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School name removed

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Rastus Cleveland

Joined: 15 Dec 2010
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Dec 15, 2010 12:34 am    Post subject: School name removed Reply with quote

This post has been moderated UJ

The (School name removed) is located between Cheongju and Jochiwon. When I was considering taking a job there, the head English teacher told me of all the benefits that I could expect: a base salary of two million per month, refund of a round-trip ticket for a visa run to Japan (since they wanted to interview and hire someone already in the country), generous overtime at the nearby Affiliated Middle School and also OT at the (School name removed) across the road, everything that they were currently giving to their incumbent foreign ESL instructor. So, I signed on the dotted line, though nothing other than the base salary was mentioned. “You have our word; don’t worry about it,” they told me.

Did the marathon visa run to Japan, essentially two days without sleep, and returned for my first day of work. Right away, the head teacher told me that the principal insisted that I write an essay on why I wanted the job. “Why I want the job? I already have the job!” Still, the principal demanded that I produce an essay on the spot outlining why I was competent to instruct at his school. Did so, but compliance only emboldened them. Even though I had a full slate of classes from nine till five that first day, the principal insisted that I get the Korean medical that very day. Simply couldn’t fit it into my schedule, but the principal still send the head English teacher to my desk seven times that day to demand compliance. Keep in mind that this Korea Immigration requirement is a half-day hurdle that will take 150 000 won out of your pocket, and the school will not reimburse you. That first day, I also presented the English head teacher with my airfare receipts, but they refused to refund me for the round trip as promised. “According to Korean law, we only have to pay for a one-way ticket.” So, I ended up getting refunded for a fraction of the money I spent to get the visa. The outlay for trains, taxis, and hotel were just an expense I had to eat.

As the first month got rolling, I asked about my overtime at the Affiliated Middle School. “That is no longer being offered.” End of discussion. Half a year later, this same middle school contacted me and pleaded with me to teach one of their after-school programs a couple of times per week. Really had little interest in being cheated again, but the English teacher at that school was so charming that I agreed. However, they had the last laugh, for while I was led to believe that they would pay me every month, their principal only paid foreigners once every five months. “That is how he likes to do things,” I was told.

Getting paid at the Affiliated High School was also difficult. In my first month, they told me that they wouldn’t pay me until I could prove that I hadn’t left any bills at my last workplace. I have always paid all of my bills ASAP and kept all of my receipts, so I told them to phone up my previous employers to verify that all of my bills were paid and that I had also left them an additional 100 000 won to cover any unforeseen expenses. They did so and finally deposited my salary.

This is not to say that they paid me for all of my time worked. The principal insisted that I teach the English Club for one evening per week for two hours. “And my overtime pay?” “You just work! No pay!” Pointed out that my contract entitled me to overtime payment, but they never gave me ten won for my efforts. My sole compensation was that some of the students were sharp and agreeable.

To boot, this high school refused to supply me with anything. Even stationery supplies had to come out of my own pocket. I had to submit my photocopy requests to the ajossi, every one clipped to a request form. When I ran out of paper clips and asked for some of them back, the admin office staff exploded at me: “If you want paper clips, you should buy paper clips!!!” Their parsimony was balanced by profligate waste. For example, a new parking lot was made one week and then ripped up the next to make way for an expansion to the dormitory. A computing science room that was never used had 50 new flat screen monitors scrapped out. I saw the picker claw on the garbage truck destroy and load them all.

Cafeteria service was provided, though teachers had to pay for this service. A check mark was required in a log book for every day that a teacher ate there. Unfortunately, this log was right beside the queue, and some students would tick everything beside my name, so I had to pay an extra 60 000 won per month whether I ate there or not. A complaint yielded this response: “Every day is checked! You must pay!”

The principal was determined that students be able to access me 24/7 for help and answers. The English head came to me and told me that the principal demanded my address and that it be published so that all students could contact me whenever they wanted. Tiring of the principal’s ego, I told the English head, “Tell you what. You start paying my rent and utilities, and then you can publish my address.” “The principal isn’t going to like that.” “I don’t care.”

My life was not the only one that the principal tried to turn into a living hell. He would decide that a staff dinner once a month or so was in order. Naturally, we had to fit it into our midday break and pay for it ourselves. Of course, he chose the restaurant and the plat du jour. The English teacher would come to my desk and say, “We are going out for sushi today! Hurry up! It will only cost you 40 000 won!” I soon tired of the principal’s generosity with my money and began refusing lunch requests. “I am sick.” And I was.

Once, the school nurse and another teacher took me out for lunch to a wonderful pi-bim-bap restaurant not half a kilometer away. This so enraged the principal that he phoned up the nurse during our lunch and demanded that everyone return to the school right away. And that is what happened.

My year long contract finally expired, and I only got a few more surprises. They hired another gyopo at 150% of the salary they were paying me, though word filtered back to me that she did nothing other than throw choco-pies at the students. Still, that more closely approximated the teaching behavior of the Korean who preceded me. For three years, he would just play the students a different song every class. No cloze sheet, no handout, nothing. “What did you hear? In the garden of . . . . “ For that herculean effort, the school rewarded him with three million a month and constantly crowed of their pride in him for being Korean.

So, if you are Korean, working at the (School name removed) should be a richly rewarding walk in the park. However, if you have the audacity to work there without being Korean, every day will be like a kick in the groin.

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