Let's get teacher salaries back on track


A few years most jobs in South Korea paid between 30 or 40 an hour. These days with Epik, they're putting a cap on the salaries of English Teachers. Recruiters are also driving down the prices, and with the economy people are working for chump change. You deserve to earn more working far away from your home on the other side of the world and don't let people take advantage of you. Let's get the starting rate back at a standard 2.5 million plus housing as the base and have people not take anything less.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I'm curious: at what point in the past was 2.5 plus housing the standard base rate of pay?  I've been here over six years, and I don't remember that ever being the standard.  Sure, there were jobs and locations where you could make that much or more (there still are such jobs), but they weren't the standard.

My other question is how are you planning to create unity in demanding a certain salary among thousands of people spread out over several different countries?  Having a few people who read web forums (most of whom already have jobs) join a Facebook group accomplishes nothing.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

As far as I know, salaries for Newbies are still below average.Newbies get paid newbie salaries, simple as that.Why is this a debate? Why should any owner pay more? What for, a fresh out of Uni, wet behind the ears , nobody .If the person is silly enough not to get a good job elsewhere, in their own county, or in a school here, that means they cant be that good.Or, maybe they have chosen to live in a particular place, regardless of conditions.Whining and whinging aint gonna change anything, if ATEK aren't interested in this, then its a non stater.I reckon people are deluded, they see others earning and say, "Why does he earn more than me?Why does he make 60 an hour? Why does he go home early?" My answer to the critics is, " Why don't you go home, here's 10 cents to call you Mommy, call someone who cares!"

For people with gumption, bottle, who have backbone and are wiling to a hard days pay , for hard day's work, the rewards are good. For this kind of person, their salaries are great at Hakwans. I know of at lest three people on 3m or more.Reputation, experience, quality and skill count as much here, as it does back home.Funny, this argument still rages, yet the Oldies, still have decent jobs, decent conditions,and rarely complain. Yet, some oldies here still, are struggling to make ends meet after 6 years, errmmm!!!!!

If you are complaining after being here so long, I wonder.If you are competing in this bargain basement market, then what can anyone say.What have been doing here?It indicates to me, that perhaps its time for you , to go home.If its not to your liking , or anyone else's liking, the airport is near enough. All this complaining on here about salaries and conditions is pathetic, and makes us look like real losers.Ease the Korea bashing diarrhea with a bit of shut the f-ck up Imodium.Skill, experience and quality = Good conditions

Yet again, if an individual is unable to commend a decent salary, after serving one successful year here, get a better job. Just move on, ,just like every other f--ker who arrived as a Newbie, then joined the schools' system.Failing that, get married, after that, GO HOME.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Again, people think wanting more money or fairer pay is complaining- Again, people are missing the point I think. Why has salaries here not gone up while EVERYTHING else has. The money is there but it is being chopped up by too many people. Even newbies should be getting pay better suited for 2010 and not 2000. People can not agree on this- And again, I make good money. Angel is right in that when you are here longer you should make more money but salaries for newbies should not be the same as 10 years ago. This is not complaining I think. Minimum wage has doubled during that time, people's salaries have gone way up, rent has gone way up, schools are charging way more... Anyway, I do find it strange the original poster has not said anything else nor has many other people.I gues no one cares. I dont need to make more money here as I do fine so I guess I am done with this thread. Good luck all.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I have been saying this for the last couple of years. Too many recruiters and too many illegal teachers taking jobs that suck. 2.5 was never the norm BUT in the last 7 years that I have been here, factoring in inflation to start, we make way less. Way, way less. And then, which is not the fault of Korea (although Pres Lee wants a low WON as it helps the Korean economy more and he has driven it down) the exchange rate is terrible. 7 years ago 2 mil (which was the norm) was worth 2400 Canadian. Now 2mil is worth less than 1800.


I have been pounded on here for talking about wages and how poor things have become but it is true. Personally. I have a F2 and do well but I still want what is fair for all foreigners. There are many problems but the biggest-too many recruiters offering to the school lower costs which means lower pay for us and as well, and the smaller schools are going out of biz which leaves huge ones that run like factories. You dont like it, leave, is the philosophy. It is so easy for them to get a new teacher.


Speaking from the end of part time jobs, it is the smaller schools that pay better. I was making 40 and hour at school this past summer. Other school and recruiters like RBI are offering 25 per hour which is a joke. I didnt make that back in 2003. Another problem here to is teachers looking for people to fill in but then offer like 15 per hour. That is crazy! No one at their school makes that. This helps no one other than the teacher who is still actually making money while someone does their job. Those kinds of situations are ridiculus.


So, I would love to help others get better pay but for that too happen, people have to stop acting desperate and taking poor paying jobs so schools are forced to up the pay. Either that or lets educate the schools about posting online themselves and help them save themselves the recruiter fee and then put that into the teachers pay. We deserve it-not recruiters.


When you look at wages and factor in the poor exchange rate and inflation, 2mil is like 1400 bucks. Look at 2003 prices (4 yoghurt used to be 800WON but now over 2000 for example). People are really making that now. And as an aside, for those who are going to say this is whining, know your facts first. And I dont mean facts about Korea. I meant where I am coming from.  Cheers!


PS Remember, recruiters and schools need  us more than we need 1800 bucks. At least I would hope that is the case as surely you could easily make that back home. If not, sorry to hear that. Good luck all.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

So it's recruiters and illegal teachers that are keeping teacher pay rates from increasing?  You don't think a global recession, high unemployment rates, and very-poor job prospects and student debt for potential teachers might be playing a part?

Remember, recruiters and schools need  us more than we need 1800 bucks. At least I would hope that is the case as surely you could easily make that back home. If not, sorry to hear that. Good luck all.

It's very easy to write messages on the internet about how other people (who don't have jobs and often do have debts) should refuse to work for less than a "standard" rate that has never existed.  It's not as easy to move back in with your parents in your home country because you have no money and not much opportunity to earn a solid income.  Offers of "good luck" don't pay the bills; a salary of 2.1 million won a month does pay the bills.

Employers here really don't care about exchange rates.  I've never had a job where my salary went down when the exchange rate improved or went up when the exchange rate worsened.  And don't expect much sympathy from Koreans about teachers' low pay.  It's common for a 9 to 6 job (with occasional Saturdays) to pay 1.5 million a month here.  Even with a good degree and some experience, you might be working from 8 a.m. to almost 7 p.m. every day in order to earn over 2 million a month (without any housing).

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Well Crudler, it is people like you that sorry, just dont get it. Why you argue for a system that is not doing much for you bewilders me but it is a fact we are making less here now while minimum wage for Koreans and Korean salaries have gone up while at the same time schools are charging much more than they used to. So you cant talk about recesson and so on when these are facts (See below). I am not sure how long you have been here but it is easy to see what has happened here over the years. I have been here since 2003 so I have seen the decline in the industry-not because of a bad economy but because too many people have their fingers in the pie.

Back in 2004, I worked with a teacher at a fairly big school who made 800 a month working like 1-10. You made the comment about them making 1.5-well, that is about double in just a few years. Minimum wage used to be around 2000WON in 2003 ago but has risen to 4100. Imagine if our salaries increased by that much. We would be making over 3mil easy. Korea has also been officially designated as a Developed Country with one the the biggest economies in the world since I have been here. We cant get raises? Things are fair here for us? Geeze! From the news:

Text of report in English by South Korean news agency Yonhap

SEOUL, June 30 (Yonhap) - A tripartite committee consisting of labour, management and government representatives decided on Tuesday to raise the country's minimum wage by 2.75 per cent next year, the lowest increase in over 10 years.

The Minimum Wage Council said representatives of the three parties reached an agreement to raise the minimum wage to 4,110 won (US$3.21) from the current 4,000 won, after a marathon overnight negotiation session that lasted until early Tuesday morning.

The proposed increase marks the smallest percentage hike since 1998, when the council agreed on a 2.7 per cent …


Again, when I first came here minimm wage was around 2 bucks an hour. It has doubled in 7 years as the Korean economy took off. It stalled this year but it was still raised 2.7%. So how does this fit in to what you said-"global recession, high unemployment rates, and very-poor job prospects and student debt for potential teachers might be playing a part?"

Ya, I dont think so. I think we are getting taken advantage of and I think this is what the original poster had in mind. As for me, Korea is great. I make good money-my wife and I-and so on so I am not complaining, I am merely stating  facts and am hopeful people with e2 visas can make better money. Not sure what there is to argue about wanting people here to make more money as everyone else here  is but you are entitled to your opinions. Cheers.



Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Again, when I first came here minimm wage was around 2 bucks an hour. It has doubled in 7 years as the Korean economy took off. It stalled this year but it was still raised 2.7%. So how does this fit in to what you said-"global recession, high unemployment rates, and very-poor job prospects and student debt for potential teachers might be playing a part?"

What does the minimum wage of people working at Family Mart or handing out samples in department stores have to do with the salary of foreigners teaching in Korea?  The salaries of professionals certainly haven't doubled in the past seven years.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

lol Ummm, hagwon teachers count? We talked about that already. How about department store workers? How about people at Hyundai? All salaries here have gone up man. Look it up. Too make it easy just look at per capita income. Look at the housing market. Look at the numebr of cars on the road in 200 comapred to now. People here-all people, have more money than they used to. One example:

LONDON--( BUSINESS WIRE )--Employers in South Korea have reported a 16% increase in MBA jobs in 2010, compared to 2009, significantly higher than the US and Western Europe where growth was 5% and 3% respectively, reveals the 2010/11 QS Top MBA Jobs and Salary Trends Report, conducted by MBA specialists “QS Top MBA”.

“After a 5% decline worldwide, experienced in 2009, optimism is returning to the MBA marketplace and MBA salaries are likely to jump again in the near future if a double-dip recession is avoided.”

Nunzio Quacquarelli, editor of the Report, based on a survey of 2145 MBA employers, says: “After a 5% decline worldwide, experienced in 2009, optimism is returning to the MBA marketplace and MBA salaries are likely to jump again in the near future if a double-dip recession is avoided.”

The QS Top MBA Report also reveals:

  • MBA salaries around the world are converging: the average MBA salary reported in Asia in 2010 was $69,000 compared to an average $85,000 in Western Europe and $87,000 in the US. The average MBA salary reported for South Korea was $70,900.

Enough said I think. I could get stat after stat about Koreans and their pay but clearly without them you should just be able to see they are making more money-and with that said, and we are not!

And as an aside, I am wondering if you are a recruiter or something because to argue against this seems very strange. If you are I think you need to come clean. If not, it is very unusual to take a position that actually does you no good and is in already shown to be wrong. How can you keep arguing this. In the last 10 years our pay has gone up what-100 000WON? 2 percent in 10 years. And in that time minimm wage has doubled, everyone else here is making way more money, Korea is now a econimical power house and officially developed yet you want to argue the economy is bad so we should be happy the same as 10 years ago? This is your argument? Seriously, are you with RBI or something? Makes no sense man. I am trying to understand your argument but in the face of statistics the first time and now again, I am not sure how you can still say people here should be happy with what they get because the economy is bad. Weird man???

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

To address your ad hominem attack: I teach at one of the better-paying universities in the area. I don't do any recruiting. 

yet you want to argue the economy is bad so we should be happy the same as 10 years ago? This is your argument? Seriously, are you with RBI or something? Makes no sense man. I am trying to understand your argument but in the face of statistics the first time and now again, I am not sure how you can still say people here should be happy with what they get because the economy is bad. Weird man???

I never said anything about "being happy with what they get."  I simply pointed out that the thousands of potential teachers dealing with the poor economies in their home countries aren't going to all band together and refuse to take jobs that pay less than 2.5 million simply because someone on the internet (who already has a job!) tells them they shouldn't.  What some student makes at his part-time job at Buy the Way isn't relevant to that.  The average salary of an MBA in Asia isn't relevant to that.  Even if 2 million a month sucks, it's a better option than a lot of people currently have.

So far, you've done nothing to actually address my point.  Instead you've resorted to ad hominem attacks and insinuation about my motivations, and you've generated straw men that have nothing to do with what I've actually said.  I'm not going to waste any more time with you.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Crudler in regards to your argument about a global recession and keeping salaries down that is poppycock. When it comes to higher places of education such as colleges or universities when there are no jobs, people go back to school. Teaching is a recession free industry, I've never seen so many classes at our university, everyone is doing some kind of overtime, no one is at 12 hours, no one.  We as English teachers have never been more in demand.

When Obama cuts off the bleeding heart liberal unemployment printing press checks then I'll wait for the mass influx of losers from America but not until then.  Even then places here want experiences people in country and Americans are so broke they don't have enough room on their maxed credit cards to buy a plane ticket.  

For myself it's not about the money it's about the schedule and work environment. I could care less if i make 2-400,000w more a month down the street.  We have amazing schedules, which means I spend less time at school therefore less politics and more time for me. The Koreans also leave us alone which is worth it's weight in gold. no bullshit meetings, lesson plans all of the ivory tower nonsense that comes with it.

A friend of mine lives  in Inchon, he works his ass off for 3bones actually teaching classes at an uppity uppity college. whatever ...I haven't worked for 10years. He doesn't get 5 months of vacations paid and he has to ask for permission to leave daily, like a dog being let off a chain, I don't even know who my boss is and i've been at this school over a  decade!!! 

Hogwans go bust because the market is saturated and the fact that many owners are snake oil salesman, not because there aren't enough kids here.  That's all that Koreans do is have kids.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

lol Yes, you are done because your orignal post was way off the mark and wrong. Lee's argument also goes against what you are saying. Basically, you are saying there is a reason why we are not getting paid more and you are right about that but your reasons are way wrong. And since you mentioned your uni job-I also have a great uni job working 3 days a week and make good money but who cares. This is about the market here. You get good pay so you dont care about others fine but dont make up ridiculus reasons why others dont and then run away. I will reiterate-I am only wishing to help those get better pay because the market has gone sour and the reasons are not legitamate. If it was the economy or something like that okay but I have shown it is not-which was your argument so I am not sure how I have not addressed your point- I guess the best defence is to attack and run hey Crudler--- Anyway, I am done with responding to you as you are wrong at every turn. Keep it up Lee. Good luck everyone!

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I think he meant privates but in 2006 I worked at Seojeon Institute in Jangsan and had only (it was max) 15 classes a week. It was TOEFL so they wanted me to prep a lot but I did make good money there-over 2mil so you do the math. There are diamonds in the ruff here but that is the exception to the rule. As an aside, by the 8th month I was down to 5 classes a week. It was perhaps the greatest hagwon job ever. My contract ended in january but they ended the program in dec but still paid me for jan. I didnt even have to show up. They paid my bonus in dec so I could go back to canada for xmas. Great people there.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Well, I've had jobs that paid 50K an hour and some that were less than 20K.  It all depends.  The post doesn't specify what kind of jobs is in question here.  As far as pay for privates, you basically name your price.  For PT positions, pay in most cases are advertised at around 30K per hour.  When it comes to full-time, E2 sponsoring jobs, 2.5 mil rarely comes around.  In Seoul, the pay generally is higher.  But even there, for jobs that provide visa sponsorship, housing, airfare etc., 2.5 mil isn't easy to find. 

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Be happy Still the same response♥ Be happy over and over... That is to say being happy is better than becoming someone who suffers from apathy♥

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

It's supply and demand.  There is a large demand for teachers, but the supply pool is much larger.  It has nothing to do with the economy over here and everything to do with our economies back home.  Even if just one of those economies suck, it will open the supply pool.  If they can get people here with the salaries that they are offering, then why would they offer more.  If you have experience and qualifications then you can get paid more.   Markets go up and down due to the supply and demand.  If the economies back home get better less people will want to leave and they will have to increase the salaries over here to entice people to come.  I'm not an economics major, but it's not hard to figure out.  If you don't like it, then leave.  Go back home and try to find something that gives you the lifestyle that you have here.  If you want to do something about it then open your own hagwon and pay your teachers what you say they deserve.  See how long you stay in business for.  If you are able to do it then great, then you can start a franchise and put pressure on other franchises to increase their salariers for native teachers.  Otherwise, STOP complaining. 

FYI, I'm a public school teacher that took a pay cut from a hagwon to teach less and have more time off.  Weighed the pros and cons and that's what worked best for me.  

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

'' I'm not an economics major, but it's not hard to figure out.''

That's a great quote.

 I agree that there is a large demand for teachers here but they can't fill all the positions. At any one time in Korea there are 3000 jobs to be filled.  They can't even fill the EPIK jobs and they are decent, I wonder what hogwans are doing these days to attract people. I think people here are fighting for the good jobs and if they don't get it, they do privates only or bail. 

Personally, I think korea has a bad rep. and everyone back home knows someone who came and had a horror story.  Also, people can get extended unemployment now, why work when you ca nget free money right? but when that runs out people will be more likely to be looking overseas for employment. The US is dead.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track


how long has it been since you had to look for a job? 10 years or more? you really have no idea what the job market is like these days yet you act like you are the advice guru for jobs. 2 years ago, yes, epik barely got their jobs filled at the last minute but that was before the economies crashed. For almost the last 2 years, epik has had more than twice the number of applicants than jobs. for the approx. 1500 jobs they are offering every year, they had like 3000-4000 applicants. i know because my friend works at epik. lots of people get rejected or get put on waiting list. if we're talking about small towns then maybe they need teachers still but any large city has a long waiting list.

and in busan, it's way harder to find a good job. i have no idea what privates should be like so i'm not going to argue about whether 20,000 or 50,000 should be the going rate. i've gotten as much as 100,000/hr in the past but have also taught for free so it's really up to the student and the teacher to set the rate. but for a full-time job that offers visa sponsorship, airfare, apartment and all the regular stuff, i don't see many jobs that are paying more than 2.2 or 2.3 mil these days especially in good parts of town. as for getting salaries up to 2.5 mil, good luck! salaries have been going down for the last year or so. for the average guy looking for a job, they are not going to wait and wait forever. the first good job they get offered, they are going to take. they want to get over here and start working.

as for bad reps, who really cares? i think we've all heard of the horror stories but i don't know that many people personally that has gone through any of the shite. i know of a few but that is only because i've been here for so long. however, i do know a lot of people in town and they are generally happy. for every bad story i know, i know of 30 or 40 good stories. the same can be said for every country out there.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I've working at a place for over 10 years and that shows that I'm not a one year bandit loser like most EFL raiders on their way to get laid in Thailand.  I work for my wife who owns a study room and I have also worked in a hogees over the years part-time. There is not one aspect of the EFL industry that I  don't know abou with years of experience in it.

With your comments though jeff, i seriously doubt you are a long timer here.The monies you quote, no self respecting person would lower themselves too. I can assure you i work at a university and i make over 3.0 clear and i get 5 months vacation, if you add in the fact i only work 2days a week it's more like 8 months.  The good jobs are never advertised by the way, they are taken withinh the tight community, i suggest you get new friends.

Thanks for keeping this somewhat civil though.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

It's people who studied economics in college and didn't understand that cause problems like this.

Yes, there is a great demand for teachers here.

Yes, there is a great supply of teachers right now, since the economies in most of the west went to hell.

But that doesn't mean that wages go up, because the two are not related.  The supply of teachers is affected by price: higher wages, more teachers; and alternatives: fewer "real" jobs, more teachers.  The demand for teachers is affected by price: The less I have to pay, the more teachers I can afford to hire.  The more I have to pay, the fewer teachers I can hire. 

There is a hell of a demand for teachers here AT THE RIGHT PRICE.  If I can hire a teacher at 2.1 or 2.0, I will hire.  If I have to pay 2.5 or more, I will not hire anyone.  That's not valuing the teacher, that's listening to the spreadsheet.  The decision is what is it worth to me as a business owner.

There is a hell of a supply of teachers AT THE RIGHT PRICE.  I wouldn't come to Korea for 2.1, or even 2.5. Other people may have different price points, but they are all making the same decision: what's it worth to me as a teacher.

The market does not have to clear.  (That's the drawing you did on your econ 101 exam, where the red line and the blue line crossed: that's the point where supply=demand, and the "Real" price is determined.)  Even if the market DOES clear, that doesn't mean that everybody is happy.  What the graph doesn't show is that there are still a lot of people who would buy if the price was lower, and a lot of people who would sell if the price was higher.  The real price right now is whatever you can get, and right now you can get shit.

Most of the people who are complaining are upset because after X years in the business, they are being offered the same shit wages as a clueless newbie.  They are even more upset because, after X years in the business, they are being offered less, either in comparative or even real terms, than THEY got as a clueless newbie.  Sucks to be in Korea. 

The belief that other people are lowering the price doesn't really work out.  I have empty classrooms and unplaced students.  I'm running a business that should be expanding, but isn't.  At the price I can charge the parents, I cannot pay the cost of a new teacher.  At the cost of a new teacher, the parents won't pay the price.  Since I can't use clueless newbies who are working for 1.8, my answer is to not hire: if I add anyone, I will lose money on them.  My profit/loss graph is very different than your supply/demand.  I'm trying to maximize the amount of money I have at the end of the month, and anything that makes that number go down (that doesn't involve mojitos on the beach for me) is not going to happen.

Education is a luxury good, not an essential one.  The post where people go back to school in a recession is true, IN THE WEST.  Here, they were going to school when times were good.  When times are bad, little Kim To Ki goes to three hogwans rather than four.   25% reduction in demand: the effect on schools is brutal: there are six that are for rent within two blocks of me.  (This is why my business is good: low overhead, low staffing, I can ride out any storm, and I get all the students from the schools that failed!  100% occupancy!)

The only way to force prices to go up is to restrict supply: unionize (impossible and illegal,) to keep others out; raise standards to keep others out (which may keep many of the complainers out: I'm a state certified teacher, are you?); or create bizarre barriers to entry to limit the people competing for work ("apostille" anyone?) 

Want a better job?  Want more money? You have three choices: get out of teaching, get out of Korea, or get your own business.

I love teaching, I like Korea, and my name's on the door. 

Everything else is just water-cooler whinging. 

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track


I have to disagree with you about your Supply and Demand comment,

"Yes, there is a great demand for teachers here.

Yes, there is a great supply of teachers right now, since the economies in most of the west went to hell.

But that doesn't mean that wages go up, because the two are not related"

The two definitely are related and very important. You are correct that there is more to it.   The Profit/Loss ratio is very important, especially so for a small business owner.  The larger franchise hagwons are in a better position financially however, and that's where my argument about the supply & demand over rides the profit/loss ratio because they could give afford to pay more, but why do it if they don't have to?  Also, thanks for case study about opening your own hagwon so you can pay help get salaries back on track!

Btw, I could definitely do without your condescending tone.


I agree with you fully.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

 For almost the last 2 years, epik has had more than twice the number of applicants than jobs. for the approx. 1500 jobs they are offering every year, they had like 3000-4000 applicants. i know because my friend works at epik. lots of people get rejected or get put on waiting list. if we're talking about small towns then maybe they need teachers still but any large city has a long waiting list.  Jefferson

Hardly an impressive statistic to prove your point.Odds of 2-1, not that big then Jefferson. I wouldn't call that a huge amount, normal jobs would be 20-1 minimum,or maximum possibly 150-1 back home, depending on area, skills, etc.Supply and Demand don't equate here, cos everybody knows this is not a free market.Nothing here is ever Ceteris Paribus, it's always let the buyer beware.(lol)

Oh, and I know there is a difference between the two unrelated terms , before some smart Alec tries to an idiot.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

It is this simple.  Schools will hire people at the lowest rate possible.  If there are enough teachers willing to start at 2.1 per month, than that is what they will advertise.  However, as Angel has posted, if you put in some hard work and gain a good reputation your salary can go up. 

I can attest to this, I came to Korea in 2002.  My first contract was for 1.9, my second was for 2, third, 2.2.  In fact, by my 5th year I was making (you may not believe this) over 5 (within one hakwan, not illegaly).  You can make good legal money here if you are willing to work hard.

That being said, the average base pay has gone up since I first arrived in 2002.  Most first year teachers I met were making what I made.  Now I see most contracts advertised at 2.1 with the same qualifications.

My only complaint working in Korea with regards to money is that if you start a contract with a different school than where you had worked before, nearly every owner wants to pay you the "newbie" rate no matter what your experience.  I don't blame them for trying, but it is annoying way to start a working relationship.


Besides, if your working at a hakwan is your work all that hard-

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

"The good jobs are never advertised by the way, they are taken withinh the tight community, i suggest you get new friends"

Well, that not necessarily true.  Often having friends there will help but almost every job is advertised either here or on ESL cafe.  There are exceptions, but your institution LBS is certainly not one of them as I see them advertise on here almost every year.

One thing I have a found a little strange though is most universities that advertise positions tend to dramatically under state how good the conditions are and it certainly helps to have friends who can fill you in on the real score.

As an aside (or perhaps the last comment was the aside) Paul noted that rents have increased dramatically over the last few years (which is true) but nobody has made the obvious comment that generally the rent is born by the school employing the teacher and this while salary is still the same, the value of the average contract has in fact increased a couple of hundred dollars a month over the last few years.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Hey Dog, what I meant to say was the value of apartments and not really rent. You can still get office tels for 400 but the value of one has gone from like 60g up to 80 or more. I know this because I was looking at buying one as an investment. They are expected to go up more as well (where i live-not sure about everywhere in Busan).

I used to live in I-Park where our 52pyong place was going for 220 000 000WON but now is over 300. This is happeneing even though there is an occupancy rate in Busan that is higher than ever. Why? Because old places are worth more? No. But because people are making more and can afford more. Prices on apartments is rising faster than inflation so while you are right in that schools may be paying 100 more a month or so, it hardly makes up for wages staying almost the same for the last 10 years.

And again, the point of this thread was lets band together and try to get wages to a better spot. People saying they are happy and dont want to make more money and things are fair just surprises me. Those who know me know I make good money and live well here but it doesn't mean I dont want more and think we should get more. It was a very simple idea to start. Dont you want more? Considering many things here have doubled in the last 10 years dont you think we deserve more than a 2% raise in the last 10 years? That is the question here.

People making comments like "if you dont like it leave" and "im a really teacher are you", dont you want to make more money? You would rather talk supply and demand and not that plums are 7000 for 5 at homeplus and is kind of expensive when you consider we make the same as 10 years ago again are helping no one-including themselves. Stay here a little longer and then when prices are even higher and you are making the same so really less, we will see what tune you are singing.  I welcome anyone who wants to try and help everyone make more money. Mayeb we dont deserve it but why not agree you would like to be making more. Idealistic yes but why not more? 

Regarding supply and demand, if supply and demand is the key reason we are not making more, then why are the same recruiters plastering the same lame FT jobs on here week after week? If times are so tough why are these jobs being recycled on here. There are waiting lists for teachers just to get placed into the country when there are jobs everyday right here in Busan-please!I Have you never waited in line at a club and then got in and it was not that busy? Makes others think it is but the reality is by doing this, they make you think you are lucky to get in and they have power over you. The result of recruiters doing this is when you get offered a job in Mokpo you take it because you were on the waiting list so you think it is all you can get. These shenanigans should not keep our wages down. This is not supply and demand, it is smoke and mirrors.

The reality there are like 20 recruiters battling for contracts with the schools and because of this are offering to find teachers for lower than the "other guys". Yo dont think this hurts our potential wags? Back in 2003 there was Kim and Joes and maybe one other recruiter but now how many recruiters are trying to make a buck off of us and our  (lucky to have) skills we possess? I dont care if you are a real teacher, a newbie, someone who has been here for 10 years, it is not ecomomics that are keeping our wages down (Korea has been flying the last 10 years and everything but our wages has gone up) it is due to too many people trying to make money off of us. There is no other rational explanation. There are other reasons and they all play a factor but this is a big oen as well. How people are arguing only economics and supply and demand are keeping our wages down when I have already indicated on previous posts how much more Koreans are making now is simply a little off the mark. It is a factor as I will explain later but not the biggest one I think.

You need to look at things here as you would a puzzle. When you put the pieces togther yes everything plays a part but one of the biggest pieces is there are too many recruiters doing the same thing and as well, huge schools like Avalon, CDI, YES... that are killing the small schools. It is like a Superpet moving in to your neighborhood and lowering prices to kill off the competition. So this does create a supply and demand issue as less schools means less jobs BUT, it should not mean at the same time we should be getting paid the same as we did in 2002 and that is the point. It is was it is but this does not make things right or fair when you look at the rest of Korea.

And to be honest, another factor is Koreans are having less kids every year. Couple this with the fact Koreans are becoming more affluent and send their kids abroad to learn english or simply hire a teacher to come in and teach privately, this is hurting enrollent and thus the schools bottom line as well. In fact, school buses used to have signs on their bueses saying if you see any foreigners going into your apartment building, call us. So there are many factors but again, surely none of this should mean we shouldnt get paid a little better-at least more than 2% more than we did in 2003?

 Maybe we should be getting what we get but it is hard to think of any job here in Korea now that is not getting paid much more than now than a few years ago so why not us? I think that is the question. Perhaps I have answered why not but that is up for others to think about and decide. I do hope newbies and others here can make more in the future, though. In the meantime, good luck to all and too all a good night.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Very well said Paul.

In regards to real-estate, it's a bigger fools game. A house or apt. is never worth what people think it is. It's only worth what the bank is willing to loan someone to buy it because let's face it; Koreans are credit rich. interest rates are recordly low which is fueling an even bigger bubble than before. The thing about interest rates is it irrevelant if you don't have a job to grind that mortgage payment.  

I just read in the newspaper that 28% of Koreans that have credit cards have over 11million on balance, and the next bracket is 13% at 5.23 million. and the same 13% at 5.15 which is splitting hairs if you ask me.Over 90% of new cars sold here have some kind of financing. Pathetic.

My wife deals with late payments all the time from so called 'rich people'.  I've had to call people 'guji' before which means beggar this going to a woman driving a leased SM7.  Don't ever think koreans are rich, they are not. They are no different than the losers back home with debt and upside down mortgages.  

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Paul you write well and are interesting. Some of your points are valid, however, you tend to generalise. I don't agree about your points on Hakwans , or affluence.Actually, the Korean economy is a strange one.I don't think we are as important, as we think we should be.The Korean sees us just like any employee, some are more equal than others,that's the same everywhere.I haven't always benefited form being an ugly coont, but that's life.I just don't see the youngster supporting this, some of these newbies are pathetic(my opinion sorry) and are too gutless to stand their ground. 

Maybe, big chains and affluence dominate the horizon of Busan, but not everywhere. Prices of apartments have increased, food has increased, but it's still nothing when compared to back home.Kids wouldn't come here, if they felt they were better off home. Of course, we all wish wages were higher, but as you know, unless we all went on strike, it taint gonna happen. If we all went on strike, we would piss everyone off, and then we'd back to square one. It'll be a rigged race, sadly, the market may well be saturated and on the decline.Eventually, we'll be replaced by Koreans, then be worried. Make hay while the sun shines, this might be as good, as it will get.If I am wrong, so be it.We all hoped for a pay day after the Chris Paul incident, and stricter controls were introduced, but the recession hit.I'm just grateful to have a decent life, everyone else can go ------.

Finally, basically I am selfish individual and I'll make no bones about that. Look after number one.I won't apologise for this. How many times do any other colleagues back you ,help you, when you are up against it.Basically, I am all right Jack, that's' me, just like every other person here. Why shouldn't Korean owners think the same way?Or are they different?I don't think so, do you?When someone gets busted for privates, I think yeah, good, serves you right.Don't do the crime , if you can't take the punishment.I have never done a private, I worked my way up the grease pole.This may make you think I am a complete and utter t--sser, good.I'd never report anyone, but people here have to understand that Koreans work in this business to, its not all about us, us ,us, me,me,me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Angel, I take care of me to. No doubt about that. I came here with a little and worked my way up. I ended up getting a uni gig a few years ago as well as become partners at Jangsan Obriens Bar and Club NEO across from Sunset. I have made god money and still do (my wife and I). I have no problem with life here other than I wish people made a little more money.  But like I said, perhaps I answered why the money has not gone up. Who knows? It is tricky to know exactly but I think I did have maybe one or two valid points in there somewhere...lol Anyway, as usual, good luck all.


By the way Lee, I was in Changwon a couple weekends ago. Stayed at the Pullman 7. Nice place. Met a guy there who does recruiting and owns a hagwon (Canada Hagwon or something like that ). Was a good guy. I actually asked if he was lee on here...lol Anyway..

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Hi Paul, was there some festival or something on?

I think I've seen a van around town with Canada blaa blaa on the side. It's probably their kid catcher. I think it is nearly impossible to fail here in a hogwan or studyroom business if you are a white male married to a Korean woman. The only problem, except for a few late payers like I mentioned above and bitchy mothers(a few as well) is the fact that eventually you will have to turn kids away because of time conflicts; not enough hours and volume; too many kids in a class.


Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

No festival. He was just there with his family. Michael I think was his name. Anyway...

As for what is fair, that is what the discussion is about. Relative to Thailand and Vietnam pay here is good but to Saudi Arabia, it is terrible, so thinking in this manner is not helpful. I think the original poster was merely saying that wages have not gone up here in years and was wondering why that was.

One other point I did not bring up in my previous essay (haha) is Koreans dont want us to stay here. They think we will come for a year or two and leave so there is no need to up the pay (or even be nice to us in many cases as many of you know. many horror stories out there) as newbies wouldnt know any better anyway. So you may think the pay is competitive now but when you have lived here for some time and you are actually making less now because of inflation and so on, it can suck.

If you plan to live here you need to evolve. To think you are going to make a career teaching at hagwons/schools is a mistake. I started there, went to public schools, then university and then to owning my own biz (2 bars). My wife and I are going back to Canada in 2012 but may come back and open up a biz or may just go to a different country and do that. But teaching here forever and expecting to make good money-good luck. You may deserve it but because people come and go so frequently, it is hard to get people together who actually think about the future here and so on. This is one other reason people's pay has not increased-there is no pressure on schools to do so. It is hard to come together when people really dont care about the next contract or year because they are going to leave anyway.

I cant say I blame them for that either. Make your cash and get out. BUt it still does not change the fact pay here has been stagnant for years. The reality is, though, there is not much if anything at all that can be done about this. People can say dont take lousy jobs but someone always will so... i went to a school yesterday that was advertised 35 an hour-2 until 5. I was very specific with my questions but when I got there there was only 3 hours of teaching so 105 000 was the pay for my being there 5 hours. I walked out. I was supposed to teach in 1 hour. If more people did that perhaps these schools would realize they need to be more honest and up the pay but how many would walk out of there after taking the trip and staring 100bucks in the face? I did without hesitation and told the guy, "what the hell are you doing wasting my time"? but that is just me.

And as an aside manager, I think schools that mislead people on here should be banned. You ban many comments and dont allow us to comment on jobs but I asked if it was 5 hours times 35 per and so on but it was all a lie but this is okay? That ad shold read 2 to 5 but only 3 hours of teaching so 105 000 for the day. Luckily I drive and it was near my uni so I didnt waste much time but still, surely if they can act this way at least we shold be able to call them out and let people know about this school. Just an opinion. Later teachers! Good luck.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Sure, most of the jobs are advertised but many are all ready taken by ringers meaning people are doing interviews but have no chance of being hired. This is very common.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Curious me wonders what people consider a fair rate. What do other teachers in other countries get paid for teaching English? What do Koreans get paid?

Last year, I remember looking at teaching in Greece and the monthly wage for about twenty five hours a week teaching was about 850 Euros,

My partner works about 50 hours a week and takes home about 4 mil.

I get 2.35 mil. for 15 hours teaching a week. I can also take 2 and half months paid holiday.

Hence, in comparison with what Koreans get paid and what people are paid in other countries, I feel the current pay rate for teachers in Korea is fairly competitive.

If I want to earn good money teaching, I would go to Hong Kong. A friend there makes a small fortune teaching English on the Pnet scheme.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Ab....the average monthly income in Korea stands about 3.3million. I don't think when you have the amount of deducations here; mortgage or junsae repayal, car lease or loan, hogwans for the 2.2kids, foods and other basics I don't think there is much left over.  Hence the staggering debt numbers I quoted above and that's just floating debt, not mortgaged debt.

The problem as I see it lies within the TV dramas. The women who watch these think this is how life is suppose to be. Why am I not driving a foreign car? why don't I have beautiful diamond necklaces? Why am I not married to a Dr.? Why do I not live a 100pyung house in kangnam?  

I used to blame korean men for drinking all the time but now I've done a 180. I'd get drunk nightly if I had to come home to a wife nagging me to make more money, you don't provide enough, we don't have the things above. YIKES!!!


ps....(3.3million household income)

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

2 true, time wasters and the dishonest make me sick. I've been lucky, I can usually smell a rat, generally if they are evasive about details.What the manager here should do, is create a standard form, with a format for all of them. Including distance from Seomyun, Pay, Time expected, Start time, Finish time,Prep time ,blah, blah. Recruiters should get warnings and be evaluated by us.

I looked you up on Face book yesterday, I don't remember you, from time in Busan.Though,  know many guys who know you.Yeah, I'm with you on this to a point, but lets not make ourselves look like greedy, rip off merchants.There is a minority out there ripping Koreans off, financially(private fees) and professionally, so lets add balance to the debate.

By the way, I wanted to buy a bar here, but looked at all the empty ones and decided against it.Business here is tough, lets not forget, just look at how many coffee houses open up, survival of the last, rather than fittest.I wonder sometimes, do these people understand business, as well as they think they do.Or is it, that early retirement forces their hands.

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I praise you Paul for having the gonads to just simply walk from the place. Not many people would do it especially when they have gone to the effert of getting there. This is how these places operate; with a little bit of claok and a lot of dagger. I'm sure he had some explaining to do to to students or mothers or both of why the foreign teacher bailed and didn't even do the clases.

I'm suprized your phone wasn't ringing off the hook. I've done exactly what you did years ago and I barely made it to my car before they were begging me to come back just for today. This is what happens when you write checks your ass can't cash; Koreans are infamous for it. 

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Great idea Angel-the form for recruiters and schools that is. No reason we shouldnt know exactly what they are looking for. I did ask and was told but not the truth sadly. Oh well. nice not having to need a 100 bucks and it was on my way home from uni so all good.

Ya the bar scene here is pretty saturated. I did well at Obriens and NEO but I could do better somewhere else I think. We will see.

As for FB, I am there under my name.

Lee, if I had a nickel for everytime I walked out of a place I would be rich...lol I never took crap back home so why would I here?

Anyway, what topic is next? We seem to be fueling this one all by ourselves...lol Later guys!



Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

Paul, i'd like to tackle the big juggernaunt of private pension plans. If someone were to do a long stretch here and contrubute would we even get a pension remotely close to a korean national that did the same? I know of a Korean who now lives in Manila and he gets about 1.3mil/ month after he did a 20 year stretch.

I'm just wondering if we are even entitled to anything other than a lump sum return, or is this another example of 'haha.... stupid fucking white man'!...?


(lump sum not lump sump)

Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

I am not sure but I know my uni does not have to match what I put in. They put in like 70% of what I do. To be honest, I am probably out of here in the spring or summer of 2012 so I am hoping for lump sum. 8/9 years is enough. I may come back but not as a teacher-although doing privates for 50 or 60 is always hard to say no to-not that I do privates of course. Just saying...lol


Re: Let's get teacher salaries back on track

 I just don't know what I would be returning too. Ok, yeah on paper we don't make great money for our standard job compared to a job in America/Canada but when you crunch the real numbers it's pretty evident that one really should re-think about leaving. 

People back home also have a warped sense of what 'clear' income means. To me it means what's left over in my bank account every month after a few deductions. It usually is in access of a couple million. I don't think this is any different than most of the guys I know. They live off their privates money. Now to an American 'clear' means now my mortgage can come out, car loan,  credit cards minimum payments, car insurance( can't afford to pay it once a year), line of credit payment, cable, student loans(i still know people who have these in their 30s), finance company loans for the rent to own furnature and after all that and others I missed you have enough for a pizza on a saturday night,

I think I'll stay in Korea, I don't ever want to be poor again. What I described above is my life before I got here in 1995. Even being able to return and buying a 2nd house with cash isn't enough. I can't eat the walls and I refuse to be burdened with another $3000+/yr. in property taxes. No thanks, staying put. '