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Advice on leaving a Hagwon
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

newchamp wrote:
ttompatz wrote:
RunReilly wrote:
Surely they must understand that I will absolutely drag their online reputation through the mud (and I have the horror stories to back it) if they do something stupid. I will absolutely ruin their online reputation and hurt their recruiting.


This will get you sued and you will lose. Truth is NOT a defense. You're not in Kansas anymore there Toto.

You may also get your passport pulled (by the police, courts or immigration) while it gets sorted out (and your embassy won't/can't help you get out of the country if it does).

Have you ever actually known a teacher who got sued? DETAILS please.


Yes: Natalia Vucic, 2004, Suwon district court.

Sued for damage to a business and she lost.
Circumstances: she sent letters home to parents about alleged unethical business practices toward teachers at the hagwon (in Haniltown) that she worked at.

Penalty: Loss of employment, 10 million won payment required (by the court) before she was allowed to leave Korea. Her embassy could do nothing about it.

She borrowed money from home, left Korea and has not been back.

Also of note here:
There has NEVER been a documented case of a "teacher" being sued for non-performance of an employment contract (in Korea) and losing.

You can pull a runner and they can't touch you but if you defame or damage their business on your way out your azz is grass and the Korean courts are the lawnmower.

.
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RunReilly



Joined: 22 May 2013
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Tue Jun 10, 2014 9:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

newchamp wrote:
Do you have any clue how inconsiderate it is of them to mess around with your release letter when you've given 2 months notice? How are you supposed to start looking for another job? And now they want to mess around with your end date?

I'm disgusted that you're just sitting there and taking that.

You might want to go to Immigration and make sure your employers didn't mess around with your visa. Maybe they already fired you and you are working for free. After all, they're not worried you're going to do anything.


Well, we get paid every month of the 10th and I got a full paycheck yesterday, but now I'm seriously doubting what my pay will be next month. I mean, their STILL playing games with my LoR. No decision? Seriously? Two months is not long enough to make a decision on this?! Total bullshit. I should probably take this paycheck (which will probably be my last) and get the hell outta here. I could have screwed them SO hard if I left on APRIL 10th with no warning and no replacement. I figured I was helping them out and they'd be thankful. Doesn't seem to be the case with these sociopaths.

To answer your question about whether or not I know how inconsiderate to mess with my LoR, the answer is yes. I've been in touch with schools and recruiters and I keep having to tell them every week that I still don't know about my letter of release. I literally can't job hunt.

To make matters worse, a recruiter told me that the visa sponsor laws changed in January. Apparently immigration wants to punish/penalize/discourage teachers from breaking their contracts early. So now (and I have not verified this) if you sign for a year and leave early, you have to wait until your contract would have been finished until immigration will allow another sponsor. If true, this clearly illustrates how screwed up the system is. With all the horror stories you read and hear about Hagwons, lets screw teachers who want to get out of a bad situation. Awesome! Makes sense!

I'll check with immigration about my visa status. Tomorrow I'll ask my director one last time about this letter of release. If he hasn't made a decision he'd better make one on the spot. If I don't get it then I'll catch a plane home this weekend and no-show for work on Monday.
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newchamp



Joined: 09 Mar 2013

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 1:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

First, sorry I was a bit too harsh in my previous post. My point was that you're past the point where being cooperative with them is the best option. They are showing no appreciation and would probably feel little remorse about screwing you over for whatever reason. In fact, they're already screwing you by stalling your job search. It's time to scare them.

RunReilly wrote:
So now (and I have not verified this) if you sign for a year and leave early, you have to wait until your contract would have been finished until immigration will allow another sponsor.

If that were true, what would be the use of a release letter? Don't take any recruiter's words too seriously.

If you're already on a plane now, it won't hurt your hagwon much because they already got your replacement. Actually, for most hagwons, a midnight run is not necessarily the dramatic, damaging move that some teachers imagine it is. The hagwon can cover the classes for a few days, with other teachers, desk staff, or even a temp. They can tell the parents your father died, or some other b.s. Only do a midnight run if it's what's best for you.

I hope you're still in Korea. It's better to get in your director's face. Don't hide your anger, and start talking with co-workers about it, in front of students, or with students. If your director says "Hey, we won't give you a release letter if you do that," say, "I'm ready to leave Korea and I'll gladly damage your business if you don't give me the letter ASAP." They may think the release letter is a carrot to keep you well behaved until you're finished. It's time to throw that idea out the window. You can't get sued for public outbursts of anger or having a loose mouth. Just don't launch a campaign. (By the way, thanks ttompatz for those specific details.)

If you've left Korea but want to come back later, I don't think warning people on a forum or blacklist is going to get you in trouble when you come back. People do it all the time, and thankfully so.
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beentheredonethat777



Joined: 27 Jul 2013
Location: AsiaHaven

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations-OP. You handled your business with professional business etiquette! Unfortunately, YOU broke the cardinal rule. BY announcing you were leaving/giving notice it equated to OFFENSIVE behavior and EMBARRASSMENT on their part.IT's kind of like you PUNCHED them in the stomach.
I know, it sounds weird and all, but their thought process is not the same as yours.
I have a few acquaintance who own hogwans, and told me it cuts to the core when a foreigner announces that they are leaving or plan to cease employment.
(And then have the audacity to ask for a letter of release on top of it!)


. I should probably take this paycheck(which will probably be my last)and get the hell outta here.

^^.This.
I could have screwed them SO hard if I left on APRIL 10th with no warning and no replacement.

^^.This.

I figured I was helping them out and they'd be thankful. Doesn't seem to be the case with these sociopaths.

^^. This is seldom the case. The western mindset is exactly the OPPOSITE
of the Eastern thought process. They think YOU are the one who should be thankful. Never mind that this doesn't make sense at all.



To answer your question about whether or not I know how inconsiderate to mess with my LoR, the answer is yes. I've been in touch with schools and recruiters and I keep having to tell them every week that I still don't know about my letter of release.
^^.I seriously doubt this is going to happen. (letter of release)
They are under NO obligation to give you a letter of release.
If they didn't say YES, it usually means NO.. Koreans seldom say NO. It's a culture thing! They think you would have it figured it out by now.

To make matters worse, a recruiter told me that the visa sponsor laws changed in January. Apparently immigration wants to punish/penalize/discourage teachers from breaking their contracts early. So now (and I have not verified this) if you sign for a year and leave early, you have to wait until your contract would have been finished until immigration will allow another sponsor.

[color=red]^^> This is true for Americans. 100% sure about this one.UNLESS they give you a letter of release. This letter AUTHORIZES /GRANTS PERMISSION for you to change EMPLOYERS/SCHOOLS. without having to leave the country.
The only option /way around this is if you have a full set of documents and do a visa run to Japan,etc. for new visa.Otherwise, you'll have to wait until your current visa expires. What's the expiration date? Oh wait. even NOW, I just remembered something. A couple of teachers (with NEW set of documents), went to Japan and was still rejected. So, I guess it's a case by case basis.


If true, this clearly illustrates how screwed up the system is. With all the horror stories you read and hear about Hagwons, lets screw teachers who want to get out of a bad situation. Awesome! Makes sense!

^^> Shocked] Recruiters are not totally honest.They are employed by the schools, not teachers.
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RunReilly



Joined: 22 May 2013
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, like I promised, I had an interesting meeting on Friday and forced the issue about my letter of release. I told to my director that I've waited too long and I worried about my time limit on finding a new job should be give me the letter of release. He told me that he really understood my concern and that we would meet at the end of the day. Fine. Well, that next meeting was confusing as all hell.

As usual, the language barrier was making my head spin, but it sounded like he's been scared of me leaving the school as soon as I get my hands on a LoR. Also, there is another foreign teacher starting this week (they hope) and that could be another reason for keeping me in the dark. He finally told me that my last day would be the 27th. And THIS is where things get really confusing...

He told me to look up flying tickets (plane tickets) this weekend and bring a printout on Monday and he will make a decision. He actually said that he had to decide between purchasing the flying ticket or the LoR. As in, Hanvit (my school) would be paying for the flight. Where would he get an idea like this? Is this a ploy, or does he literally think he has to pay for this? He comes across as nice and tells me that he understands my situation, but its totally undermined when it takes him 9 weeks to make a decision about a letter of release. But again, he comes out with some things that make no logical sense at all and it gives me the feeling that he doesn't understand his job.

The hard part about pushing back was that, once again, he invited the witch (my direct team manager) to the meeting. You remember... the lady who has been giving me trouble since I arrived. The lady he told me that I'm "not a person." That's a direct quote. I'll be writing a book on her soon enough. So, when I was trying to have a dialogue with my director and explain to him that I didn't think it was Hanvit's responsibility but my responsibility to pay for the plane ticket and that he might be confused she jumped all over me. Apparently I was talking with my hands and had inadvertently pointed at him. She pulls this sort of shit all the time and it shuts down the conversation.

I guess I'll get my final answer tomorrow. I tried to explain on Friday night that I didn't wish to go all the way home to NYC, and no plane ticket was necessary. This should have made the decision a no brainer --> Sign the letter of release! Its free!

However, these are not the type of people who admit mistakes or any ounce of confusion on their part. This has been baffled me all weekend. Am I really just dealing with a confused, incompetent, empty-suit director? One who has been trying to protect himself from me leaving too soon and strangely hoping to avoid paying for a plane ticket? Is there really a chance of them paying $1,100 on a plane ticket or is this a remarkably stupid carrot on a stick? Has he avoided answering questions because of ego or because he is incompetent and legitimately confused? This man is impossible to read.

Lastly, my coworkers haven't given a damn that I've been willing to stay. Two were upset with me in April when I decided to finally leave. They thought I was leaving immediately and would therefore leave them "hanging in the lurch" (aka - they would have to teach full schedules with no breaks; which is what I've been doing for months now).

Now its been 9 weeks of misery and insecurity in a foreign land. This weekend I heard it again, "At least you didn't leave us hanging." ...Yep, YOU'RE WELCOME! Also none have come to my defense during any of this. They basically try and fly under the radar and avoid getting hammered themselves.

If I go in tomorrow and find out that there will be no LoR and I'll be paying for my own plane ticket home, how big of a stink should I make? Keep in mind the 2004 lawsuit. Suffice to say, I feel pretty used. I've been more than angry enough to make a scene but have held back for the reasons you all know (LoR). I teach almost 100 students and can easily explain to them that I won't be their teacher anymore because Hanvit treats their teachers like sub-human beings. But this isn't worth it if its gonna cost my father $10K to get me home like that girl back in 2004.
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RunReilly



Joined: 22 May 2013
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If signed a contract dated mid-october, then finally arrived here on november 10th, then signed a resignation dated april 10th, then stuck around till now (7+ months from arrival)... Do they owe me a plane ticket for being here so long?
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ttompatz



Joined: 05 Sep 2005
Location: Kwangju, South Korea

PostPosted: Sun Jun 15, 2014 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, unless your contract states so.
They are NOT legally obligated otherwise.
It is a contractual issue and not a labor issue.

.
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EZE



Joined: 05 May 2012

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ttom,

If a person refused to pay the fine as a matter of principle, how long of a prison sentence would they have to pull before being allowed to leave the country?

RunReilly,

Why do you keep going back in there when you know they're just stringing you along? I'm glad you got paid, but it's time to leave now, especially since you haven't even started on your paperwork. That's going to take about ten to twelve weeks. Just leave and e-mail your boss, saying he lost you because of that supervisor and will no doubt lose other foreign teachers in the future because of her. You gave them more than enough time. You showed them more than enough respect. But they say you're not even a person. The only way you're going to get any respect is if it's self-respect, but by walking back into that building day after day, you're showing no self-respect.
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Troglodyte



Joined: 06 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EZE wrote:

If a person refused to pay the fine as a matter of principle, how long of a prison sentence would they have to pull before being allowed to leave the country?


There isn't a set amount. If you serve time, you get credited with a certain amount per day. The court sets that amount on a case-by-base basis. Ballpark figure - it could vary anywhere from 20k-100k per day that gets knocked off your fine. Add to that a possible appeal. Add in good (or bad) behavior. Consider the personality of the judge and the quality of your lawyer. It will vary.
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EZE



Joined: 05 May 2012

PostPosted: Mon Jun 16, 2014 8:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Troglodyte wrote:
There isn't a set amount. If you serve time, you get credited with a certain amount per day. The court sets that amount on a case-by-base basis. Ballpark figure - it could vary anywhere from 20k-100k per day that gets knocked off your fine. Add to that a possible appeal. Add in good (or bad) behavior. Consider the personality of the judge and the quality of your lawyer. It will vary.


That doesn't sound too bad. What's the jail like? Do they let you have books shipped in from the outside?
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RunReilly



Joined: 22 May 2013
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Last night during a meeting I was asked if I'd rather have a plane ticket or a LoR. I told them I wanted to stay in Korea and continue to teach and so I'd rather have the LoR. I also joked that this would save them $1,250. The witch, in typical witch fashion, chimed in "its not about the money." Sure. Anyway, my director told me that he would call his boss (the man who owns the three branches of this school) and discuss my letter of release. He told me that we would meet again today.

I went to work for 2 hours and about 20min before classes started I went down to his office and asked if he had made a decision. Here's how the conversation ensued:
Me: "I was wondering about my LoR. I was told I would have an answer today."
Director: "We discussed it last night and we have not come to a decision. And according to our contract, we do not have to pay for your plane ticket."
Me: "Yea, I told you on Friday that this was not your responsibility. Why have you not decided on my LoR?"
Director: "It is my decision if I give you a letter or not."
Me: "I know, but I thought that you would. I have worked here for 9 weeks after I expressed that I wished to stop working here."
Director: "You agreed that our contract states 90 days notice."
Me: "Yea but I read into it and that is not even enforceable according to the immigration laws. I could have left lawfully after a month. That would have been a month before my replacement arrived. You would have been down a teacher."
Director: [Snarky Laugh] "You always come here and ask me about your letter. I tell you no decision. Then you come back and ask. Always ask ask."
Me: "I really only came to you every 2 or 3 weeks. Don't you think 9 weeks is long enough for an answer?"
Director: "Your last day is the 27th. I don't want you to talk to me about your letter again."
Me: "Don't you think this is unfair to me? I felt that if I stayed and helped the school by not leaving abruptly you would appreciate this and let me have a release letter?"
Director: "I don't care how you feel. And I said to you that I will not talk about release letter. I am very busy."
Me: "I don't think you're going to sign it."
Director: "It is my decision whether or not I sign. Goodbye."

[At that point he turned his back on me and I left his room, gathered up my shit from the teachers office, and walked out of the school for good.]
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RunReilly



Joined: 22 May 2013
Location: Daegu

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 1:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you guys were definitely right. This place played me for a fool. I was banking that the size of the school and how much they care about their reputation would cause them to do the right thing.

In the real world, employers are generally grateful when you give them NINE weeks notice; especially when your reason for leaving is due to harassment from one particular manager that every other teacher can probably attest to (also, its on CCTV). In the real world, I could have went to HR, told them to review the tapes, and gotten this woman fired several months ago.

I really knew it deep down after my first day, but leaving then would have been expensive and I wouldn't have been giving them a chance. i said this before, but on my first night, after 30+ hours of travel, I sliced my hand open when I opened a cabinet in their unsafe apartment. I hadn't even unpacked and I was already on my way to the hospital to get 2 vaccinations, 8 stitches, and a bunch of pills. I think I got 3 or 4 hours of sleep before they were at my door and ready to walk me to school. I was pretty surprised when I was not told to go home and get some sleep. What kind of school makes someone work and, specifically, write for a full 8 hour day when they have 8 stitches on the inside thumb of their writing hand?

There's almost nothing written about this place on the internet but thats all gonna change soon.


Last edited by RunReilly on Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Troglodyte



Joined: 06 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You should remove the name of the school until you're out of Korea. It's not hard to do a Google search for the name of the school and find your post.

If you want to raise some problems for the school, go to the LB tomorrow morning and tell them that the place fired you on the spot without notice. I quickly went through your posts but wasn't completely sure that you handed in a resignation letter. I presume you did, but if not then tell the LB that you were fired and didn't chose to quit. If you did hand in a resignation letter then tell the LB that you were fired early. In the end, it will put pressure on your boss because the school won't want a record at the LB. Then tell the LB officer that you'll dismiss the whole thing if your boss just pays you in full for the time you've already worked and gives you a LOR. The LB likes when things can be resolved and will let you close the case amicably and will get rid of record of complaint against the school. If all you're asking for is to be paid for time worked (which you're already entitled to) and get a LOR (which costs the school nothing) then the LB officer will probably consider it more than fair and pressure your boss to comply. Even if your boss says no, you've still won got a minor victory because you can move on knowing that the school will forever have that tarnished mark on it's record (which will come back to haunt them if someone else also files a complaint). A lot of Koreans also believe that a business with a mark against it for one thing is more likely to be investigated for other potentially dubious behavior (like tax evasion).

But edit the name of the school from the last post you made because THAT could hurt your case at the LB if the owner or your boss finds out about it.
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Troglodyte



Joined: 06 Dec 2009

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

EZE wrote:
Troglodyte wrote:
There isn't a set amount. If you serve time, you get credited with a certain amount per day. The court sets that amount on a case-by-base basis. Ballpark figure - it could vary anywhere from 20k-100k per day that gets knocked off your fine. Add to that a possible appeal. Add in good (or bad) behavior. Consider the personality of the judge and the quality of your lawyer. It will vary.


That doesn't sound too bad. What's the jail like? Do they let you have books shipped in from the outside?


I don't know but it's probably not like Shawshank or Oz. Cullen Thomas was thrown in jail for smuggling drugs into Korea and he didn't seem to fare too poorly. He even wrote a book about it. It doesn't seem that it was a very pleasant experience though.
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sojusucks



Joined: 31 May 2008

PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2014 5:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Advice on leaving a Hagwon Reply with quote

RunReilly wrote:

It sounds like I won’t know the answer to either of these questions until my last day of work and its time to leave my apartment.

Any advice? What is my best course of action?


Their avoidance to answer the question is Korean style for saying no. You need their permission to get the Letter of Release and they know it. If you do not get this letter, then you will have to go back to your home country, wait until your contract expires, and then go to another school. Good luck! I hope that you can get the Letter of Release.
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