I don’t work in the worst hagwon – there are a lot of good things going for it, but sometimes there are a few things that I don’t feel are entirely right. Hagwon Horrors is a multiple part series where I tell you the short little moral ambiguities I encounter from working at my specific after-school academy. 


We had all been feeling relatively comfortable with our jobs lately, so management decided it was time to shake things up a little. Tensions were high and almost everything was apparently the fault of the teachers. When something doesn’t go exactly their way, a lot of our Korean parents tend to complain. Similar to the cruise industry, instead of carefully weighing pros and cons, management tends to have knee-jerk reactions to every single comment from a parent. A student is bored during the 10 minute study period for a test? One complaint later and that study period has still been removed to the dismay of almost every other student and teacher.


Within a one month period, almost every teacher at our branch received a formal discipline session from a distraught manager. One was disciplined for having a class get out of control, with clear CCTV footage showing that it was about as lively as a library. Another because they were leaning against the whiteboard while having a discussion with their students. My personal favourite though? One teacher was formally reprimanded for being “too fun of a teacher”. From the water cooler talk, that one month was enough to make sure most teachers wouldn’t re-sign to the branch after the end of their contracts.

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