Saturday, June 19, 2010

Ivy English School - YongAm-Dong Cheongju Part 2

So, the tone for the next year was set before the year even began. Some more fuckery would happen before I had to renew my VISA. It didn't affect me per se but it helped increase the bad taste in my mouth.

After the way they treated my friend and some of the smaller things I saw I couldn't in good conscience recruit anyone to work at the school. The Kim's used a recruiter in Ireland and hired an Irish woman (well, another Irish woman) named, let's say, Grace. (Our school was mainly a mix of Canadians and Irish with a token American thrown in. 3 male 3 female foreign teachers.) The head teacher and I went to the bus terminal with the Kim's to meet her.

As soon as she opened her mouth and said hello we (head teacher and I) looked at each other. We knew there was going to be trouble with the Kim's and Grace. She had a strong Irish accent. I always felt that it is good for the kids to be exposed to different English accents. It will help their listening and understanding in the long run. Especially considering that British English is the world standard not american English. But I digress.

I didn't learn this until months later but Grace did not have a good introduction to the Kim's. She came in early the next day to meet with them. I would later learn that they berated her a bit for her accent. Basically making it seem like she hid it from them. What happened is Mr. Kim, whose English is not that good, was the one to talk to "interview" her on the phone. The interview consisted of "When can you come? and knowing Mr. Kim maybe "You are pretty." because he saw her photo and is a bit of a perv. Mr. Kim was never know for his listening ability either. but of course, they blamed Grace.

Grace was ordered to take a tape machine home along with some phonics tapes. She was ordered to practice the phonics to "improve" her accent. She did as ordered.

This wouldn't be Grace's last problem. There would be problems with the high level kindergarten class, or to use their pretentious title the Honours Class. Basically it was kindy kids who had lived abroad or who had good English. Of course the Kim's would throw some students who didn't belong in the class in to please the parents. (The Kim's were all about pleasing the parents to get the money and not as concerned with actually teaching the kids. Which isn't how they were the first year plus I worked there. Over time greed set in.)

There was one girl in the class who just wouldn't shut up. Whether it was English or Korean, her turn to talk or someone else's, she just couldn't keep her mouth shut. In frustration one class during her second week Grace said "What do I have to do to keep you quiet take out your tongue?" The fuckery began that night.

The kid thought it was funny. She repeated it to her mother. Her mother didn't think it was funny. She called the school and told the Kim's that the teacher threatened to cut her daughter's tongue out. (The parents are just as good at exaggeration and hyperbole as the Hagwon owners.) The Kim's freaked. They started yelling at the office manager Ronnie to get Grace into their office. Grace had already finished for the day though. She had actually, as she always did up until then, said good bye to the boss when she left.

Now they are running around like chickens with their heads cut off nattering in Korean. Finally, after about 15 minutes of this, they asked me if I knew where Grace was. I told them she finished and went home. Don't you remember her saying good bye? (Like I said ... not a good listener.) They went back into the office with Ronnie and were still there when I left.

You would think the story would continue the next day wouldn't you? Or at Grace's apartment? You would be wrong. They just aren't that professional.

There was a good bye party that night for the teacher Grace was replacing. At 11PM super bitch, I mean Ronnie, showed up at the party. She went right to Grace and started in on her. (Ronnie's English was pretty good.) Right in front of everyone, at a good bye party for a friend, she starts yelling and screaming at Grace. No fucking class. No fucking professionalism. Grace tried to explain herself and what happened but of course it didn't matter. Whatever the parent said was true and whatever Grace said was lies. After ruining the party Ronnie left, as did Grace.

The next day she was called right into the Director's office where both Kim's and Ronnie were waiting. They once again raked her over the coals. She was to apologize to the student in front of the class and the parents. (Once they realized the parents wouldn't understand the apology they forgot about it. Mind you that took a while.) They took away all of her high level classes and had her teaching the lowest ability students, and the worst classes.

This is what the Kim's were like. Pander to the parents. If there is a problem never get the foreign teachers side of it. It is automatically the foreign teachers fault. Oh, and blow things out of proportion. The office manager wasn't much better.

Grace finished out her year. But she never forgot how shitty she was treated from the start. Nor did I. She was GREAT with the kids. Even the problem ones.

The way it was handled did affect my thinking on renewing my VISA. I had given my word and I would do it. however, I wasn't going to remind them of when it was up for renewal. If it lapsed because of them that would be their fault and problem. If it lapsed I would not renew it.

3 days before it would have expired Mr. Kim remembered it was running out. So, I stupidly renewed it and started my 3rd contract and what would be a hellish 10 months.


  1. I knew someone that likened Korea and Korea's money to that of a spolied child that got their inheritance before they were ready. I couldn't agree with this analogy more. And that is why Korea has to spend a lot to get teachers and to make themselves feel good they have to berate others in the process. If it wasn't Grace it was going to be somebody else. Sorry, yoru friend got to see the ugly side. Does Grace still talk to you?

  2. Yes, I do. She returned to Ireland after one year in South Korea vowing never to be back. As most Hagwon owners do, they screwed her out of part of her last pay.