Warning to Potential ESL Teachers in Korea

*David is going to write about what happened to us in more detail later but I just wanted to put my two cents in.

This is a warning to all potential ESL teachers in Korea.  If there are any red flags about your new job, any at all, look for a new one.  If I had read a post like this before coming to Korea, I would have thought that the person was just being dramatic and that it would never happen to me.  However, there are so many jobs here right now and even if you have to wait a month or two for that perfect job to come around, do it.  It will be worth it.  Here is why:

It is EXTREMELY hard to get yourself, as a foreigner with an E-2 visa, out of a bad situation quickly.  As a basic rundown, David and I have not gotten paid in over a month and a half.  We have almost no money (think $100 between the two of us), had to cancel an 8 day vacation last minute, and have lots of bills to pay (phone, electricity, gas, credit card…).  Normally, if a situation like this arose in America, you would just quit your job and find a new one and file a complaint or sue your boss.  In S. Korea, you can file a complaint with the Ministry of Employment, but it takes about a month to investigate, and possibly even longer if your boss ends up never paying you.   The only way you can get a new job in Korea is with a Letter of Release (LOR) from your current school.  This LOR allows you to change your visa to a D-10 (looking for work) or just transfer your E-2 to another school.  Without the LOR, it takes 2-3 months for immigration to do an investigation and allow you to leave the school.  In our situation, this is crazy talk.  We have been denied a LOR by our boss because he says he will, “get the money.”  We have hardly any money and no idea if/when the school will ACTUALLY pay us.  We can not wait 2-3 months for an investigation to take place if we are not getting paid.  Forget about bills, what will we eat?

Luckily for us, it seems as though we might get paid tomorrow (but it could be a lie, who knows), but if we don’t, we are not sure what we will do.  There is legitimately no way for us to get out of this situation unless we have a LOR or leave the country.  Hopefully everything works out tomorrow.

Update: 2/25/14- We did not get paid today as promised and our pay is now over 15 days late.  We have also still not been reimbursed for our airfare.


3 thoughts on “Warning to Potential ESL Teachers in Korea

  1. So sorry to hear this. This “not getting paid” thing has happened at some point to all my hagwon-working friends. Unfortunately, it is the norm :/ If it makes you feel better, they all did eventually get paid… except for one who ended up doing a midnight run (and good thing too because the school went bankrupt soon after). I hope you’re bringing it up daily to your employer and maybe even make threats about quitting. It does scare them because we are not cheap to replace. It would be more cost-effective for them to just pay you than replace you. My friends didn’t demand the full amount every day (that’s a little unrealistic anyway), but did keep asking for instalments. Which the schools did end up doing until they could pay the full amount owed. At least it was something. Again, so sorry about this situation and I really hope it works out for you!

    • Yeah, we are seriously considering quitting. It all depends on what they tell us today. I just wish that they would give us our LOR so we can move on.

  2. Pingback: 6 Reasons David and I do not want to leave South Korea | Hanguk Happenings

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