Wednesday, December 31, 2008

English website for foreign investment, foreign workers employment and married immigrants--interesting . . .

I saw this on the Korea Times this morning,

The Ministry of Government Legislation said Wednesday that it has launched an English-language Web site to provide foreign investors, workers, students and married immigrants here with essential legal information.

Named ``Easy-to-Find Legal Information for Everyday Life,'' the site was established to help foreigners with little or no understanding of the Korean language.

The English site offers details on the three most sought-after areas where legal information is key ― foreign investment, foreign workers' employment and married immigrants.

The ministry is to upgrade the service to diversity its information sources.

The service is available at

I clicked on the link and it actually goes to the KOREAN language web page.

The link to the English page is here.

Now the only challenge is putting into PRACTICE what is written on paper . . .

The link for foreign employment info is here.

I just skimmed the site for about 30 minutes glancing at different things on it. I didn't take a lot of time to closely examine the content in terms of whether or not it is relevant to E2 Visa foreign English teachers . . . I just skimmed over what I thought looked interesting and then commented on it so please don't think that the content here has been carefully analyzed and vetted over a long period of time by an 'expert' (nope, not me) . . . I'm just killing time on New Year's day surfing the Net and tossing out some initial impressions and reactions to what I saw on the site.

I found this interesting,

Hiring foreigners who do not have the appropriate visa status is subject to a sentence of up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to twenty million won, under subparagraph 5 of Article 94 of the 「Immigration Control Act」.

It is unlawful to hire, or as a form of business, recommend and arrange for hiring of foreigners who do not have the appropriate visa status and doing so is a punishable offence by up to three years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 20 million won. (「Immigration Control Act」 Article 94 subparagraphs 5-2 and 6)

The "Immigration Control Act" is cited often through the parts I was reading . . . I'll have to look for that piece of work some other time and link to it.

Short-term Employment (C-4), Professorship (E-1), Foreign Language Teaching (E-2), Research (E-3), Technology Transfer (E-4), Professional Employment (E-5), Arts/Entertainment (E-6), Specially Designated Activities (E-7), Non-professional Employment (E-9), Vessel Crew (E-10), Working Holiday (H-1) or Working Visit (H-2)

- Foreign workers corresponding to any of the above categories of visa status may not work in areas other than as designated (Article 18.(2)「Immigration Control Act」).

※ Violation of the above is a punishable offense (up to 1 year of imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million won pursuant to subparagraph 5 of Article 95 of the 「Immigration Control Act」).

- Foreign workers intending to change their workplace within the scope allowed by the visa, must obtain a permit from the Minister of Justice in advance (Heads of Immigration Office or Branch in cases where delegated so by the Minister of Justice)(「Immigration Control Act」 Article 21.(1)).

※ Violation of this is subject to a sentence of up to 1 year of imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million won (「Immigration Control Act」 Subparagraph 5 of Article 95).

- With the exception of providing job reference under another law, no one is allowed to hire or make a job reference to any one who did not obtain the permission to change the workplace, among other permissions (「Immigration Control Act」 Article 21.(1))(「Immigration Control Act」Article 21.(2)).

A foreign worker who did not obtain the proper permit for change of workplace is subject to a sentence of up to 3 years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 20 million won (「Immigration Control Act」 subparagraph 6-2 of Article 94) and any one who hires such a foreigner is subject to a sentence of up to 1 year of imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million won (「Immigration Control Act」 subparagraph 6-2 of Article 95).

I wonder if any hogwan owners and directors have actually been prosecuted to the degree cited above?

I found this interesting too,

However, foreigners corresponding to the above table subparagraph (12) [Overseas Koreans (F-4)] are not permitted to engage in any of the following activities. Not being restricted by the above does not waive any obligation to obtain specific job licenses or meet other qualifications defined for each area (「Enforcement Decree of the Immigration Control Act」 Article 23.(3)).

3. Other activities deemed to require restriction for sake of maintaining order in the labor market or other public interest.

There is a whole list of other items described that E2 Visa holders cannot do, but it kills me that #3 is added. It is essentially a 'carte blanche' clause saying 'anything we don't like that you do is open to prosecution.'

I always like to look at how legal language is articulated when the everyday word is NOT used, like here for example.

Those invited by Korean citizens who are closer than 3rd cousins by consanguinity or 1st cousins by affinity and who have a residential address in the Republic of Korea;

  1. Relationship by blood or by a common ancestor.
  2. A close affinity or connection.
And then there are things that I totally don't understand . . .

B. Types of Activities Permitted

1) Visit, temporary co-residence with relatives, tourism, medical treatment, field trip, friendship tournaments, non-profit organizations’ culture and arts activities, attending meetings, collecting academic data, market survey, business communication, contract signing, and any other business or commercial activities under such purpose

I'm DYING to know what a "friendship tournament" is . . . lol.

And perhaps one of the most relevant entries on the site,

3.Foreign Language Instructor (E-2)

Foreigners intending to teach in a foreign language school or educational institute not lower than primary school, qualified under the criteria determined by the Minister of Justice.

What is the qualification as determined by the Minister of Justice?

· Persons intending to teach a foreign language in a language institute or in a primary school or higher, need to hold at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent academic background after graduation from college or higher level institute or its equivalent as a person of a country where such language is used as a mother tongue.

· Assistant teachers (persons solicited or selected by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology or education superintendents in cities and provinces, who intend to work in a primary, junior high or senior high school) need to hold at least a junior college degree; or have completed at least two years of college education after graduation; or have received at least 10 years of formal education in the language concerned and have completed two years of college education in Korea or graduated from a junior college in Korea.

I'm still working on a post that I will put up on the Korean English online 'news' discourse about 'qualified' and 'unqualified' foreign native teachers. The Korea Times is one of the worst offenders in this area . . . anyways, my point here is that it is the policy makers who set the standards for applicants who want to teach here in Korea--not the foreign native teachers, oops, I meant "assistant teachers" . . . lol, sigh.

And this is mentioned again,

A foreign worker who did not obtain the proper permit for change of workplace is subject to a sentence of up to 3 years of imprisonment or a fine of up to 20 million won (「Immigration Control Act」 subparagraph 6-2 of Article 94) and any one who hires such a foreigner is subject to a sentence of up to 1 year of imprisonment or a fine of up to 10 million won (「Immigration Control Act」 subparagraph 6-2 of Article 95).

Some of the stuff in the "Protection under labor related acts and subordinate statutes" is very amusing and I wonder where it came from because the everyday realities of social rank and power dynamics in Korea seem to be completely disconnected from the policy language here that assumes there is a cultural environment in which employers and employees can even have a negotiation about something work related . . . I mean, some negotiation takes place, but I think it's safe to say it's generally not on EQUAL footing . . .

In a culture where Confucian-based ideas of power dynamics and a system of social ranks with very clear and strict definitions of who always gives the orders and who always says yes and follows the orders I'm really confused as to how this kind of language can even exist on paper (or the Net in this case).

Principle of equality in employer-employee relation

- Work condition must be determined between the workers and employers on an equal footing based on free will.(「Labor Standards Act」 Article 4).

Principle of equal treatment of workers

- An employer may not discriminate against his (her) workers in determining their working conditions on grounds of gender, nationality, religion or social origin.(「Labor Standards Act」 Article 6).

Violation of this is subject to a sentence of a fine of up to 5 million won (「Labor Standards Act」subparagraph 1 of Article 114).

I'm really curious about this part that talks about 'annual paid leave'

Employer must grant 15 days of paid leave to workers who attended at least 80% of the work period for at least one year (「Labor Standards Act」Article 60.(1)). The period of days off work due to the workers’ injury or disease caused on the job, pre- and post-natal leaves, leaves for miscarriage or stillbirth shall be deemed as days attended (「Labor Standards Act」 Article 60.(6)).

Does this mean that hogwan teachers are supposed to be given 15 paid vacation days a year??? I wonder . . .

Restriction on dismissal

- The employer may not dismiss workers without justifiable cause (「Labor Standards Act」 Article 23.(1)).

※ What are dismissals based on justifiable cause?

I think a lot of the content about dismissal has more to do with factory and manual labor workers than it does in relation to foreign English teachers.

I noticed a search window on the site and typed in "health check," "medical check," and "criminal background check" and got nothing in terms of results related to foreign English teachers and the E2 Visa process . . . .

Anyways, I guess the website is a STEP in the right direction.



Anonymous said...

"Does this mean that hogwan teachers are supposed to be given 15 paid vacation days a year???"

I found out that my pension as an institute employee did not have to be matched as I was not working at least 40 hours a week. At least my employer did put my share into the program. I have a feeling that they will use that 40 hour a week threshold in regards to vacation as well.

John from Daejeon

Jason said...


Yeah . . . there always seems to be a loophole or some kind of extra clause that allows nonsense . . . if you're staying in Korea for another year I'd recommend a public school position--they're a lot better in many ways than hogwans though some hogwan teachers would strongly disagree with me . . .

Happy New Year,

Anonymous said...

I thought about going that route, but my bosses (husband and wife) are the best I've ever had. The owners have lived overseas and are very understanding of nonKorean needs/requirements like my dislike of extremely short-notice meals and meetings and the odds of my attending are pretty much zero. Also, my kids say that the conduct in the public schools is pretty bad, and I had enough of that back in the states. I thought about giving it the old “college” try, but I have some really good kids and my preparation time is next to nothing as I’ve been doing this for a few years at this institute. It also helps that my bosses allow me to use decently written texts and whatever system I feel most comfortable with much to the disgust of the people in charge of the franchise. It really upsets them that my kids aren’t throwing away tons of money on their poorly designed and written garbage. They even tried to get me fired on more than one occasion over the years, but my bosses told them what they could do with that idea.

I am also are very grateful to my bosses for saving my life when my appendix burst. I wanted them to drive me over to the main university hospital which is over 30 minutes away (after my first class of the day). I never would have made it. They took me to what they thought was an appendix specialty hospital. They didn't know that the doctor had become a proctologist over that last two years and hadn't done that type of surgery since then.

However, within five minutes and without even being able to call my loved ones, I was on a gurney, naked, and being sliced open without anesthetic. Luckily, the doctor called in a second surgeon, and they both saved my life as it usually takes about 45-50 minutes, but they rushed and did it in about 15-20, although the incision is much bigger than normal because of the rush. It was definitely not a pristine hospital, and had I not been about to die, I might have cared a bit more about it not being very clean or modern.

In the end, I can't complain about the outcome, and my boss spent the first night in the room with me. I did find out a day later as my doctor was drinking in the room with my boss that he was really worried about having a foreigner die in his hospital as I was in really bad shape. If I wasn't, I know I wouldn't have taken off my clothes so quickly in front of so many strangers.

The worst part of the experience was having my co-teachers show up that evening after classes. I was out of it, yet there they were sitting around me as I was delirious with pain. The doctor refused to give me any pain medications for the first night as my blood pressure was dangerously low. It was sort of funny, because when I came in he was pretty worried because of how high it was.

John from Daejeon

p.s. Happy New Year

Jason said...


I've heard from a few foreign teachers who have hogwan jobs that they work for amazing people, get to choose the books/curriculum they teach, and the working conditions etc are awesome--but the vast majority of foreign teachers I've met who work in hogwans do NOT have the good fortune and wonder people in charge of them that you do--you are a lucky lucky person.

Your story about the emergency surgery is astounding and reassuring that there are people in Korea who care about expats.

I can't imagine the pain that you had because of the rush to do the surgery and no anesthetic. And then post-op pain from no pain killers--yikes.

I think if more expats blog about their experiences, good and bad, in hospitals and clinics in Korea that some kind of realistic understanding of what to 'expect' (a very dangerous word here) can be learned for people who have to go for medical treatment in Korea.

Thank you for sharing your story,

Happy New Year,

Anonymous said...

Tell me about it. It was dumb luck, pure and simple. The only reason I chose this institute was that it was very close to a Costco (a five minute walk) and far enough away from North Korea to not worry myself or my family very much. It helped that the school is in a very poor neighborhood, so my not being a young blonde, blue-eyed, female was conveniently overlooked.

After spending two years here, I tried getting a replacement this summer, but they both crapped out. One wasn't truthful about his criminal background and the other tried extortion without any teaching experience to back it up. It was great for me as I spent three months at home before being asked to come back with a significant raise. Basically, it is a six hour a day job with no testing or grading on my part, little to no prep time, and I get to use decent texts. The owners even allow me to teach on the side as long as it doesn't interfere with our normal classes.

I know, and have known, many others who've had it really rough. Some of whom have pulled runners. I know that I got off the airplane utterly confused and shoved onto a bus for a three hour ride to the middle of what I thought was nowhere. Picked up from a bus stop on the side of the road and shown were to show up on Monday afternoon without any more help. Then, my first class was of crying kindergarten/first grade girls. It did help that I am a bit older, have taught before, and am not intimidated because the kids immediately let me know that I wasn't as cool as the old native English teacher who spoke Korean to them all the time. It was a rough couple of months at first, but things worked themselves out for the best. The parents are happy, and that’s what matters in this “business.”

As for the pain during the surgery, I passed out as the doctor made his first incision and I saw the blood gushing out. I felt no pain and saw only the most pitch blackness I’ve ever seen until I was jostled awake as they carried me in a sheet to my room. Then the pain really started, but it was a very small price to pay for the outcome. Afterwards, I was a bit bummed to have burned a week of my future vacation time in the hospital, but I am very grateful to my bosses, the doctors, and nurses there. For a dingy looking hole-in-the-wall clinic, they did a great job.