Newspaper attention

I guess I do need to say something about this.

First of all, thank you Elaine Ramirez and The Korea Herald for the added attention to my blog, you broke my record number of visits.

I’ve also received e-mails and they are very much appreciated.  One talked about adding RSS feed, now just to find the trick on how to implement it on this blog of mine.  Another e-mail made an interesting observation about teacher training which inspired me for another blog post.

It seems that some viral effect was noticed and let me see if I can address some of the issues raised in those messages.

1. Jason T. Chun I would have enjoyed the article more if there were specifics in terms of numbers and wons.

Thanks Jason, although I am not quite sure what you are asking.  You want me to delve deeper into start up costs? Operational numbers?  Profit numbers?  Revenue streams?  I would oblige if your request was more concrete.

2. Rebecca Bredin Interesting… It was a little difficult to truly relate to the guy, due to the anonymity. I get his reasoning and everything he says, and was like “Yeah, I can get that…” But I still can’t get past my bitter, “hagwons are the devil” attitude developed over time. ㅋㅋㅋ I’m really interested how the reaction has been for him as a foreign business owner. I imagine he’s dealt with prejudice and stuff, I’d love to hear about how he got past it.

My anonymity is for me to protect myself, my business and my family.  There are people who know who I am, that is enough.  Your attitude towards hagwons is understandable, they do seem to get the worst out of people, mostly due to the extreme profit driven part of it, where most educators regard education as a holy grail.  I am interested in what type of prejudice you are looking for.

3. maximmm

‘One foreign hagwon owner in Korea, who goes by “TheBoss,” says it is compounded by the fact that few outsiders attempt to understand Korea’s English education system before they condemn it. ‘  That’s quite funny – I wonder if his school is horribly run, hence his offensive defense?  Fact is, most education systems have good and bad points to them. It is foolish to condemn any education system, but to analyze and criticize the current Korean education system is as healthy as is analyzing and criticizing the current American education system.

Excellent point Maximm, my school is horribly run, why else would I struggle? :) You are also correct on the general statement that everything should be open for criticism, that is also my point of view, but when criticism is based on bias and opinion, there is very little added value to it.

4. Paddycakes

Okay, I’m going to out the guy… his name is Bruce Springsteen, aka “The Boss”. Seriously, you should never call yourself “The Boss”… it’s one step away from being one of those sh*t heads who refers to themselves in the 3rd person…

Blame my lack of imagination and the intent of not taking myself to seriously.

5. coralreefer_1 & Savant

quote : Savant
Hagwon teacher’s are often called Edutainers but who can amalgamate the words Business and Education to describe what Hagwons really are? Hagwon’s who talk about finding a niche in the market are no different from fried chicken franchises who look at different ways to sell you fried chicken (coated in rice, honey, spring onions etc) but at the end of the day it’s still fried chicken. Hagwon education niches are all gimmicky but packaged differently.

quote : coralreefer_1

Interesting considering ANY product on the market fits the same description, and yet…there are plenty of success stories. Ice cream is ice cream, but there is a BIG difference between Häagen-Dazs and that 500won crap on a stick…and yet both are ice cream, and both do well in their niche. The examples are endless.  Can this guys niche be successful? Hard to say, but he has lasted 5 years and has at least somewhat earned a reputation in his area. That alone (being in business for 5 years as a start up foreigner in this country, in THAT industry) is praiseworthy in my book.

It speaks for itself, both are correct in their opinion, the difference lies in the execution and appreciation of the customer.

6. Threequalseven

Gotta at least give the guy props for teaching students on an individual level. It’s one thing to dedicate yourself to something like running a business, it’s another thing to ensure the service you’re offering actually has merit and isn’t just a money maker. It seems the majority of Korean businessmen simply use the same cookie-cutter business plan that’s been done a thousand times before and emulate that, whether it’s a hagwon, coffee shop, restaurant, soju hof, Paris Baguette, etc. Hopefully more folks break out of their shell and understand the value in offering something unique and unconventional.

The value always lies within the perception of the customer.  If they are willing to pay for it, and you can turn a profit on it, it is added value to society.

The chatter is nice and welcome, I do hope we can catalyze more open and frank discussions.