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Mapo Wonderland

 
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bravman



Joined: 12 Aug 2003
Location: Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 8:30 am    Post subject: Mapo Wonderland Reply with quote

Does anyone have any experiences with Mapo Wonderland? Oh, and by the way, I've just been through a month of phone tag with a recruiter named Rachel. She's not in Korea, she's working out of Singapore (so she says) with a roaming phone that has an Australian country prefix. I think it's best to stay away from "roaming" recruiters. Anyway, I can't find any information about Mapo, only the 2 emails I received from current employees (but I don't know how much weight to give those). I've heard that Wonderland in general is to be avoided, but Suzy, who's in charge of hiring at Mapo Wonderland, works there and we've spoken at great length and she seems like a very nice person. I'm aware of all of the general Wonderland issues. Back to my original question: does anyone have any information that pertains to Mapo Wonderland?

Thanks in advance.
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kimcheeking
Guest




PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 3:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Check out Prisoners of Wonderland
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bravman



Joined: 12 Aug 2003
Location: Michigan, USA

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 4:03 pm    Post subject: Are all Wonderlands the same? Reply with quote

Thanks kimcheeking. I've seen Prisoner's of Wonderland. But their experience wasn't the greatest because of their particular hagwon, right? I think it would be a mistake to assume that all Wonderlands are like that (I mean, I get the fact that you have to work with kids and that can be frustrating) but, doesn't it greatly depend on the management? That's why I'm wondering if anyone has any specific information about Mapo Wonderland.
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kangnamdragon



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Location: Kangnam, Seoul, Korea

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 6:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the whole Wonderland PROGRAM itself is seriously lacking. All the schools use the same program.
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katja



Joined: 24 Apr 2003

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 8:20 pm    Post subject: wonderland Reply with quote

i've been at wonderland in Kwangju for about 2 months now, and it's not so bad. I think that the kids at pretty much any Hogwon are similarly badly behaved, and disciplining them is not too big a problem. i get paid on time every month, not saying that i'm happy about how much i get, but i don't have to do too much prep, as most days i just do the next page in the book. this place has 6 foreign teachers altogether, so we have a good cammeraderie (sp!) going on. Yes, it's fairly disorganised, Yes the Koreans say yes when they mean 'i don't understand what you just said/maybe/no' and yes sometimes it can really bug you the way they change their minds all the time without bothering to inform you. Also, this is as much a business as a school, and it's all about keeping the kids happy at the end of the day (therefore keeping parents happy), how you manage to do that whilst teaching English is up to you and your character.
All in all, from what i've heard from other people, there doesn't seem to be too much difference in the way that the Hogwons are run, except maybe in the standard of the apartments. The thing to think about is the fact that this is a franchise and so the Director of your particular school is the main influence on your life.

Hope this might help, and not just confuse more!
Ciao!
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Lost Seoul



Joined: 10 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Tue Aug 19, 2003 10:20 pm    Post subject: Wonderland Reply with quote

Here are some posts about the Wonderland hagwons

Not sure if the Mapo branch is mentioned but even if it isn't it may give you some idea of how the franchise is run in general. Ask for the EMail addresses of the other foreign teachers at the institute and ask them what its like. Ask many questions, seek many opinions, then, finally, trust your own instincts.
==================
http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sefer.cgi?display:981098154-20545.txt
From:Ann
annie26@hotmail.com
Date: February 1, 2001
Posted: Unknown
The director of ChongJu Wonderland is a really nice person to work for. I highly recommend this school! It may be a smaller place, but the school atmopshere is very upbeat. I was nervous about my first teaching experience but it has been great. Cheerio!
=======================================================
http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sefer.cgi?display:982030520-8939.txt
Kesone Chanthanakone, Feb. 13, 2001
kesonec@yahoo.com
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
Posted: Unknown
Let me just say that I loved Korea and I wanted to stay longer, but the working conditions at Pyungtaek Wonderland were unbearable. I ended up leaving after four months.
Their contract is by far the worst I have seen in Korea. Foreign teachers get fed up and leave the country consistently, every two months or so. The others are then stuck working outrageous overtime, sometimes over 50 teaching hours per week.

I feel that the directors, between moments of generosity, create an atmosphere of gloom, distrust, and dishonesty. They are unfair with their teachers, and extremely cheap. When I heard that they fired previous teachers after 11 months to save the bonu$ money and airfare, I wasn't surprised (though I haven't talked to those teachers personally).

They want five foreign teachers, but currently there are only two- and I know they don't want to finish the contract either.

When I asked for a letter of release, the director threatened me and lied to me. So I took off after payday.

There are so many good places to work, do yourself a favor and avoid this place.

By the way,
I was placed in this school by the Barun Education Inc. recruiting service. This comapany was utterly unprofessional. They lied about my contract, who I would be teaching, and where I was going. My contact in Korea was no help and even threatened me about breaking the contract. You'd do better to find work on your own.
http://www.eslcafe.com/jobinfo/asia/sefer.cgi?display:989254739-22139.txt
Ian Clark
Tentacles87@yahoo.com
Manchester
England
07/05/01
Posted: May 16, 2001
Welcome to Wonderland, "Korea's number one English school" states the business card. Initially I wondered why anyone would want to work in Korea then I found out what my co-workers did in their home countries. One was 35 year old Canadian "on the run" but we never found out from what. One was another Canadian in his 20's, a night shift bakery worker with problems at home. Another was a Czech born Canuck called Vlad or Brad depending on which country your in. I never worked out what to call him in S Korea - oh...and he'd bought a TEFL certifcate off the internet. The last to arrive, and thankfully female, was a College drop out from Australia.
Hmm...hardly the most auspicious line up. Then I began to work at the school, and everything seemed to fall into place. Apart from the ridiculous expectation to "teach" 8-9 40 minute lessons per day with limited and repetitive resources there are number of problems. Wonderland, as are all such school is an extra school. This means that 90% of the kids really DO NOT want to be there and when forced to appear, they act like bored monkey's. The major problem with WOnderland is that it's gimic lies in the "fun" themed teaching rooms. This may be impressive to the parent but fun is soemthing it ain't.
I refer you to the bedroom - a bed, a closet with coathangers, desks with unsrewable legs, armchairs that tip over. Now imagine that your 10 years old, you've just spent 7 hours at state school and your forced into another 2 hours of english lessons. You see a bed! What do you do next....?
Wonderland is nothing more than a money making gimic (regardless of which branch). This is nothing to do with a love of working with kids its more about enojoying hours of meaningless babysitting with kiddies that just won't learn.
GO along and observe a foreign teacher try and "teach" Pink class in the Bedroom, or Brown class in the Prehistoric room. There's even this really "fun" room filled with a pit of multi coloured balls - hooray!
Gape, as the teacher produces child after child from the closet as if by magic. Turn around, and...its amazing...they've disappeared again. I swear the only thing they learnt were some very dubious definitions of the things in the room:
Coathanger - Blunt slashing instrument
Closet - I like it in here, it's dark!
Desk - Diving Board
Bed - Splash!
Table Leg - teachers lunch time present.
Why do you want to work in Korea??


http://www.geocities.com/prisonerofwonderland/others1.html

Positive:
Sunday, November 10, 2002 4:42 AM
I have just finished reading your diary on your experience at Wonderland. I teach at Wonderland in Bucheon City. My experience has been quite different than yours, although I can surely relate to some of the same events. I have been working here for 4 months so far. And quite truthfully I don't mind the job. I work a hell of a lot of hours and I do some of the same tedious work that you had to do, but thankfully we have a very supportive staff. I am one of 6 foreign teachers. We also have 14 Korean teachers. 9 of them speak very good English. They listen to us and work with us when a problem occurs. I get very frusturated at times to the point of just wanting to pack up like you and Melissa. I also went through that horrible sickness, in which I only recieved 1 day off of like a month of being incredibly sick. When I came, I arrived at the airport at 5 am and by 9 am I was at the school observing my classes until 7:30. It's hard, but thankfully I work with people who do a wonderful job in pleasing the teachers. The kids are even respectful to the teachers, although some of the classes do tend to get out of control. I have read all of the other accounts on Wonderland schools, and I am awitness that there is at least one good one out there. Sincerely, Emily
Negative:
From: Ivan (Originally posted in my "http://pub8.bravenet.com/guestbook/show.php?usernum=686025148&cpv=1" on 11/13/02)
My wife and I spent the better part of 5 years teaching English in Korea. Most of that time was glorious. We loved Korea: the people, the culture, the food--it was all superb. We liked it so much, in fact, that we got married there. We made many lifelong friendships (including with some of our directors) and we had very rewarding experiences as teachers.
The only negative experience we had in Korea was during four months in 1998 when we worked for Song-Pa Wonderland in Seoul. Jane, your stories brought so much back to me. My wife and I felt, exactly as you did, like we were prisoners. It began in March of 1998. We were returning to Korea after a wonderful year teaching on the island province of Chejudo, and a short break back in Canada. We thought that since we already had a year's experience that we would be ready to handle anything. We were dead wrong.
We arrived on a Saturday. We were picked up at the airport and taken immediately to the school, where we were met by the Director's husband and the Academic Supervisor. The school was filthy: all of the classrooms were dirty; there was garbage on the floors; tables and chairs were broken; and the entire place smelled like bathroom. The teachers room was tiny and there was not one single computer for teachers' use. We had a look at the one shelf of resource materials and we quickly surmised that these were just photocopies from other teaching manuals. The "I like English" text books were no better. They looked like cheesy comic books, but they had no dialogue whatsoever--just speech bubbles with pictures in them. On every page, there were cryptic pictures of animals talking to each other about classroom objects and vegetables. Oh well, my wife and I thought, we had a year's teaching experience; we could figure it out. We decided not to get upset about the hakwon just yet.
We were then taken to our "apartment". We drove about 30 minutes away from the school to what looked like a hooker district. We had been promised a private 2 bedroom apartment with no roommates. This place was a 3 bedroom apartment and there were 3 men living it when we got there. All of the bedrooms were taken! To top it off, the place was a disgrace. I'll spare you all the details except that the kitchen sink was full to the top with dirty syringes. I got very scared and my wife started to cry. The Director's husband, who had taken us there, smiled and chuckled sheepishly as if this were something we would take in stride. I asked him what he expected us to do. He just smiled, put our suitcases on the floor and said, "You here sleeping." Then he left.
The 3 guys living in the apartment were still asleep when we arrived. I decided that I was not going to let my wife spend one single night in that hellhole, so we got into a cab and drove until we found a "yogwan" (Korean style hotel). From the yogwan, I called the Academic Supervisor and told her that we would not show up to the hakwon on Monday unless we were given a private 2 bedroom apartment, like we had been promised in our contracts. She agreed to get us one somehow, but did not know how she would do it. We ended up living in the yogwan, at our expense, for about five days.
On the Monday, we did go into work. Like Jane and Melissa, our first day was spent observing Activity day. It was pure chaos. Having already taught one year in a hakwon, we were stunned by the complete lack of control that the teachers had over the students.
That day, we also got to meet our director, Mrs. Cho. She seemed friendly at first. She said she was really excited about us because we had teaching experience. Then, she buttered us up with compliments about our appearance. She went on to express huge sympathy about the apartment, pretending to have had no idea that we would be put in "that" apartment. She promised us that we would get a nice apartment soon. And then she bought us pizza. I must say, at that time, I started to feel like this job might work out. We met the other teachers and they all seemed friendly and they sympathized with our apartment predicament. One teacher even let us crash at her place for a night or two while we waited for our apartment. That kindness made us want to stay at Wonderland.
On day two, we were given our schedules. After puzzling over our schedules for 20 minutes, we realized that we were both being asked to teach 10 classes a day. At our previous hakwon the standard was 6 a day and it was unusual for teachers to take a seventh class, even as overtime. Neither of us wanted to be difficult, but we knew that 10 would destroy us emotionally and physically, so we went to see the director. After a long debate, she agreed that we would only teach 8 classes a day.
We taught 8 classes a day for two days. On the third day, we were asked--no, told--that we had to take 2 more classes each. The Director said she was stuck and would we please do her the favour of teaching 10 classes just for the first month, and then she would put us down to 6 like we wanted. We taught 10 classes a day for 4 months.
I won't go into huge detail about the classes, but let me just say that Wonderland had almost nothing in the way of resource materials for us to use. We had one photocopier that seldom worked; we had no pencils; no scissors; no glue; no tape; no construction paper; no games; the list goes on and on. We got one board maker a month, but we had to wipe whiteboards with bathroom tissue because we had no erasers. Eventually, my wife and I just bought all of the necessary materials, including textbooks that had words in them. My students never brought notebooks or pencils or erasers, so I had them writing on scrap paper with crayons. We did have crayons at Wonderland.
I must admit that we were satisfied with our apartment when it finally came. The only down side was that the Director moved one of our co-workers into the filthy place so that we could have his apartment. My wife and I hated being put in that position, but the guy who was moved told us not to worry about it. He remained a friend of ours throughout our time in Korea.
The first day that my wife and I realized that Wonderland was truly evil was our first pay day. Mrs. Cho gave us 400 000 won and promised to pay the rest in a few days. It then took two weeks of us going to her every day to get our pay. We started to consider leaving Wonderland, but we liked our co-workers and we were happy with the apartment, so we held on. The pay problems continued in the second and third months.
Things really started to get weird in the fourth month. Rumours started to spread that the school would be closing. By this time, all of the foreign teachers except us had finished their contracts, so we were the only native speaking English teachers at the hakwon. It was a nightmarish schedule. Anyway, the rumour was that Mrs. Cho was going to close the school and run with all the money--parents monthly fees and our pay for the previous month. As the only non-Koreans at the school, we were left almost completely out of the loop, picking up only what we could understand in Korean.
One day, all of the Korean teachers decided to confront the Director to demand their pay and ours. (Some of the Korean teachers had not been paid in as much 3 months.) Of course, to facilitate this intervention my wife and I were asked to teach every class in the hakwon at the time. We were each assigned a floor, given a bucket of crayons, and told to keep the kids quiet. We did that for 4 class periods.
The result of the meeting between the Korean teachers and Mrs. Cho was predictable: Mrs. Cho threw a fit, punched one or two of the teachers, and said she would never pay any of us because all of us, including my wife and I, had shown such disrespect. Remember, my wife and I were not even there.
The following day, the entire teaching staff, including my wife and I, decide to stage a revolt. The Academic Supervisor, with the help of all the Korean teachers, called each and every student's parents to say that classes were cancelled for the day. Then, we locked the front doors of the hakwon and waited for the director to arrive. All of the Korean teachers decided that, since I was the only man on staff, I should actually stand guard at the door and refuse to let Mrs. Cho into the hakwon. I obliged, reluctantly. When Mrs. Cho showed up, she threw another fit, this time with me, standing arms folded, between her and the entire staff. Suffice it to say, I did not enjoy being the barricade. The result of the stand-off, which lasted about 3 hours, was the same as before. Nobody was paid and everybody was threatened.
The following day, all of the teachers went to work as usual, but we held a secret meeting to decide what to do. We decided, unanimously, that we would all finish the month (there was about a week left) and then we would all disappear--without a word. My wife and I were a little worried about this because it would mean that, essentially, we would be on the streets and illegal.
Little did we know, Mrs. Cho had a plan of her own. The rumours had been true. After the stand-off, Mrs. Cho never showed up to work again. She had skipped town with all the money. We taught for one last week without her, and without our pay--more than a month's salary. We decided that since the parents had paid, they should get something for their money, even if we didn't get paid. The funny thing was that all of the teachers were happy, even optimistic. There was even talk about the Academic Supervisor buying the hakwon and re-opening it with all of us working there.
During the last two days of the month, people came to the hakwon to repossess anything of value. I remember guys coming into my classroom, while I was teaching, and literally stripping the walls bare. I managed to steal a VCR before the repo guys found it. Take that, Mrs. Cho. The whole experience was surreal.
A week or two before the hakwon had closed, my wife and I, sensing the end, had met with the Director of another school. We told him everything and he offered us jobs and gave us advice on how to handle leaving Wonderland. We were so worried, but at least we had somewhere to go.
After the last day at Wonderland, my wife and I went back to the apartment and packed our stuff. We were very worried that Mrs. Cho would show up or somehow find out that we were going to work for another school and that she would try to stop us. We were not sure if the contract would still stand since there was no longer a hakwon, but we didn't want to leave anything to chance.
In the end, we got a cab to a temporary place that our new Director had set up for us. He had even set out little gifts for us on the kitchen table. He was really good to us. We started working for him a couple of days later--completely illegally, of course, since we still had Wonderland visas. But, he was honest with us about the risks and we accepted them. We figured even being deported could not be worse than going back to Wonderland.
After about a week at the new hakwon, we went to Immigration to come clean about what had happened. We figured that the best way to handle this unusual situation would be to tell the truth about what had happened (we did, of course, leave out the part about working at a new hakwon already). The Immigration officer told us that we had, in fact, been reported by Mrs. Cho and that we might face fines and deportation. He said that a meeting must be arranged with all of us (my wife and I, Mrs. Cho and the Immigration officer) present in order to figure out what had really happened. So, he attempted to contact Mrs. Cho and arrange a meeting. It turned out that Mrs. Cho now owned another Wonderland in a nearby district of Seoul. She agreed to meet us the following week.
My wife and I were panic stricken. We were sure that the Immigration guys would side with the Mrs. Cho. How could we defend ourselves if we couldn't even understand what she was saying about us?
Anyway, we showed up for the meeting at the Immigration office the following week, but to our surprise Mrs. Cho did not. The Immigration officer decided that if Mrs. Cho was not prepared to defend her claim that we had broken contract, that he would drop the charges. He wrote something in each of our passports and then instructed us to go to Japan to cancel the visas. He was incredibly helpful and he apologized for the behaviour of Mrs. Cho. My wife and I spent 3 more very happy years in Korea after that awful experience at Wonderland.
I no longer feel anger towards Mrs. Cho. If it had not been for her, we might never have found the hakwon we ended up at for 3 years; we might never have met the people we now consider to be part of our family; and we might never have had the chance to become really good teachers.
Jane, your stories are touching, funny and extremely well-written. You have done a great service for people who want to teach in Korea. I hope that your stories reach a lot of people. Teaching English in Korea can be a most rewarding and fun experience. Unfortunately, there are places like Wonderland that can ruin a person's experience of Korea. My deepest sympathies for all of those who end up working for Wonderland or Mrs. Cho. You are not alone.

-Ivan
****
Date: Monday, 28 January 2002, at 10:25 p.m.
In Response To: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
I'm also looking for positions in Korea at the moment. I had a phone interview with a Wonderland school in a city named Kuri or Guri. I wasn't impressed, and it sounds like Wonderland is not the best choice overall. They wanted me to work split shifts daily and also work on Saturdays. The pay was pretty low (1.8 mil), and the housing would be shared with several other teachers. There was also a 100,000 W per month utilities deposit taken out of your pay every month for the first six month (I hear this is actually illegal). I would be teaching very young children and the supervisor told me that I would be doing more babysitting than teaching. I realize that Wonderland is a franchise, and that all franchise branches are not created equal, but through my hagwon research I've determined that you can do a lot better than Wonderland. I've also seen multiple "don't teach at Wonderland" messages over the last few weeks. I haven't even been to Korea, but it sounds like those in Korea who use this discussion forum would agree. Whatever you do TALK TO TEACHERS that are currently teaching at the school where you plan to teach. Good luck...
*****
Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Posted By: Junggye Survivor
Date: Tuesday, 29 January 2002, at 5:01 a.m.
In Response To: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Generally speaking, Wonderlands are bad news. I was at the one in Junggye, which while not the worst school in Korea, still left a lot to be desired. There are some good ones, but they are few and far between. Basically, they're a string of franchises run by independent businessmen who, for the most part, are interested only in money. There are no quality standards and little if any in-house training procedures. You are expected to come up with all the ideas plus hop step and jump at the whim of your "owner" (i.e. boss) who won't have a clue about educational theory. The worst thing ours did was con a eight month pregnant American into staying until her due Date, then ripped off her and her husband for severance and rent - because she had gone home for a family funeral six months earlier, and because now there was only one "teacher" in the apartment. This place had several teachers quit en-mass in 2001. I've heard worse about other Wonderlands though.
****
Posted By: WONDERLAND NEVER!
Date: Tuesday, 29 January 2002, at 5:08 a.m.
In Response To: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
If you had tried you could not have come up with a WORSE name in Korea. Wonderland schools are well known in this industry as being VERY BAD employers. I know so many teachers who have had bad experiences there to say the least. Yes some school are meant to be better than others but how do you know if you have a good one?...You don't!. DO not go anywhere near those schools. You can do far better. Right now your scraping the bottom of the pond!. I bet a recruiter put you onto them. Have to be, no English teacher here would tell you to work at one unless they didn't like you. Give yourself a break and forget wonderland.






Posted By: P.O.W. Prisoner Of Wonderland
Date: Friday, 1 February 2002, at 11:03 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland?? (WONDERLAND NEVER!)
There is no such thing as a good Wonderland. It is a myth and a cruel one at that. I spent nine months of hell at one and finally cracked. They tried to steal from me at every opportunity. To ALL newbies . . . accept only Monday to Friday, No split shifts, Single apartment with A/C, and 2.1 million a month NET if you are getting anything less you are being paid below the market!

*****
Posted By: hi
Date: Wednesday, 30 January 2002, at 5:33 p.m.
In Response To: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
It's a babysitting Hakwon. 3/4 of your classes will be children under the age of five. "Teaching" consists of predominantly singing, playing games, and doing crafts. Problem is, they provide next to no teaching materials and they expect you to do something called "club act" where you improvise a lesson to do with a themed room (there's a MacDonald's Monday, 22 October 2001, at 7:25 a.m.
Posted By: Lim Hyun Hee
Wonderland. My two children have attending Wonderland English learning center for more than one year. My children have learned nothing. Please tell me where I must send my children to learn English.
Lim Hyun Hee
*****
Posted By: tony
Date: Monday, 28 January 2002, at 12:10 p.m.
In Response To: does anybody know anything about Wonderland?
Run like hell. Do not look back.
*****
Posted By: timeless
Date: Monday, 28 January 2002, at 2:50 p.m.
In Response To: does anybody know anything about Wonderland?
My God, can we say more than we have. Stay away from Wonderland…stay away, stay away, stay away. I have heard so many bad things now that I wouldn't risk it. Even an enemy doesn't deserve that situation.
*****
WARNING - Avoid Incheon Namdong-gu Wonderland
Posted By: fat buddha man
Date: Friday, 1 February 2002, at 10:55 p.m.
Hello,
I am a current teacher at Incheon Namdong-gu Wonderland. If you get an offer from this school make sure you ask for a foreign teacher reference. They won't give you one because they can't. There are three foreign teachers and we are all leaving. Even the Korean teachers hate it. It is a terrible school that will try to rip you off. They threaten their Korean teachers and will change the contracts of foreign teachers then tell you to leave the country if you don't like it. Actually, make sure to talk to a foreign teacher no matter what school it is.
*****
Re: wonderland songpa gu
Posted By: Used and Abused by Wonderland
Date: Saturday, 2 February 2002, at 11:40 a.m.
I agree. NO ONE should ever work for these people. I was deported because they screwed up with immigration and now I can never work in Korea again. All because they lied and tried to cheat immigration (at the teacher's expense).
*****
Posted By: aladinsane
Date: Saturday, 2 February 2002, at 9:48 p.m
In Response To: Re: wonderland songpa gu
Give Wonderland Song pa a miss. I know from experience that the director can't be trusted, the apartments are sub standard. If u are going to work there then don't get sick and don't leave valuables in your apartment when you are not there. A lot of sly underhand dealings are done by this director. The tax and education dept's need to take a REAL look at his books. This director even tries to make employees sign a "I will not post negative messages about the school on the net" clause. That alone should tell u all u need to know about this employer.
*****
leaving my school
Posted By: I want a new job
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2002, at 12:37 a.m.
I came to Wonderland because I knew people at the school and it was good at first for them. Then things got bad ...real bad. Now my school is trying to screw me over. They are telling to either go home or give them 2.3 million won so that I can get a new job. I want out. Anyone have any advice?
*****
Posted By: Scoobyfamiliar
Date: Monday, 4 February 2002, at 5:05 p.m.
In Response To: Wondering about wonderland
Are there any positive experiences from Wonderland? Pain, it builds character, allows you to appreciate happiness more. I went to a Wonderland teachers meeting, asked 20 foreign teachers from others in the franchise, were they happy? Yes, that they were leaving. No, they would not recommend Wonderland. Read the messages here, avoid wonderland, there have been at least 30 other teachers who have posted warnings over the past year. Tell the recruiter, `give me a real school, not a wonderland.'
*****
Posted By: Please Don't
Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2002, at 3:20 a.m.
In Response To: Wondering about wonderland
Are you kidding? Do NOT work there. None of them are even remotely worth it, even if you find a "decent" one. Don't trust any other teacher's opinion if they say it's a great place to work. They might like it, but they may be a little crazy themselves or secretly planning to quit once you arrive. Don't make the same mistake I did.
*****
Posted By: Haven't we covered this?
Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2002, at 8:42 a.m.
In Response To: Wondering about wonderland
Not sure how much clearer we could make it for you. Wonderland is a horrible school. Especially the one in Songpa and any owned by Oh and Cho. If you want to live through a year of hell, go for it. Otherwise, avoid the dump.
*****
Posted By: Hotuk
Date: Wednesday, 6 February 2002, at 6:14 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Wondering about wonderland
You know, we just don't get a lot of positive comments about Wonderlands on here - you're a rarity. And if your school was a decent one with great kids, a supportive administration and an effective curriculum, then I'd suggest that it was a rarity as well. This is not a "singular experience".
Whether or not the Wonderland complainers are bad teachers or unable to "cope with Korea" is not for us to judge. But the story on the website posted by those girls last week sounded awfully familiar to me to the stories I heard from other Wonderland teachers three years ago in a different city. I actually taught in one for a week as a favor to my boss at another school - I was at the infamous Sangye/Chunggye school - and it was so awful it was funny. Of the big McHogwan chain schools: ECC, BCM, Kids Club, English Friends - Wonderlands have the worst reputation. Feel lucky you were at a good one. Wonderlands seem consistent in their suckiness.
Given the considerable risks involved for new teachers coming to Korea, I believe steering potential teachers away from Wonderlands is helpful and charitable advice, and not the whining of "bitter failures".
*****
Pyungtaek WONDERLAND- stay away
Let me just say that I loved Korea and I wanted to stay longer, but the working conditions at Pyungtaek Wonderland were unbearable. I ended up leaving after four months.
Their contract is by far the worst I have seen in Korea. Foreign teachers get fed up and leave the country consistently, every two months or so. The others are then stuck working outrageous overtime, sometimes over 50 teaching hours per week.
I feel that the directors, between moments of generosity, create an atmosphere of gloom, distrust, and dishonesty. They are unfair with their teachers, and extremely cheap. When I heard that they fired previous teachers after 11 months to save the bonus money and airfare, I wasn't surprised (though I haven't talked to those teachers personally).
They want five foreign teachers, but currently there are only two- and I know they don't want to finish the contract either.
When I asked for a letter of release, the director threatened me and lied to me. So I took off after payday.
There are so many good places to work, do yourself a favor and avoid this place. By the way, I was placed in this school by the Barun Education Inc. recruiting service. This company was utterly unprofessional. They lied about my contract, who I would be teaching, and where I was going. My contact in Korea was no help and even threatened me about breaking the contract. You'd do better to find work on your own.
Kesone Chanthanakone, Feb. 13, 2001
St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada
*****
Beware of PYONGTAEK WONDERLAND
I don't have the energy to write out this story one more time, but I wanted to tell you that I had a terrible experience at Pyontaek Wonderland. The director attempted to hit, threaten and steal from me. If you are considering working there, PLEASE reconsider. I check the main board occasionally and I will respond if you have further questions.
*****
Wonderland - Babysitters Apply
Welcome to Wonderland, "Korea's number one English school" states the business card. Initially I wondered why anyone would want to work in Korea then I found out what my co-workers did in their home countries. One was 35 year old Canadian "on the run" but we never found out from what. One was another Canadian in his 20's, a night shift bakery worker with problems at home. Another was a Czech born Canuck called Vlad or Brad depending on which country your in. I never worked out what to call him in S Korea - oh...and he'd bought a TEFL certificate off the internet. The last to arrive, and thankfully female, was a College drop out from Australia. Hmm...hardly the most auspicious line up. Then I began to work at the school, and everything seemed to fall into place. Apart from the ridiculous expectation to "teach" 8-9 40 minute lessons per day with limited and repetitive resources there are number of problems. Wonderland, as are all such school is an extra school. This means that 90% of the kids really DO NOT want to be there and when forced to appear, they act like bored monkeys. The major problem with Wonderland is that its gimmick lies in the "fun" themed teaching rooms. This may be impressive to the parent but fun is something it ain't. I refer you to the bedroom - a bed, a closet with coat hangers, desks with unscrewable legs, armchairs that tip over. Now imagine that your 10 years old, you've just spent 7 hours at state school and your forced into another 2 hours of English lessons. You see a bed! What do you do next....? Wonderland is nothing more than a money making gimmick regardless of which branch). This is nothing to do with a love of working with kids its more about enjoying hours of meaningless babysitting with kiddies that just won't learn. GO along and observe a foreign teacher try and "teach" Pink class in the Bedroom, or Brown class in the Prehistoric room. There's even this really "fun" room filled with a pit of multi colored balls - hooray! Gape, as the teacher produces child after child from the closet as if by magic. Turn around, and...its amazing...they've disappeared again. I swear the only thing they learnt were some very dubious definitions of the things in the room:
Coat hanger - Blunt slashing instrument
Closet - I like it in here, it's dark!
Desk - Diving Board
Bed - Splash!
Table Leg - teachers lunch time present.
Why do you want to work in Korea??
Ian Clark
Manchester
England
07/05/01
Posted: May 16, 2001
*****
Koje-do Wonderland
Name: Lindsay Lanham
Date: 11/13/00
Prague, Chek Republic
I just left the Wonderland in Koje-do, South Korea. It was by far the worst place I ever worked in my life. The contract was honored at 100 hours, but so split that I had no free time at all except on Sunday. I was promised when I arrived 5 months ago that another teacher was to be here. That teacher however tricked me into coming for them. He quit. I
had to work his schedule when I got here and was required to work overtime. I refused after a while and asked that if I paid them back for my airfare, worked the over time, would they release me after one month ..this of course was denied. They promised me a better schedule if I helped them find another teacher. Then they would have 2 teachers. I helped them and when the new teacher arrived, they only took more students and had more classes and the schedule never got better. They had both me and my roommate teaching the same classes for no other reason than that we had time according to our contracts. The worst part was the constant harassment from the owner's wife, Pamela, about our teaching. We had to write lesson plans, weekly plans, and monthly plans, as well as develop curriculum, work on a major presentation, and write tests for the older students. My day on M-W-F began at 8:30 and ended at 7:30. My Tues-Thurs were ok, but I had to come back at night and teach as well as come back for a staff meeting on Tuesdays halfway in between my break. They also paid me 100,000 a month less than the new male teacher for no reason. They sent my roommate to Japan and with a ridiculously tight itinerary. He was unable to do it and had to get a hotel. He missed the next day at work and the docked his pay over 100,000 W. My salary was 1.6 and I only brought home a little under 1.2 and whenever I asked why, they would show me all these complicated things in Korean that I couldn't read. Basically the school is hell and I would advise anyone not to teach there. Since it opened 10 months ago, 6 teachers (3 foreign, 3 Korean) have quit.
*****
BEWARE OF OLYMPIC WONDERLAND & HBS CONSULTING
I have taught in Korea for two years at three different institutes. At my first two, things worked out fairly well. I was screwed over a little, but not too the extent that others had been - until I hit Olympic Wonderland.
The institute is run by Mr. Oh and his wife Mrs. Jo. I started working there in September of 99, and I was placed there by HBS CONSULTING which is quite the racket itself. The first thing that happened they lied in the contract about the number of hours we were teaching. In the contract it was six but because the classes were only forty minutes I ended up staying at the hogwon longer. My first day I was there and taught for ten hours,
then I just left. The next day they said that everything would be resolved, and that day I worked twelve. Then they said that they were expecting another teacher, so would I teach overtime classes. I said yes. BIG MISTAKE. To make an extremely long story short, two teachers came and left and I was not paid the proper overtime. Then, when I was paid there was a banknote for 800,000 Won, that I cannot cash now because it was reported missing. So needless to say my friend and I bolted. Please save yourself a lot of grief and stay away from both organizations. When I called HBS, Seung Hey Nam and Mr.Wang, proceed to agree with the hogwon directors and they didn't help me get my proper overtime salary. Although these people appear to be kind and friendly they will rip you off. I suppose in the end I am better off. I did leave them with a huge phone bill and a non- refundable air plane ticket. So, if you have any questions do not hesitate to email me.
Rayann Toner
room, a 7-11 room, a bedroom, a bathroom, a Jurassic Park room , a natural park room , an airport room, a sports room, you get the picture I guess). The airport room has a map of the world, very useful for planning the vacations you'll be taking with all the money you'll be making. Personally, I wouldn't say too much against Wonderland. They like to take you out to dinner a lot and get you drunk for free, and they have a field trip once a month. My main complaints were always the same: Bad management, no teaching materials. It was a cash cow operation for an owner who couldn't speak English and knew nothing about teaching. Simply wanted the big bucks from the English Hakwon deal. That was my school. Others might be different.
*****
Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Posted By: sadek
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2002, at 3:08 a.m.
I agree there is no such thing as a good Wonderland. I worked for Ujonbju Wonderland.
I was lied to about every thing working hours and single accommodation. When I complained I was fired with no notice and no reason was provided either. And I was not paid my final salary. Wonderlands are bad news please say away from the schools all
together.
*****
Posted By: Nolbu
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2002, at 8:15 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Please, don't work at wonderland. They are terrible, all of them. The only people who say otherwise are too dumb to know that they have been scammed or they are have interest
in the company.
*****
Posted By: Paul Chung
Date: Monday, 4 February 2002, at 3:02 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
I totally agree. Wonderland is steadily losing its' reputation. It has expanded too quickly granting anyone with the financial means to open a school. Many owners have no clue on how to run a school for that matter with dealing and day to day management. The Wonderland corporation has no direct policy nor any physical means by which to enforce any lapse in policies by these franchises. How do I know? I reported out of school, documented all my evidence, met with the president and then they did.....nothing… I am sorry to hear of your experience. Best regards and hope things will be better at your new place.
*****
Posted By: Bitter at Wonderland
Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2002, at 5:51 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Isn't there anything we can do to that franchise to stop lying and cheating to their employees??? I mean, there's got to be something. Couple girls opened up their website telling their horror stories about Wonderland which is quite amusing at times but isn't there something we can do to really put a stop to this nonsense??? I feel Wonderland has robbed me of a good experience in Korea.
*****
Posted By: Which one???
Date: Tuesday, 5 February 2002, at 9:19 a.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Hey Paul, which school was it that you ratted on? I'm curious because I want to get a Wonderland school closed and am wondering if you've already tried with the same one. There were so many cases of abuse and cheating and lying that went on. This place needs to be shut down. But first I'd like to get my money back.
*****
Posted By: I Told U So
Date: Wednesday, 6 February 2002, at 8:43 a.m.
I worked at Suwon Jung-ja Wonderland and had a terrible time with the owner
and his wife. There are no standards set by the head office and while I have heard a few good things about other locations, it seems like any reputation they once had is quickly going down the tubes because of a few money hungry idiots. I can't speak for all Wonderlands, but the ones in Suwon are all owned by the same family and should be avoided by teachers and students alike. There are lots of good hagwons in Suwon that I can recommend if anyone is interested in emailing me.
Ryan Teacher
*****
Posted By: Mr. Clean
Date: Wednesday, 6 February 2002, at 2:50 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
Please, don't work at wonderland. They screwed me. They screw everyone. If someone has anything positive to say about wonderland then beware of that person. They are either a wonderland employee or they haven't yet figured out how they have been screwed.
*****
Posted By: killmegently
Date: Thursday, 7 February 2002, at 8:57 p.m.
In Response To: Re: Help--teaching at Wonderland??
I ran from the Kwachon wonderland 2 years ago after sleeping in a smelly, cold apartment with no heat for 3 months. I let them have the "deposit". They didn't want to release me, so I filed a statement with immigration....I was released the next day. I've been happy ever since, and still in Korea. Stay away from wonderhell.
*****
Posted By: mark2002
Date: Sunday, 3 February 2002, at 12:55 p.m.
In Response To: Prisoner of Wonderland unveiled
Excellent....This is absolutely excellent...and well written I might add. I have spent hours reading it...
How can Korean parents allow their children (and themselves!) to be so ripped-off? I have half a dozen Korean friends in the USA. None of them would subject their kids (well, if they had kids...: )) to that kind of (kinda? shhhesh!!!) treatment.
These Korean parents must work very hard to send their kids for such training. Why are they so out of the loop with the reality of these schools? Amazing they would throw their money and children away like that.
No doubt its a lack of information. Those parents need to know the real scoop.
hahaha if your site was translated into Korean wouldn't they have something to read...
Thank you very much for sharing.
You girrrrls rooooock : )
-mark2002
****
BEWARE Andong WONDERLAND
Posted By: Francois Ouellette and Nadia Robichaud
Date: Saturday, 26 January 2002, at 3:38 p.m.
Through the telling of our experience, this message serves the purpose of warning people interested in teaching in Korean hogwans, or more specifically, of warning those foreign or Korean people interested in working at Andong Wonderland, Ltd.--one specific school under the national company of the greater Wonderland, one of the most significant and apparently reputable such businesses in the market.
The Wonderland Language Institutes, the first of which I believe was opened in 1994, have at last count 91 different schools located throughout Korea. While it is said that the company is of good standing, several recruitment agencies have admitted that some of these are not recommendable, and even some have been black-listed, so to speak. To these the name of ANDONG WONDERLAND should be added.
Our reason for stating is a harsh dissatisfaction with our employer, Mr. WI HEUI-YONG, under whom Nadia and I worked from November of 2000 to November of 2001.
Our main concern regards the severance pay which he has NEVER PAID, the total amount of which was around 2,600,00 won (approx. 3100 $can). We were told that this amount would be paid before we left, but on our last night, the date was punched to the end of November. After that, it was pushed to the end of December--a LIE which he fabricated in order to protect his own-self image. Then, the date was pushed to January 15th, which has since passed. Note that we have called and written many times, but all to no avail.
This has angered us significantly. This money was crucial to our return; but not only that, it is our money, for which we had worked quite hard. This 3000-odd dollars is STOLEN MONEY PUT INTO THE BOSS'S POCKETS.
Not once have we been difficult, and often we have shown great tolerance before his INCOMPETENCE both as an employer and as a decent human being. THERE IS NO HONOUR BEHIND THIS MAN, Mr. WI.
Our RETURN TICKETS themselves took much obstinate demanding and verification on our part, as always the awaited date of departure was pushed beyond the completion of our contract. After a year in a foreign country, we did not need to experience such STRESS during a period which should have been joyous.
Also, Nadia, Kirsten (another teacher at the time) and myself had worked four months of intensive over-time. This, we had agreed upon when we were first warned about the prospect, was only supposed to last one month at the most--but as always LIES and FABRICATIONS were used as devices of MANIPULATION, playing with our naive trust in a man which supposedly--and should have--treated us with respect.
It also comes to mind that Mr. Wi was taken into court, and found GUILTY of a certain affair which involved him not paying our old head-teacher.
In all, our experience does not paint a pretty picture of the man nor of the school. Thus: AVOID ANDONG WONDERLAND--it makes one think of a monkey-operation founded on deceit and falsities.
Still greater, we wish to call WONDERLAND LANGUAGE SCHOOLS into this as well, for not assuming the responsibility and initiative of verify schools under its name. What good is a bureaucracy if naught favorable comes of it, and no responsible leadership assumed?
To those who have read, we thank you for your interest.
Francois Ouellette
Nadia Robichaud
*****
Posted By: Steve
Date: Sunday, 27 January 2002, at 11:08 p.m.
In Response To: BEWARE Andong
Over my six years in this country I have never seen complaints about the Wonderland chain of schools stop. I think it is good that you are warning other prospective teachers about this chain of schools. What I don't understand is why so many fools out there continue to sign up to work for them. You all have been warned that this company is bad and should be avoided.


Korean Job Discussion Forum
NamGu Wonderland
Posted By: KMF <nibs98@hotmail.com <mailto:nibs98@hotmail.com?subject=NamGu Wonderland>>
Date: Sunday, 12 January 2003, at 6:25 p.m.
I know everyone is always posting messages on here about not working in Wonderland Schools. Still, some of us read these messages too late and few actually have good experiences at Wonderland.
This message is intended to warn anyone considering applying or taking at job at Nam-Gu Wonderland in Incheon. This particular school is very "Foreign Teacher" unfriendly. The head people of the school speak no English. There are often unnecessary communication problems which can be very difficult. After working there for 6 months my boyfriend and I still did not have our Heath Insurance, which was suppose to be given to us upon arrival according to the contract. We left the school two months ago and they still owe us money and are giving us the run around on when we will see it (we aren't holding our breath). They have an extremely high staff turnover, mostly with Korean Teachers simply because there is no contracting binding them to stay.
I could go on and on with reasons why not to pick this school, but the biggest is that Korea is a great place to come and work and there are many "good" schools here to choose from.
We did stay for the full year but did consider many times the option of a midnight run. Just look somewhere else and always ask, no insist, on talking to a teacher who is working at the school or the teacher you are replacing.
Good Luck

Korean Job Discussion Forum
Re: NamGu Wonderland
Posted By: did it too
Date: Monday, 13 January 2003, at 6:42 p.m.
In Response To: NamGu Wonderland <http://www.eslcafe.com/korea/index.cgi?noframes;read=132710159085> (KMF)
I worked for a wonderland branch in southern part of korea and I had the same type of situations happen at my school. I finished my contract, but it was a long and tiring experience. I do think that every wonderland is set up the same, but everything depends on the director. I was the only teach in a full year to finish my contract. I hope people will fully consider other schools before signing with wonderland.
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http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/korea/viewtopic.php?t=3794
harryh

Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 4

Posted: Sat May 03, 2003 12:53 am Post subject:

At a Wonderland at the moment. Complete rip off! I'm owed a small fortune in wages, which i'm unlikely to get. One excuse after another as to why i don't get it (eg: "The schedule has been thrown away, so i can't check how many hours you worked"). I'm just waiting for my contract to finish! Not saying that it's a real contract. They don't keep to it.
Don't work there



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http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/korea/viewtopic.php?t=3794
bap

Joined: 10 Apr 2003
Posts: 7

Posted: Thu May 08, 2003 8:31 pm
Post subject:

i'm in the same boat as harryh (above). DON'T WORK FOR WONDERLAND!

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http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/korea/viewtopic.php?t=5044
bap

Joined: 10 Apr 2003
Posts: 19

Posted: Wed May 28, 2003 8:36 pm

Post subject:


i work/worked for a wonderland (my school was a wonderland for the first two months it was open, now they changed their name but continue to use most of the wonderland program).
all i can tell you is not to waste your time. the wonderland program is horrible. the students english books are from levels 1-6, they are nicely colored and put together but they are age specific. the book for level one is targeted for ages 4-5, level two for ages 5-6, and so on. the problem is that most of the kids are much older than the ages the books are assigned for. the wonderland preschool program keeps them on a different program until the are eight years old. so the kids are using workbooks with cartoon dinosaurs named "dizzy" sometimes until they are thirteen. you can probably guess how bored they get. it really is just a joke to them and it makes teaching hard because they don't want to get to know "dizzy" and his friends.
wonderland also has "club acts" which are special days about every two weeks where the kids get to learn about their theme room (all of the rooms have a different theme - like the universe room or the airport room). this may seem like it's fun but it's not. the supplements for these fun days are little to none, so the teachers have to find their own pictures, games, and activities. this takes quite a bit of time especially when you're trying to keep their ages and english levels in mind.
the actual teachers guides are okay but i usually ran out of things to teach within about twenty minutes. the average lesson plan doesn't last for half of the lesson, and the activity books for the kids aren't fun for them so you'll have to find your own supplements and bring them in.
i could start about the preschool program but the problems are similar to the ones above.
these problems may happen in other hagwons too but i've only taught at this one school so i don't know.
as for wonderland work relationships, at my school there are two foreign teachers and one korean english teacher (there used to be two but one quit). i have a really good relationship with the korean english teacher. as for my director, this is his first hagwon and in my opinion he doesn't know what he's doing. i have had a really hard time with him when it comes to everything from getting paid on time to getting a stove. i don't know what other wonderland directors are like but mine seems typical from what i've read.
one last warning. on your contract you may notice a "teachers schedules can not be guaranteed", take this very seriously. this basically tells you that they can give you classes spread out from 9am to 8pm and you can't do anything about it. wonderland has preschool classes in the mornings starting at 9 or 9:30 but the rest of the english classes don't start until 3pm. so you might be working all day (9-7or8) with a bunch of twenty minute or one hour breaks. i'd ask for a schedule before i sign any contracts - and make sure that you get paid for feild trips because preschoolers tend to go on a lot of them and you might not be getting paid for going.
hope this helps
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hadeshorn



Joined: 30 Jul 2003

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 3:34 am    Post subject: Im gonna buck the trend here... Reply with quote

I know wonderlands a bad school and I wouldnt be working if for not one reason. My friends came over first to this school and had no troubles. I was green at the time and didnt know that teaching english over here was so dangerous. But anyway they said that there was a job opening up.. Come over.. I did, signed the contract, visa everything. Then I found out about the horrible wonderland reputation.

However this school is pretty awesome. Everyone gets on well, Supervisor is fine, the director is hardly about... but the directors wife is quite cool as well. My hours are great and the only thing I can complain about is the 4 hour break in the middle of the day. But I enjoy that time.

Theres a position opening in October if anyone is interested. BTW its in Seoul at Karak-Songpa. AND NO IT ISNT THE SONGPA SCHOOL!
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mishlert



Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Location: On the 3rd rock from the sun

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 6:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Though Wonderlad as a whole is on every blacklist out there, each school will differ depending on the owner.
For eaxample. I had some friends who worked at Mapo Wonderland and they told me that it was great; the owner was very nice, pay was on time, free lunch, great students.
The four of them lived in a four bedroom/bathroom APT. That can be a good, or bad thing depending how you feel about sharing with 3 others.
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chronicpride



Joined: 16 Jan 2003

PostPosted: Wed Aug 20, 2003 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wonderland and YBM/ECC always gets the knee-jerk reaction of negative responses, because so many teachers work or have worked there. The biggest chains in Korea are naturally going to attract the most heat, simply due to the volume of teachers that go through those places. Their might be over 1000 teachers that work or have worked with Wonderland in Korea. So if you hear 20-30 bad stories about them online, usually about problems at the hagwon level, not the corporate franchiser level, then they get the bad press.

I've never worked for Wonderland, but just approaching their negative hype from a numbers perspective, 20-30 or even 100 rants about one of the biggest ESL employers in Korea, should not warrant a franchise-wide condemnation. And we're also assuming that all of the teachers that get wronged over here are absolute angels and are very easy to get along with and didn't attract some, if not all of the crap that they got dealt. Two sides to every story and we only get to hear one, every time.

Anyways, disregard the fact that Mapo has the word Wonderland after it and qualify the specific school, director, contract, and current and former teachers to gauge them effectively.
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