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  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Hagwon going bust?
« on: January 10, 2019, 08:16:13 pm »
Got called into my directors office this morning along with the other foreign teacher at my Hagwon and told that he could only pay 40% of our wages on payday and the rest will be paid sometime later in the month. Basically saying they havenít made enough money and he had to take a loan out last month to cover the costs but he obviously canít keep doing that.

When we asked about next months pay he said he didnít want to say yes weíll be paid fully and on time and things will be back to normal because he didnít know for sure.

Is this the beginning of the end then? Itís kind of thrown everything up in the air in my mind. Just for a bit of context, Iíve been here for just over two months now so how will this affect me in terms of my visa and other things? Iím guessing Iím not entitled to a severance package or anything like that? Appreciate any advice.


  • thunderlips
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1441

    • June 07, 2012, 10:01:55 am
    • South Korea
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #1 on: January 10, 2019, 08:42:30 pm »
Your boss is being honest(it seems), which is good , ask him if he can loan you out to another hagwon short term to help cover the costs, make sure he reports two places of work if he does. Another option would be to ask for a letter of release and change to a d-10. Seoul global center may be able to give you more options., contact them. Good luck!


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2019, 05:44:01 am »
Been there.   Get out sooner rather than later.   The longer you stay, the more it will cost you.

Do whatever you have to do to get out, but don't wait for things to turn around... they won't.


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #3 on: January 12, 2019, 11:23:53 pm »
The thing is, he gave no indication of whether the school was in enough financial trouble to warrant closing down or not but it would seem that thatís the direction weíre going in. So all Iím thinking now is  should I be expecting a call into the office to tell me theyíre closing down and will I be given adequate notice? I know itís kind of the wild west when it comes to protocol and things like that in Hagwons which, as someone who likes to know whatís going on and be prepared for any eventuality, doesnít sit well with me.

The academic year ends at the end of next month so I would think maybe he was banking on a load of new students signing up and maybe heís seen the numbers already and heís starting to panic? Iím obviously not fully clued up on how the schools work here.

Like I said Iím only just starting the third month of my contract so Iím still actually getting the deposit for the apartment deducted from my pay check, will this be reimbursed if the school closes down in a month or two/am I entitled to that?


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2019, 08:17:06 am »
I can't tell you what you should do, I can only tell you what
I went through.  I don't know if your school has the same
Financial situation that mine had, but it sounds very similar.
The place I worked at only made enough money to pay me
During vacation time. They got extra students at those times,
But the rest of the year was slim pickings.  The longer I stayed,
The more back pay I was owed and the harder it was to
Leave.  He had done the same to the teacher before me
And that guy had to sue to get his money.  He was fluent
In Korean and knew people who could help him, I on the
Other hand had very little Korean language skills
And no one to help.  The labor office spoke no English
And wouldn't help at all.  I had to leave being shorted about
5 MIL. K won
If I would have stayed longer, it would only get worse.
I' m not sure if this helps. But I hope it does.


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2019, 09:24:57 pm »
So you think I should be preparing for the school to close down. Like I said this is only the start of my third month of my contract so I was just starting to feel comfortable and now Iím going to be going to work every day wondering if Iíll be out of a job next month or the month after. It makes everything feel very unsettled.

I do really like the school I work at but it is a very small school and Iíd be lying if the amount of students hadnít had my questioning how the place was managing to stay afloat.

Is the visa process quite straight forward changing to a D-10 Visa  (I think thatís the one, a job seekers visa) and would I need to change to that as soon as Iím told the Hagwon will be closing? Or can I stay on my current E2 for a bit until I figure out what I want to do.


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2019, 10:55:25 am »
I don't think they will close, but they will
Pay you a lot less than what your contract
Says.   At least that's what happened to
Me.  After a couple of months my salary
Was about half, then about a third etc.
It's hard to say exactly what they will do.
If you want to wait a while and see how
Things go, I guess that's up to you.
FOR me the not knowing what I should
Do was the hardest part.  Should I stay,
Should I go, will I eventually get paid if
I stay?  It wasn't fun.
Best of luck whatever you do.


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2019, 01:42:37 pm »
If, letís say we get to next month and the same thing happens again, then the month after thereís issues with my pay. I would probably at that point be looking to hand my notice in. Iím not coming to work for 10 hours every day not knowing if Iím going to get paid or not.

My concern is then the clause in the contract which says Iím obliged to pay back the costs of recruiting me if I leave within the first 6 months, surely that wouldnít still stand if Iím not getting paid properly in the first place? Would I still have a legal requirement to pay it back? Or do you think the fact that I hadnít been receiving pay on time or correctly be a good enough defence not to pay it back?

Thankfully I have a good relationship with everyone here so I canít see a situation where the director would be actively trying to screw me out of some money. I also would like to avoid any legal action if possible.


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2019, 09:20:49 pm »
That kind of contract is illegal (as far as I know) But you signed it, so you're kind of hooped there.

As long as you signed the contract, you must abide by it.   I know this doesn't make a lot of sense,

but things rarely do in Korea.

You say you are in your 3rd month, would it be that difficult to wait it out for another 3?

It sounds like there are no other major problems with your job, only pay issues.

You have to weigh your options:  is it more expensive to pay back recruiter costs, or

to get short changed on the next 3 months of salary?

It all depends, if your boss is just paying you late (but eventually paying) or if he's

making excuses and not really ever going to pay.

These are questions that kept me awake at night  while I was going through this.

I'm sorry if this is not much help.



Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2019, 09:31:03 pm »
The saddest part of the whole deal was that I actually enjoyed working at the place.

One of the few hagwon jobs that I did enjoy.

I guess the main reason may have been that the boss knew he was shafting me on pay, so

he left me alone and let me teach however I wanted. 

Just remember, it's not the end of the world if you stay or if you go.

Even though I was shorted pay, I still managed OK.

The next job I had, I got paid alright but the boss was a micro-managing moron,

so count your blessings.



« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 09:35:17 pm by some waygug-in »


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2019, 10:01:07 pm »
No of course, if things are still going alright then Iíll have no problem staying. The thing that concerned me was the directors lack of certainty in terms of whatís going to happen moving forward. He didnít have any assurances weíd be paid properly next month, all he could tell us is that the school hadnít made enough money this month due to the lack of students (and weíre approaching the end of the academic year where some of the kids will be graduating plus weíve had a few kids move away). It is a very small school, the youngest class only has 1 student and the biggest kindergarten class now has 7. So once the older kindergarten kids leave at the end of next month there arenít enough students to fill their places. Then we have the elementary classes which are all small too (my biggest has 5 students) So Iíd guess the school is counting on a lot of new sign ups but it just doesnít seem likely to be enough.

Thatís why Iím so concerned, because if heís struggling to pay us now, whatís it going to be like next month when we know thereís going to be kids leaving as theyíve graduated.


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2019, 10:40:26 pm »
If I remember correctly, the Korean school vacation is coming up.  Which corresponds to the end of the
school year.   

Korean parents like to sign up their kids for "vacation classes" during this time,  so I'm guessing that

your school will get an increase in students.  (but only for that month)

Your director is hoping that some of those vacation students will stick around past vacation.

At least, that's the situation I had to go through.

So after that month is over,  who knows? 

If I were you, I would try and hold out for the next 3 months and then see how things go from there.

But, I am only guessing.  I could be totally out to lunch.

I hope this helps.

« Last Edit: January 14, 2019, 10:52:11 pm by some waygug-in »


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2019, 07:51:28 am »
I actually think weíre in the winter break period now, some of my students mentioned before Christmas that they had a month off from their elementary school and that was about 3 weeks ago. We havenít had any new students join, there may have been some more middle or high school students come in for tutoring later in the evenings but I have nothing to do with that. I just work with the kindergarten and elementary students and we havenít had any new students this month. In fact I just heard yesterday another student is moving house soon so wonít be able to attend anymore which doesnít do much to help our current situation haha


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2019, 10:12:40 pm »
No, the PS year end is at the end of Feb, what they have now is just Christmas break.

I don't know how or if this will affect your situation.


  • Piggydee
  • The Legend

    • 2553

    • October 15, 2013, 07:32:43 am
    • South Korea
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #14 on: January 17, 2019, 07:20:54 am »
Right now from what I can observe from some of my other NET friends is that English Camp is happening right now.  Myself included.  I have another friend who will start hers next week. 


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #15 on: January 21, 2019, 11:32:00 pm »
I donít know much about camps and things like that, but nothing has been mentioned to me or the other foreign English teacher about new students joining.

In fact, thereís been no mention of the situation by the Korean teachers at all. Iíve witnessed  a few hushed conversations (in Korean so canít be sure what it was about) but none of the Korean teachers have mentioned anything to me about how we havenít been paid fully. When I would think alarm bells would be ringing when the director canít afford to pay the teachers, after citing the lack of students as the problem, and weíre approaching the end of the academic year when students are graduating and leaving. How is he going to manage next month??

Weíre into the week now where he told us heíd pay the remainder of our monthly wage so Iím kind of just checking my account balance every hour.


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #16 on: January 22, 2019, 04:01:17 am »
I guess I was a bit off on the vacation  classes then.   I apologize for that.   

I wish I could tell you things are going to turn around, but it doesn't look good from what you

have written.   Be prepared for the worst.   You're director obviously knows what you are thinking,

so he's probably holding on to some of your pay to try and deter you from just up and leaving.

I really don't know what to tell you at this point, it's an awful situation to be in.

What is the other foreign teacher going to do? 


« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 04:04:18 am by some waygug-in »


  • APH
  • Adventurer

    • 73

    • November 17, 2018, 12:32:33 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #17 on: January 22, 2019, 07:40:55 am »
The other foreign teachers contract is actually up at the end of next month (when the school year ends) so they already have another job lined up, so theyíre concerned with making sure they get all their severance package. Iím wondering if the school are even going to bother hiring another English teacher to replace them. As itís only a month away and I havenít heard anything, but surely by now they should have had a replacement lined up. But then I also canít see how the school will run with only one foreign teacher without some major changes being made.

Again though, if they were planning on just going with the one foreign teacher (me) to save money why has nothing been mentioned to me about it?? As that will obviously have a big impact on my schedule. I keep meaning to ask one of the Korean teachers if theyíve hear anything about a new teacher but I keep forgetting. They also all seem very hush hush when it comes to discussing things like this as well.


Re: Hagwon going bust?
« Reply #18 on: January 22, 2019, 08:54:01 pm »
They are probably worried that if they say anything, you will jump ship.

It's not easy for them either.   

I know you are in a difficult situation, but so are they.    This is why I had so much trouble with

my own situation.   I felt sorry for them and I really wanted things to turn around.

I feel for you, if that's any consolation.

« Last Edit: January 22, 2019, 09:22:21 pm by some waygug-in »