Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Work Hours and Obligations

Some good advice from the Seminar for Foreign Language Academies concerning work hours and duties.

The Korean attitude towards work is different from that in the west. They do work long hours, although a lot of the time it is busy work or just sitting around. They tend not to gripe about it at work. Mainly because if it got back to the boss they may end up having a new asshole chewed out, or fired.

When a Korean is putting in long hours they really don't like to hear a co-worker who is doing 30 hours a week whine if they have to do an hour or two of over time. The Koreans often don't get any over time. They won't be sympathetic to your complaints.

Some of them will actually be jealous of the lesser hours and "special" treatment of foreign teachers. Special treatment being that we expect our contract to be followed. Koreans, as the Seminar "educated" us, don't believe contracts are binding.

If you are coming to Korea to work be aware of these things. Your Korean overlords, err bosses, will expect you to understand that doing extra work or hours is your DUTY as an employee. This could include coming in on some Saturdays, doing special events. And often they don't expect to have to pay you to do these extra duties, even if it would mean overtime.

Ivy School was notorious for pulling shit like that. They would have Kindergarten Concerts, special "bazaar", or as Mrs. Kim said "badger", days, Sport Day, etc. All of this would require extra prep time (and not the classwork kind of prep) and often would take up an entire day, or the better part of it. The first year they paid us properly for it (overtime). After that they started screwing us over.

And when it came to the concerts your duties would include performing number or two. of course you weren't informed of this until a week before it. IF you were lucky.

The expectation level of Koreans is quite different from what we are used to in the west when it comes to our work hours and obligations. Being aware of that and prepared to deal with it is a good idea.


  1. Koreans in public schools usually get paid for the extra time though. That's at least my experience, they get about 30-40,000 extra won per hour for extra classes, and their salaries are also pretty large, also if they are a homeroom teacher, they get some extra money per month, in my school it is 100,000 won. That's not to say that they don't earn it though.

    A guy from my school had some delinquent students who attacked a homeless guy and stole his money. The homeless guy went to the cops and so the kids dyed their hair and took a bus to the next town over. The cops made a deal that they wouldn't press any charges if they returned to school.

    So these kids are down in this other town, who goes to pick them up? The cops? No. Their parents? No. It was their homeroom teacher. That's a little bit too much responsibility if you ask me.

    Now as for the point about Koreans and contracts. If you are a Korean teacher, the contract doesn't affect you as much as a foreigner on an E2. If you are on an E2, you can get kicked out of the country for if your boss revokes your visa. For Koreans, the consequences are less severe if the boss is dicking around with the contract. A lot of Koreans under 40 still live their parents, so if they get fired, it kind of sucks, but at least they won't end up homeless.

  2. 3gyupsal

    Thanks for the info on the public school teachers. I only dealt with hagwon teachers. It sounds like they deal with too much extra bullshit. Like picking the little shits up at the cop shop in another town.

    Most of the hagwons I worked at the hagwon teachers made a less than the foreign teachers and worked longer hours. They REALLY got their ass in the air when the foreign teachers complained about hours and/or conditions.

  3. Hagwon teachers usually haven't passed the national education exam. If they can pass that test then they are pretty much set. I have a friend who had just graduated from college, and worked at a Hagwon for a minute. They gave him 10,000 per hour. On the other side of that though, my school has a few English teachers who also haven't passed that exam, and one of them is awesome. She has experience from Hagwons and and elementary school, but another lady that I work with has passed the exam but has a hard time speaking English. Kind of a mixed bag.