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Best Way to Quit?
« on: January 12, 2014, 10:32:56 pm »
Hello all, I'm stuck between a rock and a hard place and could really use some advice.

So here is the backstory - I am just over three months into my contract with my hagwon. Over the past two months, my health has gotten pretty bad - I've successively had shingles and tonsillitis and I've been sick more days than not, it seems. (And of course, I've been unable to take even a single sick day through all of this. It's been fairly brutal).
It's made work, and living here in general, pretty unbearable. I suspect that there is something more going on, but the communication barriers with the doctors makes it difficult to even know EXACTLY what medicines they are prescribing.
I've had it - I want to go home as soon as possible.

According to my contract if I quit before six months I have to pay back my flight - fine. The part that concerns me is that my contract says I have to give sixty days written notice in order to get my apartment deposit back. Additionally, the contract says if I give less notice I can be on the hook for all sorts of mysterious expenses associated with the apartment (although, of course, I work for a big chain branch and they'll just move the next person in - so no real expenses will be incurred).

 Ideally I'd like to avoid this, but I also want to be gone in thirty days- this is the legal amount of notice required, yes? Should I give thirty days notice and just accept the fact I'm going to swindled out of a few hundo extra? Should I really play up my health problems and contact the woman who hired me in HR and go on and on about how I want to end this as professionally and amicably as possible? Or should I just run?



  • valium kilmer
  • Super Waygook

    • 265

    • November 26, 2010, 11:28:37 am
    • Yangpyeong, South Korea
Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2014, 08:47:11 am »
Sorry to hear that you're going through that.

Re: quitting -I can't really help you there (some might say do a midnight runner, but it depends on whether you want to work in Korea again. Although I know people working here now who did a midnight runner and were back in the country within a couple of months).

As for the sickness - when i was in a hagwon last year, I was ill ALL the time, and obviously didn't take a single day's sick day. It got to the point where I just about had enough energy to work, and then I'd collapse at home on an evening/weekend.

I became pretty paranoid about how sick I was getting (I got shingles too)- and I realised I was shut up in a room with a tiny window (no sunlight) for 6 hours of the day - and my apartment wasn't much better. After about Feb (once I connected the dots) I made sure that I had the window open in the hagwon at all times - regardless of aircon/heating outside. When my boss tried to get me to close the window, I just told him that I was getting sick because of all the kids, and he left it.

Also, buy some hand cream - make sure you're thoroughly washing your hands between classes. I also started sending kids out if they were coughing/sneezing everywhere.

Another thing I found, after a while - whenever I tried to stay home and rest/get better, it seemed to make no difference. After several weeks of this I decided to just try and drink through it occasionally - at least gave me a little bit of the weekend back.


  • Dadkinson
  • Adventurer

    • 39

    • November 16, 2013, 08:47:52 pm
    • Boeun, South Korea
Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2014, 09:08:00 am »
If you're sick, you're sick. Your health is the most important thing in this case. I can understand why it's a tough decision, because it's a big move and opportunity to come over here. Nonetheless, it's best to go home and get proper treatment. And by proper, I mean you'll be more comfortable recovering at home.
Seeing as your reason for going home isn't because of school conflict, I would tell your school. Let them know you absolutely have to go home to take care of yourself, and that you are aware of the stipulations. If they react poorly, fine. I think in this case it's unfortunate that they should be angry with you, especially since you're well aware of all the things that come with ending a contract early. At least letting them know and setting a date will allow you to not rush leaving.


  • dmaclellan
  • Adventurer

    • 33

    • July 15, 2013, 05:21:07 pm
    • Suwon, South Korea
Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2014, 11:31:47 am »
For this, I'm going to quote a couple of things from the Labor Standards Act.

Article 15 (Labor Contract contrary to This Act)
(1) A labor contract which establishes working conditions
which do not meet the standards provided for in this Act shall
be null and void to that extent.
(2) Those conditions invalidated in accordance with the
provisions of paragraph (1) shall be governed by the standards
provided in this Act.

Article 20 (Prohibition of Predetermination of Nonobservance)
No employer shall enter into a contract by which a penalty
or indemnity for possible damages incurred from breach of a
labor contract is predetermined.

Article 21 (Prohibition of Offsetting Wages against Advances)
No employer shall offset wages against an advance or other
credits given in advance on the condition of worker's labor.

Those are the ones in your favor:


Article 35 (Exceptions for Advance Notice of Dismissal)
The provisions of Article 26 shall not apply to workers who
fall within the purview of each of the following subparagraphs:
1. A worker who has been employed on a daily basis for
less than three consecutive months;
2. A worker who has been employed for a fixed period not
exceeding two months;
3. A worker who has been employed as a monthly-paid
worker for less than six months;
4. A worker who has been employed for seasonal work for
a fixed period not exceeding six months;
5. A worker in a probationary period


This is the one that could be the monkey wrench for you.  As a contract-worker, it's my understanding that you are a fixed period employee, in which case you're clear.  However, people might think of you as a monthly-paid worker, which means that people might say that the Labor Standards Act doesn't apply to you because you've worked less than six months.

My argument is that this only applies to Article 26 (Wrongful Dismissal), and not to Article 20 (Prohibition of Predetermination of Nonobservance).

Essentially, it's my understanding that the clauses in your contract that talk about financial penalties are void.  Despite this, the Labor Board may interpret it in any way they see fit.

Considering the Labor Board, I think that if you don't give your proper notice, they will throw out your case.  Considering the Labor Board, they MIGHT listen to your case if you give proper notice, but probably won't for two reasons:

1) You're quitting

2) You signed a contract saying that this will happen.

It might be worth it to give them a call.  That said, even if they do go on your side, it could be months or years before you see a dime.


So, FINAL RECOMMENDATION:  Playing up your health problems could get you somewhere, but that really depends on the school.  A big chain branch probably has about zero sympathy.  Understand that if you give notice, you WILL get hit in the wallet.  Understand that you probably won't see your apartment deposit again.

The simplest and jerkiest thing to do is to run.  Ultimately, it's your decision.


I'm sorry about the health problems you've had.  That sounds like a terrible deal.  Do whatever you have to to get yourself healthy.


  • amgoalng
  • Expert Waygook

    • 720

    • August 31, 2012, 08:00:20 am
    • Gobuk, near Seosan, closer to Haemi
Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2014, 12:55:40 pm »
I am sorry to hear you are having such a hard time.

Instead of quitting is it possible to try and hold on for a bit longer?  The reason I say this is the following. 

1.  Winter is hard here in Korea.  It always does a nasty number on my immune system where I always feel like I have a cold.  It also doesn't help matters in that teachers and students will come to school regardless of how they are feeling, making everybody else sick. 

Once March and April comes I almost guarantee you things will get better.  I can only speak for myself when i say that last winter was hard on my health.  When spring came around, life started looking up. 

You say you have been sick for about two months, around the time winter started.  Try and hold out.

2.  Have you been taking Vitamin C.  I know research says that it doesn't help prevent sickness but it makes the symptoms easier.  It also sounds like that your problem is a weakened or over worked immune system.  Have you also been getting at least eight hours of sleep?  What have you been doing to help your immune system? 

I would also look at your contract and see if they allow for any sick time.  If it is in your contract they should have to abide by it.  (Even though I do know that Hogwons are notorious for not giving sick time or fighting it.  Still, it is at least worth it, considering your options, going over the contract and using it to get some sick time for rest.)

3.  I don't know where you are from but at least in the US health care here is a lot cheaper.  At least if something is happening it will be cheaper for you to get it taken care of here than in the US.

I know it is not advice on quitting par say but I hope this helps you reconsider before doing anything rash. 

One last thing, people are saying if your pull a runner you can still come back and work in Korea.  You got to consider that more and more public schools are cutting jobs making Hogwon jobs more desired.  It may not be so easy for runners any more.  Right now, there are no guarantees you can come back considering competition for jobs is increasing.  See what spring has in store, then go from there.

Best of wishes and I hope you feel better. 


Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2014, 01:10:55 pm »
My advice? Just leave. If your health is really suffering & you're not enjoying life here then you may as well get out as soon as possible. Go home, get healthy and think about your next move. Perhaps this isn't the most ethical thing to do, but I'm just being honest. I think this is what I'd do if I was in your situation.

I got sick a lot in my 1st year here as well, I think most people do, but I mainly just suffered from colds/allergies and I could take sick days as my school were ok about that. My health has since been a lot better (this is my 3rd year here) and having plenty of meds from home with me helps as well. I think your health does usually improve after you've been here a while, but for some people Korea never really agrees with them. I still have friends who regularly get sick with colds or stomach bugs even after being here for 3 years.

Basically, if your health is at stake and you're not happy it may be best to leave sooner rather than sticking it out until the end of your contract. Also, if you're worried about your health perhaps it may be better to see a doctor at home. That's what I'd do any way.


  • Hoosier_Jedi
  • Expert Waygook

    • 859

    • April 08, 2011, 01:56:38 pm
    • Icheon
    more
Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2014, 02:35:21 pm »
I agree with the just leave people. You're going to take a $ hit and that sucks. But money comes and money goes. Your health is far more important.


Re: Best Way to Quit?
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2014, 08:36:17 pm »
Thanks for the input ---

For those of you that were asking, my lifestyle is pretty health in terms of vitamins/sleep/exercise.

After a long talk with my father, of all people, i decided to just up and quit - we are talking about a sum total of less than $2000 which in the grand scheme of things isn't that much money, and certainly not worth months of being physically ill and miserable. I'm going to tell my boss tomorrow (I wanted to tell her tonight but she had people in her office for the hour and a half after classes finished). I'd rather lose a little bit of extra money by giving notice and feel I did the right thing, rather than pull a midnight run.

I have a feeling she's going to flip shit, but hey, what can ya do?