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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Navigating the Korean ESL Job Market: A Guide for New English Teachers in Ulsan



If you’re considering a career as an English teacher in Korea, you’ve probably heard about “hogwans” and the mixed reputation they have. These businesses, often posing as schools or academies, can be a minefield for unsuspecting foreign teachers. In this guide, we’ll shed light on the shady practices that some hogwans employ and provide essential advice to help you secure a fair and rewarding teaching experience in Korea.

The Importance of Research:

One of the first steps in protecting yourself from questionable employers is thorough research. Don’t fall into the trap of accepting the first offer that comes your way. Many hogwans and recruiters will try to keep you in the dark about crucial details, such as your work location, schedule, and contract terms. To avoid unpleasant surprises, consider the following steps:

1. Connect with the Teaching Community: Join social media groups or forums where current and former teachers share their experiences. Seek advice from those who have worked at the same institution you’re considering. Be cautious when reaching out to the current teachers, as they might be monitored by the school.

2. Check Blacklist Groups: Look for hogwan blacklist groups or related threads on platforms like Reddit. Pay attention to recurring complaints about specific schools or chains. If negative feedback is consistent, it’s a red flag.

Negotiate Your Contract:

Hogwans often attempt to rush you into accepting their initial offer without negotiation. Remember that these institutions are businesses aiming to maximize their profits. You can negotiate aspects like salary, working hours, and benefits, even if they claim they have limited budgets. Compare offers to historical standards, like the one from 2004, to gauge the fairness of the current offer.


– 2004 Offer:
– Location: Ulsan city
Salary: 2.0 million Won/month
– Working hours: 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm
– Airfare included
– Single accommodation
– Health insurance: 50%

– Recent Offer:
– Location: SongJeong, Bukgu
Salary: 2.2 million Won or higher
– Housing and severance pay
– Average 8 classes/day
– Two daily breaks and provided dinner

Get Everything in Writing:

Once you’ve successfully negotiated a contract, ensure that every detail is documented. Some unscrupulous hogwans may change the Korean version of the contract to your disadvantage, so review it carefully before signing. Any special agreements or changes should also be in writing, even if they seem minor.

What to Do When Things Go Wrong:

If you find yourself in a difficult situation, remember that you’re not legally bound to the school. You can leave if the conditions are unbearable or illegal. Here are some steps to take:

1. Consult with the Community: Seek anonymous advice on teaching forums and social media groups to gather information and support.

2. File a Complaint: If necessary, file a complaint with the Ministry of Employment and Labor (MOEL). Make sure to gather evidence of any wrongdoing and maintain records of all relevant communications.

Typical Issues and Tactics:

Some common issues you might encounter include:

1. The 11-Month Firing: To avoid paying severance and other benefits, some hogwans might try to fire you just before your contract completes. Understand your rights and be prepared to file a complaint.

2. The 90 Days Notice Scam: You’re not legally required to give 90 or 30 days’ notice before leaving your contract unless it’s explicitly stated in your agreement. Hogwans may use this time to create a hostile work environment, so use your discretion.

3. Breach of Contract Penalty: Know your rights under the Korean Labor Standards Act. Hogwans cannot fine you for breaking your contract.

Final Advice:

– Do not sign anything without translating and understanding it thoroughly.
– When facing issues, remain professional and go to work, even if it’s a challenging environment.
– Consult the Korean Labor Standards Act and consider legal advice.
– Pay attention to warnings from experienced teachers; they’re often trying to protect newcomers from unpleasant experiences.

In Closing:

While not all hogwans are bad, it’s essential to exercise caution and do your homework to ensure a positive teaching experience in Korea. With the right research, negotiation, and knowledge of your rights, you can find a trustworthy and honest institution to work with. Good luck on your teaching journey in Korea!