The LOR : Letter of Release (aka. The ESL shackles in the SK)

I have a whole list of resources for you to read through at the bottom of this post, but they are all saying the same thing.  They are not really discussing the real problem of the LOR.

Let us get down to some basics:

1. No institution is LEGALLY required to write a LOR.

2. Immigration REQUIRES a LOR for visa transfer to a different sponsor.  You obviously don’t need one to get a NEW E-2 (E-1) visa.

I just called Immigration on 1345 (3 * 0) and asked an officer there, under the pretense that I am hiring an E-2 visa holder, but that the other hagwon is not willing to write a LOR unless we “compensate” that school.  The answer was, “It is Immigration Law”.  I requested from her to tell me which law exactly, which book, which chapter, etc …  The officer in question could not answer, even after consulting her colleagues, and requested if she could call me in 30 mins.  I always love it when people say it’s the law, but when you ask which one, where is it written down, when was it ratified, a lot of people realize they have no basis for the information they spread.

My contention is that it violates The Korean Constitution, Chapter 2 Article 12 (1), which states:

Article 12  [Personal Liberty, Personal Integrity]
(1) All citizens enjoy personal liberty.  No person may be arrested, detained, searched, seized, or interrogated except as provided by law.  No person may be punished, placed under preventive restrictions, or subject to involuntary labor except as provided by law and through lawful procedures.

I believe that the LOR is a direct violation of this specific part of the Korean constitution.

Let me explain.  When you sign a contract, you fall under civil law, which, in case of trouble, needs to be fought in civil court.  Civil court is expensive.  When you start working for someone, you fall under Labor Law, now labor law falls under criminal court.  To start a criminal investigation is for FREE.  The visa restrictions fall under Immigration Law, and are at the discretionary power of the Immigration officers.

Immigration referred me then to the following site:, too bad it is in Korean.  They told me to look at Immigration restrictions, Article 26/2.  Isn’t it strange that a law concerning immigration cannot be found in another language.

I called immigration again, and the only answer I get is: “If the person did not finish the contract, he or she needs a LOR to be able to change visa sponsor.”  In effect, the teacher, under the discretion of his hagwon owner, cannot just terminate his contract and find new employment, which in effect, is in direct conflict with the Korean Constitution, since you are either forced to finish your contract or have to pay off your hagwon boss to get the LOR.  Indentured servitude is still being practiced in South Korea, and supported by Immigration, it seems.  I kept asking for anyone to send me an English version of the Immigration restriction article 26/2.  After 2 hours of searching, I still don’t have it.

Even 1345 could not give me the clear information, the agent on the phone even had the gall to say “whatever.”, after I thanked her for effort.  Which ended in; go to Immigration office (where no one speaks English) and get your information there, which will be exactly the same:  ”It’s the Law.” Funk that!  What about your constitution!  I am not sure what 1345 is supposed to achieve, window dressing?

So people, if ANYONE that reads this can find the English version of Article 26/2 under Immigration restrictions, PLEASE send it to me so we can open up this can of worms.

LOR Example

Details on contract termination

Visa Transfer doc reqs – VISA guide

Some opinions

Runner vs LOR

SMOE playing it dirty