Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years

Living in Wonju South Korea, These Many Long Years: Version 2.0!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Epik Daze!

I'm lucky.

When I did my stint back in the day with Epik, I remember some of the idiocy I had to deal with from clueless, myopic coworkers.

Stuff like the head of the English department claiming I spoke English with a French accent because I had taken a French course in university.  She couldn't carry on a conversation in English beyond some very basic simple stuff, but then went around saying I wasn't suitable as a teacher due to this French pollution.  A single class in university.  Ok.

Being told I was not allowed to discipline the students because that was the job of a co-teacher who never came to class.  I got in trouble on that one when I made a boy stay after class to pick up trash around the school after I caught him throwing garbage out the window in class.  That class was a hell class.  There was a special needs kid in the class that some of the more enterprising kids had taught to yell Fuck You whenever I started to explain directions for an activity. 

A math teacher who lectured in class about how I, like all those from my country in history,  were only there to destroy Korean culture and traditions.  He was openly antagonistic to me my whole year.

The photocopy guy who wouldn't make my copies for activities, or would make me wait more than a couple of weeks for my stuff.  It would often be incomplete, done poorly or lacking in number.  I was told to not touch the machines, but I took to sneaking in at lunch and running off all my stuff before anyone was the wiser.  He caught me once and complained to the principal.  When called to explain myself, I laid it out: I can get it all finished correctly in an hour.  I don't want to bother him since he is obviously very busy.  I got all my copies promptly and done well after that.

And more.  Being a teacher in public school is no picnic no matter where you are.  But some of that stuff was beyond the pale.  At least I had no issues with pay, but of course I didn't renew.  I signed up for the gig because I wanted to see what it was like inside the school, what they taught and how.  I was teaching over 800 students in a month at different schools, which completely undermined any usefulness I may have served.

So now I can say I'm lucky.  I'm out of the ESL gig.  Most of my coworkers are decent, solid folk.  Many of them have lived abroad for varying lengths of time.  While I still have to deal with some idiocy, at least there is more of an effort to make me feel a part of the team, and not some outsider that needs to be contained and undermined.


Janelle said...

I work in a public school and I love my job. I get paid vacations and treated well. I probably like my job more than you do, and probably make more money than you do to. Maybe you just weren't a good teacher? Or maybe you were okay at it but it wasn't for you. That's fine but don't paint ESL with such a tar brush please.

F5Waeg said...


I'm glad to hear that your experience with Epik is a good one. That does happen sometimes. I wouldn't say I hated my experience with the system, simply that I had to deal with a lot of idiocy.

As for the other stuff, yeah I get paid vacations too, and it's impossible for an Epik teacher to make more than me. If I hadn't been a good teacher and gotten the reference that I did I may not have my current job. Honestly, Epik jobs are pretty straight forward, unless of course there are issues with coworkers, especially if you've taught before.

Here's hoping it keeps working for you.

Anonymous said...

LOL at the other kids teaching the special needs kid to drop the f-bomb on cue. And LOL at the female Epik teacher who thinks that all of the above was your fault.

Anonymous said...

typical. You have a bad experience and suddenly it has everything to do with your competence.

Don't listen to Janelle - she's a coordinator for Gepik. It always has everything to do with you and never the school.

F5Waeg said...

I have to admit, there were a couple of times I almost burst out laughing at the F-bomb. . . I had to remind myself how I saw them usually treat him, and not make his misery any worse.

Reminds of the 7th grade special needs girl who would blurt out 'BAP!' everytime a stranger came near her. She had to be moved to another school since several of the boys were using her as the town bicycle.

Janelle said...

Jake and F5,

I make 6 million won a month, no taxes. My public school is not EPIK, and I only work until 2.

I highly doubt either of you make much more than 4, and despite what you say about your work, Jake, I'm convinced your blog is a fantasy.

Sorry to sound like a "western female," which many of you clearly dislike. Do I care? No. I read your blogs because I think it's entertaining how you long term expat males love to puff your feathers and pretend you've left the ESL world behind. Guess what - you never will! I know that and am comfortable with that, and will resist the urge to inflate my ego simply because I've lived in Korea a bit longer than most.

F5Waeg said...

And here I thought I was polite to Janelle. Guess it is a dying art form in this age of the internets, where no one has any reason to actually play nice.

A public school that pays 6 with work only until 2? And you're only teaching? Congrats to you. Connections are what its all about, eh?

I hope it made you feel better to vent on about how much of a loser you perceive me to be. I know that can be very soothing, prop up the ego and what not.

I doubt you are female. I doubt you are here for anything save to stir up some shit. I'm more than happy to provide a forum for you. Enjoy your stay!

Anonymous said...

This silly punter is a perfect example of foreigners lying about their salaries. Last time I checked, public schools are government-run and their salaries are published and capped. Does this person really expect anyone to believe they're making 6 million tax free won a month at a public school? Did you drink bong water for breakfast before you made that post? Anyway, I've never posted my salary online and I never will. Seeing how easy it is to open a study room, I might actually GET BACK into the ESL industry because I simply have too much free time and I'd be wasting it not to.

Janelle, if you post a picture of your pay stub, I'll post a picture of mine.

Janelle said...

Trust me I am purely female and no where did I say my entire salary comes from one job. And to be honest most of my angst is directed at a certain blogger who doesn't have the courage to allow posts that disagree with his jaded world view. At least you allowed mine so I give you credit. I ventured from there to here and couldn't resist replying, because it truly irks me when a people look down on the ESL industry and make it out to be a dead end. It's only a dead end if you don't enjoy teaching.

F5Waeg said...


Did I trash ESL? By talking straight about some of the pitfalls, issues and situations that many have and will continue to face, based partly on my own experience and the experiences of others? I don't see it that way.

You attack because I won't blow sunshine up the Korean ESL asscrack, and you label me as essentially: a fogey washed up failed ESL expat puffing himself up neo colonial fuckup who can't teach. Did I miss anything in my paraphrase? Anyway, that's not very nice. And highly disingenuous.

But sometimes feeding the troll is fun. So have a good time!

And read this:

I post elsewhere about my views on teaching and ESL in the Korean context. Dig around. But again, be sure to have a good time!

mr.pharmacist said...

The K-teachers feel that you've been foisted on them. They also come from a lazy arse system and they don't like you being to just how much on the gravy train. I saw K-teachers do minimal prep and were so obnoxious to not even turn up for their own classes eg "busy".
Make no mistakes about it, being a waeg at a school you're right down the bottom of the totem pole.

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