Hagwon whistleblowers get big bucks for snoopingThe Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on Sunday named 37-year-old homemaker Lee Ji-hyo the second-most paid “hagparazzi” - a portmanteau of hagwon (cram schools) and paparazzi to refer to people who report illegal hagwon activities to the authorities for monetary rewards.
The National Assembly’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee passed the Revised Hagwon Law on June 28, which restricts hagwon from operating past a certain time and requires the cram schools to abide by the fees they have listed on the Web sites of education offices throughout the country.
“After sending my two children to hagwon, I found out about the illegal acts of cram schools,” Lee said. “It’s what led me to become a hagparazzi.”
Lee said she has accumulated over 200 million won ($188,600) during the past two years as a hagparazzi.
“Anyone can be a hagparazzi by studying the act for a mere two or three days like me,” said Lee. “Dealing with hagwon and private tutors is not dangerous.”
Her process is fairly simple and takes only about 10 minutes. First, she conceals a hidden camera inside her bag or her clothes and walks into a hagwon. After Lee receives a consultation on the program fees, she asks specific questions to entice the hagwon official to reveal their late-night program. Lastly, she nonchalantly strolls around the hagwon to record students in classes past the legal curfew. With the evidence, she collects her reward from the Education Ministry.
“I believe that I am working for society as a civil worker,” said Lee.
When asked if people think she does her work solely for the money and not so much for society, Lee answered, “No, for the public. I think I do a more noble act than others.”
The reward, ranging from 300,000 to 1 million won, depends on the illegal activity reported. The bigger the crime, the bigger the reward money.
To nurture more whistleblowers, the ministry recently launched classes on how to become professional hagparazzi.
“Last month, we had 100 hagparazzi enrolled in the class. This month, we have over 120 members,” a ministry official said.
Professor Ahn Do-hee from Chung-Ang University said, “The number of hagwon is directly proportional to the number of hagparazzi. Hagparazzi’s success reveals the weak structure of the public educational system and the doubts parents and students have.”
When asked what she would do if hagwon stopped their illegal activities, she laughed. “Illegal hagwon will never vanish. I’ve reported a single hagwon on three different occasions, but it’s still in business.”
By Nam Hyung-suk [firstname.lastname@example.org]
한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
불법 고액과외 단속 … 학파라치 강화한다
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학원의 불법 영업을 단속하기 위해 2009년 도입된 학원 신고포상금제(학파라치제)에 따라 2년간 34억원이 포상금으로 지급됐다. 포상금을 받은 인원은 모두 1232명으로 5회 이상 받은 ‘전문 학파라치’는 전체의 29.6%(365명)에 달했다.
교육과학기술부는 10일 “2년 동안 접수된 4만9200여 건의 신고 중에서 포상 대상은 17.7%(8720건)로, 총 33억9900여만원을 지급했다”고 밝혔다.
교과부는 학원·교습소 등록위반을 적발한 4219건에 대해 21억1000만원을 지급했다. 수강료 초과징수 적발자와 미신고 개인과외 교습 적발자에게도 각각 11억4400만원과 1억1800만원이 주어졌다.
교과부 주명현 학원상황팀장은 “학파라치제가 시·도 교육청의 단속을 보완하는 효과가 있다”며 “불법 개인고액과외 단속을 계속 강화할 방침”이라고 말했다. 이는 지난달 국회를 통과한 학원법 개정안에 따라 학원의 불법운영을 단속할 근거는 뚜렷해졌지만 개인과외는 더 음성화될 가능성이 높기 때문이다. 교과부는 지난해 10월 “학파라치제가 성인 대상 학원 위주로 운영된다”는 본지 지적에 따라 단속 대상을 입시학원으로 좁힌 바 있다.
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