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The Scam of the High-paying Hagwon
« on: December 13, 2020, 10:23:20 pm »
Saw this on Reddit; had to re-post. Also really wondering why so many foreigners are willing to allow themselves to be screwed over.

First, one has to consider the subjective side, which I think can be broken down into three, general parts: a.) what the teacher wants/expects; b.) the conditions at individual schools; c.) the behavior of the students. Of course, there are different things that different teachers will find acceptable or even preferable, beyond the size of one’s monthly salary. Some teachers may in fact prefer longer working hours, they may prefer micro-management if they feel it reduces the burden of class planning , and they may prefer the business side of a hagwon over the education side. Also, there may very well be hagwon owners out there willing to pay large salaries with normal working conditions to attract and keep good teachers. However, in my personal experience (working at two different high-paying hagwons) and from what I’ve heard from others’ accounts, this type of situation rarely plays out well for the teacher. The third point also has to be taken into account. High-paying hagwons are often located in Gangnam, Seoul or that area, home to very wealthy families. Students at these academies tend to be spoiled, entitled, and obnoxious, which makes teaching them very unpleasant and difficult.

Secondly, the next part is getting down to the real issue: the scam of “high pay” at a hagwon. As of this posting, on Dave’s ESL Café, there are only four positions offering salaries over 2.5 million a month. All make clear that the teacher is expected to work longer than a normal 8-hour work day. This is very important to consider. Academies offer high salaries, not because they’re trying to attract good teachers or because they’re trying to give an honest pay check, but exactly the opposite. They are paying slightly more because they expect more work for less pay. They furthermore expect the teacher to put up with more BS: toxic work environments, abuse from the boss, sudden changes in the contract, outright theft by owners, and additional workloads that were not discussed or were hidden when the contract was first signed.

Let’s consider the salary of 2.7 million a month. The current advertisement on Dave’s ESL Café for a position at this salary requires 10 hours and 25 minutes of work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, totaling 31 hours and 15 minutes. It requires 9 hours and 35 minutes on Tuesdays and Thursdays, totaling 19 hours and 10 minutes. Altogether, one work week adds up to 50 hours and 25 minutes.

Let’s take this past November as an example. There were 21 working days. At the 2.7 hagwon, a teacher would work 212 hours and 5 minutes. This works out to 12,731 won an hour. A normal hagwon, with normal hours of 40 hours a week, pays 2.3 million. In November, one would have worked 168 hours at 13,690 won an hour. By taking a “high-paying” job under these conditions, you are devaluing your labor and actually giving more of your labor for less value. Couple this with the poor conditions that come with these “high-paying” positions, and you’re losing even more.

Thirdly, one might say, “I’ve considered all these things, but I don’t mind working an extra hour or two a day and I can let a lot of things roll off my back. I’m still making 400,000 won more than you and your 2.3.” That’s fair, but let’s consider what you could be doing with that extra time, such as working private lessons. I have one private a week that I teach on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I charge 50,000 won for this one hour lesson. Taking November as our example again, I work an additional 13 hours a month, for a total of 181 hours, still far less than what a teacher at the 2.7 hagwon would be working. I take home an additional, (and yes, untaxed) 650,000 won a month, bringing my total net take-home pay to 2,950,000 a month, far more than your 2.7 million without privates and for fewer hours.

The conclusion is that hagwons don’t give you more money because they’re a better school or because they think you’re a great teacher. They give you more money on the surface because they’re scamming you. Yes, it looks nice on the surface to take home a net 2.7 million won, but by working at a normal-paying academy and showing a little entrepreneurial spirit, you could easily do much better for yourself.


  • stoat
  • Hero of Waygookistan

    • 1975

    • March 05, 2019, 06:36:13 pm
    • seoul
Re: The Scam of the High-paying Hagwon
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2020, 06:36:39 am »
Quote
High-paying hagwons are often located in Gangnam, Seoul or that area, home to very wealthy families. Students at these academies tend to be spoiled, entitled, and obnoxious, which makes teaching them very unpleasant and difficult.

Is that really true or is it a bit of class hatred/wishful thinking going on there? I'd have thought the parents would be more demanding overall but generally the kids would probably be better behaved. That's what everyone says about good private schools in the UK.  Could be wrong though. 


  • hangook77
  • The Legend

    • 2619

    • September 14, 2017, 09:10:12 am
    • Near Busan
Re: The Scam of the High-paying Hagwon
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2020, 07:58:38 am »
I have seen good offers for decent hours on various Facebook groups.  Daves does seem to have a lot of low hanging fruit.  But, even there, ask for more than what they are offering.  (But bypass recruiters and speak to owner direct.  Pretend you like a crappy 2.3 million offer, then when you get the contract and speak to the owner, tell them you want more like 2.6 or 2.7 then let them beat you down a bit.  Maybe 2.5 or 2.6? )