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Author Topic: Doing Privates in Korea  (Read 14533 times)

Offline UKteacher

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Doing Privates in Korea
« on: May 16, 2016, 06:15:17 AM »
I heard it's not legal to do privates in Korea but not sure how true this is. Does anyone do privates? Are they easy to come by and how much can you get per hour? Do you lose your visa if you get caught? With salaries being 2.1m-2.4m won on average, isn't it necessary to top up with privates?

Offline Seoul cruiser

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2016, 06:44:09 AM »
I heard it's not legal to do privates in Korea but not sure how true this is. Does anyone do privates? Are they easy to come by and how much can you get per hour? Do you lose your visa if you get caught? With salaries being 2.1m-2.4m won on average, isn't it necessary to top up with privates?

Doing privates while holding an E-2 visa is illegal. If caught, you could/will face fines and deportation. However, they are legal if you are a citizen, or hold an F visa. Are there privates out there? Sure are, the question is, do you want to risk it? There are some foreigners who will turn you in, or a vindictive ex client, ect... Typically, the average salary for teachers here is enough to live on and survive without privates. 

Offline victorflood

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2016, 07:10:40 AM »
I heard it's not legal to do privates in Korea but not sure how true this is. Does anyone do privates? Are they easy to come by and how much can you get per hour? Do you lose your visa if you get caught? With salaries being 2.1m-2.4m won on average, isn't it necessary to top up with privates?

It really depends on the visa you come to Korea with.  An E-2 visa doesn't give you much freedom as this visa is sponsored by the employer with conditions attached.  Basically you are restricted to working at a certain address(es) that your employer must register with immigration.

Private tutors are also supposed to register with the local education office and I'm pretty sure that is impossible to do with an E-2 visa.

Of course there is the tax issue as well.  Like many countries, you are allowed to earn a certain amount of cash per year free from the clutches of the taxman - if your visa allows it - but all income is supposed to be declared.

It is easy to find private lessons.  In ten years here I've had scores of offers but never felt the need to do one (even though I'm now legally allowed to work a second job)  and I feel that the salary I earn has allowed me to party, travel and even save.  Looking at the pros and cons, I always felt I had way too much to lose and enjoyed my free time way too much.

I know a few folk that have spent years doing privates without any problem but on the other hand I know some others that have been caught, lost their primary jobs and have served a ban on re-entering Korea for that violation.

There are ways to be caught out, it's not unheard of for 'concerned' citizens to contact the authorities and I've heard rumors that officials have baited teachers with online ads etc. 

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2016, 08:01:19 AM »
I heard it's not legal to do privates in Korea but not sure how true this is. Does anyone do privates? Are they easy to come by and how much can you get per hour? Do you lose your visa if you get caught? With salaries being 2.1m-2.4m won on average, isn't it necessary to top up with privates?

It really depends on the visa you come to Korea with.  An E-2 visa doesn't give you much freedom as this visa is sponsored by the employer with conditions attached.  Basically you are restricted to working at a certain address(es) that your employer must register with immigration.

Private tutors are also supposed to register with the local education office and I'm pretty sure that is impossible to do with an E-2 visa.

Of course there is the tax issue as well.  Like many countries, you are allowed to earn a certain amount of cash per year free from the clutches of the taxman - if your visa allows it - but all income is supposed to be declared.

It is easy to find private lessons.  In ten years here I've had scores of offers but never felt the need to do one (even though I'm now legally allowed to work a second job)  and I feel that the salary I earn has allowed me to party, travel and even save.  Looking at the pros and cons, I always felt I had way too much to lose and enjoyed my free time way too much.

I know a few folk that have spent years doing privates without any problem but on the other hand I know some others that have been caught, lost their primary jobs and have served a ban on re-entering Korea for that violation.

There are ways to be caught out, it's not unheard of for 'concerned' citizens to contact the authorities and I've heard rumors that officials have baited teachers with online ads etc.

This.  I've been here for two years and live waaaaaaaay out in the countryside.  I've had offers from families that I know personally that would have been completely under the radar, but never took them.  Partially because they're illegal, but more because I just wasn't hurting for the money and didn't need to do them.  Victorflood is right about the free time.  It all depends on what your priorities are.

Offline Archeon

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2016, 08:08:06 AM »
I heard it's not legal to do privates in Korea but not sure how true this is. Does anyone do privates? Are they easy to come by and how much can you get per hour? Do you lose your visa if you get caught? With salaries being 2.1m-2.4m won on average, isn't it necessary to top up with privates?

Doing privates while holding an E-2 visa is illegal. If caught, you could/will face fines and deportation. However, they are legal if you are a citizen, or hold an F visa. Are there privates out there? Sure are, the question is, do you want to risk it? There are some foreigners who will turn you in, or a vindictive ex client, ect... Typically, the average salary for teachers here is enough to live on and survive without privates.

At least with my contract at the public school I work for it stipulates that I am not allowed any outside work, despite the fact that i am on an F-6 visa, so a rule of thumb is to always walk like a ninja if you are going to do something... shady.

I know of many who do privates and have no problem, however i also know of 2 people who were caught at one time and were deported.

So... It is really a roll of the die.  Risk vs. Reward...  Choices choices.
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Offline UKteacher

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2016, 08:21:33 AM »
I think, after reading everyone's posts, that I won't risk doing privates if I get the job and come to Korea. 2.4m won should be enough I think to save a little. I wouldn't want the risk of being deported and losing my job.

Offline outsider

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2016, 08:48:19 AM »
My wife and I run a 공부방 (study room) and I also do privates for a living.  We are 100% legal (registered business, private tutor license, pay taxes etc). 

There is a huge demand for private tutors.  We hear all the time how difficult it is to find native english speakers to teach privates even at 60k an hour.  To be succesfull its a huge help if you speak Korean (to communicate with parents) and understand the Korean internet (advertising).

I have been investigated by rival study room and hagwon owners.   In one case I was accused of teaching illegally and told I should leave Korea or she will have me deported (she actually came to investigate me under the guise of a private lesson and paid me 50 bucks after she was finished making a fool of herself haha)

My point here is.  Yes, you can make lots of money teaching privates.  But, esl is a pretty cut throat business here in Korea. Once you become well known in your area the threat of being reported to the tax office/immigration/MoE is very real.   Best to keep it small and keep it quiet until you can get it all legal

« Last Edit: May 16, 2016, 08:53:14 AM by outsider »

donovan

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2016, 09:58:09 AM »
In a large metropolis like Seoul anyway, it shouldn't be too hard to do some private tutoring and keep yourself out of trouble so long as you keep a low profile about it and don't teach students residing too close to your primary job.

Offline nomadicmadda

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2016, 10:15:28 AM »
My wife and I run a 공부방 (study room) and I also do privates for a living.  We are 100% legal (registered business, private tutor license, pay taxes etc). 

There is a huge demand for private tutors.  We hear all the time how difficult it is to find native english speakers to teach privates even at 60k an hour.  To be succesfull its a huge help if you speak Korean (to communicate with parents) and understand the Korean internet (advertising).

I have been investigated by rival study room and hagwon owners.   In one case I was accused of teaching illegally and told I should leave Korea or she will have me deported (she actually came to investigate me under the guise of a private lesson and paid me 50 bucks after she was finished making a fool of herself haha)

My point here is.  Yes, you can make lots of money teaching privates.  But, esl is a pretty cut throat business here in Korea. Once you become well known in your area the threat of being reported to the tax office/immigration/MoE is very real.   Best to keep it small and keep it quiet until you can get it all legal

Is your wife Korean?  How did you get this set up? 

Offline HyooMyron

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #9 on: May 16, 2016, 10:49:58 AM »

I know a few folk that have spent years doing privates without any problem but on the other hand I know some others that have been caught, lost their primary jobs and have served a ban on re-entering Korea for that violation.

There are ways to be caught out, it's not unheard of for 'concerned' citizens to contact the authorities and I've heard rumors that officials have baited teachers with online ads etc.

I personally knew two people that were caught doing private lessons. One was just chest deep in privates  :wink: He was literally spending all his free time doing them and making a decent chunk of change. Because of how many people he was connected with, it was impossible to find out how he got caught.
The other person is another story entirely. She responded to a post on our city's waygook facebook page. Another foreigner didn't like her very much and reported her. It's been said that they used the post on facebook as evidence against her.

Offline hiphopopotamus

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2016, 10:53:12 AM »
When I stopped working for EPIK in February this year, I switched over to privates (on a resident F visa, so legally). Working a few hours a week, having an open schedule I choose, etc. has been great.

Legally, all income needs to be reported on next year's taxes (for which I have an English speaking CPA to assist me). Having taught children for the past 5 years, I decided to focus only on adults for privates (less stable but good money when their companies foot the bill). Also, if one teaches adults only, you needn't register their names / addresses with the MOE (you do if teaching children).

Likewise, one needn't register as a taxable entity (think sole proprietorship) with the tax office unless bringing in over 75,000,000 per year in revenue. That's according to Korean income tax law.


Offline wings

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2016, 11:03:02 AM »
When I first came to Korea I had a tonne of student debt. My plan was to pay it off as quickly as possible.  I randomly got hooked up with a group of rich moms in Gangnam and started teaching hours or privates a week.  I taught groups of 2 kids for 60,000 an hour, or 3 for 75,000.  I only taught if I had 2 hours in a row in the same apartment complex.  By the time I paid off my debt I had raised my price, and lowered my time (an hour was just too long).  My rate when I stopped doing privates a few months ago was 50,000 won for 45 mins for 1 or 2 kids.  Again, only when I had 2 classes in the same area back to back. At my peak, I was often bringing in 450,000 - 600,000 a week from privates. It was EXHAUSTING, but my main job was pretty chilled, and I paid off my student debt in 3 years, while living a good life and travelling frequently.   I knew it was illegal, and that if cuaght I would be in trouble, but it was worth it for me. 

Offline johnny russian

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2016, 12:05:57 PM »
i've been offered privates before, but never really though the risk was worth it. for me personally, i just don't think it's worth risking your 2.1 million+ per month salary for an extra 2-300k.

if you get caught you can get fined millions of Won, which is a good few months or even a year or more of that extra cash you've made down the drain. and that's a best case scenario. you could get deported. and even if you're not, you'll have a mark against you, which means that immigration might not renew your visa if you want to stay another year.

if you have a ton of student loans or just want to make money, best thing to do is work in the rural areas. the salary in the rural provinces is generally higher than in the cities, plus you can get the rural bonus and multiple schools bonus, since almost everyone in the rural areas works at multiple schools.

my first year here i was getting an extra 350k per month completely legally. 100k rural bonus plus 250k multiple schools bonus.

donovan

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2016, 12:50:51 PM »
I once had a situation where I put in a few hours per week with my landlords child in exchange for rent-free housing.  Are there any legal issues to worry about there?

Offline KimDuHan

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2016, 01:10:32 PM »
It's legal if your boss allows it and reports it to immigration if your on an E2. Most likely your boss won't allow it and asking about it would just cause problems in most cases.

Going under the table is risking deportation and possibly being banned from Korea. Also tax evasion and legal actions could be taken against you.

Another thing is Koreans and foreigners may turn you in if they have a grudge against you. When I came here there was a reward for reporting and turning in illegal tutors. Not sure about now but Koreans married to foreigners would look for English lessons and once you got paid they would phone the authorities and boom they get the reward.

Not worth the money!! Don't do it!!
For some cash you are literally risking so many things.

Offline johnny russian

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #15 on: May 16, 2016, 02:14:57 PM »
i just want to clarify something about the legality - even if your boss allows it/reports it to immigration, or even if you are on an F-visa, teaching privates is still illegal unless you have a private tutoring license.

You need that private tutoring license to make it legal. This is VERY rarely - if not ever - granted to E-2 visa holders. Usually it's only granted to F-visa holders, hence the conflation of "F-visa = legal private tutoring" that people often make.

The private tutoring license is pretty easy to get if you have an F-visa, but you still need that license.

Online Mr.DeMartino

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #16 on: May 16, 2016, 03:01:54 PM »
Don't break the law.

However, if you do, at least be smart about it. Make sure it's someone you know and have a relationship with. Or a really reliable reference. Try and go for business men and the like who are decently up the food chain that whatever amount of money they might get for turning you in is pointless for them. The kind of people that if a stranger tried to bust the two of you doing a lesson at a coffee shop, they'd just turn to them and be like "Who the f are you? I'll get one of your relatives fired for this". Either that or the phrases "We're just friends" or "We're doing language exchange" are handy. No one is going to bust you if you aren't an idiot about it.

Speaking from possible experience, it's great- Good pay, tax free cash, sexcursions like golfing or skiing, meals, free booze, random gifts, job offers, and I've known people who have even been gifted rather expensive things from luxury goods to a really cheap price on their car or other stuff like that. Heck, they might even offer to fly you with the family on some vacation for their kids' English practice (which could be good or bad depending on your view)

Just don't be an idiot and throw up a bunch of flyers or get involved with random parents you've met 15 minutes ago and teaching their kids.

Offline hiphopopotamus

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #17 on: May 16, 2016, 04:29:06 PM »
i just want to clarify something about the legality - even if your boss allows it/reports it to immigration, or even if you are on an F-visa, teaching privates is still illegal unless you have a private tutoring license.

You need that private tutoring license to make it legal. This is VERY rarely - if not ever - granted to E-2 visa holders. Usually it's only granted to F-visa holders, hence the conflation of "F-visa = legal private tutoring" that people often make.

The private tutoring license is pretty easy to get if you have an F-visa, but you still need that license.

To clarify on top of this, a private tutoring license is only required if teaching kids. One needs a background check and to register the kids names and addresses in this situation. In my case, I teach ONLY adults. According to my local MOE, they have no requirements nor care about registering adult students, thus no private tutoring license is needed in my case.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2016, 04:35:23 PM by hiphopopotamus »

Offline Seoul cruiser

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #18 on: May 16, 2016, 04:39:38 PM »
i just want to clarify something about the legality - even if your boss allows it/reports it to immigration, or even if you are on an F-visa, teaching privates is still illegal unless you have a private tutoring license.

You need that private tutoring license to make it legal. This is VERY rarely - if not ever - granted to E-2 visa holders. Usually it's only granted to F-visa holders, hence the conflation of "F-visa = legal private tutoring" that people often make.

The private tutoring license is pretty easy to get if you have an F-visa, but you still need that license.

To clarify on top of this, a private tutoring license is only required if teaching kids. One needs a background check and to register the kids names and addresses in this situation. In my case, I teach ONLY adults. According to my local MOE, they have no requirements nor care about registering adult students, thus no private tutoring license is needed in my case.

Both of those are 100% spot on. I once had the tutoring license, but it wasn't worth it. Not sure about now but back then, they would also limit the amount of money you could charge. I think it was 20,000 won a lesson.

The same is true for Hagwons as well. They set a price cap, which is why they charge extra for books and what not.

Offline outsider

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Re: Doing Privates in Korea
« Reply #19 on: May 18, 2016, 12:21:57 AM »
i just want to clarify something about the legality - even if your boss allows it/reports it to immigration, or even if you are on an F-visa, teaching privates is still illegal unless you have a private tutoring license.

You need that private tutoring license to make it legal. This is VERY rarely - if not ever - granted to E-2 visa holders. Usually it's only granted to F-visa holders, hence the conflation of "F-visa = legal private tutoring" that people often make.

The private tutoring license is pretty easy to get if you have an F-visa, but you still need that license.

To clarify on top of this, a private tutoring license is only required if teaching kids. One needs a background check and to register the kids names and addresses in this situation. In my case, I teach ONLY adults. According to my local MOE, they have no requirements nor care about registering adult students, thus no private tutoring license is needed in my case.

As far as I know this is exactly right except for one detail.  The students addresses do not have to be registered with the MoE but the address where you will be teaching them does.  I.e. if they are coming to your apartment to study than all the MoE needs is your address.  This is an important detail for those of us who run study rooms.