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How to Legally Hammer your Hagwon Boss Into Submission
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Cohiba



Joined: 01 Feb 2005

PostPosted: Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:31 pm    Post subject: How to Legally Hammer your Hagwon Boss Into Submission Reply with quote

I found this article on the Marmot's Hole:

English Teachers in Korea: Where To Go For Legal Help
by Brendon Carr

It’s no secret within the Korea blogosphere that your Uncle B, a corporate lawyer, doesn’t welcome phone calls and inquiries from English teachers. It’s not because I am a cold-hearted bastard—it’s because a top Korean commercial law firm serving Fortune 500 clients is not really the right tool for the job.

Rotten hagwon cram school operators, like most smaller Korean employers, are generally lawless snakes. And like any lower-order reptilian creature, hagwon owners really aren’t cowed by an attorney’s demand letter, as the law operates on a different level from the snakes. Snakes don’t read letters and aren’t persuaded by rhetoric. They do, however, respond to being struck with a sharp implement, like a hoe or rake or something.

That sharp implement is the District Labor Office of the National Labor Relations Commission (NLRC). NLRC has two powers: (i) an administrative tribunal to adjudicate employment-related disputes, such as disputes over severance pay; and (ii) police power to conduct investigations and refer charges for criminal violations of the Labor Standards Act (LSA) to public prosecutors. While the snakes don’t fear some civil law firm’s call, they really are afraid of NLRC and the public prosecutors.

Unfortunately, as any Korean government agency, the NLRC is sometimes reluctant to do its job and needs a nudge. Plus, there is the question of exactly what the English teacher needs to illustrate, as a matter of law, to satisfy the NLRC investigators. And since this is Korea, one had better be able to write it all up in Korean. That’s a real burden, and a lot of English-teacher plaintiffs are discouraged by the burden of doing this alone.

Well, a few days ago I went to a restaurant frequented by expats, and picked up a copy of Eloquence magazine—kind of a “What’s On Seoul” for a market where global brands have a hard time. On page 40 of April’s Eloquence (maybe it’s been there all along, and I just don’t read the magazine often enough) I noticed a column entitled “Korean Law and You” by one Gerald Staruiala, a Canadian who apparently is working as a nonlawyer legal assistant in a nomu-sa (labor advocate) office called Kangnam Labor Law Firm.

I happen to know Kangnam Labor Law Firm and its principal nomu-sa Mr. Bong-Soo Jung. First of all, Mr. Jung has successfully represented, in labor-tribunal proceedings, at least two foreign lawyers I know of who have had severance-pay disputes with the Korean law firms at which they worked. Both lawyers spoke very highly of Mr. Jung, and the results he achieved for them as plaintiffs. He’ll definitely be getting my business if Hwang Mok Park tries to get funny with me in the case I were to leave this firm. (Point of clarification: There’s no plan, so far as I know, for me to be leaving or for HMP to cheat me out of severance pay.) So, foreign lawyers in Seoul use and recommend the guy.

Additionally, Mr. Jung has authored a bilingual English-Korean reference on employment and labor law. It’s a great reference, and has gotten better with each of the two editions I’ve seen. Some of the language is a little clumsy, of course, because Mr. Jung writes first in Korean and then translates to English—and there are very few good copy editors in this country.

And now, with a native English-speaking assistant to screen matters, Mr. Jung’s firm has even more ability to serve an English-speaking community of angry plaintiffs. There are over 40,000 of you just on E-2 visas alone—that must mean 10,000 of you have legal claims.

So Korea Law Blog’s advice to English teachers is this: Stop trying to “sue” your scummy hagwon owner with a $500/hour big law firm. Talk your case over with Gerald Staruiala, then pay Mr. Bong-Soo Jung his fee to file your complaint with the District Labor Office. This starts a process of administrative tribunal backed by criminal prosecution (i.e., the power of the State)—the most effective implement to deal with a snake.

This is not a solution to your criminal problems, landlord-tenant disputes, or your need to get divorced. Nomu-sa labor advocates are licensed to represent clients in administrative proceedings before the NLRC only—they cannot appear in court or meet with prosecutors on behalf of defendants. So if you have those other problems, don’t take advice from any nomu-sa, including the good Mr. Jung.

Where to Find Kangnam Labor Law Firm: Champs Elysee Center, 11th Floor (Seollung Station, Exit 1) - Tel (02) 539 0098.

MOD EDIT phone number corrected
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Arthur Dent



Joined: 28 Mar 2007
Location: Kochu whirld

PostPosted: Thu Apr 10, 2008 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know Gerald personally and he is always ready to help those in trouble. He told me recently that he was asked why he helped those who got in trouble by their own actions and he said: "It's my job."
I know few people as intelligent or as driven and hard working as Gerald. He is also able to pull random information out of thin air from a single comment by another. Amazing.



Edit April 14th:I just thought I should edit this to say that Gerald is no longer working for this firm, but others have contacted Mr. Jung recently and have been satisfied with his advice.

Sigh, Edit 2: May 9th, 2009. Gerald is apparently back working at the firm.


Last edited by Arthur Dent on Sat May 09, 2009 6:37 am; edited 2 times in total
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Brendon Carr



Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The correct phone number is (02) 539 0098 instead of 0078. I transcribed it wrong in my entry the first time.
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DrunkenMaster



Joined: 04 Feb 2008

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 5:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope to hear that people use this service now that it's available.
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hagwonnewbie



Joined: 09 Feb 2007
Location: Asia

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

this good enough to be a sticky
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TECO



Joined: 20 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Cohiba,

The avatar!
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wylies99



Joined: 13 May 2006
Location: I'm one cool cat!

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good post.
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tzechuk



Joined: 20 Dec 2004

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 6:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent. And just at the right time.
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canuckistan
Mod Team
Mod Team


Joined: 17 Jun 2003
Location: Training future GS competitors.....

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Worthy of being stickified!
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chriswylson



Joined: 20 Feb 2007

PostPosted: Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"This is not a solution to your criminal problems, landlord-tenant disputes, or your need to get divorced."

Too bad. Then what is the best way to solve landlord-tenant disputes?
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mountainous



Joined: 04 Sep 2007
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Apr 15, 2008 8:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

While the snakes don’t fear some civil law firm’s call, they really are afraid of NLRC and the public prosecutors.

Korean hakwons don't get prosecuted for ripping off foreigners..please.


This article sounds like propaganda that was generated to persuade foreign teachers that they may have some assurance of receiving their Korean salary if they move to Korea and work for dishonest Koreans ("Rotten hagwon cram school operators").
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peachlily



Joined: 11 Apr 2008

PostPosted: Sat Apr 19, 2008 3:36 pm    Post subject: i like Reply with quote

I just wanted to say I really like the title of your post.
HAHA.

On the other hand, I am going to be working for a hagwan...i really hope i dont get screwed
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Brendon Carr



Joined: 15 Nov 2007
Location: Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Sun Apr 20, 2008 11:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mountainous wrote:
While the snakes don’t fear some civil law firm’s call, they really are afraid of NLRC and the public prosecutors.

Korean hakwons don't get prosecuted for ripping off foreigners..please.

This article sounds like propaganda that was generated to persuade foreign teachers that they may have some assurance of receiving their Korean salary if they move to Korea and work for dishonest Koreans ("Rotten hagwon cram school operators").


Hagwon owners do get prosecuted for ripping off employees, including foreign employees. Not all of the crooks do, but enough get it -- which means that a fair number of disputes can be resolved by petition to NLRC.

That blog entry was not intended as propaganda in the least, except in the sense of "Don't call me" propaganda. My clear and consistent advice to would-be English teachers in Korea has always been "Don't come to Korea! Go to China or Japan and screw chicks there." For this warning and advice, I usually get excoriated.
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mountainous



Joined: 04 Sep 2007
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Mon Apr 21, 2008 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hagwon owners do get prosecuted for ripping off employees

So you are speaking of civil prosecution, correct?

This starts a process of administrative tribunal backed by criminal prosecution (i.e., the power of the State)—the most effective implement to deal with a snake.

I have never heard of a hakwon boss getting thrown in jail for refusing to pay salary. In fact, there are many stories about hakwons who fail to pay civil judgments after the Labor Board has ruled in the employee's favor. Nothing happens to these hakwon bosses.
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mountainous



Joined: 04 Sep 2007
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Tue Apr 29, 2008 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

mountainous wrote:
Hagwon owners do get prosecuted for ripping off employees

So you are speaking of civil prosecution, correct?

This starts a process of administrative tribunal backed by criminal prosecution (i.e., the power of the State)—the most effective implement to deal with a snake.

I have never heard of a hakwon boss getting thrown in jail for refusing to pay salary. In fact, there are many stories about hakwons who fail to pay civil judgments after the Labor Board has ruled in the employee's favor. Nothing happens to these hakwon bosses.


Can anyone cite ONE instance where a hakwon boss was criminally prosecuted for refusing to pay salary? This story is so obviously false...and it is a sticky, lol Laughing
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