[LETTERS to the editor]A real shame

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[LETTERS to the editor]A real shame

When I first came to Korea, I worked for [a hagwon in] Gangnam. Like most English teachers in Korea, I thought that I had landed a position at a reputable school, just like the recruiter told me I had. Trouble emerged: Pay was not on time and deductions were taken that were not specified in the contract. My university diploma was mysteriously “lost” by the school - an attempt to keep me from being able to apply for work elsewhere. When I said I would refuse to teach, my “lost” diploma was taken out of the director’s desk.

Health insurance deductions were being taken from my pay but I had not received a health insurance card. The director tried to tell me that my alien registration card was my health insurance. When I fell ill and went to the doctor, I was told that wasn’t true, and got a large bill. The next time I fell ill, I found that the institute had done what was necessary to get me the card, but was no longer paying premiums.

I went to the pension office to ensure that my pension contributions were being remitted because deductions for them were being taken from my pay. To my shock, I found out that nothing was in my NPC account. Since I had been working for some time, this was a rather significant amount of money. In my mind, this amounted to nothing less than theft. The NPC later told me that [the company that ran the hagwon] owed two years of pension contributions for ALL of its employees.

A possible solution for this would be for Korea Immigration Service to carefully check the employment ethics of schools that sponsor E-2 visas and ensure that all taxes and requirements have been fulfilled in the past before allowing any school to sponsor new visas. So many English teachers come to Korea with high hopes for a stable job, cultural exchange and adventure, and have their hopes smashed by irresponsible or unethical actions on the part of hagwon owners, and it’s a real shame. Jacob Gadikian, faddat@gmail.com

e-mail to eopinion@joongang.co.kr or via fax to 82-2-751-9219
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