" in front of his wife! but she had no idea what he was saying since she didn't know English.
He fired several foreign teachers without giving proper notice and lied to the other staff about why he let them go. The Korean staff didn't last more than 3 months at a time because he would berate them and yell at them in the lobby. Whenever it was pay day he was in a horrible mood and no one could speak to him, everyone tip toed around. It was a completely negative environment and I am so glad I left when I did.
You are basically his property and he has no boundaries, if you have an issue with his management style or want to talk to him he will avoid you at all costs and have his wife talk to you..which is completely ridiculous since she can't speak English! He drives in his Mercedes and she wears furs to work! all they want is to have foreign teachers that don't speak up and are worked to the ground. I honestly can't believe he is still in business and that women continue to work at LCI. I want to warn as many as I can so that they don't waste their time or go through the crap that I had to go through. Stay far far away from this place, when I was researching I found a bad review but I thought it can't possibly be that bad...I was wrong.
Subject: SOGANG LANGUAGE PROGRAM (SLP) – SEONGDONG: HAENGDANG-DONG, SEOUL
Friday, May 3, 2013 10:08 AM
If you take anything away from this review, I hope that it’s the conclusion that you should steer clear from all Korean hagwons. If you are absolutely determined to teach English in South Korea, trust me, take the job at the public school or university, no matter how much money that hagwon is taunting you with in their contract (and believe me, it’s not going to be much anyway). So if you don’t feel like reading a lengthy review, just heed my warning and stay away from the horrifying hagwons!!!
Okay, compared to a lot of stories I’ve heard from friends or read in other reviews about other hagwongs, Seongdong SLP could have been a lot worse. I considered myself lucky that I didn’t have to clean toilets and that I had an amazing group of co-workers that were (and still are) great friends and a much needed source of moral support. However, I always had to remind myself of the good things everyday or I would have gone crazy. Trust me, stay as far away as you can from this Hagwon! This place is too stressful, and I truly believe they mentally tortured us for their own entertainment.
I don’t even know where to begin describing all the horrible things about this place. This review is probably going to seem no different than any others-I’m going to talking about the poor conditions of the classrooms, the Nazi supervisors, the horrible teaching hours, and how they basically robbed me of over $1000 US dollars. Granted yes, they did pay for my plane ticket (round trip), they provided me with an amazing apartment (which I loved, but turned out to be way too expensive for me), and they did pay me overtime when I was entitled to it without me having to pester them, but honestly it wasn’t worth it.
First off, the classrooms, the TINY ass class rooms. There were twelve classrooms, and they were either spacious or super tiny. My classroom, of course, was super tiny. It was so tiny that the tables didn’t fit and I had permanent bruises on my legs from bumping into the tables and from students pushing their chairs into me by accident. Now I’m going to skip over the summer heat (and lack of air conditioning) and briefly mention the winter. While it was 5F (-15C) outside, my classroom would either be the same, or colder. I had to wear three layers under my coat and I was still freezing; my students never took their coats or anything off cause it was so cold, and I was amazed that it took over two weeks for a mother to finally realize the freezing conditions of the school and to complain. Point for the mother finally complaining about something useful, but minus twenty points for not suing the school. Seriously….
Now I’m going to mention the teaching hours. Your contract will say you’ll work 9:30am-6pm. HAHAHAHAHA, WRONG! I worked from 9:30am-7:10pm Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the only reason I agreed to this was because they let me get off work at 5pm Monday, Wednesday and Friday. However, it’s not worth it: I was tired all the time! Also, you get no breaks. I ate lunch with my students, but the deal was I didn’t have to teach an afternoon activity, which would be right after lunch. WRONG AGAIN! I would not only have to eat lunch with my students, but I would teach an afternoon activity two days a week. This meant that I was with the kids from 10am until about 4:30pm those two days with no break. It might not sound bad, but if you’re a teacher you’d know how exhausting it is to teach, and being around children that don’t understand you because they don’t speak your language makes it more exhausting. This is why I feel like I’ve aged ten years teaching here.
Last but not least, the money situation. I, and many others, believe this hagwon is broke and that is another reason why you should not work here. They control your paycheck so you have no idea what they’re taking out, and oh! Did I forget to mention that they don’t let you pay your bills? Nope, they don’t let you pay your bills because they don’t trust you to do it yourself. They said they would deduct the amount of the bills from your pay and use that money to pay it themselves but they don’t pay the bills either. Not only did they do this to me, but to a few others as well. One day I came back from the gym to find a lovely yellow notice on my door. I took a picture of it and sent the image to a Korean friend to translate it for me, and I found it was from the gas company informing me that if I didn’t pay my gas bill, it was going to be turned off. I found out the school had not paid my gas bill for ten months. That’s not even the best part; the next day they informed me they hadn’t been paying my internet bill for ten months as well. So what did they do? Instead of taking responsibility for this, they deducted over $800 from my pay. C***** always told us that we needed to think of the school, and we should do them favors, but I told her that day that I would never do a favor for the school because they never did a favor for me. It was not my fault my bills weren’t being paid because they wouldn’t even give me copies of them, or let me see them. My bills never got sent to my apartment, they were always sent to the school, so it was their fault. I feel they should have at least done me a favor and paid at LEAST $100 of it. But that would have been too much to ask…
And here comes the last story I’m going to tell, it’s about my lovely last paycheck and my severance. When it came time for me to leave, I was informed that I would get my last paycheck and my severance fifteen days after my last teaching day. I did not trust them with this, and I didn’t think it was fair to make me wait for my last paycheck since the teachers before me got it on their last day. Not to mention that my contract says I’m suppose to get paid the 10th of every month anyway, but whatever. I fought this, and I’m very happy I did, because it took them over fifteen days to give me my money because “I took a little more time to calculate all the necessary expenses from your salary , Sorry” (email from C*****). I got half my first paycheck my last day of work, thank god, but after nineteen days I emailed the school reminding them they were suppose to pay me my severance 14days after I left (it’s Korean law). I just find it funny that they sent my money the day I threatened to report them to the labor board. I’m telling you, these people are just stupid.
After all this, I didn’t even mention the fact that out of all the teachers, I was the only teacher without a computer on their desk. I was expected to write student evaluations, post test scores, and other things that involved a computer, so I would have to do it on someone else’s computer when they weren’t there. This doesn’t really sound inconvenient, but trust me-after ten months it was. I finally got a computer (after taking a laptop from a classroom and putting it on my desk) two months before I left.
One last thing, if you still decide to work here after reading this, I hope you enjoy cheap love motels because that’s where they’re going to make you stay for the first two weeks you work there. Enjoy :)!
Subject: E Bo Young Talking Club (Hadang Talking Club) in Mokpo, South Korea.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
I would like to add E Bo Young Talking Club (Hadang Talking Club) in Mokpo, South Korea. I spent 5 painful months working there before I quit. The director didn't pay the recruiter the fee, which should have been a red flag. I wasn't provided health insurance even though it said so in my contract. The apartment had black mold everywhere and I'm fairly certain that he was trying to cheat on the taxes coming out of my paycheck. I was never shown what was getting taken out of my paycheck even though I asked.
The environment at that hagwon is toxic. As the only foreign teacher there, I was only spoken to when they wanted to blame me or criticize me for something. As a new teacher, this completely broke my confidence. They just want a white robot to say "yes" and "no". The curriculum is a total joke. Its not even teaching, just memorizing random scripts. There are two korean teachers there who literally look beyond miserable all day and are constantly being scolded by the director. It is a soul sucking environment.
Don't try to call in sick. They hooked me up to an IV in the doctors office downstairs and the moment it was done I was forced to teach for 6 hours. I was also given a "strike" for being sick. Even though I taught all day. I hit my limit when the director screamed at me in front of children and the other co-teachers. Yelling and running around like crazy. This was after months of emotional and mental abuse. When I gave my 30 days notice, my boss flipped out, threatened me with a fake immigration document and said I had to leave Korea within a few days. I brought in a Korean friend to translate and he said that if I signed a contract saying I wouldn't talk about what happened at the school, he would let me stay in my apartment for 20 days and not cause problems with immigration. He refused the letter of release.. essentially making it impossible for me to find a job in Mokpo, this being such a small community. Since I would need a reference from him since all other employers wanted to know what I didnt have a release letter. He went back on his "contract" two days later, kicked me out of my apartment and told immigration that I "disappeared". All the while constantly threading to kick me out of Korea. I highly recommend not taking a job here! I spoke to the previous teachers and they all hated it as well. I was the first one to stand up to him and quit. There are better jobs in Korea! Avoid this place!
Subject: Winners Club English Academy in Daegu
Monday, April 29, 2013
I would like to add Winners Club English Academy in Daegu to the black list. This is a terrible place for anyone to work. This was my first job in Korea and this place has made my time here horrific.
They did absolutely nothing to help me get a phone plan, bank account, and "forgot" to apply for my alien registration card. They didn't file me with the pension office so as my contract is coming to an end, I find out that I have no pension that I was hoping to use while in America.
They tricked me into getting life insurance by telling me it was health insurance and only found out the truth after having a Korean friend read the contract.
They take strange amounts out of each months pay, but I never see a report of what's being taken out. The owners don't speak English well (& that's putting it nicely) so asking them any type of question is a huge debacle...they insist of bringing ALL (the 6) Korean teachers in to handle the situation.
They make me hand out flyers and be a 'monkey' for the company.
I don't want anyone to come over to Korea and work here.. It will make your time here miserable. I was lucky to meet people, but working in a secluded area with no other foreign teachers or other young English speakers is tough.
Subject: Chungdahm Institute, Geumcheon-gu and Anyang
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Chungdahm Learning Institute, located in Geumcheon-gu and Anyang
This is not an official Chungdahm Learning Institute. This is a franchise. As a teacher for this school, Chungdahm has no obligation to help you when you are not paid FOR MONTHS! The owner of this school has owned a hagwon previously, which failed, and now he has an unbelievable amount of debt. He pays this debt, by not paying his workers at either his Guemcheon-gu or Anyang branches.
Upon arriving at this school, the owner will try to make you work as many hours as possible for no extra pay. You should be ready to say “no.” When pay is late, he will try to butter you up and kindly ask you to be patient. Don’t be. If you remind him about your late pay, he will say “tomollow” or “nes week.” You’ll get next to nothing. When he owes you millions and you file a complaint with the Korean labor board, he’ll say “that doesn’t scare me. I’ll win in the end.” He’ll try to wait you out. Your lawsuit through the labor board will take at least a year after quitting, for you to get money…if you ever get any.
Although the other teachers and staff are friendly and working conditions are standard, there is a culture of people MANIPULATING each other to get favoritism and money from the owner. This school is heading nowhere good. Kind teachers should stay away!!!
Subject: Herald Academy in Samgyedong, Gimhae
Friday, April 19, 2013
I would like to add 'Herald Academy' in Samgyedong, Gimhae to the blacklist.
I will keep my reasoning for doing so short, but in a nutshell this is by far the worst, most intimidating, and depressing place I have ever worked in my life.
The boss, T*** L** continually uses intimidation and manipulation tactics to get his way. All the staff, including the Korean staff are scared of him and hate working for him.
He will send any foreign teacher to multiple schools, which is illegal, and over work you. You will get no training and are expected to work as a qualified teacher almost instantly. He will then continue to tell you that you are a waste of space, the worst employee he has ever had, and he doesn't care about you.
If you EVER try to disagree with him it will cause a massive argument which is not only incredibly scary (which he wants so you agree with him) but unnecessary.
Forget any manners you think the man should have as a human being, he is incredibly sexist and even speaks to his wife like a piece of dirt, so you can only imagine how he speaks to staff.
I tried to stay for a full year in Korea, but after 10 months I was forced to leave. This was mainly due to the fact that by the end of it I thought he was physically going to assault me. I was scared to go into work as I never knew what he would do next.
I really could write pages and pages about what he did but ... PLEASE DO YOURSELF A FAVOUR AND DON'T WORK HERE, it will 100% ruin what could be an amazing year working in Korea.
Subject: Willy Campus (Kid's Club) in Gwangmyeong
Sunday, April 7, 2013
I want to warn everyone about Willy Campus (Kid's Club) in Gwangmyeong.
Not only was I treated terribly (screamed and cursed at), but they kept 1 million won for recruiting fees. They made me come in to work when I had food poisoning (despite the fact I had to keep running out of the classroom).
Subject: ELC Ulsan
Sunday, March 17, 2013
Hello, I would really appreciate it if you'd add ELC Ulsan to the blacklist. The locations in Mugeodong, Samsandong and Taehwadong are all owned by S** J**** ***** and all of the foreigners were essentially not paid or not paid in full. I was paid late throughout the year because he claimed the school had no money. Parents continued to pay every month and he spends nothing on the school/school supplies so it would seem otherwise. He purposely seeks out inexperienced native teachers who do not know the ropes and ends up not paying them and ignoring them until they are just forced to go back home at their own expense. Do not work for ELC in Ulsan, as far as I know they are all run by him and multiple ELC locations have this problem.
Subject: Kiddie Kingdom Suseong-gu Korea
Thursday, March 7, 2013
I had the displeasure of working here over two years ago and can finally feel free to place this place on the black list. In a nutshell-don't work here. Trust me on this-I'm not going to go into too much detail, and descriptions of this shithole probably don't exist elsewhere out of threats given to former employees. Save yourself the trouble.... and do you REALLY want to place "KIDDIE KINGDOM" as a workplace on your resume? Just something to think about..
Subject: Haba Play School Songpa, Bangi Station Gang Sun Mi, Seoul
Date: Monday, February 18, 2013 10:47 PM
Haba Play School Songpa, Bangi Station Gang Sun Mi, Seoul
2nd floor haba play shcool
seoul songpa-gu ogeum dong
I think I could write a multi-chapter book as to why you or anyone you know or care about should never go near or work at haba play school songpa at bangi station. Here are a few reasons.
1.) March 1st, 2012 I arrived to Korea. With absolutely every trust in the recruiter I boarded the plane and she picked me up in her car, we arrived at my apartment, she took the first peek with the most nervous look turns to me says 'I'm soo sorry." I was walking into the box where I still lay my head and spend as little time as possible. The black mold infested apartment has had just about everything broken at one point. About 10-15 service guys in and out of there. A broken bathroom which was out of use for 5 days, a broken heater, broken air conditioner, and a broken washing machine that takes 2 hours to do one load.
They told me I would be arriving later than expected because the apartment was not available until the start of March, meaning I would be missing the proper training I was supposed to attend. So I arrive, throw me into the classroom, and told me that I would be attending the training in two weeks, give them some coloring or worksheets for now. UHHHH
So when I did attend the training (a 2 day course), I was only allowed to go on the Saturday as I wasn't allowed to miss the Friday at school in order to attend the training. So there I went Saturday in April for the training in bumblehoot Seoul to be told that I wasn't going to receive the certification because I needed to attend two consecutive days.
2.) Throughout the year, it has occured to me, that I would never ever let anyone I know work in this position. The management is stupid, but the worst management I have ever witnessed and experienced in my entire life. The boss does not speak a flick of English, as well as the 'head teacher' so leaving it up the one of the other English teachers to deal with everythingggg else in the school. 'Oh you don't know how to open a bank account?' 'Ohh you're new here' They must have thought I had previously been in Korea and had a clue what I was doing when I arrived. They were not prepared to help me in this country as I was the first teacher that was new to Korea when I came to work here.
My friend worked at a seperate Haba, located in Dongdaemun and recommended to work at the chain, as she had met my fake boss one before and said it was going to be a great job. She also recommended the recruiter that I went through, who also ended up backstabbing me and calling my boss on several occasions after telling me something and telling her another thing, making my boss cry and hate me even more.
3.) Not only was there no English support here, no one could even say 'hello' or 'goodbye' but I got sat down about 4 months in and told that I must say hello and goodbye to everyone and that it is very rude not to, although I have just now in my 11th month (now that everyone is leaving) hear an occasional hello and goodbye.
4.) There are currently 10 teachers here, 9 Koreans and me. 4 of us teach English (they also teach normal classes). I do not have a classroom, and have to carry the Grapeseed materials ( large cards and books from room to room). They originally offered me to have a classroom, but declined the offer. I have no where to keep any materials, let alone my purse. It is a struggle with the English teacher who is meant to help me where I can keep my jacket and purse each day. The little things that all build up.
There are also 9 teachers quitting. The 1 teacher that is staying came about 3 months ago and they added a new 3 - year- old class so they hired her on. Originally in March - May there were 10 people that quit for assistants and teachers variously throughout a 2 month period. It was a nightmare having to pick up for classes that didn't have teachers, and even as assistant to sit in on a class.
They also at this time asked me to ride in the carpool after school, after 6pm to take the children home. I knew this didn't seem right, aside from it being unpaid, so I asked my recruiter and she told me I was to tell them no, in case of an emergency I cannot speak Korean and have to talk to all the parents. I have a feeling had I been stupid enough to accept this, I would still be riding carpool unpaid overtime to this day.
5.) The food. If it isn't months old, it is old and moldy. I have photograph proof of the bushels of brown bananas she purchases after gone bad and feeds for breakfast the next morning. If there are leftovers, they are frozen until that dish is served the next month. The teachers all know this because there is a menu that is sent home monthly to the parents, and we know how often each dish is cooked. So if pasta for spaghetti once a month is frozen, then the same next month, it is possible the frozen pasta has been eaten for months and months... years? The cook knows that it is all wrong, but the boss is so cheap and tries to feed her family from the scraps. The oil that they used for frying things is also 6 months old. It has only been replaced once since I have worked here all year. And these are all proven facts.
6.) They also told me that they were going to record me for training for the new teachers. Take me, who was thrown into this place with absolutely no assistance and was not allowed to watch or observe anyone, and record me (even though I am not properly trained to teach the cirriculum), to show the new teachers so they don't have to pay for them to attend the new training.
I called the cirriculum company and they said it was infact illegal what they were doing under copyright concerns and will be in touch with the school when I leave so I do not have any issues.
7.) In the end of January there was a meeting with my boss, and english translator of course, to tell me that I was the most difficult foreigner they have ever encountered of 4 years of being open and they cannt believe the trouble I caused. Also told me that there have been multiple complaints (only one that I was aware of, by the crazy mother at the school), from parents all year and that she just covered up for me saying I was going to get better blah blah. Wouldn't a boss/owner of a school let her employee know that she was being complained about by the parents so that she could be aware and/or do something to improve. Lovely management. Wonder why 9 teachers are quitting. How strange.
8.) Late pay. After getting paid on time for 8 months straight, Christmas break came around and we were paid 2 weeks late, after we returned back to work in January she paid us. She did not show up until a week after... ta da with a new face! She got her entire face redone (typical for Korea), but on our dime, because she wasn't able to pay us on time.
9.) They have been interviewing foreigners for the English teacher position, and just 2 days ago, turned down a foreigner that works at the sister school.... because her hair was too curly. If that isn't low enough....
I do not know how to express the hatred for this place. It is a dirty disgusting sinful place I have called my 'job' for the past year. Among all the little daily things, these are main overall things that are wrong with this place. My recruiter asked if I had any recommendations for friends to take my position, and told them I would never let anyone work here, let alone the public. Which is why I am posting this here.
Subject: Wonderland (Gumi)/Chunglam Academy, Gumi
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 11:56 PM
I just finished my contract and didn't have too many problems, but a few things I must warn people before they work there.
1. They paid me cash instead of buying me a ticket. It was at least 300 dollars short and they refused to honor the contract which didn't have any purchase amount in it, or didn't have a date to buy the ticket.
2. The owners will make you work longer. Though you will work 30+ classes, expect 40+ hours. Correct books, help with speeches, teach kids during winter break, which means come in early and teach 2 extra classes. Even help tutor a friend of the family, or the boss. All for free.
3. There is terrible communication issues, nobody knows what goes on when. Things are always switched around and it is confusing. But when you end the contract the owners will bring up how lousy you were and don't deserve your money. Even though I had no knowledge of my work. They don't bring it up.
4. The owners are looking at you as money, not as a person. So, they don't care about your health, or if you are having problems. They will pawn it it off to the bosses.
5. Their business is struggling and they don't know how to talk to parents. The owners will actually walk around and monitor the classes to make sure nothing bad happens, but they are losing business because they talk badly to the parents. If though you don't meet high expectations they apparently will bring it up after you quit.
Not a terrible place but I doubt they will be financially set up to afford to pay people on time or at all. They have made one teacher pay for part of his ticket home before me, which I didn't know. Also, they didn't pay the teacher I replaced his severance.
Work there if you will, the Korean teachers and kids were great but if you don't want to get burned by the bosses or the owners I cannot warn you enough.
Subject: Uncle Sam's English in Jong hyun
Date: Sunday, January 6, 2013
Uncle Sam's English in Jong hyun, owned by J*** B*** and his wife is the absolute last place you want to work for. They never speak the truth, they break contracts, they don't listen to foreign teachers (except if they agree with them), foreign teachers are the cause of fany and every problem, and they are obessed with money--which trumps kindness or truth. Beware; you are now forewarned. They sell themselves as Christian--but their faith is hardly in evidence. They tried to get me deported for working for a competitor after they let me go. Ie, at USE one is a slave. Period. My predecessor warned me not to accept the job offer but I didn't believe her. I should have.
Subject: English Insight Academy, changed from Willy Campus, in Gwangju-si, Dopyeong ri, Gyeonggi province.
Date: Wednesday, January 2, 2013 6:02 PM
Wish I had better news but it looks like even despite taking down the post, my old boss still wont pay me nor return any emails, texts, or phone calls. At this point I am fed up and want to put him and his school back on blacklist. The school's new name is English Insight Academy, changed from Willy Campus. The director's name is K****. He has not only threatened not to pay me by putting this post up but blatantly said that he will take his time to pay me and doesn't care if I report him to labor board because he wont go to jail. Obviously I am not trying to jail him, I am just trying to get the money I deserve, and warn other foreigners not to work for this man. He is also not paying any other employees and is trying to open another school in Gwangju-si Geoyonggi-do province. Please help me to spread the word about his bad business behavior!
Subject: GnB English
Institute (BanSong) Campus, Chang-won City, South Korea
Date: Friday, January 4, 2013
Beware of GnB English Institute (BanSong) Campus, Chang-won City, South Korea
The director and his wife did not honor the contract with me.
Violating the terms of my E - 2 visa. They had me teach at another GnB campus owned by a different director. This was not written into my contract. I did not know I was doing anything illegal until the very end of my employment with them. My former recruiter S*** - * - M****, Eze English Consulting, Changwon City sat through out the contract negotiations talking in Korean to the director and wife at the GnB (BanSong) campus.
They were suppose to give me a written notice of six weeks if they wanted to let me go, which I never received from them. This was written into the contract. I was told verbally of being fired by another recruiter Aaron Seo, Eze English Consulting, after finishing my teaching duties at a fast food restaurant.
They tried to illegally to kick me out of my apartment when I refused to work at a different GnB owned by another director. They also tried to make me sign a piece of paper that would make me obligated to teach at the other school past my departure date that agreed by them, labor board and me.
When I refused to sign I was told to leave my apartment on Friday night after my last working day. I was also told that I would not get my pay for the previous month of November and part of December, or the extra money agreed by the Labor Board. I refuse to hand over my keys to my apartment.
I received only 45 minutes of training and orientation, before I started working for them. I was shown how to read the class schedule and what sections of the two workbooks (speaking and writing). I was also told by the former English teacher that I can teach the classes anyway I wanted to, which I found out later was a complete lie.
There were unannounced visits by a GnB company representatives coming into my classroom. I would not mind if I was told about this during contact negotiations and given a criteria what I would be evaluated on. I also did not find their nonconstructive criticism helpful like that I should make the class more fun or speak Korean considering this was my first job teaching children.
The director and his wife could not speak or understand English. Their secretary and part time teacher translated for them. If I wanted to get any messages across to them I had to go through her.
They told me that I had to learn Korean and socialize with the students during my break time between classes. I was never told about this until two and half months after working for them. I worked for this company for 3 months in case anyone wanted to know.
I am writing this review since this school is still mistreating other teachers even 4 years after I was fired from that place.
Subject: IStar Language Institute, Anyang, Seoul.
Thursday, December 27, 2012 3:05 AM
Only had one day of class observations before being thrown into full-time teaching (I had no previous teaching experience).
Within a week or so of arriving, I was threatened with being fired unless I signed an additional contract which stated that if any of my actions damaged the reputation of the Hagwon they were free to sue me for any damages or loss of income. They had a big talk with me about how important the image of the teachers was but never actually explained what I'd done wrong or why they suspected that I would damage the school's reputation at some point in the future.
Often teachers would teach 7 50 minute classes in a row without a break.
In addition to the 30 classes a week, teachers had many other duties. This resulted in teachers often not taking a break at all between 1.30 and 10 and often having to take work home.
In addition to the contracted 30 classes a week, teachers had to teach detention classes. This was not stated in the contract and was not considered to be "teaching hours" by the hagwon (even though you had to stay in the classroom with the detention students and give tests or help with homework). Teachers would have between 3-6 of these scheduled each week.
Teachers were threatened with having their wages docked if they were 2 minutes late. If they were over 30 minutes late they were told they had to work an additional day. There was nothing in the contract about sick days and I had to work through bronchitis and tonsilitis. At the end of my contract I had my damage deposit deducted for damages that were already in my apartment when I moved in. I personally fixed these damages (the apartment was in a better state when I moved out than when I moved in) to then be told that it hadn't been fixed well enough and they would need to hire somebody to do it. I was also charged for steam cleaning the floors which was never actually done (I kept in touch with the teacher who moved in).
New teachers had their confidence worn down and were made to feel ill-equipped for the job. Some teachers were reduced to tears.
There was an extremely high turnover of Korean teachers working at the hagwon. There were only 3 non-managerial korean teacher positions and throughout one year 10 different people filled these positions. It became quite irritating to have to make the effort to get to know new teachers every couple of months. It also reflects the poor working environment and morale of staff as korean teachers usually stay in their hagwons for years.
Subject: Miracle English School, Suseong-gu, Daegu.
Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2012
I would strongly recommend not accepting a contract at Miracle English School, Suseong-gu, Daegu. This is the second such report on this website, the other was posted on July 27, 2012. Unfortunately I only read this report after I had signed the contract and the flight was paid for, and after all, everyone is entitled to their opinion, I would have to experience it for myself.
Well, experience it I have, it is a terrible school, I feel completely psychologically bruised and beaten, and it has only been three months. Everything the previous person said is correct and much, much worse in reality than mere words can convey.
There are many issues but my biggest problem was that there are cameras and speakers in every room in the building, except the toilets. If they are not happy with a class the speaker will breakthrough and start reprimanding you in front of all the students, completely undermining any authority you might have. But the worst thing about it is you will be on a train or an elevator somewhere, and hear the distinct sound of a speaker being turned on and an announcement about to be made, and you expect to be berated for something. It affects you outside of work, you become acutely aware of that sound and the expectation it brings.
Like the previous teacher I got tired of this treatment and constantly feeling on edge, so I resigned. Initially he was very good about it and I was quite happy to disappear into the sunset and never think of Miracle English School again. But the other night I was summoned over the speaker to come down for a meeting, I thought that it would just be a routine chat about me finishing up. He went crazy, he said a lesson of mine had been observed the day before and it was very bad, I was a bad teacher, and so on (mind you he waited until after I had taught my 6 lessons that day), I couldn’t get a word in edgeways, always cutting me off as I tried to defend myself. After getting over the shock of it I calmed down, but he continued his very personal and abusive tirade for probably 20 minutes. It was completely unpredictable, irrational and illogical, which I think is a very good description of the school in general.
They are fortunate enough to have two very good foreign teachers working there at the moment who signed their contracts before the original report was posted. However, they have had enormous trouble trying to recruit anyone else because of that first report. If this report does anything I hope that it reinforces everything the first report said, and if anyone is still considering going there, don’t, it really isn’t worth it.
It is a shame, there are some very nice people there, and the students are lovely, but everyone walks around in fear and awe of the ‘Manager Teacher’, and that is exactly how he likes to run his school, through fear and intimidation. His name is very similar to a former North Korean dictator and that is not where the similarity ends. Be aware, they have opened up a new school in a place called Chilgok in North Daegu, it is the same people, the use of cameras and speakers appears even more comprehensive at this school.
Subject: Centum ILS (International Language School) in Busan, Centum City
Date: Tuesday, November 26, 2012
The school is in Centum ILS (International Language School) in Busan, Centum City. The director is Mr. Baek. I was fired within 3 weeks of my contract ending to avoid paying severance and flight money. They gave me no warning, kept asserting I was a bad teacher, but could not point out any reasons why. They lied to my face when I asked specifically about my flight and severance, saying I was 100% going to get it. They constantly watched all of the teachers and talked down to us, often saying we were lazy when every break we were doing prep, report cards, phone counseling, lesson plans, syllabi, and grading, and sometimes had to take work home or come early/stay late just to finish it. My Korean coteacher was also fired around the same time and they blamed her for all of the school's problems, saying she spread negativity to the other teachers when we were all speaking poorly since we were miserable. It's very telling that since the management changed 2 years ago, NO ONE has renewed a contract.
All assistant directors have quit before their contract ended, 2 sets of Korean teachers quit (all 3 would quit around the same time and that happened twice), 4 foreign teachers have quit, and one teacher quit after working for a day. Those who were able to finish their contract also have nothing good to say about the school, and it has a bad reputation among parents in the Centum area.
I went to the labor board and immigration with Korean friends but of course every person we encountered said it wasn't their job to help me and they wouldn't side with a foreigner over a Korean. They suggested I take him to court but it would've been costly, possibly ineffective, and I would have to stay for who knows how long. Luckily, I was able to get 1.5 million after my boss and I had a meeting at the labor board, but that was only partially the money I was owed with my last paycheck, not even flight or severance.
Subject: Harrisco, En-co, in Uijeongbu Korea
Date: November 26, 2012
This place is not actually a hagwon, but they hire people on teacher visas, which I imagine is illegal. It attracts much of the hagwon crowd since they advertise jobs on some of the ESL sites. They are an editing company for academic research papers, mostly science and engineering. The job is really tempting because the pay is much higher than most teaching jobs but:
-The pay is NEVER on time, sometimes over a month late, and you never know when or how much you'll be paid
-They have demanded a lot of unpaid/ illegal over time
-They haven't been paying pension/ health insurance
-There have been issues with sexual harassment and violence in the office
-The apartments are tiny, in some cases inhumanely so
-Constantly making promises that they fail to keep regarding pay and other conditions
Don't be tempted by the high paycheck, the owner is a shady guy and can't be trusted!
Subject: Gwanak POLY school, Gwanak, Seoul
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2012
Hi everyone! If you’ve reached this page it means you’ve done your research about teaching in Korea. I’m assuming a recruiter has said “Hey, POLY is a great place! You should there.” Well before you sign the contract I’d like to inform you all about my experience working at Gwanak POLY. I have been in Korea for 4 years and have worked in variety of different places. I can hands down tell you POLY has been the worst place I have every worked. Please do not work here. You will deeply regret it. First are the working hours. Expect to work 50 hours a week. The average work day is 9:00- 7:00. You might think it’s not so bad, however throughout the week you only receive one break a day. Because we finish so late this means the foreign teachers usually have to run their personal errands (bank, post office, doctor visits) during your breaks, lunch or your prep periods. Teaching 8 to 9 classes a day is incredibly demanding. On top of that, the teachers have to grade homework for all your classes daily. It’s a nightmare. You are just exhausted by the end of the day.
Second is the health insurance or … more appropriately “health insurance”. POLY claims they provide a private health insurance in which the teachers pay 50,000 won monthly out of their paycheck. However, I never received any sort of verification that I was even covered. This means every time I went to the doctor I needed to pay in full and save the receipts. The school will reimburse me half of the bill, however comparing to the Nat’l Health Plan this is a joke. The school doesn’t provide any sick days. While working there one coworker had to go to the emergency room and another coworker had surgery. Both missed two days of work. Both were docked pay for time missed.
Next, I’d like to talk about the quality of education… Poly is supposed to give entrances exams to potential new students. Students must get a good score in order to be accepted into the POLY program. Gwanak POLY has consistently accepted students with lower scores. As a result teacher need to teach higher level or curriculum to these lower level students. This enviably results in lower test scores. So with this the Gwanak POLY consistently scores lower compared to other POLY campuses. This information is well known among the parents so naturally they blame the teachers for a low scores.
Lastly, let’s discuss the professional integrity. First and foremost you should know about N****. She’s the owner of the school. She is not a good person. She treats the all of the teachers both foreign and Korean like they are worthless. She seems to enjoy belittling and demean her employees. She’ll be your best friend to your face then completely backstab you to other teachers and parents. The operation at POLY is fully of shady ethics. I already mentioned the questionable health insurance. Other coworkers have been docked pay for watching videos in class or falling behind in lesson plans. At the end of the contract each employee receives a small severance bonus. However this amount is then taxed with your final paycheck resulting in about 1/3 of it getting taken away. Under Korean law your severance pay should not be taxed. The school has 3 other administrators to act as curriculum coordinators or vice directors. In reality their job is to tell the foreign teachers when they’ve messed up, which apparently happens daily. Not only does one person do this but each administrator will make their rounds tell the foreign teachers the mistakes they have made… picture Office Space. Nicole and the other admins are notorious for watching your classes through the little nanny cam mounted in classrooms. The classes are also bugged so they can hear everything that happens. They say these are for the protection of the teachers from the students. However they only use this to their advantage. Because of the long working days the teachers are pretty tired by the end of the day. The teachers like to sit down while in the class. Nicole used these cameras to see which teachers were sitting at the end of the day. They were all brought into her office to get chewed out. With actions likes these it’s no wonder why 4 people quit in one year.
If you are offered a contract from POLY please please please do not sign it. You should enjoy your time teaching abroad. Have fun and have a social life. Get to know the people and the culture. Working for POLY will not give you any of this. Korea is a wonderful place to live and work. Don’t let the school ruin your experience. Stay clear of POLY.
Subject: Avalon -Gumi
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2012
The hagwon owner's name is S****, and she's pretty crazy. She runs around screeching and reprimanding teachers for most of the working day. She is also usually spying on people we know for a fact she (or her husband) goes in to your apartment when you are not there. One teacher even told me she was caught going through teachers bags and phones to check their messages when they aren't in the room.
She basically ignored the contract we signed and decided to change our working hours, making them longer and at different times of the day in different schools.
She's generally quite a nasty piece of work and I would recommend against working at this school.
Subject: ILS International Language School -Yongho Dong / Kyungsung Busan
Date: Saturday, October 20, 2012
Reason for blacklisting: Firing teachers near the end of their contract. They have two foreign English teachers working at any one time. One of these is their constant, the other they see as being able to fire as they see fit regardless of contract.
These guys are obsessed with firing, the number of Korean teachers they go through is astounding. Every week there are a new bunch of teachers entirely different from the last. I can only think they are too comfortable with the firing process, as after doing some digging with past teachers I found they have a pretty shady reputation with their previous foreign teachers. Alarm bells should have rang when I went to work on my first day there, and I met the foreign teacher I was replacing, he hadn't even been given a days notice.
The reason for them letting me go was nonsensical and absurd. Apparently I wasn't integrated enough in to Korean life, and they weren't happy with the way I hadn't inquired about a timetable change. The timetable changes daily, so this excuse is completely unreasonable.
There are the usual other grievances like with most Hagwons as well; awful communication, telling you one thing and then getting angry because you should be doing the other, an incredibly overbearing
Korean superviser, screwing around with your holiday so you don't get any. They also go through phases of hounding you to death, opening your door mid lesson and shouting at you, giving you feedback lessons where they shout and shake their heads a lot, and spy on you constantly. While these reasons on their own aren't good enough to blacklist, if you take these into account with being fire prematurely to avoid bonus pay, it's clear there are much better jobs out there where you will get treated with respect.
Subject: Chungdham Learning Schools in Wonju
Date: Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Chungdham Learning Schools are the absolute worst in Korea. This is not an exaggeration.
Anyone who attends them that has anything positive to say will soon regret it. Or any positive output will be a public relations exercise - people being paid to to say positive things about the school.
In my case, A recruiter sent me to Chungdahm in Wonju, and the Chungdahm Branch Manager didn't know anything about how to begin arranging an E2 Visa, so the recruiter did all the work - driving me to the Immigration office in another province, paying administration fees etc.
Chungdahm made me think I had a position with them. They told me I had to attend a training course first before starting the new position. This sounds straightforward and legitimate right? WRONG!!!
What they don't tell you (until after you arrive at their Head Office in Korea) is that you have to pass their tests as part of the training course. The training course is some online 2 hour tests (which you have to pass), followed by 1 week of classroom training, and 1 week of in-class training at the location.
But the classroom training is not taught by professional teachers. Far from it. One guy was an ex-bouncer, the other guy may not have had any previous experience at all. They are just guys there to do the least amount of instruction and collect their paycheque.
They expect you to study and memorize some ridiculous and useless material (for example -when Chungdahm was accepted on the stock market, and the fact the CEO actually and grudgingly had to teach a class when Chungdahm first started)
The classroom instructors (if they can be called that) require you to 'mock' teach in a mindless pattern that can't be veered from. If you don't do it exactly the way they want - with no improvisation or creativity of your own - then you fail your mock teaching. Of course, the students are completely bored to tears by this robotic teaching method.
They also use incorrect English phrases as lingo (like the word 'chunks' to describe a learning section) which confused everyone because it wasn't explained by anyone at all. They even had the audacity to show a clip of Bill Gates talking about high-quality teaching styles in one of their training videos in an attempt to try to associate themselves as following Bill Gates recommendations. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was all just a public relations exercise.
The Chungdahm instructors and staff truly don't care about your well being at all. I was expected to share a hotel room for a week with a complete stranger. When I objected to that for obvious safety reasons, I had to pay for half the cost of my own hotel room ($200.00) which was not re-imbursed.
I spent the second week of training at the Wonju location teaching bored to tears kids with the soon-to-be-leaving teacher assessing me. He was an incompetent jerk who talked down and criticized the kids when they asked questions because they didn't understand the material. He told me (after he had a discreet meeting with the Branch Manager) that I had failed the mock teachings at the Seoul head office and also failed and the two written tests (even though I got 10 out of 10 on one of them)
I was also told that I couldn't continue the training in his class, and that there was no point in me continuing the training in any other instructors class.
I was basicaly left to 'die'.
I was not paid for the training time, didn't receive my airfare (as promised) didn't receive my housing allowance, and wasn't reimbursed for my hotel expenses.
I lost my phone, internet access, housing, and food, and had to survive like an animal stranded in Korea with no way to afford a plane ticket home. And my E2 Visa was under the Chungdahm school preventing me from working in another teaching position.
So why did all this happen?
The real behind why this happened is because the Wonju Branch Manager didn't want to pay the Recruiter's Fee for hiring me when they could get someone else for free from their Head Office in Seoul. As of this writing the recruiter has threatened a lawsuit against them.
I might add that anyone with teaching experience was 'failed' in the training program, while those with no teaching experience were 'passed'. There is no actual merit to the tests. It's all about who they think they can pay the least and manipulate the most e.g.- the recent University graduate with huge loans to pay off
Chungdahm is the most dishonest and corrupt school I have ever encountered in the 3 years I've been in Korea, and I am not an inexperienced teacher: I've won an award from my last schoo,l and my students have won the Ban Ki Moon Speaking contest 3 years in a row because of my direct teachings and counselling. I also hold a Private Investigators license and know how to discern facts from fiction.
As of this writing, the Chungdahm Branch Manager has been forced to meet me at the Labor Board and has offered to pay me off for not suing them.
I'm not sure whether to accept their offer or not.
The bottom line is this - STAY AWAY FROM CHUNGDAHM LEARNING
They are the most corrupt and unethical school in Korea.
If North Korea ever attacks, I truly hope Chungdahm Learning's Head Office happens to be one of their targets.
Subject: E Bo Young Talking Club in Yeosu, singi-dong branch
Date: Saturday, October 6, 2012
I am teaching at the E Bo Young Talking Club in Yeosu, singi-dong branch. It has been open for a little over a year and every position has turned over at least twice. It is a soul-sucking environment that no one should be subjected to. There is another Talking Club branch in Yeosu that I hear is excellent to work for, so please don't blacklist both.
Subject: Jongro M School in Incheon
Date: Monday, September 24, 2012 Monday, September 24, 2012 3:58 AM
Jongro M School in Incheon offered me a job, I sent my visa documents over to my recruiter in Korea (notarisation/apostillation acquired at considerable expense), then they decided they would employ somebody else instead who was already in Korea (presumably to avoid paying an airfare), despite me already signing the contract and sending it over to Korea. I thought it would be best to raise this issue as if this is how they treat people who aren't even working for them, who knows how they treat you when you get there. Approach with caution.
Subject: Seoul Gwanak POLY School
Date: Monday, September 17, 2012 3:42 AM
I would like to tell of my experiences working at the Gwanak POLY School. As soon as I arrived in the country they wanted me to sign a new contract with longer working hours and no raise in pay. I worked my first month and a half and only received a half months pay. Every month they take out 70-80$ for a forced savings plan that is not discussed in the contract. You will only receive a half a months pay for severance pay. I have never gotten health insurance, they say I have it and I pay into it every month but when I go to the doctors they tell me to pay the full bill and the school then pays me back for half the cost, this is not insurance this is the school taking 40$ a month and then paying half the bill if you go to the doctor, which wont happen because you get 0 sick days for the full year. At POLY you will work 50-55 hours a week and teach 30-33 hours a week. It is brutal. The pay after taxes and fees only come slightly above 2million won so its almost x3 the work for an extra 100$. The office is very disrespectful and very condescending to foreign staff. They hire teachers who do not have visas and tell them to not worry about it they cant get in trouble, which is a lie. Overall it is a terrible place to work and you would be much better off finding a different school with about 1/3 the work hours for 100$ less pay. The director ****** does not know how to treat her employees.
Subject: Fortian school in Mokdong, Seoul
Date: Monday, September 10, 2012 6:23 AM
Please blacklist Fortian school in Mokdong, Seoul and its owner Z*** K*** (Korean name K*** *** J***). He will lie and cheat you every possibility he gets. Your contract says you get a single apartment, but you move in and guess what? You have to share. Then your first paycheck comes and surprise! You are on training pay but he "forgot" to put that in your contract. Do you think your one year contract is only for one year? Guess again. It's for as long as he wants. And, don't you know he's really going to screw you on your last paycheck when you aren't around to do anything about it! AVOID FORTIAN AND THE LYING STEALING OWNER AT ALL COSTS!
Subject: E Bo Young Hagwon, in Shin Bang Dong, Cheonan
Date: Thursday, August 23, 2012 12:33 AM
A co teacher and I worked at E Bo Young Hagwon, in Shin Bang Dong, Cheonan, for 10 months before being fired.
Why, you may ask, we ask ourselves the same question…
Here are a few of the problems we encountered:
• We arrived in South Korea October 17, 2012, started working the next day, but our contract start date was written as November 2, 2012…
• We worked from 1pm-9pm, Monday to Friday, with one 10 minute break…
• Found out that we were never given insurance and hence no pension…
• Didn’t take one sick day. The one day my director took me to a doctor and drove me straight back to school…
• In June the director said he was moving to the USA and said not to worry because whoever buys the Hagwon will continue our contracts…
• In July asked for the key to our apartment because he was liquidating his assets but not to worry because whoever buys it will rent it to us…
• In July asked us if we were interested in buying the Hagwon…
• In August told us that money was a problem and that he might have to take out a loan to pay our severance and buy our return airfares on his credit card…
So, as I’m sure you can understand, we started to stress a little.
In a meeting on Tuesday 21st August 2012, we were asked why we were unhappy and we mentioned a few things from the list above, his reaction was to stand up, punch the wall 5 times and tell us to ‘get the fuck out of his school’ and that ‘we were fucking fired’!
Having previous experience with his temper, we packed up our things and left. An hour later we got a text message telling us to move out of the school apartment by that evening. Thank goodness for friends as we managed to pack up and move out in time.
We texted him to tell him that we were out the apartment and would come by the school the next day to drop the apartment key and cellphone, and would he please have our letters of release. We received a text the next morning asking what time we were coming and that he only wanted to see one of us, not both.
I arrived at the school and was asked to hand over the key and cellphone. I asked if he had our release letters. He told me that he was not giving them to us. After pleading not to fight and just end this amicably he told me to give him his stuff or he was calling the police. I told him I was calling immigration and The Labor Board, and left!
To end, we had to go to immigration, apply for a D10 visa, which negates our current visa, allows us to stay in Korea and look for another job.
Stay away from this Hagwon and perhaps ALL E Bo Young Hagwons, we have heard that they wish to have the largest franchise in South Korea, so sell the ‘rights to the name’ to any Tom, Dick or Harry!
Subject: Poly Bundang, Jeongja
Date: Monday, August 20, 2012 8:02 AM
I'd like to black list a school. I used to work at Poly Bundang, which is in Jeongja. I have worked in Korea for 3 years now, and this was by far the worst Hagwon I have ever worked for. They simply fired me for no apparent reason, as well as teaching other foreign teachers badly. A few weeks after I left and found a new position the Director (Ms. A***) hired her brother to be the academic coordinator. He ended up hitting one of the teachers a few weeks into the job. I would not recommend this school at all. What makes it worse is the Poly regional director is at the school and just sits back doing nothing watching a lot of terrible things happen at this location. My advice is don't bother. It's not worth the headache and frustration!
Subject: Miracle English School, Suseong-gu, Daegu, South Korea
Date: Friday, July 27, 2012 2:55 AM
I have been compelled to warn people about this Hagwon in Daegu. When I was looking at taking the teaching job at this school, there was no foreign teacher available to talk to at the time and the agency I used (Teach Travel Asia) is supposed to be reputable so I accepted the position. My google search on the school yielded no response or hits on any blacklist. My hope is that this warning would save some other person the same fate.
For the first 2 months of the contract, things were fine, but then things started to change. In the long 5 months that I was there, 3 Korean teachers left and 2 foreign teachers came and left. I also found out that the previous foreign teachers there only stuck around for only a few months as well. The work load started to increase. You are then told to perform monthly lesson plans in advance, daily evaluation reports for each student, voice recordings for vocabulary, video recordings and comprehension questions for storybooks (even for books you are not teaching) when there are in fact not enough hours in the day to perform all the work. Then if they are unsatisfied with your effort (even if you are doing your best) you will be called into a meeting and shouted at while this is all on camera of course. Yes, there are camera's, microphones and speakers in every classroom so be prepared for them to reprimand you over the speaker while you are in the middle of giving a class.
All in all, a very unprofessional environment to work in. Also, don't expect your contract to be worth the paper it is written on. With regard to leave, you will be required to take it only at the end of the contract and they want to count Saturdays as a leave day?
When finally, I had enough of being overworked like a slave and treated inhumanely, I decided to resign. Still trying to honor the contract and not just skipping town, I still provided 60 days notice that I would be leaving to give them enough time to find a replacement teacher. That meant nothing to them and they fired me giving me 3 days notice. This was because he wanted to kick me out before the 6 month point so that he could deduct the initial airfare and a host of other things from my last paycheck and basically robbing me blind.
I was not going to stick around and don't have the know-how or time to waste fighting this school with a lawyer, so just glad to be out of there.
So I hope that this post warns somebody about this terrible school.
Subject: Ybm playschool in Incheon
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Ybm playschool in Incheon south korea is pretty terrible. It's a kindergarden but they also expect you to do trash and stay later than your shift. Your heating bills will be over a 1000 dollars more in winter than anyone else in korea and they will shrug their shoulders about it. You'll work long hours, have hardly any lunch breaks, and the boss is completely without compassion. She manipulates the contract in any way that suits her. I landed in korea at 5 or 6 in the morning and was made to work the same day. They help with nothing, I couldn't even get an home address that worked until 6 months into my stay.
Subject: ULSAN- KIDS HARVARD (SAE ) KINDERGARTEN, SamSanDong
Date: Thursday, July 19, 2012 1:38 AM
Next week Im leaving my job at Kids Havard English school in SamSanDong. The insane owner Ive posted about before has plans to get rid of me 3 months early / Ive decided to leave after no medical.. and no guarantee of severance or flight plus and an uncomfortable and hostile work environment which I cant stand anymore. She wants me to leave so she can "save" money and apparently she never signed my contract in the first place... ummm what?!
Anyways, I just want to let everyone know SHE IS LOOKING FOR A PART TIME TEACHER to keep the school open. PLEASE PLEASE do not work there...Im telling you. She ruined everything and none of the korean teachers are happy but they put up with it anyways and have decided to stay.
The school is located on a main street parallel to the one Cima Bar is on. It looks nice like a castle.. the perfect place to work at, but dont be decieved by appearences. You've been warned :)
Subject: Maple Native English, Dadae-po, Busan, South Korea
Date: Wednesday, July 18, 2012 11:44 AM
DO NOT WORK HERE. YOU WILL BE A SERVANT, NOT A TEACHER. My wife and I accepted this position with high hopes and lots of energy, and we left feeling empty and discouraged. They put on a good show for the first month or so, and then everything went downhill from there. After a month we were told that we are now janitors also, and that we need to clean the classrooms and bathrooms on a daily basis. We were already swamped with creating their curriculum for them only to have a line added so they could say that they did all the work. We accepted this and continued to do our best. We were then told that we had to work weekends. We had no choice, so we did this also. We were told that we would be paid for this, but we never were. We had daily meetings that went nowhere, and were told that we weren’t doing enough. We worked 1:50pm – 10:00 M-F no exceptions. The owner/investor held a meeting after about 2 ½ months, and told us that any Korean that is in our building is our boss. This included a 22 year old daughter of the director/principal who has no life experience let alone teaching experience and an emotional and mental capacity of a 15 year old. I was then pulled into a meeting the following day where I was yelled at for about 40 minutes after my wife had been yelled for about an hour days prior for not grading papers with a red crayon! Our vice principal who was great was stripped of his responsibilities and told that he could no longer be our friend, so we basically had a school that was run by a spoiled child who had no idea what she was doing. On the website they lie and say that she has a bachelor’s degree.
When bringing up any concerns we had with the students we were always given a BS answer. I was told that the school is not about what is good for the students as long as we are making money. Discipline was nonexistent. We had students that would curse in class and make racist remarks only to be told that that is the way Korean students are. According to the principal racist remarks and cursing are okay because the students work so hard? She actually laughed in my face when I expressed my concerns!
They threw a lot of money into advertising, the building, and fancy looking books, but past that they had no plan as to what to do. The director has no faith in westerners and treated us like servants. I have a bachelor degree in Middle Childhood Education and my wife has her Juris Doctorate (32 and 27 years old), but this meant nothing. The will tell you to do a variety of different tasks and then either tell you they never told you to do them or to do something completely different. No matter how well you do, it will never be good enough.
Subject: Namcheon Avalon English Academy - Busan
Date: Sunday, July 15, 2012 10:14 AM
I was hired at the Namcheon branch of Avalon in Busan, which is quite close to the beaches in downtown Busan. I had worked the previous year for fifteen months in Jeonju at another hagwon, so I was by no means new to the Korean academy experience. Between jobs, I had gone to Thailand and earned myself a TESOL certificate, so I had fifteen months ESL experience in Korea, a teaching certificate, and I’d tutored English and French in the States for about eighteen months before coming to Korea. At my previous academy in Jeonju, I’d never had any problems with the director, other teachers, or students and I’d been given a fantastic letter of recommendation from that school’s director.
Upon arrival at Avalon, I was put up in a really nice five-star hotel in downtown Busan since the apartments weren’t yet ready. That was the nicest thing that happened to me in my experience with Avalon. My apartment hadn’t been cleaned in years; this is not an exaggeration. The Internet did not work, the shower did not drain, and there was black (toxic) mold all over the walls. I am particularly allergic to black mold and so got very sick throughout my two months at the school with dizzy spells, a cold, and finally an upper respiratory infection in which I was coughing up blood and had to go to the ER. I am sure this was used against me in my dismissal. It took almost a month to get these problems sorted out with my apartment and even then, new wallpaper was just put up over the mold, so the problem was not actually fixed, which is why I continued to get sick.
Less than two months after I began teaching at Namcheon Avalon, I was called into the director’s office and informed through the translator (the director did not speak English well enough to communicate without one) that I was being let go. I had never been written up or spoken to about any issues with my classes. He said that he did not like my teaching style, I was too different from the other teachers, and my classroom management was poor. The one class he was using against me for citing classroom management was a 75-minute uninterrupted kindergarten class and he was irked that the six and seven year old students were not staying in their seats the entire time. (In what universe is THAT going to happen?)
In addition, I had never received any training in what Avalon expected of their teachers. I observed no classes and was given no materials to read over. My first week at the academy in Jeonju, I had observed and been trained for an entire week and was occasionally observed by other teachers and given constructive criticism. At this Avalon, the director sits in his office watching the CCTV videos and jacks up the poor quality volume to watch how teachers are doing. Not only does he not understand enough English to know what is being taught and how, but he has no background in education and has never taught before.
When my head foreign teacher came into the office and figured out what was going on (he had not been told), he defended me saying that I had signed a contract and I needed to receive written warnings before any firings and protocol was not being followed. The director said that we were just going to “ignore the contract” and I needed to find a new job because he didn’t like my style. He refused to go into detail about what exactly was wrong with my style and would not translate or go over what the Korean notes written on the whiteboard were concerning me as a teacher. I was given no notice, no inkling that I was doing anything wrong or unapproved. He also threatened that if I did not leave peacefully, he would go to the Labor Board and make things up about me to get me to leave. Basically, he would get rid of me one way or another. Yet even with how terrible of a teacher I was in his opinion, he wanted me to stay on until spring term finished at the end of May.
Two days later, all of us foreign teachers figured out what had really happened, which also explained why he wanted me to stay on for another six weeks. My style was not the issue nor even me as a teacher. Avalon is run on three-month terms and the director had one spot opening up in June for the beginning of summer term. There was a couple from Canada who had taught at Avalon previously, were certified teachers in Canada, and had majored in either Education or English at university. He wanted to hire them as they were more qualified and so decided to open up another spot since they would not come separately from each other, even by a month or two. This is now confirmed as they are both teaching at the school.
If he had been honest from the beginning, I may have been inclined to find another job, but he made up baseless facts and opinions about me as a teacher. This affected me personally as I nearly went home and gave up completely on being an English teacher whereas in all of my experiences, I have been told that I’m great with kids and with teaching English. I would warn everyone to stay away from this hagwon. It was a terrible experience I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
Subject: Kids College Yeongdeungpo, Mullae, Seoul
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2012
Kids College Yeongdeungpo was nothing but a series of lies from the time of the phone interview until my departure. The school will seem nice, your interviewer will be polite but about after a week of false pleasantries it all starts to come out of the glass closet.
Upon my arrival I was given no choice but to take more hours of classes than I had agreed to on signing my contract. Even though they paid me more, and at first they wanted to pay nothing more than a pittance, it wasn't worth the mental anguish and physical burden. The employers will keep you at the school forcibly, even when you don't have classes. Also you will be working the full 30 hours. Most hagwons don't work their teachers this way, but Kids College will. This being said, be prepared to teach 9 classes a day. On top of that they will also claim that the staff is lazy. They will threaten, lie, and coerce employees to do their bidding. Also they will appease the parents in any way possible meaning that they will terminate your employment with even just one complaint. This is a common method used by the school, and within my time there (no more than a few months) saw no less than five employees be dismissed. If they don't terminate you they will simply tell you to change everything for the sake of the parent. This is extremely evident when report time comes around. The school will not permit teachers to write any opinion based comments or negatively seen wording on reports because of parental backlash. Furthermore they will insist that you write a ridiculous amount of "positive" comments.
If you don't mind extremely long hours, 9 1/2 hour days, no support, guidance, or few work materials, then this school is for you. If you don't care about having a positive work environment, or feeling frightened with every decision you make, again this school is for you.
Subject: Avalon English Academy, Ding Ding Dang or Reading Town (Same owners and building) in Gumi City
Date: Saturday, June 23, 2012 3:09 AM
Do not work at Avalon English Academy, Ding Ding Dang or Reading Town in Gumi City, South Korea. These schools are all run by the same people, and are in the same building. Do not work at any of them. I even emailed the Avalon corporate office, but even they don’t care and I never got a reply, so Avalon in general is suspect.
Advice for getting a good school is at the end.
To give an idea, while I was there from 25 November 2011 to 10 March 2012, at least 12 employees left or were fired, over 9 foreign. They: fire people if requested to follow the contract, do not give letters of release to allow working at other schools if forced to leave, force you to work extra hours, don’t pay the medical insurance and pension even though they take the money, yell at staff when there is problems and do not resolve anything, withhold money every month, fire employees before their contract ends, don’t pay the end of year bonus or flight home, sue employees who quit and stay in country, spy on employees both at work and at the apartments when we are not there, have been fined by the Korean government multiple times. Do not work at any of these schools. I thought that it would not happen to me, but it did. I had to leave without notice because the treatment there is unacceptable. In Gumi, the school is notorious for being a terrible school. It is notorious and well known for being a terrible school in Gumi. I met previous teachers who worked for them 10 years ago with the same problems.
Overall I liked my experience in Korea and the people, as I did travel there after I left. I would have no problem working in Korea again. If I did it again, I would not take any job that starts immediately, and would ensure that I talked to the teacher I was replacing on Skype when they are alone, and at least one former teacher. Read between the lines. If the school does not allow this, then move on to the next one. Look through your contract carefully, and resolve any conflicts before going there, and ensure everything is clear. If there are too many issues in the contract, move on. I met many other teachers, and would say that about 50-70 percent have decent schools, with about 30-50 percent with intolerable schools. If you contact the teachers, look through the contract, and take a job has non-hasty start date, you will have a MUCH higher chance of it being a great year. All the best.
Subject: Evada Returnee School, in Jukjeon of Yongin
Date: Thursday, June 7, 2012 2:38 AM
I would like to add another school to the list of hagwons that should be avoided by English teachers.
I arrived in South Korea to join my boyfriend in a couples position to a school called Evada Returnee School, in Jukjeon of Yongin. It is located on the main thoroughfare of Jukjeon-ro, and will likely be listed as a Bundang position. The immediate overseer of the school is A** K***, whose e-mail address is: ********@gmail.com. However, as we discovered, it is her husband who truly runs things and he is the source of the problems with pay and the business in general.
Upon arriving, I worked a little over a month and a half and was not paid, nor was my boyfriend (he has been working here for a little over three months). Upon approaching our boss about the lateness/absence of wages, we were consistently met with excuses and promises that were broken shortly after. Our immediate boss, Ana, would give us a hundred here, or a hundred there, paid out of her pocket, and would always say that she expected us to pay her back when were finally given our salary. We are both indebted a few million won in missing wages at this point. Money was never once on time, always broken up in frustratingly small segments, and the bosses were slippery, avoiding when possible, and uninterested in full compensation. I know this because the prior couple who worked at the school left Korea with over thirty million won in debt collectively - we are still unsure why they stayed that long at the school. We both had a meeting with the husband of our immediate boss, Brendon, who is the owner of the school, last Friday and were informed that this was the way it would be (that all the other English teachers had “dealt with it”) and that if we did not like it, he would send us both back to the United States. We obviously don't want this, nor think that it is quite that black and white, and so we told him that we would be looking for work elsewhere. He then told us both that he would give us letters of release if we stayed for one month more; judging by our work ethic at the end of that month, he would give it to us. We didn't believe that he would follow through with his word, as he hadn't on anything yet to date, so we quit the school shorty after. We then applied for the D10 visa, got new jobs at a better school within the following week. We were told from colleagues still working there that the school subsequently lied about the reason for our departure to the parents and students, which was expected but nonetheless frustrating. I am being completely truthful when I say that in the few months I worked there, Evada Returnee School had just about one hundred percent turnover in Korean and English staff due to nonpayment and disorganization. The administration, atmosphere, and expectation that employees will “just deal with it” make it truly an awful place to work.
Besides the huge issue of nonpayment, the school’s expected work hours are ten or more hours a day, not including time spent for planning, cleaning your own classroom, and “surprise” meeting overtime. The school is constantly disorganized, with expectations for teaching methods changing daily; I am not exaggerating when I say that the school is absolutely disorganized from the top down – payment, planning, supplies, teaching direction, schedule throughout the day. About the only thing the school does accomplish is its ability to take money from parents. Most hagwon positions my friends and colleagues elsewhere are not like this – this is beyond the standard of workplace expectations in Korea. The school seems from our perspective very in debt and thus runs its business model on the backs of its teachers’ salary, expecting them to not leave the job out of fear of the unknown. I highly recommend avoiding this school, unless you wish to leave Korea with less money than you came to the country with, as well as the awful stress of consistently late and missing pay, week after week, month after month.
Thank you and I wish those out there reading this better luck than us.
Subject: 7s English, Deoekjung campus.
Date: Saturday, June 2, 2012 9:19 PM
Signed contract.....returned.....asked not to work after substituting for school. Lies lies lies lies.
Subject: Jungchul English Language School Samsan Campus
Date: Friday, June 1, 2012 10:04 AM
They were very good about paying my on time and reimbursing me for my flight. However when time came to renew, I did not wish to renew because I worked straight eight hours and sometimes stayed late just to finish my work on time. Now ten months into my contract, I have been informed that they have hired a new foreign teacher and that I must leave in 10 days. There is no reason for my dismissal other than I decided not to renew my contract.
I worked straight eight hours and sometimes skipped dinner just so I could leave within my working hours. I never once complained to my boss, nor was I unhappy at work. Despite her rudeness and her obvious ignoring of me after I declined to renew my contract, I still worked hard and continued to full-fill my obligation. I am extremely upset and I strong suggest for any new Foreign Teachers to avoid coming to work for her.
Subject: Wonderland Anyang, Bisan-dong
Date: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 11:47 PM
I'd like to clarify that the March 28th post about Wonderland Anyang was written by an Australian who quit three days before I quit. My reasons for quitting can be read at (http://anyangwonderland.blogspot.com) along with additional insight into the policies and practices at this school.
If you want to work at this school, I would highly advise the following:
1. Demand that you're allowed to pay your own utility bills. Otherwise, the money will be taken out of your pay each month, but not sent to the utility companies for several months, resulting in late fees and utility cutoffs. My gas was cut off multiple times because of this and the Australian experienced utilities cutoffs as well.
2. Demand a photo of the apartment, a photo of the inside of the refrigerator, and photographic proof your apartment has air conditioning. Otherwise, you could end up moving into a dirty landfill full of trash piled high, empty bottles, used condoms, and a refrigerator full of living and dead insects.
3. Do not pay your airfare upfront. This is the only thing I did right. Wonderland did pay for my flight to Korea. It took months for the Australian to get reimbursed and another American was in the last week of his contract when I quit, and he still hadn't been reimbursed his airfare to Korea.
Subject: EBRI english club Gangneung
Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012 11:16 PM
Dont work here.Guy doesnt pay on time,job involves travelling between 3 schools not one as mentioned in the contract.Guy had me teaching his daughter at his house also not in contract.And above he stiffed me on medical insurance claiming i didnt need it.Wasnt until my second year when i wanted to get it i found out i had to pay the whole year previous.
Subject: Name of school: 7s English, Bundang
Date: Sunday, May 6, 2012 9:23
reason for blacklist:
1. School is in massive debt, thanks to owner's lifestyle and shady dealings.
2. Has not been paying employee's pension
3. Has not been paying severance
4. Requires teachers to work overtime WITHOUT overtime pay
Subject: Kelly's Kingdom, Busan
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Before I left Korea, I signed a contract with Kelly's Kingdom. She knew my girlfriend was in Korea and that I was eager to come back to Korea after visiting my family after not having seen them for two years. Kelly, the director of the school had eight weeks to send me a pin number for my new visa. She took five weeks to do so.
This is fine, but as the time approached for me to start working, she started ignoring my calls and said she was busy. She told me twice that there was a death in her family, which is a lie, because she told me three weeks apart, twice, that "her uncle died". I offered my condolences in an email, even though she hung up the phone to my face.
She is extremely rude and unprofessional. My friends who have worked with her in Busan say that this is her typical behaviour. Also she pays everyone two to three weeks late, and wants to do everything on her own terms.
Subject: Namcheondong Eastern English School in Busan
Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2012
I would like to warn people about Namcheondong Eastern English School in Busan.
The director tried to withhold three months worth of pay. Also my pay was four weeks late for the last seven months of my contract.
I was the only teacher there and got picked on by the female teachers with gossip, blame and was verbally assaulted for being bedridden and extremely sick for two days, even though I had three sick days in my contract
They also stole five of my vacation days.
Another thing they do is share you with a horrific academy really far away from the apartment. The walls are covered in drawings of genitals and profanity. The students have no problems trying to touch you inappropriately. You definitely need to steer clear and check the rear view mirror!
Subject: Wiz and Wise in goyang-si, gyeonggi-do, south korea
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Hi Jon! I would like to blacklist one previous school of mine....it´s a private kindergarten institution called Wiz and Wise in goyang-si, gyeonggi-do, south korea....
I will explain why it´s a bad school....
First of all I was the only foreign teacher there...all koreans spoke poor English and I couldn´t communicate well them..therefore making it stressful to communicate with them...aside from the working environment being so poor, the korean homeroom teachers would sit back drink coffee and have a laugh while I was left alone unsupervised with 4,5 and 6 year olds.
Second, the owner came off as a nice person at the beginning, but of course just as you may have heard from other hagwon complainees, she manipulated the contract so I wouldn´t get paid severance and my last paycheck was 1/3 missing...
I´ll explain why....
because of my ignorance I signed a contract from March 7 2011-February 29 2012 (one week short of a year!) my previous public school even though it wasn´t a complete year, still paid severance because of my completion of the school...so I didn´t suspect that she would manipulate me like this...and my last paycheck she only paid me teaching hours and not office hours even though korean teachers and I worked overtime for a musical concert we prepared for the parents...she spent millions of won just for costumes alone only to impress the parents...but neglected to care about the hard work of the teachers...to make a point..all korean teachers but one resigned from that school because lack of poor management and all got significantly underpaid on their last paycheck just like me...
Worst of all she never registered me to goyang board of education and never registered me to pension office...which both are mandatory for operation of a hagwon...so as you can see...she was an incompetent hagwon owner and a manipulative person so I strongly advise anyone NOT to work there!
Please help get this message out for me..
Subject: TILS Academy in Daejeon Korea,
April 16, 2012 6:12 AM
Don't go, unless you like not getting paid, not given a letter of release, not being allowed to teach more than a couple of weeks, The wonjang is a liar, a spy, and a cheating swindler. You will have more problems than you can handle, and they even lied about me refusing to talk to parents. I know how important parental relations are in Korea, and nothing could be further from the truth. Thet violated the one month written notice point in the contract. Koreans only make up a contract to satisfy westerners, Koreans working with other koreans don't even use contracts in their business dealings with each other, so they feel no need to honor them.
Subject: IvyHill English Academy, Hong Seong
Monday, April 16, 2012 6:09 AM
There is already one entry regarding this hakwon, and I'd like to add a second, although my incident happened even earlier than that of the teacher who posted previously. Following is what happened to me:
From the moment I arrived in HongSeong from the USA, the husband of the director of the school was telling me that I needed to pay for this thing or that..."You pay money," he said, with his hand out. And pay I did, much more than I ever might have believed. The previous poster refers to the lack of insulation in the foreign teacher's apartment. This is totally true; also, the boiler did not work properly. Despite running through two entire tanks of heating oil in only 17 days, the pipes still froze, and I had to wear my coat inside. Finally, it became so cold I had to go stay with a friend. The toilet had been broken for almost the entire time that I lived there. Then, the weekend before I moved out, the director's husband suddenly showed up and replaced the toilet...then deducted 260,000 KRW from my completion bonus for making the repair, which didn't benefit me at all. Nor, did I damage the toilet to begin with. The school failed to pay my complete return airfare (paid only about 1/4 of it); and also deducted 150,000 KRW to disconnect my Internet/Cable service, claiming I was "breaking a contract." They also deducted 130,000 KRW for "washing expenses," although washing exactly what, I have no idea. Finally, the entire time I was there, I had to put up with comments from the Director through a translator such as, "I do not like America. I don't like Americans or American culture. I don't want you to teach anything about American culture in my school." I asked her why she had hired an American teacher, considering her feelings. I doubt that she really understood me because she just smiled. And obviously, she still continues to hire Americans, then make their lives miserable. AVOID THIS SCHOOL, particularly if you are an American and/or female.
Subject: Kids College Dunsan in Daejeon Korea:
Monday, April 9, 2012
Nightmare is an excellent choice of words to describe Kids College dunsan (doonsan) daejeon under the direction of G****** **** and M**** **. These evil swindlers have defrauded everyone they’ve dealt with; teachers, contractors, publishers, landlords, you name it. Now *** ** H**** specializes in a retinue consisting of Westerners who would do or say anything for a visa to remain in Korea. They’re worse than her. Cheaters, liars, swindlers, and dirty dealers like *** ** H****, M**** ** and her Western associates are not misunderstood angels whose honest business practices and picture perfect, virtuous lives are being slandered by disgruntled, former, incompetent employees. Be warned. Unpaid wages, phony contracts, mistreatment of students, disgusting housing, harassment, entrapment, spying, all the horror stories Korean Hagwons are known for can be experienced here. This tainted school is no place for a decent person to get involved.
Subject: Poly School, Gumi Campus
Sunday, April 8, 2012 6:14 PM
If possible, I would like to add a Korean Hogwan to your black list. I have worked at the school for 6 months, and I am now entering into a dispute with them. I suffered what I interpreted as abuse in the workforce (the vice director entering my classroom yelling and screaming and after I walked away from her, her banging on my office door as hard as she could). I walked out of the school and then was fired and told to leave my apartment. The school (Poly School Gumi Campus) if full of problems and all in all, a horrible place to work. They now owe me 2,500,000 won which I am not sure if I am getting back.
If possible, I would like to add this school to the black list.
Subject: Tov English School, Hwaseong-si, Namyang-dong
Friday, April 6, 2012 8:35 PM
Don't take a job at this school if you have any interest in learning the language and culture of Korea, if you have any creative ideas of your own, or if you have any interest in anything but socializing with other foreigners.
The director might do anything to bait you, but don't let that fool you. When I first arrived, the director and all the teachers love-bombed me while I learned the Korean songs, read Korean books to the children, and used my own games and picture books. Once she got my signature on the contract, she began making complaints at the rate of one a day.
Finally I couldn't hold it in any long so I wrote a letter to the head teacher. The head teacher copied the letter and gave it to the director. The director called me to the office and lambasted me for a half hour. She told me I had to work until she found a replacement, but the minute she found a replacement, I was fired.
During the time I worked for the school, the director did everything she could think of to keep me from associating with other Koreans. One of the students made weekly trips to Suweon for Korean sign language lessons. I was interested. The director told me that the child's mother didn't want me to go to Suweon with them. I checked directly with the child's mother and found that the director lied to me. Some of the children took part in a nationwide speech contest in Seoul. I wanted to go. The director told me that teachers were not expected to go to the event. I went anyway and found that the director lied to me.
After a couple of months, she finally found someone gullible enough to work at the place. I was told that the new teacher would begin work the following week. I was accepted for a job in China, and naturally, I needed time to apply for a visa, pack my belongings, mail my belongings, buy a plane ticket. If I didn't use that time for that purpose, I could not have cleared out of the apartment in time for the new teacher.
Not being content make life difficult for me, she decided to make life impossible for me. She said I had to work the rest of the week anyway. If I wanted another job in Korea, I would have had to make a midnight run.
On top of that, she tried to pressure me to sign a statement saying that I will never mention the school to anyone for as long as I lived. Apparently she didn't want her school to appear on this list.
Could all this be only my point of view? Or could this be only a man's point of view? Or could this be only a foreigner's point of view? That's what I wondered. But shortly thereafter, I met a woman Korean English teacher who had answered a help wanted ad at the school. When she got there, however, she found that the director had too much of a "strong personality" for her. So she got a job at another English school right down the street.
Subject: Anyang Wonderland, Bisan-dong
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
Do not work here. You will not be payed properly and your pay will always be later and later (meaning you get payed less and less in real terms). No pension means you are actually working illegally. One teacher still hasn't been reimbursed for his flight after a full year. Utilities bills will be deducted from you whether you pay them yourself or not and they will always be gross inflations of the actual bill. If you work overtime as defined by your contract they will shorten the length of a month or "teaching session" so you worked less hours. You will be docked pay for "training days" at the beginning of your contract despite the fact you will be teaching classes from the first minute you walk in the door. Few contractual obligations regarding accommodation will be met. When you try to bring up any question about any pay/contract related issue suddenly no one can speak English.
As if the money/contract issues aren't bad enough by themselves this is the worst work environment I've ever worked in; really unfriendly and openly racist attitude towards foreigners displayed by all Korean teachers apart from one, who was recently sacked without being payed. Korean teachers actually tell students that foreigners are stupid and not to listen to what they say (which makes trying to control your classes hell). There is no interest in educating children, just impressing the parents. Foreign teachers teach writing classes and Korean teachers teach conversation classes, nothing makes any sense whatsoever and the standards they aspire to are very low.
This is not my first time teaching in Korea and my last school was an absolute pleasure to work at, so it is not like I'm inexperienced in these matters. Do yourself a big favour and do not work at Anayng Wonderland.
Subject: KID'S COLLEGE – CITY: ULSAN (SAMSON-DONG):
Thursday, March 22, 2012 6:50 AM
Stay the HELL away from this place, unless you want to be screwed out of you PENSION, TAXES, OVERTIME PAY and your sanity.
This was the first hagwon I ever worked for in Korea and therefore I was unfamiliar about my rights and legality issues. This school is fairly new (1yr 8 months of writing this) and looks like a good place to work but…
1st: The owners (R*** & P***** – Korean) of the franchise are BAT-SHIT CRAZY. It's a wife & husband team that doesn't know HOW to run and operate a business. (Found out later that their previous non-franchised hagwon when out of business) They are too concerned about appearances and buying expensive brand-new stuff than keeping their finances out of the red. (By the time I left, they were having major cash-flow problems. (ex. Couldn't pay Korean or Foreign Teacher's salary on time) Rosa in particular doesn't any business skill or knowledge and has terrible people management skills, and will fire you if she doesn't like you (not because you can't do the job—because you can). There has already been one illegal firing (only because Rosa didn't like the employee) and a 'midnight run'. They are absolutely horrible people if they dislike you.
2nd: They will tell you that you will pay less in taxes if they paid you less in pension. Which is true, but they failed to tell me that they reported to the National Pension Service that I was only making 1.4 million when I was really making 2.4 million. I didn't find out that interesting bit of information until I left for the pension office at the end of my contract. When I complained, the pension office said I would have to settle it with the Rosa & Patrick. The business has to pay first and then I would have to pay my MISSING portion too although I would be getting it back. (I know, doesn't make sense). By that time, I was out of the city of Ulsan and frankly, I just wanted to get the f**k out there.
3rd: So, pension was report wrong therefore, taxes were incorrectly reported too. Since I didn't have the pension issue resolved I didn't have to pay the adjusted tax amount. Still, it's a pain in the ass.
4th: My school would have these 'Overnight' sleepover parties that would require the teachers to sleep at the school with the children. Okay, fine. But the overtime pay was just 50 won for the whole event. This was not per hour. The business argued that we weren't teaching classes (when in fact we were, just with more fun) and therefore we don't earn the overtime pay. Now, I fought this but it's hard when there's no solidarity with your co-workers, and you are inexperienced about fighting for your rights. (Plus I really needed the money)
5th: The hours are too long (9:00am-6:00pm) with only six, 5 minutes breaks thorough out the day and 1 hour 40 minutes lunch break (the lunch break is your only long break for the day). Therefore, you will be standing most of the day.
The only GOOD thing about this place was my students and the Korean teachers. They were the reason I held onto most of my sanity.
If you still decide to work at this place…ENTER AT YOUR OWN RISK. You have been WARNED.
UPDATE: Kids College Dunsan in Daejeon Korea:
Wednesday, May 23, 2012, 12:42 AM
Regarding Kid's College Ulsan.
The owners, R*** and P******, have SOLD the Hagwon. As you can read from the blacklist posting, virtually all the problems with this place were attributable to their incompetence and malevolence.
The new owner, A**, is wonderful - very kind and intelligent, and bought the hagwon with funds from another she runs across town. She's made substantial changes to how this place is run, all of them for the better.
Subject: Summerhill Kids Club in Suji and in Yangjae
Thursday, September 15, 2011 2:59 PM
I worked for 2 years at Summerhill Kids Club in Suji and in Yangjae. During my time at this school I noticed the quality of the school decline very quickly. Teachers would come and go constantly for no apparent reason. After the first year my boss decided that they didn't want to buy textbooks anymore. I taught some classes for the entire 2 years without material in spite of asking for books. Other classes just all of a sudden didn't have books. When I finished my second year and I had decided to leave for home new bills began to crop up. It started with taxes finally being deducted from my pay after 2 years of no income tax being deducted. Fine I said, seems fair. Then I was slapped with a bill for 500,000 won for back taxes which I owed to the boss. The income tax bureaux has no record of taxes so I confronted them. They told me "we haven't paid them yet, but we will keep your money and we promise to pay them." On the last day of work, after retaining 1.5 million won, they told me I owed housing maintenance fees for two years which was 720,000 won. I was told this would be taken from my pay but apparently it wasn't. They agreed to pay half for me. I need to mention that my apartment was 8 feet wide and 12 feet long and shit, still no breaks. They told me I had to stay there because it was cheap.
I also had problems with pay. In my final year, my pay was short by 200,000 every month for 8 months nearly in a row. I had to ask to be paid and one month I was written up after asking for 2 weeks to be paid. i was written up for several reasons including, not smiling enough, disciplining students, and raising my voice to get students attention. I was told when the children would fight, or not pay attention, i was to speak to them and smile like an ass. The kids were meant to feel as though they never do bad. Parents could change the schedule or add classes whenever they want. one parent complained that her daughter didn't have enough english teacher time so another class was added in the morning before all the regular school started, JOY. The food is shit, seaweed soup and rice, everyday and I even got food poisoning once. The current teacher now was underpaid for 3 months before I made up a pay stub for him and I noticed he was being ripped off. Yes, I was responsible for making my own pay stubs for my records. This school sounds great when they hire you, short easy hours, decent pay, I was on 2.5 million and working 10-4. The school is cheap, disorganised and not worth the stress of a boss who will short you 1 million won for bills they find the day before you leave. It also has to be said that when I showed them the total of what they owed me they freaked out and spent several days, i assume, looking for ways to short me my money. They succeeded. AVOID SUJI Summerhill Kids Club and Yangjae Summerhill Kids Club. May also be advertised as Gangnam Summerhill Kids Club. They will short you and not pay you. I have also not listed my real name, those who work there know who I as.
Subject: Chungdahm Learning in Daejeon
Sunday, September 11, 2011 10:30 PM
I just wanted to add the extremely unpleasant experience I had trying to work for Chungdahm Learning in Daejeon.
For anyone interested in working for Chungdahm, which is apparently one of the bigger chains of Hagwons in the country, there is a one week training session in Seoul. I think, for the most part, they warn you that the training is intense and difficult, however, I don't recall hearing about their pass-or-fail system of rating until I had already completed the necessary paper-work, passed the intial interview, video introduction and 1500 word essay, shelled-out for the flight ticket to Korea, survived the flight to Korea, and finally met up with my fellow trainees. When I heard that there was an 85 percent pass rate, I felt like the odds were pretty good, but not as good as I might have expected. What happened to the unfortunate 15 percent who did not pass? I very naively told myself and some other worried trainees that you'd probably have to try pretty hard to fail once you've made it this far in the hiring process. The trainees have already been judged and rated on so many aspects, I felt that we'd have to be deplorable teachers, or have an absolutely terrible attitude to get turned around at this point.
Such is not the case, as I unfortunately found out after not being able to fully grasp the Chungdahm way of "teaching" reading to students. At the end of this intense and difficult week, I was quite coldly told that I hadn't passed the training by some soul-less CEO I had never met before.
As it turned out, there were some Chungdahm branches that were deperate enough for teachers that they were willing to take the "failures", and I so I got to start my new adventure in Korea knowing that I wasn't good enough and probably never would be. Painfully aware of my flaws, I put in several hours of prep time for my classes everyday, and worked as hard as I possibly could to incorporate the training into my lessons. Despite everything, I was pulled aside (quite unexpectedly) one day and told that Head Office wanted to see all of the existing video-footage (they have cameras set up in each room) of my teaching to judge whether I was worthy of being a Chungdahm teacher. Alas, I was not. The hurt, confusion and general disbelief and anger that this experience has brought me cannot be expressed in a relatively short message. Although I learned some different teaching methods and managed to save a little bit of money during the short time I worked at Chungdahm, I really wish I had that time back so I could employ it at an institution that deserves serious employees with excellent work ethic.
I'd also like to add that there are many employees at Chungdahm who seem quite satisfied, and many choose to extend their working contracts. My message is to those who do not wish to molded into the cookie-cutter "teacher" that Chungdahm employs and those who wish to maintain their individualism and personality.
And to those who would like to take their chances with this soul-less company, please heed this warning... do NOT fail the training (and it's a lot easier to do this than you might imagine!).
Subject: Appletree Recruiting
Friday, September 9, 2011 8:08 PM
I urge all teachers to avoid working with Appletree Recruiting. They found me a private school- hagwon- position that was unstable at best. I was given assurance that this school had the monetary support to get off its feet; it was a brand new private institute. This school never once paid me on time and ended up dismissing me illegally rather than continue to pay my salary. After I was let go... my contacts at Appletree Recruiting disappeared. None of my email messages or phone calls were returned. I was left high and dry to fend for myself and attempt to recoup any money that my "school" was refusing to pay me. I would hate to see the same thing happen to someone in the future.
Subject: E Kids Language School, Ganseo Gu, Seoul
Thursday, September 8, 2011
I recently walked out of this job half way through. The reasons?
Since the first month I was always paid late, sometimes by as much as 3 weeks. The school is clearly having some money problems, and my boss even takes the batteries out of the air-con remote (it is outside the classroom) so you can't use it outside of class time. The worst episode though was when she downsized the foreign staff from 2 to 1. She asked me if I would take on the extra classes for more money. I said yes. However, when the next pay cheque came along and I questioned why there was no additions to it, she had no recollection of the previous verbal agreement. Overtime therefore went unpaid, there's no health insurance, no pension, and generally horrible kids that you have no authority to discipline (hardly exclusive to this hagwon). The atmosphere was also unfriendly: I was the only foreign teacher and was basically ignored unless they wanted me to do something for them, despite me not really having ever done anything to deserve such contempt. My boss seemed to disdain foreigners, which made me wonder why so many Koreans who harbour this prejudice get into the hagwon business where they will inevitably have to deal with us. The only good thing is she is never peering in through the window or telling you how to run your classes. She just leaves you to get on with things. I should add the accommodation is alright, although a maintenance fee of 120,000 a month disappears from your salary, most of which I suspect ends up in the boss' pocket (I can't prove this, but my Korean neighbour wasn't paying it).
When it became clear to me that, given the school's financial problems and struggle to even pay me the bear minimum I earned each month, plus the numerous lies I was subjected to, the chances of being paid my final severance were very, very low, I decided to end this hell before being fired on some pretext just a month before the end. I lost about 2 million in unpaid wages by walking out, but it is an indication perhaps of how depressing this job was that I feel no regrets whatsoever over the loss.
Do yourself a favour...
Subject: EduBest English, Yeosu, South Korea
Saturday, September 3, 2011
There are pros and cons for working at EduBest. The pro is that you are paid on time, the children are fun to work with, and you have other foreign coteachers to talk to while you're at work. The con is that you work more hours than any other hakwon in the area, your Korean coteachers don't talk to you except to ask something of you, and your boss doesn't look at you as a human being. A major con, which is why I'm writing here, is due to an occurence that happened just two weeks before I left. The boss/owner/ MC of EduBest was going to fire me just three weeks before my departure. Three weeks...after a whole year of working for EduBest and he was going to fire me ? His reasoning was because he felt he couldn't work with me anymore and wanted an immediate replacement. The real reason being that I was rallying my coworkers together to have Friday off for Chuseok instead of only Wednesday and Thursday. So heaven forbid someone should ever try to create a foreign union at EduBest. It would be squashed immediately. My foreign coworkers defended me, thank goodness, and I was able to complete my contract, receive my pension, and my plane ticket home. But imagine if there wasn't a defender there. There would be no completed contract. No pension. No plane ticket home. That's the situation you may be walking into at EduBest. I have also received word, having been away from EduBest for a few months now, that he forced a girl there to extend her contract or be fired. That's really scary. To have someone tell you to either extend your contract or be fired immediately. She agreed to extend, but no one should ever be put in that situation. I truely feel for her and hope she finishes her contract soon and hopefully he won't make the same demands of her again.
Subject: KEBY at Anyang Hogye (Beomgye), South Korea
Wednesday, August 31, 2011 7:00 AM
Just wanted to write a warning about the EBY at Anyang Hogye (Beomgye). I was told it was at Beomgye only to find out it was Anyang Hogye when I got here.
The hakwon has been slowly dying over time and the students have been leaving, so the boss is going crazy for the past year or so. I joined 4 months ago, and I am leaving mid-contract, as she keeps deducting my pay for every student that leaves.
Also, she offers free classes to all the students every day, so we do not have a curriculum to follow here. It is so hard to create 7 hours of material in the space of 10 minutes in the morning every day (no breaks). Also, every time a student is absent, the boss demands that I give them catch up lessons..
As I have no breaks during my working hours, I end up having to teach them after hours or during my 1 hour preparation time... This means that I have no time at all to eat or drink or bathroom until after 8pm, and it means I have no lesson prep time.
Lastly, the korean teachers hate the boss and keep leaving. This is the third rotation of korean teachers in the space of 6 months.
This week, she called teacher trainers at the head office and told the that I've been scaring the students etc and that I need further training so that students stop leaving, so I've been getting phone calls from the teacher trainers and they have been trying to organise a 2nd training session for me - I just told them I will quit.
My problem is: it's all a part of the contract somehow..
Subject: Kid’s College Sanbon, South Korea
Friday, August 26, 2011
If you have been offered a job at Kid’s College in Sanbon, South Korea then I would STRONGLY advise you to LOOK SOMEWHERE ELSE!!! I can guarantee 100% that you will regret working here after a few months. There are many good schools in Korea to teach English, however THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. The Kid’s College Chain in particular is notorious around Korea for being a miserable place for foreign teachers to work in South Korea.
The working environment at this school is absolutely horrible. There are not enough words in English or Korean to describe how horrible the management here at Kid’s College in Sanbon is. There is not one single employee (Korean or Foreign) that is happy with the management here. The principal and the vice principal will go to any length to make a profit and usurp their authority over you.
The following is a list of some of their SHADY business practices that I have experienced while working at Kid’s College in Sanbon, South Korea. (Please note, that none of the following is an exaggeration):
*Refusing to pay pension as mandated by Korean law.
*Charging foreigners a higher income tax than is required by Korean law.
*Disgusting and substandard living conditions.
*9 ½ hour workdays for 5 days per week.
*Not buying or paying you the full price of a return flight home.
*Requiring you pay for your flight to Korea & recruiter’s fee should you want to leave Korea, EVEN AFTER 6 MONTHS or 1 DAY BEFORE YOUR CONTRACT IS UP. (This plus your flight home will be almost $4,000.00 USD)
*Requiring you to give them 90 days notice should you want to quit.
*Making you work in an office that is covered in mold.
*Requiring you to work while they are fumigating the building for bugs.
Subject: One World English School Korea.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011 8:22
This school should definitely be added to any black list for Korean hagwons. It is a school run by a man from Vancouver and his Korean wife. You would think since he is an expat like of the teachers he is hiring he would be understand of how bad a situation can be when you are working abroad. Instead, the opposite applies.
While I was working there, teachers were rarely paid on time, if at all. Some teachers are still owed months and months of salary. While teachers weren't getting paid, the owners were using their money to take multiple trips to places such as Canada and Thailand.
After I had been working there for about 4 months I was told a week before my next paycheck that I could either stay on and not be paid or I could leave and go home. Obviously, I took the latter of the choices. I received no flight money, in or out of the county, and even though they broke my contract, they contributed nothing towards my severance.
The owner had a tendency to put me in very uncomfortable situations. I wouldn't recommend anyone working there, but I feel even more strongly about that when it comes to female teachers.
At one point, during a phone conversation between the owner and my fiance, who was also an employee there, the owner called him an asshole and told him "I can screw you over even more than I have already." This was in reference to not paying my fiance the money he was owed, as well as trying to kick us out of our apartment even though we were still employed at their school.
I can't express enough that this is not a good school to work at. It should absolutely be black listed.
Subject: Omni Learning Academy, Ulsan, S. Korea
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
It is imperative that teachers be warned about this malicious Hagwon in Ulsan, S. Korea. Please do every teacher that plans to come to Korea a favor and post this on the site. Thank you.
DO NOT WORK AT OMNI LEARNING ACADEMY IN ULSAN, S. KOREA!!!
BAD HAGWON! Enjoy the Blacklist.
Unless you enjoy working for a complete sociopath/lunatic or getting ripped off, OMNI should be avoided at all costs. C**** is the director/owner at this school and has issues that extend from lying, manipulation to a threatening behavior. This is a young school that started when C**** decided to steal students from the genius program at a neighboring Hagwon called ELC that he and I both worked for. Before he left ELC he deleted all of the school files to illegally eliminate his competition.
-C***** and his recruiter (Teaching in Korea) will tell you many things to get you to Korea. After arriving you would notice or experience several things:
-C****** is a very paranoid person because he pissed off people when he stole his business.
-He will make you work 15-30 more hours a week that are on your contract, which is illegal according to Korean labor law.
-If you challenge him on your working hours he will threaten to fire you.
-He will not pay you fully for your return flight home.
-Any activities that you design on your own time from your own expertise he will claim as his own ideas to make himself look smart to the parents.
-You will be required to lie to parents because of his inability to be truthful with the parents about scheduling, grading, school fees, and the level of students that he has in particular classes.
-If you do not involve C**** in your personal life he will make your life a living hell by creating gossip and lying to the people you work with and the people that live in Ulsan. He loves drama.
***If any one of the six issues above disturbs you, you will be fired two months before your contract is up. If you smile and have a great attitude, you will be fired two months before the end of your contract. He does this because he doesn’t want to pay you your severance. After firing you, he will illegally try to force you out of your apartment by banging on your door in the middle of the night while verbally threatening you. He will lie about taking out pension money as well.
Do yourself a favor… DO NOT WORK AT OMNI! There are many jobs available for better pay, better hours, and less psychopathology. If you do work at Omni Learning in Ulsan it will ruin your year in Korea. And if you talk to C****** on the phone tell him he should seek some counseling and try to discover what moral fiber is.
Subject: English Insight Academy, changed from Willy Campus in Gwangmyong
Monday, August 8, 2011 3:19 PM
11th month firing to avoid severance.
Subject: Bora Middle School in Yongin City
Thursday, July 28, 2011
I'd like to blacklist Bora Middle School in Yongin City!
From the time, I signed the contract with this school, I knew it was a mistake!
I have been reading some of the comments that some of the fellow teachers have been making and I guess mine can only add to that or reinstate some of the things that they were referring to.
Firstly, I want to say that I had been working for three years at a good Christian School prior to this horrible one but I had to leave because of some issues.
In any case, I went from having the best record at the one school to having the worst record at another.
I never expected to teach 90 to 100% of my classes on my own. At my previous school, I had always worked closely together with my co-teacher.
Here at this school most of the co-teachers are lazy and they want to follow and not lead. I have no problem leading a class once or twice but they expected me to do it all the time.
This was quite foreign to me! As I told them, where is the co-teaching. The one responded that the co-teaching aspect was only for the Open Classes and that really infuriated me. I had to teach a number of times on my own and I got so tired of some of the students because they had made a noize in class, while I was trying to teach.
To make matters worse, my co-teacher who I consider a little witch made things worse for me when she told me that the vice-principal had informed her that if I don't like it at this school, then I should leave. I was really hurt to hear that he had told her that, as I had such a great relationship with my previous school.
Everything just went downhill, the Yongin District Co-ordinator got involved and somehow the school got shamed as the co-teacher had informed me. But it wasn't that bad, they should really have gotten shamed.
I had to come up with multiple unneccesary lesson plans for silly things. I had never made so many plans at one time for one school. To date,I think I made about 200 lesson plans in less than one year!
But I really got pissed at having to teach alone when the contracts spoke about being a "teaching assistant". One teacher told me that I am the main teacher in the classroom, so what does that mean? It means they get to answer their phones in the classroom and walk out when they want to and do what they want. It is a free period for them!
This school is very unorganized and it is true that they are trying to hagwonize the public schools and the teachers seem to be liking this much to the dismay of the native teachers. Luckily, I had three years of experience before I came to this school to at least, you know come up with things, but for new teachers: Be Ware. That's all I can say.
You will work your butt off for not that much money and it aint worth it.
Jon, please post this message on the web, as I think it is very important that people know what corrupt things are happening at school and that there is no concern for the poor Native teachers.
We are left to fend for ourselves and even our district co-ordinators won't take our side because they want to "keep the peace", save face or more like it kiss ass! I am sorry but I am just very angry at this school for all they did to me.
I severely broke my foot on ice last winter and I was like one week in hospital and more days at home. You know, that they expected me back at school like early March. I told them that it would be impossible.
Needless to say, after much hounding, I finally went to school with a huge iron in my leg and on my foot. It was horrible that they made me teach during my recovery time! They would never to that to their own but because I was the native teacher and "irreplaceable", I couldn't stay longer at home!
I had to basically hop around for weeks/months literally with the iron contraption on my foot and in my leg!
It came off about two or three months ago and I am doing fine, despite limping. I can only thank God for helping me through this time period. Nobody should endure something like this.
Oh and I want to say that if you should seriously get injured in Korea, please make sure that you have funds available so that you can bring a parent or someone to come and look after you, because they will take it.
I spent a week in hospital and this helping lady took like $400 from me just for helping me for one week!
I'd rather give that money to my mom but had to give it to her. So please make sure that you are saved up, don't spend too much because you never know what might happen!
Please blacklist this school Jon! Thanks!
Subject: Ivyhill English Academy, Hongseong, ROK
Monday, July 25, 2011 12:41 PM
I worked here and they didn't follow the contract. They didn't provide health insurance. They made me work 17 hours of overtime a week and did not pay me for it. They are having money problems because students keep leaving. They've gone through 6 Korean English teachers in one year, employing two Korean English teachers and one foreign teacher at a time. I went to the Labor's office to file a complaint, but had to leave the country before I could finish the process. The housing is very poor quality, overrun with centipedes. The toilet in the bathroom freezes during the winter because there is no insulation in the walls and the bathroom has three walls to the outside. Don't work here!
Subject: YBM Songpa ECC school, Seoul.
Monday, July 4, 2011
I would like to blacklist The YBM Songpa ECC school in Seoul South Korea.
As somebody who had never taught before I was hired at 2.1 million won a month to teach kindie classes as well as a few older students. The average class size was about ten students and I was on my own. I received absolutely no training before I began teaching even though I was told I would be trained when i took the position.
For my first three nights my school put me up in a love hotel. At the end of the week they finally gave me the key to my apartment. It was very and dirty. I had black mold on my walls and not all of my lights worked. I thoroughly sprayed the apartment for insects and went to stay at a friend's house that night.
I slept in my apartment for four nights and on the fourth night I woke up in the middle of the night and found cockroaches in mt bedroom. I was told by the other teachers that the entire bottom floor was cockroach infested. They suggested I ask the director to move me to a vacant apartment on a higher floor or ask for the living allowance I could take in lieu of housing.
I spoke to my director and explained that I was not used to cockroaches and living with them would prevent me from sleeping and she refused to move me. I asked for my housing allowance and she told me that it was impossible for me to move. At the end of the day she took me aside and accused me of not liking Koreans and also said that I was the worst teacher she had ever had in nine years. I was only five days into my teaching and had received no training, but I still found this hard to believe. My director also told me that cockroaches were very common in Seoul, but nobody I've known who has taught there had them.
Things only got vicious after I complained about the housing so I'm sure that if I had not discovered the cockroaches teaching a Songpa ECC would have been a challenge, but bearable. Don't accept a job there unless you don't mind cockroaches. The whole apartment building will be infested soon I'm sure.
Subject: Gyeonggi English Village (Ansan and Yangpyeong camp)
Date: May 28, 2011
I'd like to add Gyeonggi English Village (Ansan and Yangpyeong camp) to the list for problems I experienced both while working there and for recruiting for them. First of all, I did some recruiting for Ansan English Village but after going to the trouble of finding them qualified English teachers with good credentials and experience, they screened the candidates for race. At first they said that they would hire teachers without a degree, but then changed their mind to only hiring teachers with university degrees, which I'm glad they did, since it is illegal to work without a degree in Korea as an ESL teacher. Then, after I sent the resumes of some teachers who had degrees who I thought were qualified teachers, they quietly screened out the ones who weren't white (ie. the ones of African, Asian, Indian, etc. descent, all of whom were Canadian citizens and born in Canada). I was extremely frustrated with this, since many of the "white" teachers they had hired while I was working there had some sort of mental issue and weren't exactly ideal candidates. I informed any other candidates that applied that I wouldn't be recruiting for Ansan EV anymore and gave them information for teaching at other schools, although unfortunately many will probably face the same discrimination anywhere they apply in Korea.
As for working at the school, I can say that there were good aspects to it, pay was on time, at least. I worked for a month at the Yanpyeong camp and experienced some problems with it. They are run by the Seventh Day Adventist church, and although they claim that they do not require that their teachers hold the same religious views, they do in fact push their views on people, in a subtle or not-so-subtle manner. Both myself (foreign teacher) and my girlfriend (korean teacher) were working there, which shouldn't have been a problem, but then at the mere suggestion by my gf that we share an apartment simply to save space for the school, the director, B**** **** (whom everyone agrees is a snake) started making problems for us. One day he was gossiping in the cafeteria with the President about how there is "a Korean teacher who wants to live with her foreign boyfriend" which my girlfriend overheard, along with there criticism of both of us. I had to calm my girlfriend down over the phone when she was in tears from being gossiped about by the director and tell her that I would fix the situation. I considered humiliating B*** ***** at the morning meeting. My girlfriend urged me not to do it, as she thought it would create bigger problems. I didn't really care that much whether we lived in the same apartment at the camp or not, it had merely been suggested for the school to save living space. I had already applied to stay on for a longer contract though. I went to Canada to get a police check and take care of some things at home, and didn't know when I came back the B**** ***** had been scheming to send me back home after flying all the way back to Korea. Luckily, I worked a week at Ansan camp and decided to stay there instead. My girlfriend also came to work with me at Ansan. I have tried to avoid B**** ***** since then, and he is the number one reason that I think the school should be run by a different organization, the one that runs it is far too hypocritical and antithetical to the very beliefs they claim to uphold.
As for Ansan Camp, there were a lot of positive aspects to working there, outside of the problems I experienced recruiting for it. Pay was on time and I could generally get help when I asked for it. I do hope that they have found another shuttle bus driver for the foreign teachers by now, as the one they had when I was there drove very dangerously, going up to 180 km/hr in wet, rainy conditions, racing with other cars on the road or cutting them off, passing 2 or 3 vehicles with limited view in front or on windy country roads, and generally putting everyone's life in danger every single time we went to or from our apartments or work. After I left, after driving 2 or 3 times faster than the average driver on the road in a downpour one of the female foreign teachers started crying which led to her boyfriend shouting at and almost flattening the driver. I'd like to think they replaced the driver, but I would bet they haven't. Other than that, I wouldn't recommend playing the soccer-volleyball game unless you are a professional already as the director tends to talk smack a lot and make people feel like an idiot if they miss a shot.
My main concern is with the recruiting screening methods they use. I would like to think that this problem is only confined to one school, but unfortunately I know that it is a much larger problem in Korea. Multiculturalism is a foreign concept there and subtle forms of racism are commonplace. I hope in the future Koreans will change their attitude and consider that a good teacher does not necessarily mean a "white" teacher, but this will take a long time.
Subject: Readingtown Jeonju
Date: Monday, January 24, 2011 1:04 PM
Although Readingtown is situated in a modern building, the classrooms are small, excessively illuminated and the few windows they have are blacked out. There is a lack of provided equipment, be that technical or rudimentary such as stationary. Classroom technology, i.e. computers, CD players, were non-existent while the office had a few poorly maintained computers which were all running in Korean. We ended up needing to take our own laptops in to the classroom to not only make classes more productive but also to do our administrative work. Another poor quality aspect of the place was the hygiene. There were inadequate toilet provisions for both teachers and students. Foreign teachers were instructed to wash their cups in the public toilet outside even though there was a locked kitchen inside.
Upon arrival in Jeonju, the training provided was either unhelpful or non-existent. The accommodation provided was basic and at risk of being altered. You're expected to attend work regardless of your health status. When questioned about this the director instructed staff to “stay/ be healthy”. If you wish to have a vacation you may have to be persistent to receive it, sometimes the school will close as cover. The work contract that you sign before arrival does not always match the work undertaken. The academy is very much run by the director however he feels, so random and illogical decisions were frequently made without due thought to staff. If you wish to move onto another school at the end of your contract you’re unlikely to receive a positive oral or written reference. The director had few positive opinions of any past teacher irrespective of their performance or abilities.
In terms of the work, you're required to teach up to nine 40 minute classes daily, each separated by five minutes with no enforced break. This can be quite fatiguing and will likely impact your health after 4-5 months.
Teachers are often judged on superficial qualities such as smiling rather than their teaching abilities. Students are often late due to ill thought-out opening hours and issues with drivers. Parent queries and complaints were poorly handled impacting the school’s reputation and would result in foreign teachers receiving unwarranted criticism or vague and contradictory instructions. Classroom tasks were often focused on satisfying a few parental requests instead of teaching English. Information was withheld from foreign teachers as the director thought only they would victimize the children, this added to the school’s xenophobic feel. You will often notice men are treated more favorably than women regardless of their nationality. There is very little 3rd party material; the franchise material was often repetitive and uninspiring. Copying and cheating was endemic and accepted. Timetables were made without consultation and favored those who constructed them. Initially there was no information available to teachers about the students or a register so no one knew the students details or status. You’ll have very little contact with parents unless one complains and demands to speak to you in broken English.
Due to mismanagement the school was under immense financial pressure. The director would regularly consider redundancies often when teachers were on holiday. To save face he instructed teachers that were made redundant to conduct midnight-runs without informing any teachers or students. Those who failed to comply would not receive final payment of wages or bonuses.
Once the honeymoon period was over the director would casually tell teachers he was borrowing money to pay their wages which indicated the business was making a loss, on a few occasions he even mentioned bankruptcy. Foreign teachers were paid first, drivers last. Sometimes drivers would be owed months and be overtly disgruntled. The director was also poor at complying with immigration law which resulted in the deportation of two foreign teachers.
You will be expected to work with Koreans who may not be fit to teach. The director would hire the first person he would interview regardless of their suitability. Most are unqualified and often engaged in unprofessional conduct. Some would even use corporal punishment against children for minor infractions with the director taking a cordial attitude to this. Some Korean teachers even had students give them shoulder massages. Student and staff turnover was excessive due to the poor management of the school.
Staff turnover was around 200% with the average foreign teacher lasting six months. During one year there were three head teachers, four receptionists and about a dozen part time vocab teachers passed through. The director was apathetic towards the business and only seemed concerned with making a quick buck. He would only come to the school a few times a week to conduct unrelated private lessons. He didn’t appear to have much knowledge of business, franchises, education or child development. He was often immature with one way, counter-productive conversations being the norm.
If you wish to quit this school it is advisable that you do a midnight run after payday and on a weekend without informing a soul. If you give any indication of an intention to leave, their behavior will become unpredictable.
Subject: Update on Teaching in Korea
Date: Sunday, January 9, 2011 4:03 AM
Thank you Jon for giving one of the means to inform people truthfully about the situation in Korea. This is a general advice piece to warn experienced people that it's not worth bothering to apply for ESL jobs in Korea - mostly.
If you have a higher degree (MA or Phd) you might get a shot at a university job. Might is the word here to keep in mind because like other countries where ESL or EFL is taught, in-country hire is fast taking over.
If you're outside Korea, good luck because you'll need something like luck to even get considered.
For others who have the standard Bachelor of something, think before you even try to apply for all those jobs advertised on the net for Korea. It sounds great - so many recruiting companies advertise 'Hot Jobs', 'Tell us what you want!', 'Outstanding Jobs in Seoul' etc etc. The truth is different.
You've taught English elsewhere (at home, in Asia, other country)? If yes then you think that your resume with real experience, cross cultural living, participation in other societies' cultures etc is going to get you a job within a reasonable timeframe?
Nope, that's not what's up in Korea.
You see Korean employers, Korean politicians, Korean newspapers and Koreans generally when they think about foreign English teachers think negative, bitching about how foreigners are lazy, take drugs, have sexually transmitted diseases and have no damn idea of how to teach English even if they have a work ethic which according to these kinds of Koreans, a lot of foreigners do not.
Yes, the society in Korea enjoys a false sense of superiority and enjoys dissing foreigners. They have baggage about foreigners who come from the US, etc.
At the same time they whine about and slander foreign English teachers as useless teachers, hedonists, and mercenaries who go to Korea to earn money (gee of course Koreans never do that outside Korea, all the Koreans who are in other countries working must be there doing the countries a favor for free)and above all, claim that these foreigners can't teach, Koreans............................... have this weird habit of employing untried, inexperienced, just a little experienced foreigners to teach English.
You'd think they'd love your resume and be in your email inbox and on your webcam or phoneline telling you that your solid experience has made them line up an interview with an employer who is looking for somebody to teach at their hagwon (private school) as a native English teacher.
Nope, that aint true in most cases. To get a job in Korea when you're not there and even most of the time when you're there and have a small window of opportunity after you've finished your job to line up another,you must go through a recruiting company.
Most recruiters don't respect older applicants with experience. They want those newbies who have little to show in terms of real employment, young (under 30, preferrably under 26), who are fresh graduates.
Many of these 'teachers' don't know how to teach. Period. They can't do a lesson plan for any age group. They don't think they need to bring anything and then get super freaked out when they are told to teach without anything to help them.
Does the recruiter care? Most of them don't. As long as the young person looks good, especially if it's a she with light colored hair who is thin, then you can check numerous employers on the list as having their positions filled.
But Korean society is all abou the importance of age....I hear some people protest. Yep, I've lived there, worked there too as somebody in the plus 35 age demographic with a resume showing responsibility and a solid job history with more than enough English teaching experience.
But that idea doesn't take into account that Koreans think age is important............for Koreans.
They don't give a flying kimchi fart about your age and experience though they spend most of their time when they talk about foreign English teachers bitching about their lack of teaching expertise, inability to do their job correctly (though you should take a Korean saying this about non Koreans with a huge salt mine)and lack of ability to fit in quickly etc etc.
Then when they've fired the teacher they think is a problem or have let the teacher see out their contract but bitch about them non-stop and try to wriggle out of paying them what's due, they go to another of the recruiters who promise you a 'Hot Job' etc in their ads and they say to the recruiter, get me a good teacher this time.
'Good teacher' usually = more of the same because when your culture stresses appearance above what you are as a person and what your skills are, then you don't give your hagwon the opportunity to get someone who may not look whitebread, blonde, like a model, like a stereotype, young, etc, but is experienced, has proved their abilities in other jobs, and will actually do the job in your hagwon.
Recruiters are just as bad. They're too busy chasing a commission to say, 'Wait a minute, I have the resume of an experienced teacher who has been successful. Sure they're not that young and they look fine but they don't look like somebody out of a movie or on tv. But their track record shows that they're gonna come in the first day and show you what they can do with the minimum of fuss'.
Yes, you can keep the students and parents happy. You know how to lesson plan and keep records. You know how to assess. You stay calm under pressure. You can cope with the students rude though some of them are.
You will keep the parents happy and when something does come up from them, you can keep the problem down at a certain level and it goes away soon enough.
But believe me, most Korean employers of English teachers and schools don't want you. A lot of the problem is the flood of unemployed newbies and this has fed the usual Korean problem of incompetence mixed with arrogance.
Save yourselves the stress and frustration of putting other things on hold while you run around getting expensive copies of documents notarised, with apostilles, etc etc because now most recruiters won't consider you without these documents demanded by yet another E-2 visa change.
The catch is you usually will be left hanging on waiting for an expression of interest, a referral from a recruiter to an employer so you can hook up an interview. So you have these documents but you won't be able to use them. Mostly experienced foreigners will just be left hanging on, wasting their time.
It aint a thing if you've already worked in Korea. They don't give a damn in most cases. Experienced teachers are not wanted in most cases, and a lot of this is because Korean recruiters and employers also don't want you because you know what's up. You can't be railroaded, cheated easily.
Experienced foreigners - go elsewhere. The horror stories about working in Korea before 2005 or so aren't heard so much but the problems told here are so institutionalised now, they're a new horror story in themselves.