Dear Gangwon-do Ministry of Education and Ministry of Justice (Immigration Department):
I know you will not read this as it's not in Korean, and that's my fault. I'm as fluent in Korean as you are in English and that makes it very difficult for us to communicate. I apologize.
But you owe me an apology. You owe every hagwon teacher in Gangwon-do an apology.
Your training was abysmal.
I attended, legally mandated, your province-wide training for hagwon teachers on Saturday, one of my days off, my next-to-last Saturday before I leave Gangwon-do. You didn't bother to educate my employer about their legal duty to pay me for training (at least not as much as you taught them about how they'd pay a fine if I didn't go) and we are still in negotiations over that fact. But I showed up, and my director paid you--PAID YOU--to let me into your mandated training.
And for one hour, I listened to things I already knew. Rather, for a half an hour. Since the Ministry of Justice couldn't be bothered to send a bilingual presenter, a translator from the Ministry of Education had to interpret. But worse was the fact that the presentation began with a discussion of Japanese tourism in Korea, proceeded to explain the requirements for an E-2 visa (which we all already had), and had interspersed bits of shameless foreigner-blaming for social problems in Korea.
That would be bad enough, but I'm told that the MOE didn't even want you there. That they, being slightly less oblivious than you, told you that presenting how to get an E-2 visa to E-2 visa holders would be a waste. To quote the translator: "Most of you already know this, so if you have any friends wanting to come to Korea, tell them this."
So when I stood up and asked you why increased foreigner background checks were required to prevent crime (specifically, molestation) when the E-2 visa holder crime rate (0.6%) is 1/5th of the Korean crime rate (3%) and foreign criminal records for sex crimes are not immediately expunged after 5 years, like Korean criminal records (which allow Korean molesters to keep working and raping), I did not expect an answer.
When I asked what the relevance of Japanese tourism was to us, and the room laughed, I did not expect an answer. But you told me, through the interpreter that the relevance was "Japanese spending" and "they don't require a visa, but you do," which stimulated a second round of chuckles.
And finally, when I asked why there was a prohibition on volunteering, you explained that "it was a mask for illegal private tutoring." Ignoring the fact that there is volunteerism beyond English teaching by English teachers. Ignoring the fact that the poor, like the rich, may need education. When I asked the translator if you had statistics supporting your assertion he didn't bother to translate. I can't blame him.
Let my specifically addressing you end.
MOE: Who from the publishers of Let's Go is sleeping with and/or running the MOE? Maybe it's just my background in being sensitive to capitalization but an hour and a half of a captive audience staring at your logo costs money where I'm from. And I stared at the Let's Go logo for 90 minutes in the middle of this mandatory "training" and contemplated your admission that they were scheduled to present later, but showed up early, and so were allowed to present early, I began wondering who I needed to have sex with to compel a paying-yet-captive audience to stare at my paraphernalia.
Other beefs abound. If you won't inform the hagwons of their obligation to pay us for attending your joke of a training, at least encourage them to pay our entrance fees. Other hagwon owners made their employees pay transit and entrance costs. There is law in Korea, like it or not, and quite frankly ... it doesn't like you.
I'd love it if this article, that begins by claiming that volunteering is legal, cleared that issue up. But it ends shortly after this quote:
"But if foreigners who stay in Korea want to engage in the repeated and continuous volunteer activities, those foreigners are recommended to take counsel with Korea Immigration Service. Because the repetitive and continuous activities possibly could be included in the case which needs the permission from the Ministry of Justice."
And before it is this:
"It is possible not to get any permission from the Ministry of Justice if foreigners who stay in Korea want to engage in volunteer activities, for example, a public organization, an orphanage, an international exhibition, an organization which supports foreigners and international events which are temporary volunteering and are not for pay[.]"
Um .. great. Thanks for clearing nothing up. Orphanages, international organizations, or ATEK (and that last one was a fight) ... gee what if I want to help Koreans that aren't orphans? Too bad Korea.
Roboseyo, eat your heart out. Or explain how that idiom came to be. I've never got it.
Rob O. (Roboseyo blog) started a gathering called "2S2" for "Second Saturdays at 2 (pm)" in Seoul as a way for expats to meet and greet. Inspired by him I suggested (notice credit theft occuring here) to co-worker Danielle (Wonju Wife; tuesdaysborrower.blogspot.com) that we make a 2s2 in Wonju. We (she) did and it went swimmingly. She blogged about it, so I won't, because I'm lazy
So if you're bored in Gangwon-do on the 2d Saturday, come by. I'll be gone come February but Danielle, I suspect, will be full steam ahead. (Also if you're bored, join ATEK, we need people to take over Gangwon-do operations, not that much work but a lot of coolness, trust me.)