Recruiter In Korea

The Honest Truth About Recruiting in Korea

“Not understanding Korean culture or the ‘Korean way'”

with 10 comments

Per my last post, Reprobate explained why the vice-principle at his school disliked him:

…the reason I am not well received by those in power is because I do not understand Korean tradition and Korean “emotion”. I have to take responsibility for this lack of understanding.

I don’t even know how to accept this notion. I just can’t rationalize this reason as valid. It has absolutely nothing to do with my performance, but everything to do with infantile cerebral complexes.

I think that this is one of the most frustrating aspects of the Korean work culture to foreigners.  I also believe that this is the lame excuse that employer’s use when they try to make you do something that’s outside of your contract or even worse, try to screw you out of money.  Or maybe it’s because you really don’t understand Korean culture (ha!).  Did you refuse to eat with them or asked why there was rampant prostitution everywhere including nearby the school?  Doubt it.

We’re used to doing everything by the book.  Even if something is slightly awry from the contract, we like to (and must) protest.  After all, the law is the law and we should abide what we agreed upon no?  Korean work ethic however, urges the employee to do anything for their employer.  After all, they gave you the great job didn’t they?  Too bad they fail to realize that instructors are contract workers who don’t plan on being employed for life as an instructor for whichever school.

I started to understand this more since I’m a regular full-time employee at a Korean company.  For those that are confused about the terms, I’ll explain.  A regular employee signs a contract with a start date when they are first hired but there is no contract end date.  They receive benefits such as pension, national health care, and yearly severance.  Sounds like the average teaching contract for foreigners right?  Actually it’s not.  While most instructors receive the aforementioned benefits (plus housing), they are still considered independent contractors meaning the contract is valid for a set time (usually one year) and that the employee can be terminated at any time (of course terminations for contractors can still be contested in labour court).

This is why employment as ‘regular’ workers is so highly sought after by Koreans here.  Basically, you have unofficial tenure.  In other words, it’s nearly impossible to get fired unless you do something illegal or seriously fuck up or the company goes under.  Trust me, I’ve seen more than a handful of less-than-capable employees in my time here but I’ve yet to see a termination.  Of course, rather than terminating someone outright, the company will do things to have an unwanted employee quit on their own such as moving them to another department or branch far from their home or just making their daily life miserable.  Now I’ve seen plenty of that.

Okay I got a little sidetracked there.  Basically, I was saying that if an employer tells you that you don’t understand Korean culture or some other nonsense, their pretty much asking you to bend over or be flexible regardless of what it says in the contract.  My advice would be, if the issue is small such as having you come in on a Saturday to make up for a class missed due to swine flu or some other unforeseen reason, just do it.  It’s not worth the fuss for something that will can be done and forgotten about.  On the other hand, if your employer tells you he/she is going to pay you next month because they’re short on cash and if you don’t, you don’t understand Korean culture, go to the labour board.

If Korean ‘culture’ includes not contributing to taxes and pension (but still deducting it from the employees paycheque), putting foreigners in shitty housing, paying late, not paying at all, or outright lying about aspects of the contract, we have a lot to worry about.

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Written by recruiterinkorea

January 21, 2010 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

10 Responses

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  1. I need you again. Do you want to get married? Mass confusion has now set in. I need some relief!

    Here it comes. What is the true function of a release letter? I have heard a few different scenarios. Does a release letter terminate your current contract? Can a NET ask for a release letter which is dated exactly the same as the end date of his/her current contract which would not terminate said current contract? Is this a valid mode to have an NET’s previously submitted documentation carried over to another position, without leaving the country?

    I was told that new laws were passed where previously submitted documentation could be carried over to a new position, if said candidate does not leave the country? I have also heard examples to the contrary. I have heard that in some public systems, if you leave the respective POE, you have to resubmit all required paperwork. You would be in the same program, EPIK, GEPIK etc, but because you changed POE’s, the documentation has to be fresh.

    These questions apply to the public domain. They might even apply to the private domain. I have no way of knowing. Does anybody?

    Thanks again!

    Reprobate

    January 25, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    • I’ll think about marriage;) I hope you’re female though hehe

      You’re pretty much spot on about the release letter. Even though you’re fulfilling your current contract, you need to get a release letter to move onto the next gig without leaving the country and without having to get brand new visa documents. Even if you quit before the contract is up, as long as you work for at least 9 months with release letter in hand, you can transfer your visa to the new job. Not sure about the public school thing though. Keep in mind that I deal mostly with overseas recruits so this information was in my head months ago; doubt anything has changed though.

      recruiterinkorea

      January 25, 2010 at 9:36 pm

  2. OK here it is. I was not renewed at one public school position, I was told because it was my low evaluation. I asked to see such evaluation so I could learn from my mistakes, I was told it was confidential. (Scratching my head. I also herd this evaluation was done by elementary school students and not co-teachers, principals or anyone directly related to education.) I was later told the principal wanted to have a female NET. No fear, I am in a much nicer public school, yes they did ask me to work three Saturdays with teh other teachers and I agreed. (I am sure this is rare, the other teachers were getting a month off because they were contractually obligated to work those Saturdays. Since I agreed to work with the school, my princiapl said I should get that month off too.) To other public school teachers, I am officially at my desk in my public scholl twiddling my thumbs. 😉

    Dude

    January 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    • Stupid way to evaluate instructors but of course, not surprised. Good to hear that you’re flexible with working a few Saturdays (being flexible will always win you points…but only do so to an extent). Also, guess it’s a good thing since you found a better gig (even though you’re doing squat:))

      Congrats!

      recruiterinkorea

      January 25, 2010 at 9:40 pm

    • Do you really think the students do the evaluation? Joking right? Especially after writing your VP wanted a female NET. Why are they hiding the evaluation? Confidental? I can almost gaurantee that nothing about your personal life was confidential while employed there. The student evaluations have ZERO to do with whether your “resigned” or not. ZEEEEROOO!!

      Reprobate

      January 26, 2010 at 1:18 pm

      • I know what your thinking;
        Option 1; Kiddie Lover, nope.
        Option 2; Fall down drunk, nope.
        Option 3; Fil-Am with hot Korean girlfriend, bingo!

        I figurem why I am more accepted at this school, is my principal is the youngest in the district/province/ township. However they divide school system up.

        I am a pragmatist. While I try to learn from past errors, I don’t try to figure out every little crazy idiosyncracy that people do—both foreigner and Koreans. That would just drive me absolutely nuts. I am happy, my principal is happy and most importantly my girl is happy. 😉

        dude

        January 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm

      • I’m happy that you’re happy!:)

        recruiterinkorea

        January 26, 2010 at 6:04 pm

      • Everyone’s happy but me! It’s a conspiracy! You two are just way too happy!

        Reprobate

        January 27, 2010 at 7:15 am

      • How can I make you happy too?:)

        recruiterinkorea

        January 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

  3. OK here it is. I was not renewed at one public school position, I was told because it was my low evaluation. I asked to see such evaluation so I could learn from my mistakes, I was told it was confidential. (Scratching my head. I also herd this evaluation was done by elementary school students and not co-teachers, principals or anyone directly related to education.) I was later told the principal wanted to have a female NET. No fear, I am in a much nicer public school, yes they did ask me to work three Saturdays with teh other teachers and I agreed. (I am sure this is rare, the other teachers were getting a month off because they were contractually obligated to work those Saturdays. Since I agreed to work with the school, my princiapl said I should get that month off too.) To other public school teachers, I am officially at my desk in my public school twiddling my thumbs. 😉

    Dude

    January 25, 2010 at 3:48 pm


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