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  • OnNut81
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1435

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« on: September 18, 2020, 11:14:14 am »
I always enjoy reading about some of the oddballs and just eccentric characters people meet here and since "posters on my wall" is trending as a thread today I figure I should make an effort beyond just being a cynical critic of posts.  I'll still do that but I can't complain in good conscience about threads I think are kakao group chat material if I'm not making at least an effort. 

Ran into a guy I worked with almost seven years ago when I took a 10 month hakwan job in between public school jobs.  We had some good laughs reminiscing and comparing notes about this nice, good-natured but full of absolute sh*t Korean guy who had wormed his way into a place of influence with the owner.  I won't mention the name of the school, although it's gone, or place, because this isn't an anecdote about an evil person.  Just a guy who couldn't open his mouth without lying to build himself up. 

Basically, this was a guy who had lived in the U.S. and spoke excellent English and was contracted out to do some special classes during the week.  At some point he had convinced the owner, who had money yet no real understanding of how to run a school, that he was a renowned expert in the field.  As the expectations grew he just became more desperate to prove his worth. It could be annoying, yet often hilarious.  My first day he came and talked to me and my spider senses were tingling as he told me that he had worked with a few of the leading chains like CDI and Poly as a special consultant.  Called in to trouble shoot at various times.  I wasn't buying it.  I'll summarize some of his best stories and his climactic workshop he finally couldn't avoid any longer where his lack of ability was exposed to all and his downfall began. 

I was further convinced about the fictitious nature of his special consultancy role when before one of his meetings with the owner he came to me and asked what the Poly morning program was like?  Odd, seeing as he was practically integral to its implementation as far as I'd heard, yet he didn't know a thing about it. 

Another favourite that he told everyone was from when he was studying in the states, Harvard for the first two years of course. But if he had graduated from there he'd be able to produce a diploma.  So, it turns out he had to move to a state school for his degree because his "billionaire" hedge fund owning grandmother had a dispute with his father and decided she would no longer pay for her grandson to attend Harvard.  Despite the two of them being close and him often spending time at her place in Long Island with the yacht.  Those Korean grandmothers!  Always neglecting their grandchildren. 

Sticking to the highlights, my absolute favourite was his adventures working a summer job at a sushi restaurant in North Carolina.  We had all heard pieces of this but because he was in with the boss no one called him out so he became emboldened and the story kept improving. Now who just happened to be a regular customer at this establishment?  Michael Jordan!  Wow!  But it didn't stop there.  MJ was such a regular that the two of them became friends.  Not just familiar, but friends.  And I guess because no one else would play with him, MJ used to take Grover (fake name) to play some one-on-one.  And if that wasn't enough, Grover used to always win.  They didn't cover that in that NETFLIX special.  Kind of embarrassing for Michael. 

A more annoying trait at the time, but funny later, was when the owner (believing he was an ESL expert) would send him into classes to observe and offer improvements.  He did this in everyone's class when he had to show you some tips for the kindergarten age students.  He would get up and say something like "Ok, today we're going to look at page 25, is everyone ready?" Then lift his leg, put his hand over his mouth and look surprised while making a farting sound.  Without fail.  The kids would crack up and then he would tell the teacher "See, now you have their attention and they are focused on you."  Then he would sit down and go back to observing only.  He had nothing more to offer. Every effing time. 

Finally, the owner decided things had gotten to the point where we all had to come in on a Saturday and he would do a workshop for us.  He assured us all multiple times that nothing was required of us, we were just going to be treated to his wisdom so we could relax about coming in on a Saturday.  So, Saturday rolls around and all the teachers and the owner are in the playroom and he's hamming it up on stage pretty much saying nothing helpful. I thought to myself there's no way in front of everyone, including the religious owner he'll do it, but sure enough as an icebreaker the leg went up and the fart sound was emitted.  It was stifled laughter and people embarrassed for themselves and him.  Then he ran the workshop that surprisingly consisted of us brainstorming ideas while he just nodded his approval.  He had absolutely nothing planned. 

Not long after, I hightailed it back to public school and last I heard he had decided to pursue his own chain of schools and disappeared into the sunset. 

« Last Edit: September 18, 2020, 11:33:46 am by OnNut81 »


  • 745sticky
  • Expert Waygook

    • 970

    • March 26, 2020, 01:52:57 pm
    • Korea
Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #1 on: September 18, 2020, 12:15:11 pm »
but sure enough as an icebreaker the leg went up and the fart sound was emitted.

why why why why why why why
I would have actually left at that point. Even if it resulted in my dismissal. I hate second-hand cringe so much that I can barely tolerate watching a show when a character is doing some embarrassing shit, this would mentally kill me


Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #2 on: September 18, 2020, 12:19:39 pm »
Great story OnNut81. made me laugh. I can't really tell any stories. Met lots of oddballs and eccentric types, but not enough situations to tell a good story. Although there was grand bullshitter, who cried rivers of tears when a student accidently bumped him. He lay on the floor weeping and squirming. 20 minutes later he was racing around laughing. Very strange!


  • 745sticky
  • Expert Waygook

    • 970

    • March 26, 2020, 01:52:57 pm
    • Korea
Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #3 on: September 18, 2020, 12:24:12 pm »
Great story OnNut81. made me laugh. I can't really tell any stories. Met lots of oddballs and eccentric types, but not enough situations to tell a good story. Although there was grand bullshitter, who cried rivers of tears when a student accidently bumped him. He lay on the floor weeping and squirming. 20 minutes later he was racing around laughing. Very strange!

For clarification's sake. "grand bullshitter" is another student, not a grown adult...


...right?


Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #4 on: September 18, 2020, 12:32:46 pm »
Nope, a late 30's Korean American teacher.


  • OnNut81
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1435

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #5 on: September 18, 2020, 12:51:52 pm »
why why why why why why why
I would have actually left at that point. Even if it resulted in my dismissal. I hate second-hand cringe so much that I can barely tolerate watching a show when a character is doing some embarrassing shit, this would mentally kill me

It was pretty apropos.  He was nothing but hot air.  He didn't really know how to run a class so he would do his cheap trick and get his laughs and go back and sit down to observe.  He sunk himself when he finally had to back up his claims with his disastrous workshop.  You could just see the boss realize he didn't know what he was doing.  His influence waned and he was relegated back to his special extra-curricular work. 


  • OnNut81
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1435

    • April 01, 2011, 03:01:41 pm
    • Anyang
Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2020, 01:01:43 pm »
Great story OnNut81. made me laugh. I can't really tell any stories. Met lots of oddballs and eccentric types, but not enough situations to tell a good story. Although there was grand bullshitter, who cried rivers of tears when a student accidently bumped him. He lay on the floor weeping and squirming. 20 minutes later he was racing around laughing. Very strange!

Sounds like a good story right there.  I figure there are more than enough "hakwan done me wrong" stories, so I thought the more light-hearted moments could use a mention. 

Another female from a different academy had so many issues, mishaps and idiotic behaviour that we actually refer back to them as if they were titled episodes of a sitcom.  Inspired of course by Seinfeld and one anecdote we just called "The Big Salad."  With this particular woman memorable episodes also include "The Cotton Bud", "The Lost Wallet", "The Staircase" and "New Teachers Arrive" just to name a few.  I met up with a friend from those days years later at a beer garden in Munich and were just reeling off stories about her.  Endless.  Although by the end she had alienated herself from everyone because she was maliciously untrustworthy.  But harmless to most of the staff.


  • oglop
  • The Legend

    • 4412

    • August 25, 2011, 07:24:54 pm
    • Seoul
Re: Hakwan characters and general lunacy
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2020, 04:30:17 pm »
not hagwon, but at a public school i used to work at, i walked into the subject teacher room after class and saw a middle age teacher have a full-on tantrum. at first i thought something awful had happened, like a family member had died. she was FULL-ON wailing, stamping her feet, screaming, crying. like a toddler would at being denied a cookie or something.

after a while i noticed that she was pointing at a printer that had been moved near her desk. well, turns out, she was absolutely outraged of having to be next to this printer. outraged. everyone tried to calm her down, saying it will be okay, we can move the printer if...it will help. anyway, this went on pretty much all day. i thought i must have been missing something but, nope, just about the printer.

the printer was eventually moved, much to my annoyance.

strangest thing i've ever seen in a school. the first grade students were more emotionally mature