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Archive for February 2010

Hagwon-fever is not only in South Korea

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Insightful article on KoreAm Journal about the hagwon industry in the U.S., particularly in Southern California which boasts the highest population of Korean-Americans.

Academic Success at Any Cost?

Author: KoreAm
Posted: 2009-10-01
Filed Under: Online Exclusives

The Korean-run private tutorial industry has grown exponentially in Southern California in the past decade, as families invest ever-increasing sums of money in prepping their children for Ivy League success. But some hagwon teachers and families warn against the pitfalls of this educational fervor.

By Joseph E. Yi

Photograph by Eric Sueyoshi

As you enter the doors of Harvard Square Academy, framed black-and-white posters on the walls depict the prestigious Ivy League college campus that shares the same moniker. Other institutions are represented, too—with the flags of Columbia, Yale and MIT featured—but Harvard University is the obvious star at this private tutorial school. You’ll also notice on display the written testimonials of the academy’s graduates, who are mostly Korean and Chinese Americans, and see that some did gain the coveted admission letter to the college that holds an endearing place in the hearts of immigrant Korean parents.

The infamous “Harvard syndrome,” or the fervor of Korean American parents to send their children to elite universities, has fueled the growth of Harvard Square, located in a Southern California suburb, and other Korean-run hagwons  in the past decade. In a 2003 Los Angeles Times article, Korean business directories listed more than 100 academic hagwons (translated from Korean as “study places”) in Los Angeles and Orange counties. Just six years later, the 2009 Korean directory listed 183 academic hagwons, with another 73 specializing in art and music, in Orange County alone.

Similar to the housing bubble, the hagwon industry has grown exponentially in both South Korea and Southern California as parents have invested ever-increasing sums of money in their children’s education. They believe that the more time children spend with after-school programs and tutors, the better their chances of elite university admissions. Private academies stoked the bubble with extensive advertising boasting of graduates admitted to top universities, especially the Ivy League.

Typically, hagwons are established and operated by immigrant entrepreneurs from South Korea, where education is not only highly valued, but also fiercely competitive. There are very limited spots at prestigious universities in South Korea, and many families bend over backwards to get their children admitted. In 2003, according to Dr. Chong Jae Lee of the Korean Educational Development Institute, 72.6 percent of South Korean students received some form of private tutoring, and the cost of that service consumed, on average, 10 percent of a family’s income. For middle and high school students, the percent of family income was even higher, at an astounding 30 percent.

It is not uncommon for high schoolers to return home at midnight after a full day of school and tutoring.

“The Confucian drive to succeed through education means your parents have impressed on you from birth the absolute importance of excellent grades,” explained Horace H. Underwood, a professor at Yonsei University in Seoul. “‘B’ is a failing grade. If you do not have absolutely top grades, you will not get into a top university. Since hiring by the top companies is based on what university you attended rather than on any personal achievement, a ‘B’ in high school could seriously damage your life prospects.”

Koreans who immigrate to the United States largely retain the mentality that admission to prestigious universities is the surest route to success and tend to repeat the pattern of sending their children to tutorial programs, especially in large urban areas, such as Southern California and New York, where hagwons are most likely to crop up.

Most academic hagwons offer courses and tutors in languages, math and sciences. Average monthly tuition ranges from $300 for after-school programs, to $700 for full-day summer classes that include recreation, to $1,500 for intensive, all-day SAT courses. They cater to Korean Americans and recently arrived Korean nationals, but some increasingly are attracting non-Korean families. At larger academies focusing on high school entrance exam and SAT preparation, such as the Fullerton-based Jay Kim Academy, Elite Educational Institute and Harvard Square, Koreans make up 30 to 40 percent of students; the rest are mostly Chinese, Indian, other Asian and Caucasian.

Jeanne Love, a 30-year teaching veteran and former principal of Whittier Friends, a private Quaker school in Whittier, California, has been teaching language arts at the Korean-run Fullerton Tutors since 2005. She noticed the difference between her students at Whittier Friends, who were “very diverse” ethnically (Japanese, Indian, Caucasian, Hispanic and African American), and the Korean American students at the hagwon. “They are harder working than the ones at Whittier Friends,” said Love, noting the Korean kids have higher expectations. “They want straight A’s.”

Such intense focus on education would appear to bolster the “model minority” image of academic success among Korean Americans, and Asian Americans in general. This past spring, the New York Times reported on a study done by Prof. Ruben G. Rumbaut of the University of California, Irvine, which found that Korean and Chinese children have the highest educational attainment among immigrant ethnic groups in Southern California. The study tracked the life patterns of 5,262 second-generation children, who in 1992 attended eighth and ninth grades in public and private schools. It revealed that 50 percent of the second-generation Korean American young adults surveyed received mostly A’s in high school and more than 75 percent attained a college education.

But these statistics don’t tell the full story. As someone who has taught at some of the hagwons mentioned in this story, I know there is a flip side to these impressive figures.

On and off since 2004, I have worked as a private tutor and hagwon writing teacher in Orange County for mostly Korean American middle and high school students. When I first started, I needed a quick, flexible way to support my wife and newborn baby financially while finishing my dissertation and applying for tenure track jobs. For someone who graduated from top-tier universities, but lacks business experience, tutoring offers a flexible, potentially lucrative, economic opportunity. Depending on their skills, experience and contacts, teachers could make anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour.

After four years out of state to teach at colleges and to publish my first book, I returned to Southern California earlier this year to work on a new book about Korean Americans. For both research and financial reasons, I resumed my role as writing teacher and tutor, and it is through this lens as an observer-participant that I explore the hagwon.

In a way, these academies offer a unique window into the struggles and aspirations of Korean American families who have invested so many of their hopes—and dollars—in their children’s education.

Although hagwons in the United States tend not to be as intense—or expensive—as their counterparts in South Korea, the students here still feel incredible pressure to perform. Certainly, many Korean American students have the will and ability to study hard and aspire to attend the best universities in the land. About one-third of the students I encounter are in this “overachieving” category. However, for another third of Korean students, the very name “Harvard” is a curse. Every time the Korean media celebrates another overachiever, it creates that much more pressure on these young people who, for a variety of reasons, struggle academically.

April Kim*, a  hagwon teacher at the Fullerton-based Remnant Academy, said it is this group that leaves the deepest impressions on her. “Many times I felt so bad for my students who confessed that they are happy with the ‘C’ they received and [said] they just want to be an average kid,” she recalled. “They wanted to be freed from the stress of homework, projects, grades.”

Although many of them did make some improvement during their time with her, she said that it was never to their parents’ satisfaction. As a result, some of them grew depressed. “They think in order for them to meet their mothers’ expectations and [for] their love, they need to do well in school,” Kim described. “However, they hit upon their limitations over and over again and give up on their future, their mother’s approval. It really broke my heart to see them shed tears over a math problem.”

Elaine Kim, the owner of the Fullerton-based CL Education, noted that at times, she had to play an intermediary role between struggling students and pressuring parents. Some students at her school suffered from depression or even learning disorders like dyslexia, but their parents did not want to acknowledge these issues. “They actually got offended when I told them their children have problems,” Kim said. “They just want me to push their children to work harder.”

Instead, some parents will go so far as to offer luxurious material incentives to their children. At one popular Orange County SAT prep institute, students were promised new cars if they scored above 2100 (out of a 2400 possible) on the SAT.

But even incentives threaten to create a mindset to succeed by any means necessary.

Kathy*, a high school senior, said that academic cheating was prevalent at her prestigious, college-prep high school. “I could say that all of us cheat at least five times a year, even 10, maybe 20 times,” she said, explaining that it usually involves asking a friend who took the test a couple periods earlier what was on it. “It has become such a casual, ritual thing for us.” Otherwise, Kathy said, “we find it impossible to get an ‘A’ in class.”

Because the tutoring market has become highly competitive and lucrative, some instructors also cross ethical lines and become accomplices in such cheating. High school senior Candy* attended a Cypress-based  hagwon that kept old tests on file from nearby high schools, including the prestigious Oxford Academy. Some parents tolerated or even approved of such practices, she said, but Candy’s mother immediately pulled her out of the  hagwon. Another student described tutors who ghost-wrote “perfect” college application essays for high school seniors.

The “education-at-all-costs” mentality undermines the true principles of education, said Fullerton Tutors instructor Love. Students ideally should have an “incredible thirst for learning…learning how to think, reason, ask questions, go beyond the lines,” she described. They need room to experiment, make mistakes and have the freedom to take classes they are interested in, even if they lower their GPA.

Dr. Austina Cho, a Cerritos-based psychiatrist who counsels many Asian American families, believes that many  immigrant parents live vicariously through their children, viewing them as extensions of themselves. They celebrate their son or daughter’s victories and lament his or her struggles as if their own. As a consequence these parents “lose sight of the ‘good motive’ of improving their children’s situation in life and may push their children in a short-sighted effort to improve their own status in society,” said Cho, who grew up in Louisiana, where her father was a college professor.

Cho, also a local education official, believes Koreans, and Asian Americans in general, need to broaden their definition of success. “Parents must be sensitive and recognize the abilities and interests of their child,” she said. “Ultimately, some children may rebel if they are pushed in a way that does not take into account their talents, gifts, intellectual abilities and interests. Not every Asian student will have a superior IQ, score a perfect score on the SAT test and excel academically.”

Perhaps Korean immigrants parents may find it useful to know that even the Harvard dean of admissions appears to agree with this line of thought. In a September blog with New York Times readers, William R. Fitzsimmons, citing Harvard Prof. Howard Gardener’s groundbreaking theory of “multiple intelligences,” stressed that every child has a unique set of abilities and interests.

“Students who make the most of their potential in a variety of ways are more likely to make significant contributions to a world that values talents of all kinds,” Fitzsimmons wrote. He even warned students against trying to meet others’ expectations: “Professionals in their thirties and forties—physicians, lawyers, academics, business people and others—sometimes give the impression that they are dazed survivors of some bewildering life-long boot camp. Some say they ended up in their profession because of someone else’s expectations, or that they simply drifted into it without pausing to think whether they really loved their work. Often they say they missed their youth entirely, never living in the present, always pursuing some ill-defined goal.”

To be fair, there is a great variety of  hagwons, each with their own particular philosophies and methods. Some focus on test-taking skills, while others seek to develop the academic foundations of students. Some tutors just give the answers to homework; others take the time to help students solve their own problems.

Stephen Lee, a 1.5-generation Korean American and director of Elite Academy’s Fullerton branch, for example, said he stresses individualized counseling for students to find the college and career that suits them. He does not push them to attend an Ivy League, and most of the parents at Elite agree with his philosophy, he said.

Dr. Lauren Kho, 38, a board member of Fullerton’s Fisler Elementary School, believes parents who attended college in the United States, such as herself, better understand that there are many routes to long-term success. Her husband William attended community college in Salinas, California, and was then accepted to the pharmacy school at the University of Southern California. She personally chose a less prestigious University of California branch, Riverside, to study for her bachelor’s in a quiet, smaller setting. Later, she accepted a full scholarship to UCLA Medical School to study family medicine.

Because both parents work full-time, William Kho said the couple may one day send their elementary-age children to nearby Fullerton Tutors after school. Still, he emphasized, “I want my kids to have enough time to play, to enjoy school. I want them to do their best, but not push them to any particular job or university. The type of college really depends on the child.”

Gina*, a sophomore at Troy High School, says her parents are not as success-obsessed as others. “My mom even said that just because one has good grades doesn’t mean [the person] will be successful in life,” said Gina. “They need to have good social skills, and having a variety of friends can help develop those skills.”

But the high schooler still aspires to earn straight A’s and to gain acceptance to Stanford University, and she thinks tutors can help her achieve that. On the other hand, she also worries about the long-term consequences of that support. “I think to some extent, [tutors] are helpful to students in allowing them to preview beforehand what they will learn in school,” she said. “However, if I get too used to private tutors directing me on what exactly I have to do, I will never be able to survive the rest of my life by myself.”

The current economic recession has punctured not just the housing bubble, but also, to an extent, the education bubble. Parents seem less compelled to—or perhaps simply can’t—spend whatever it takes to attain educational success. Kathleen Rhee, owner of Fullerton Tutors in Orange County, said her student enrollment fell from about 80 to 60 this past summer. Rhee and other  hagwon owners she knows reduced tuition for struggling families.

Despite the current hardships, perhaps a silver lining is the slowdown of the exponential growth of  hagwons in Southern California. Rhee worries that some  owners are in it largely for financial reasons, rather than a genuine desire to add value to students’ education. Owners who genuinely enjoy teaching, she predicted, will survive the current shakeout.

Though it is easy to blame immigrant parents for undue pressure on their children, there are plenty I have spoken with over the years who seem to genuinely struggle over the right way to raise their children in America.

In past years, Mrs. Chung* required her teenage boys to attend  hagwon to prepare for school and the SAT. This summer, however, she decided to let them decide for themselves. The recession-induced drop in family income contributed to her decision, but so did the realization that by pressuring her boys, she was alienating them.

“It is very difficult to raise children in America,” said Chung, speaking in Korean. “It is so different than in Korea. I want my children to attend  hagwon and to prepare for the SAT and to make friends with other college-bound kids. But if they say no, I cannot force them.

“Ultimately, it may be better for them to make their own decisions and to learn from their mistakes. Unlike Korea, America is a big country, with, I hope, lots of second chances to get a good education.”

*These names are pseudonyms, used at the request of the subjects due to the sensitivity of this issue.

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm

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Good news for mobile phone users (only SK for now)

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Looks like SK will start billing by the second rather than in 10-second intervals.  My phone bill usually comes out to 100,000 KRW per month but I use a lot of data on my Blackberry.  Hopefully this new scheme will save me a couple of won.

I definitely like the way cell phone plans are set up here compared to back home. For all you newcomers, keep in mind that all incoming calls are free meaning that you only pay airtime when you’re making calls or texting or using the internet (the latter can definitely add up though).  Even on prepaid phones, if you run out of minutes, you can still receive calls and text message.

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February 25, 2010 at 11:33 am

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Hyundai learns from Toyota’s mistake

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I’ve discussed Toyota’s current woes here before.  Looks like (in my humble opinion) that Hyundai is trying to make itself look good by recalling a bunch of the new Sonatas right away.  The issue is minor; faulty locks, which is nonetheless something that needs to be fixed.  Not life-threatening as haywire accelerators obviously.  Kudos to Hyundai though to fix a problem right away which hurts them somewhat since it’s a brand new model but clearly better for them in the long run.

I actually like the new Sonatas; right now that is. I just bought a car late last year and was contemplating if I should wait for this or not.  However, you can expect every other car to be a new Sonata within the next several months (taxis et al) so I’m sure I’ll be sick of it soon.

The New SM5 is what I really should’ve waited for though.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled recruiting.

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 25, 2010 at 11:04 am

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More things not to do during a job interview

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This ESL Cafe thread made me laugh.  I talked about this issue before here and here.

It never ceases to amaze me how stupid people can be sometimes.  Especially at a time like this, don’t ever think that you could land any job with the bare necessities.  Sell yourself during the interview even if still look great on paper.

There’s a lot of competition these days so follow my basic advice.  I know it’s not rocket science but if you screened resumes for a good portion of your day, you would be just as dumbfounded.

I experience stupidity on a daily basis but obviously I avoid talking about them right away to blow my cover.  That’s for another time folks!

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February 24, 2010 at 2:29 pm

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Candidates Practicing Recruiter Polygamy and Other Ways to Get on the Do Not Hire List

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Thanks to Mint Resumes for another insightful post on recruiting.

I agree with most of it, especially the part about rudeness (as I’ve mentioned many times before), but not wholly on the part of ‘recruiting polygamy’ (I love that term!).  Maybe I’m just too much of a nice guy recruiter (haha and sorry boss) but in the ESL industry in Korea, it’s best to use as many recruiters as possible.  Why?  Teaching positions here will not greatly differ from one recruiter to the next.  Looking deeper however, you would  obviously want to avoid recruiters that work with less-than-reputable organizations.

Shopping around isn’t a crime; after all you want the best position that suits your needs.  Don’t be afraid to say NO to a recruiter who can’t find a suitable position for you or gives you a position that is the opposite of what you’re looking for.

By the time you send off your docs to a recruiter (or school) however, be sure you are committed to that position.  If you back out at the last minute, then you are kind of screwing over the recruiter/school for whatever reason that may be for.

Candidates Practicing Recruiter Polygamy and Other Ways to Get on the Do Not Hire List

February 17, 2010 · Leave a Comment


The Red Wheelbarrow

by William Carlos Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Ignoring the basics – the elemental that is so important – can wreak havoc on a job search.  What does this have to do with candidates practicing recruiter polygamy?  Keep reading.

Few candidates are aware that HR people and recruiters produce their own version of a black list.

Did you call HR ‘to follow up?’  Did you get angry with a hiring manager and tell them off?  How about this – you were so freaked out and trying so hard to get the job that you lied about your experience.  Or maybe you blew off an interview.

That you?  You’re probably on it.  Here are other ways to guarantee a place on the ‘do not hire’ list:

Be rude

Not surprisingly, recruiters have a special place for candidates who yell at them or don’t have the knowledge they said they had.  You guessed it – the ‘do not hire’ list.  Call repeatedly or send your resume weekly because you’ve ‘improved’ it?  You’ll soon be on the list too.

A special shout out to C-level candidates who think they know it all.  Most managers in HR know more about employment law and the hiring process than you do.  Cut back on the hubris and substitute some humility.  And remember this:

No one should do things out of brand…

Nilofer Merchant, CEO, Rubicon Consulting, Author, “The New How”

Rudeness is ‘out of brand.’  You’re trying to impress people with, among other things, your ability to work with others.  Demonstrate it.

Lie about your skills and/or experience

I’m adding this because it can’t be said too many times.  Don’t do what one of my clients did and lie on your resume.  There is no ’statute of limitations’ on the falsification of employment applications or resumes.  Think it doesn’t matter after 15 years?  Think again – I know a client who was fired after longer than that.

Recruiters and HR people share information on candidates.  Sooner or later you will be found out.  One of the first things I received from one of my corporate clients was a list of names of people she’d never consider – no matter what.  Be absolutely truthful and claim your experience.  And if your results occurred when you were part of a team, say so.

Work with more than one recruiter

Recruiter polygamy creates a bad reputation for candidates.  It demonstrates ignorance, disloyalty and shows that a candidate just doesn’t know how to play the game.  The recruiter is making her best effort to match you with her client – why would you want to do something sure to endanger your relationship with her?  Will your relationship with an employer last longer than the one with the recruiter?  Keep both going strong and stick with only one recruiter.  This is really about fairness.

Don’t repair your background

Clean up your internet presence.  Have you got a load of comments out there that are negative or overly-critical?  Or maybe you spent a lot of time flinging out f-bombs.  Take the time to clean them up where you can.

Where you can’t, bury them with more recent material that’s insightful and positive.  If you want to be free to say whatever you want, use a site that lets you lock out everyone but close friends.  Or find another venue that’s private.

Be dirty

People have been placed on do not hire lists because they made ridiculous comments in response to requests to take a drug test.  Get clear on it from the start.  Recreational drugs are not OK with any employers.  If you’re looking for a job in the defense industry or with corporations that do contract work for the government, just assume that you’ll be required to pass a test.  Kerry Scott over at Clue Wagon has a few interesting tales on this topic.

If you’re using, don’t apply for those jobs – get into recovery.  Don’t get mad at the messenger – it’s just the way it is.  Above all, don’t make inane jokes about it.  That’s enough to put you on the list because the perception is that you don’t share the employer’s point of view that it’s a serious subject.

Go dialing for dollars

Making a phone call is something you do when you know the person you’re calling.  You’re not friends with your recruiter – it’s a business relationship that’s at an arm’s length.

Same with HR people.  Keep the email brief.  When someone has good news, they’ll call you.  If every candidate called an HR contact just once, phones would be ringing off the hook.  Cut HR some slack – don’t call.

With all this said, what’s the best way to stay off the list?  Here’s a start:

Be polite no matter what

Job seekers will always be confronted by people who aren’t professional.  That doesn’t mean it’s a license to act the same way.  Take a long look at the receptionist, interviewer, manager and director.  You might notice the empty cubes in the department, the yellowing plants, the dust on the computers.

People are under intense pressure in all industries.  HR is doing more with less than ever before.  Suspend your judgement.  You’re in the interview to get an opportunity to help, not to be critical.  Being polite is part of the price of entry.  There will be an occasional mistake regarding an interview question, a bored look or a less than excited response to your experience.  Don’t take it personally.  Do demonstrate excellent manners at all times.

More info

Read Joann S. Lublin’s excellent piece on this topic in the Wall Street Journal, “Geting Your Name Off a Hiring Blacklist.”

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

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Nearly 20% of Salaried Workers Moonlighting

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And I’m a part of that 20%.

Only in Korea though, can one make 50,000 KRW+ per hour teaching conversational English (legally of course).  Sure it’s a pain in the ass driving to various spots to do privates but it’s the easiest money ever.

About one out of five salaried workers has a second job, according to a recent survey of 1,074 salaried workers released by jobs website Incruit on Wednesday. The proportion of moonlighters has been rising steadily to 18.2 percent from 12.9 percent in 2008 and 15.5 percent last year.

When asked why they are working two jobs, most respondents or 49.2 percent said extra income, followed by self-improvement (12.3 percent), a preparatory step for opening their own business (11.3 percent), provision for retirement (10.3 percent), and hobby or recreational activities (7.2 percent).

Me?  Extra income, that’s it.

Some 35.9 percent said the income from their second job amounts to between 11 and 20 percent of that from their main job, while 8.2 percent said it is as high as between 51 and 60 percent.

My extra income barely accounts for 10% of my ‘real’ income but still nice to have that extra spending cash.  For all you long-termers out there, I strongly suggest that you enroll in some kind of long-term savings plan (where a good chunk of my earnings go).

“Rather than jumping into a second job to make extra money quickly, prospective moonlighters should take a cautious approach, taking into consideration their heath, biorhythm, interests and skills,” Incruit advised.

I prefer to make extra money quickly and easily.

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 18, 2010 at 11:39 am

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Stupid Schools/Clients

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I’m so pissed right now.  One of the school we work with royally fucked up a candidate’s application due to their own ignorance and stubbornness which resulted in the candidate dropping out and obviously leaving a very bad taste in her mouth.  I won’t go into too much detail in case she reads this (does anyone read this though?hehe) but she was a very nice and patient person who would have been a great instructor.  She doesn’t seem to be upset with us but no longer wants to be at the school we placed her at.  She was pretty much good to go and everything was almost done but this particular school completely screwed this up.

If it’s any consolation, we won’t be working with them anymore.  I mentioned a lot of times before that my agency doesn’t work with shady schools.  Now in this particular example, they weren’t doing anything necessarily illegal.  They were just being retarded which justifies a cut-off.

I hope they go bankrupt and commit suicide.

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February 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

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Spending on education up despite bad economy

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This is the everlasting truth on why Korea will always be a haven for economic refugees.  Parents will do anything here for their kids to be successful which I’m not saying is always a positive thing but at least their spending less on smokes and booze.

Spending on education up despite bad economy
February 11, 2010

Even the worldwide recession last year did not discourage Koreans’ passion to spend money on schooling, despite government efforts to tamp down the country’s private education fever.

On the other hand, spending on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes fell for the first time.

Household spending on education for the first time exceeded 40 trillion won ($38.5 billion) between the fourth quarter of 2008 and third quarter of 2009, according to the Bank of Korea.

Despite the economic downturn that started in late 2008, educational spending was 3.5 percent higher than the previous year when it stood at 39.1 trillion won.

This means that each household spent on average 2.4 million won last year, up from 2.3 million won of 2008.

Educational expenditures have been growing over the years. In 2005, spending on education amounted to 30.8 trillion won, which notched up to 32.9 trillion won in 2006 and 35.9 trillion won in 2007.

Spending on education accounted for 7.4 percent of total spending, the same as the previous year.

“Although the intention was good, the government’s effort in trying to ease the overheated spending on private education has been ineffective,” said Cindy Yu, a Daewoo Securities analyst. “Still, it is at this point too early to say the government policy has failed since it has only been two years and it will take time for consumers to accept it.”

Spending on alcoholic beverages and cigarettes during the same period retreated 0.5 percent to 13.9 trillion won. This is the first time that such spending has fallen since that data were first compiled in 1971. “The drop in alcoholic beverage and cigarette purchases is a result of the global economic downturn, which reduced the number of various gatherings including year-end parties,” said an official at the central bank.

Spending in other areas also fell as a result of the world economic downfall. Transportation spending was down 3.1 percent to 60.4 trillion won as more people stayed at home rather than traveling on the weekends.

People also tightened their spending for communications, which fell 1.5 percent to 23.7 trillion won. Buying fashion items including clothes and shoes dropped 1.1 percent to 27.6 trillion won.

By Lee Ho-jeong []

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 11, 2010 at 11:19 am

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Need some sleep….

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Sorry for not posting lately.  I’ve been caught up in my own work/world; it’s been pretty crazy lately but like I always say, it’s better to be busy in this climate than doing nothing at all.  Still find it hard to get up in the morning though.  Maybe it’s the crazy weather, who knows.  This whole month will be pretty busy.  August is definitely the busiest month and then it dies down all of a sudden in September and October.  November gets slight busy but then December and January are pretty easy.  Then from February the workload gradually increases to the summer rush.

Hopefully I’ll be able to give you guys some interesting tales…happy hunting~

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February 11, 2010 at 11:09 am

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Breaking News! Hagwons in Korea are not Reporting all Income!!!

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False advertising too which is just as surprising.

HT to Korea Beat for the article and translation of this shocking story.  Truth be told though, it’s probably not just hagwons that try to weasel out of reporting income.  I say ‘probably’ because I’m too lazy busy to look for hard facts at the moment but I think everyone here can concur.

New report blasts hagwon industry crimes


I know that you all will just be shocked, shocked to read this.

#55-year old Mr. Choi, who runs a hagwon focussed on the entrance exams for specialized high schools, sends parents the billing information for curriculum materials and other expenses, asking them to pay cash to his employees rather than using bank transfers. Through this method he can hide W190 million from the government. Last year he was assessed W110 million in taxes after an audit.

#50-year old Mr. Park, who owns a science and math hagwon, charged over W1 million in lecture fees on a cash-only basis and deposited it in his wife’s bank account. The National Tax Service (국세청) assessed him a W100 millon tax bill for hiding W200 million in revenue that way.

#One arts hagwon in the Busan area put out false advertisements saying it had “the nation’s highest rate of admission to top arts programs” and received a warning from 공정거래위원회. A foreign language hagwon in Seoul was also caught falsely claiming to have a teacher certified by the Canadian government.

The state of affairs in the world of domestic hagwons, where illegal, quasi-legal, and unjust conduct is rampant, was revealed in a report published on the 2nd. Unjust actions that take advantage of the hearts of parents who want to send their children to good universities include tax evasion, of course, as well as inflated fees, operating without a license, and false advertising.

Audits conducted by the NTS uncovered W63.5 billion in hidden profits, leading to W26 billion in fines, an average of W190 million per business.

The NTS listed the three top ways hagwons attempt to avoid taxes: demanding high lesson fees be paid in lump-sum cash payments only; demanding payment for curriculum materials and other costs be made into employees’ bank accounts; and having supplemental lesson fees be paid in cash into the bank accounts of relatives.

The report found 15 hagwons who engaged in false advertising which failed to reveal lesson, use, and educational fees or how to obtain refunds.

One Seoul hagwon focused on university entrance exams was given a warning after opening its doors with a homepage saying “at least 45% of exam-takers nationwide selected”, “we have 180,321 social studies researchers and 143,142 science researchers in the 2010 schoolyear” followed by “our students score 20 points higher than the national average”.

Police enforcement actions uncovered 3,219 cases, involving 3,270 people, of unregistered hagwons and hagwon teachers doing private lessons. The 3,161 unregistered hagwons represented 98% of total cases. This includes cases such as a teacher who earned W8 million in lesson fees by teaching lessons to 67 high school students in Incheon without registering; a hagwon owner in Incheon who earned W210 million over five years by teachign 1,200 high school students without registering; and an unregistered engineering hagwon that earned W480 million — W2.07 million per student.

In Seongnam, Gyeonggi-do, seven people were caught making excessive profits of W2.1 billion by operating an unregistered franchise hagwon.

Six teachers were caught running an illegal school. In Yecheon, in Gyeongsangbuk-do, they were caught running a school teaching various students at W200,000 per month from March 2007 to November of last year using middle school math teachers.

The crackdown on SAT hagwons by the Gangnam Office of Education in Seoul has found 27 schools that charged excessive fees, did not report the hiring and firing of teachers, or filed false paperwork with the government, leading to warnings, injunctions, and business susupensions.

Written by recruiterinkorea

February 5, 2010 at 11:39 am

Posted in Uncategorized