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South Africans on the Increase in Korea

The Kyunghyang Sinmun reported last week that due to increased demand and the collapse of the won, it’s getting tough to find foreign English teachers.

While Korea might have been a popular destination last year, those in the recruitment agency say many teachers nowadays are leaving for China and Japan.

Accordingly, rather than North Americans, you’re seeing more and more teachers from New Zealand, Australia and, recently, South Africans.

A South African teacher who came on the advice of a high school classmate said he makes three times the money teaching in a hagwon than he did as a teacher back home. In fact, the number of South Africans on E-2 visas increased from 709 in 2006 to 1,131 in 2007, and currently stands at 1,412.

Small hagwon are having an especially tough time finding teachers, so many are turning to unqualified Canadians, who can stay in Korea without visas for up to six months.

Oh, and here’s the stats on E-2 visa holders as of October 2008:

15,238 Americans
10,111 Canadians
3,021 Britons
1,412 South Africans
1,162 New Zealanders
1,158 Australians
1,051 Chinese
978 Japanese
626 Irish
56 French

The Kyunghyang also ran a piece on how Korea has become something of a “land of opportunity” for young people in English-speaking countries. A recruiter, in fact, said we liken it to the popularity among young Koreans of “working holidays” in Australia.

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  • d

    I honestly thought Canadians would’ve topped that list.

  • http://www.smokehard.com chiamattt

    Well they apparently topped the list of unqualified teachers.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Define unqualified.

    The word “unqualified” as used by Korean dailies in regards to EFL’ers is most often than not used incorrectly.

    Not having the proper visa is not unqualified; it is simply illegal. Unqualified is not having the credentials required by Immigration.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Define unqualified.

    The word “unqualified”, as used by Korean dailies in regards to EFL’ers, is more often than not used incorrectly.

    Not having the proper visa is not unqualified; it is simply illegal. Unqualified is not having the credentials required by Immigration.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Damn this thing and not being able to edit or delete.

  • http://www.san-shin.org sanshinseon

    You’d think there’d be more Irish, with all the cultural similarities, drinking and such…

  • CactusMcHarris

    South African professionals have certainly been on the increase settling here in Kamloops – I suppose they’re tired of they and their families being the target of random street crime, kidnappings or worse.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    “급여는 숙소·항공권 포함 월 400만원 안팎”

    This is what stuck out to me the most. Simply mind boggling. A typical Korean “elite” working at a big company would have to work a good number of years (possibly a decade) to reach that level of salary. And we’re not even talking about the poor folks in mid size companies.

    That would irritate me if I was Korean. Reality, yeah, but still, it would at least irritate me a good deal.

  • CactusMcHarris

    Hey JW,

    Would you provide a translation? I’m still awaiting my K/E dictionary.

    Thanks

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    “Monthly Pay [for English teachers] including housing and airfare around 4 Mil Won”

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    According to below article, a departmental head (부장) at a major size company earns on average 3.95 Mil Won per month.

    http://www.donga.com/fbin/output?n=200703050370

    Mind boggling.

  • CactusMcHarris

    Thanks much, JW

  • globalvillageidiot

    ““급여는 숙소·항공권 포함 월 400만원 안팎””

    That figure is bullshit.

    “That would irritate me if I was Korean. Reality, yeah, but still, it would at least irritate me a good deal.”

    Which is exactly why some Korean papers exagerate E-2 visa holders’ earnings when they do stories on English teachers. Makes for a better story. It’s another way to demonize foreign teachers – who, as Koreans are encouraged to believe, are all supposedly unqualified and likely felons – especially when Koreans seem to be so worried about the economy.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Wait wait, so lemme take a step further. It’d be sorta like, foreigners who are recent college grads coming to the States to teach their foreign language for what, like 90 to 100 K a year? Or even more?

    Christ Almighty.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    I would actually prefer that the 400 number ends up being very much exaggerated. Cuz it’s outrageous.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Is that number really that exaggerated? Doesn’t really seem so to me. 4 million a month, including housing and airfare? Sounds about right, no?

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    I don’t know any teachers who make less than 4 mil. But no one could make that from a single employer, and I seriously doubt that individual recruiters or employers would advertise that as an income to be earned from a single source. In my last year on an E2 (2002) I made 65mil, and I had about 6 weeks of travel in which I made nothing.

  • Saxiif

    “Doesn’t really seem so to me. 4 million a month, including housing and airfare? Sounds about right, no?”

    Well only if you add the cost of air fare to every single month’s salary, which would be well, stupid.

    If you take a newbie salary, add on cost of airfare divided by 12 (so its spread out over 12 months) and cost of housing you end up with less than 3 million.

    Of course experienced/smart/working two jobs teachers can make more than that, but they’re not the majority. Saying that the average salary is anywhere near 4 is blatantly dishonest.

  • Sonagi

    I scrolled down the recent postings at Dave’s ESL Cafe, and the average salary, not including housing or airfare, is about W2.4 million. Housing allowances run about W300,000-450,000. Round-trip airfare spread out over 12 months would be about W200,000 at current exchange rates. 2.4 million + 400,000 + 200,000 = 3 million.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Hmnn interesting. Forget the airfare. If we say 200 for starting salary, 100 a month for a one-room (is that about correct? I’m not sure), about 15 for the severance bonus…comes out to 315.

    Is that about right? Doesn’t seem like you have to do alot more to reach that 400 mark, especially now that the teachers are leaving due to exchange rate.

    The irony of course is that people still don’t like it there, which means Koreans are doing a heckuva job of acting on their irritation.

  • Baek du boy

    #18, 20, thanks for adding common sense to the thread.

    Most e-2s average about 3 mill a month inc housing and airfare.

    Those who make more work privates and part time gigs.
    A mate of mine worked various classes from 6am to 10pm 5 days a week and made a tad over 4 mill a month…but who wants to do that!

    When I was teacher and new to Korea in 2002, I much preferred free time to travel and study rather than accumulating extra classes and income. Now I work smart, not hard.

    Interesting to see more NZers than Aussie, I thought this was the case and the numbers confirmed. I guess 3 mill a month is much more than a teacher can make in NZ.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Baek Du, you still don’t get it. Ordinary Koreans –people like you and I — would stomp on your ass for a chance to make 400 a month working 6 to 10, with the weekends OFF.

  • DarylM

    Interesting enough to make me pull up a spreadsheet and do a few calculations myself.

    My first year here, but with full quals and experience I get the top EPIK rate for newcomers at 2.5 mill. Averaging out housing allowance, bonus month, settlement allowance and airfare gives me 3.2 mil a month, or 38.4 mil a year.

    This translates to around 19,200 English pounds. Not a bad starting salary if you are just out of uni, but if I was still working as a teacher in England, I would be earning around 26 or 27,000 pounds a year. Then again I’d rather roast in hell with pins in my eyes than be back there in that job.

    Given the low/zero taxation, low cost of food and living in general, I’d say we get a good deal though nothing amazing. About the same as our Korean colleagues apparently.

  • Sonagi

    JW,

    You still don’t get it. Full-time hakwon work is a minimum of 6 classes a day, often with split schedules of 6:30-8:30 AM and 6-10 PM, and that doesn’t include prep. I’ve never seen a hakwon offering W4 million a month.

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  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Sonagi, are you fucking dumb? Did you or did you not read that Baek Du’s friend worked various classes from 6 to 10 working 5 days a week and made “a tad” over 400? And that he thinks nobody would want to do such a thing?

    Yes, if you haven’t noticed, I was responding directly to Baek Du’s own statement.

  • globalvillageidiot

    Maybe JW doesn’t “get it” because he prefers not to. Foreign teachers being grossly overpaid is one of several popular beliefs that are deliberately promoted by a lot of so-called journalists here in their reports, whether in print or on TV.

    Not only are foreign teachers a bunch of unqualified, uncertified, uneducated, lazy, drunk, stoned, violent sexual predators, but, to top it all off, they’re rich!

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Well, the problem is these teachers are NOT being overpaid in terms of the market. They are getting what the market will bear, or even slightly less, considering that they are essentially getting jipped on housing accommodations (I am thinking that a one room with your own bath and kitchen is worth alot more than the 45 to 55 in housing allowance, which probably means whatever housing they provide is subpar)

    The problem is that this is what the market will pay, and so Koreans will find non-market ways to bring that price down because essentially you are getting offered to make alot of money for doing something that any ordinary Korean would also be capable of doing, if only they grew up in an English speaking country.

  • Baek du boy

    JW…I get it, for the extra hard work…it can be rewarding for a native English speaker from an average uni, average grades and some Koreans may be envious.

    Me personally, I opted out of chasing classes, last minute cancellations (minus the pay), travelling between class locations, split shifts, discrimination (I’m not the perfect looking specimen of an English teacher for korean people and thus must not be qualified) erratic hours, etc for 400 a month and took a low paying desk job…with some further study, experience and then promotion turned into a better living and career.

    Basically most E2s make around 300 (give or take) and to earn more..it is a nusiance, a headache, hard work and shit house career opportunity.

  • http://www.jdlink.co.kr Linkd

    Quite the mouthy little prick, aren’t you, JK?

    Actually, no, ordinary Koreans, like you I assume, who grew up in an English environment CAN’T do the job. Because the job is to sell a globalization experience, and to these unsophisticated customers over here that means a whitey. For kids, the customer is mom, and mom wants a whitey, not your mouthy, rude-ass arrogant self in the classroom. You might get a job for 1.5 mil in a crummy kids hakwon, cuz that’s all you’re worth here. For adults, you might get a job teaching salary men IF, and only if, you have some specialized knowledge in business or engineering or IT. Otherwise, forget it. The salary men who are spending their company’s training budgets aren’t interested in spending 4 hours a week in a room with you. That’s the job, fecal breath. That’s the market. It’s racist. But Here Is Korea, and every resume must include a photo, and that photo is as much a part of job qualifications as the rest of the resume. Now that you’ve learned something, go fuck off.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    Totally agreed. The market is racist and thereby pays white teachers too much. That’s interesting, because that means that the people who make up the market recognizes that its racist and finds non-market ways to make it less racist, at the cost of shooing away some of the better white teachers.

    It is most definitely a serious problem.

  • globalvillageidiot

    “The market is racist and thereby pays white teachers too much.”

    Maybe it’s more a case of non-white teachers not being paid enough, as opposed to white teachers being paid too much. There is a difference.
    .

  • Baek du boy

    It’s not just colour…it’s discrimate over height, weight, hair, disabilities, religous beleifs.

    I wouldn’t work for 800 a month to put up with that.

  • leguwan

    And Koreans are on the increase in South Africa, so that is also really earth-shattering news.

  • Sonagi

    Did you or did you not read that Baek Du’s friend worked various classes from 6 to 10 working 5 days a week and made “a tad” over 400?

    6 AM to 10 PM. Even “unqualified” English teachers are college graduates. No Korean college graduate I know would “stomp” on anyone’s “ass” to work 16 hours a day for 4 million. Be careful when quoting official salaries as they may not include bonuses. Rather than drawing a simple salary, Korean income is broken up into salaries, stipends, and bonuses, which are taxed at different rates. A Korean friend of mine gets 4.4 million managing a hakwon. She gets home in time to put supper on the table.

  • http://www.xanga.com/jungwyou JW

    “No Korean college graduate I know would “stomp” on anyone’s “ass” to work 16 hours a day for 4 million.”

    Wrong, Korean college grads fresh out of school would by and large take those hrs for a stable *teaching* job that pays 400 a month. If they have kids to feed? Possibly trample you to death. 400 a month in Korea IS A LOT of money.

  • McGenghis

    I’ve met ten South Africans so far in Korea, and only two of them were native English speakers.

  • leguwan

    I met 10 New Zealanders here and only 2 of them were native speakers…..let’s hear it for the Maori!

  • leguwan

    I have met five New Zealanders here and only one of them was a native English speaker.

  • Darth Babaganoosh

    Foreign teachers being grossly overpaid is one of several popular beliefs that are deliberately promoted by a lot of so-called journalists here in their reports, whether in print or on TV.

    I almost got into a fight with a cabbie once over my salary. We were making pleasant small talk about where I was from and the usual. When it came to my job and I told him I worked at a uni, he was impressed with all the money I make.

    “What money? How much do you think I make in one month?”
    “8 million!”
    I chuckle at the naivete and shake my head.
    “No, less than 3 million.”
    “Yes! You make 8 million in one month! I saw a news report!”
    “The news report is wrong. Most foreigners in Korea make less than 3 million.”

    That just set him off screaming in Korea about how I’m a liar and a bad person for lying to him. He pulled over and refused to go any further until I told him the “real” truth. I put some bills in the passenger seat to cover the fare and got out of the taxi. He gets out and makes a move like he’s going to come after me. I just walk away ignoring his crazy shouting.

    What a loon.

  • Mizar5

    Substandard wages, dismal working conditions, in-your-face discrimination, scapegoating and triumphalism.

    Who wouldn’t want to be an ESL teacher in Korea?

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