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23 August 2004
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Korea Life Blog - E-Sam Job Offer Rejection Letter


After talking it over with Julie, we decided that the E-Sam agency is not reliable and that I'd be taking a serious risk working for such an inexperienced outfit and experimental program. It didn't occur to me until the last meeting that this operation is basically a startup business by a couple of Korean guys and an Australian ex-hagwon teacher. I wish I had a scanner so that I could post the lengthy contract here. There were a couple of things I almost missed that when I saw made me hit my hand on my head. My favorite clause, in addition to the 200,000 won security deduction each month (that would leave the salary as low as 1.6) for housing had I required place, was the last one:

11. Termination of contract

This agreement can be immediately terminated by the employer [E-sam Agency] if there is sufficient evidence that the teacher has defaulted on the obligations [and there's a ton of them] as specified in this agreement. In the case of receiving two warning notices for neglecting his/her duties or if the teacher is unable to perform his duties [God forbid I get the flu!] the contract shall be terminated. In this situation the employer has no obligation to provide the cost of the return ticket to the teacher [that's fine, unless you're in your 11th month] OR THE SALARY FOR THAT MONTH.[my caps, WTF????] The teacher will be discharged at once WITHOUT ANY PRIOR NOTICE [my caps, again, WTF???]. Not only this, but section d of the same clause:

In case of termination before the completion of one year [in other words, even during the very last month] the salary for that month will not be given [I can't believe they're even printing that again] and [now get this] he/she is to give the employer the equivalent of a one-way airfare [that they don't even offer up front to anyone, so I don't get it - what? are they going to use the ticket to flee to Sydney with all the teachers' unpaid monies?], expenses (recruiting and visa) and should give one month notice prior to the termination date.[Um, yeah, OK, I'll give you a month's notice so you can take all my money for that month and make me give you even more in hopes that you will write me a "release letter."]

Here's what I wrote to them today:


Hello,

I want to thank you for your time, but after careful
consideration, I decided against taking either job.
(they had offered two, both well over an hour from where I live)
There are several reasons for this, but it basically
comes down to the fact that you require excessive
responsibility for an insulting salary. Also there is
not a chance in hell I would sign that contract the
way it is written now. Two warnings for any reason and
"the employer has no obligation to provide the salary
for that month." Among other dubious clauses that one
takes the cake.

A five day unpaid orientation and a probationary
period that can lead to even lower pay and a weekly
meeting at the head office on Saturday and on and on...
I don't know what you are thinking, honestly. You'd be
better off taking people with no experience right off
the plane so you can take advantage of them.

Shawn Matthews


I don't know why the government trusts these shady inexperienced startups to handle the foreign teacher programs. I tell you, it looks like this new program is not going to be any better than the last one. See this article.

It's back to the drawing board today. The main problem I have, OK-besides being picky because I have a brain and know when something is fishy and not just taking any job and thereby perpetuating bad deals, is that I have my own place and the area I live in. We decided to live here because it's very nice and inexpensive and not too far from Julie's job. However, it's pretty far from most parts of Seoul where the bulk of jobs have been advertised. While there's a lot of hagwons right around the corner, I don't know how to get a job at one without just going to them. Usually the schools don't expect that, as I found out when I tried that before, and they already have teachers or they use a recruiter. I guess maybe I'll have to use one as well this time and I'm waiting for a couple to get back to me. There's no immediate hurry. My visa is good until late October.

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