Friday, June 18, 2010

Ivy English School - YongAm-Dong Cheongju Part 1

I started working for a school called Ivy English school. It was in Yong-Am Dong, Cheongju and run by a couple James and Victory (Yes, not Victoria) Kim. He had some people skills and bad English. She had better English and no people skills.

At first it was a great place to work. They were very good to their foreign teachers. mind you they had a HORRIBLE reputation for the way they treated their Korean teachers. At one point before I started they fired them all and hired new ones.

I liked the place and trusted them enough that I actually did recruiting for them. Everything was fine until the start of my 3rd contract. There were signs things were starting to go pear shaped and I even noticed some of them. But I gave my word I would re-sign for a 3rd year (I can hear you laughing at that) so even though I had misgivings I re-signed. I should have resigned.

My started opening wide with the way they treated a friend of mine they hired. Let's call him Jack. They hired him after having seen him. They knew he had a beard. They knew he had a Korean girlfriend who lived in Jonju and would move to Cheongju. There were no problems.

At least there were no problems until it came time for him to start. The night before I am leaving for a month home Mr. Kim calls me and tells me I need to get my friend to shave off his beard. All the teachers are afraid of him. (At this point ONE teacher had seen him and didn't care. This is a tactic most of the bad Hagwon owners use. They get one complaint and bump the number up. Or have no complaint but just want something changed or to make you feel bad. most Hagwon owners are greedy assholes.) I told him he needed to talk to Jack and not me.

I had picked my ticket home up at the airport as I was on my way home. For some reason, even though there was time to get it in advance, that is how Mr. Kim set it up. Then I found out that instead of a month home I was returning after 3 weeks. I called Mr. Kim when I got home and asked him what the hell was going on. He gave me a line of BS and went on about misunderstanding. (In Korea misunderstanding is usually a code word for "Oh I lied to you and you caught me!") He said the date couldn't be changed. The airline said it could be for $200. I decided to suck it up and just go home when the ticket was set for.

After getting back lots of shit started hitting the fan.

First, I found out the REAL reason for my return date. The start of a new semester. The Kim's wanted all the teachers there when it started. If they had told me that I could have gone home earlier.

Then there was Jack. I was back a day before I had to start working. I popped in to find out what was new and say hi to jack. He looked like he was dieing. Pale as a ghost. Shaking. Sweating. This in the teachers room surrounded by 4 other foreigners and 6 Korean teachers. None of whom told him there was a DOCTOR ON THE FIRST FLOOR! The Kim's actually refused to let him go home sick!

I told him to go to the doctor and go home. I would talk to the Kim's and teach his schedule for the day. Mr. Kim actually started giving me grief because I will be too tired. Well Jack was too fucking sick to teach. All of the Korean teachers had good English. The office manager, a right loud mouthed bitch of a Korean named Ronnie, not only knew about the doctor below she knew of another one with excellent English.

The next day, as I was leaving, Mr. Kim asked to talk to me. He wanted me to talk with Jack about a list of things he is doing wrong. I started off by telling Mr. Kim that I am not the head teacher and THAT is who should be talking to Jack about that stuff not me. He insisted I should because I am Jack's friend. It is the Korean way according to Mr. Kim.

Then he went over the list of "problems". For the most part they were a pile of chicken shit. Jack has started sitting down too much in class. (He is fucking sick. Hell MOST of the teachers sat down while teaching.) He takes his cell phone to class. (So did most teachers because we have no clocks. He wasn't using it for anything but a clock.) He is chewing gum. (Jack figured nicotine gum was better than smoking around the students.) He is slouching and it scares the kids. He actually had the balls to say Jack shouldn't visit his girlfriend in Jeonju because he may be too tired on Mondays. There were about 30 stupid things he listed. Then he ended with the REAL reason for this bull shit. he wanted Jack to shave his beard.

I told him that if I told Jack 10% of what he said Jack would quit. Hell, I would if it was me. Plus I had known Jack back home for YEARS, and know his temper. Mr. Kim deluded himself that nothing bad would come of it.

In the morning, it was a Friday, before class Jack and I met for coffee. I told him about 10% of the BS. Didn't mention the girlfriend. Jack was understanding, that is he knew this wasn't coming from me. He went up and told Mr. Kim he was giving his months notice of quiting. Mr. Kim told him he couldn't quit. So he told Mr. Kim to fuck off and said that because of that this was his last day. Before the afternoon classes he went to immigration for a chat and got the papers to lodge a complaint with the labour office. Mr. Kim stupidly tried to confront him again and then quickly backed off. Which is goo0d for him because the last Director that got in Jack's face got smacked into a wall several times.

My gut told me to quit or at least not renew when my VISA expired in a month. But I had given my word. I still hadn't realized that meant so little to many Koreans.

More bull shit was yet to come.


  1. good reading, thanks for sharing your stories.
    makes me think to some of the lying, cheating snakes i was forced to deal with in korea

  2. Thanks. I swear 90-95% of the hagwon owners cheat you in some way.

    I was very lucky and in the last 3.5 years I worked for one of the good ones.