Thank you Parents, Students and Won-jahng-nim-deulr

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So, I submitted the following to the Opinion/Editorial departments of the Korean Herald, Korea Times and Joong-ang Ilbo which are the 3 largest English newspapers in Korea just a few minutes ago. Let’s see if I have the same success that I had before in submitting the opinion titled “a-better-solution-to-the-long-term-need-for-english” — which was ZERO — looks like there’s more submissions than I thought or rather it shows the selective editorial power of publishers.

A little over a month ago, I called up a past coworker to ask about another old coworker in the Hagwon I used to work in. She told me she was “on leave” from work. I thought that was a bit odd given that she’s only worked there for one year. Although she may had some savings before coming here, I do know from personal experience and from many other stories from other coworkers, English teachers in Korea have the potential to make quite a bit of money. Thus, I made the quick assumption she did quite well during the year and had plenty to take the 3 months off despite the need to pay rent and her other expenses in the expensive city of Seoul — which I believe is one of the most expensive in the world.

I’ve been in the English Hagwon business for more than 3 years now. I’ve seen a lot and if you talk to all the people I’ve worked with and managed, I’ve been very fair to them. However, I’ve seen almost every single instructor I’ve worked with take trips to the Southeast at least annually, if not semi-annually, spend many nights racking up huge bills at bars, frivolously spending money on basically anything including western food which is usually quite expensive in Korea. On top of this, they still end up saving thousands of dollars and send almost as much home to pay their school loans, credit card bills and many other expenses. In many cases they’re able to also afford housing that is much better than most average Koreans. I’m not saying they don’t deserve it due the demand and due to some who work very hard….but…

Despite all this won being earned, spent and saved, the majority of what I hear from instructors is how annoying one aspect of the Academy is or how unfair another aspect of the their job is or how we, as managers or Koreans fail to do something that they expected at one point in their contract. I’m a manager currently at one of the highest levels in our company and so I hear the complaints at an even higher frequency, but I’ve made every attempt to try and support the instructors in making sure they get all the information they want and need. However, with the lack of human resources and time, there are instances where information is lacking and the only retort by the instructor typically is that “the hagwon managers or owners are liars.” In many cases, I’ve even seen instructors who just get up and leave because they feel like they’ve been lied too much which happens to be typically 3 instances of miscommunication in a country where the native language is NOT English. “Interesting” is the most positive word I can use to describe this…

About a 1/2 year ago, we hired two instructors from Ireland who seemed to be relatively decent despite sometimes some instructors from the country having heavy Irish accents that kids can barely understand. The teachers seemed to be happy and there was no sign of them being unhappy despite having only average marks in the classroom. However, a few days after being paid on their 3rd or 4th month of employment, they decided to carry out a “midnight run.” Their original excuse in emails to “friends” was that one of the father’s was diagnosed with Cancer and that she needed to go and care for him due to her being the oldest of several sisters. Her friend made the excuse she had to support the other friend. After worrying the many people they “befriended”, one “friend” called their home to find out from the supposedly “Cancer” ailing father that actually they were enjoying the sun in Thailand and the excuse was one big lie.

Well, I’m going to be the first to say it publicly: “Thank you parents, students and Directors of all the English Academies” in this country of Korea. Without your creation of this industry and the many jobs you create annually, many foreigners wouldn’t be able to travel around all of Asia, earn enough money to pay off their many bills, enjoy life at the highest levels in Korea including also getting promoted to positions they would NEVER ascertain back home, but Koreans give them because they just happen to speak English. Again, I am not saying all are guilty of not being grateful, but honestly, I rarely hear it. Perhaps the many others who are in this profession should truly consider thanking their own owners/directors and people who support the business…then again, they may be too busy complaining about another aspect of the hagwon.

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Filed under Business practices, Jobs, Korea life, My writings, Opinions, Random thoughts

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