Another hit piece – Kang Shin Who’s at it again

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If that name makes you groan, think twice before opening this Korea Times article or reading most of this post:

A 38-year-old Canadian who identifies himself by the alias Mark Cohen holds an E-2 teaching visa and is teaching English at a kindergarten in southern Seoul, but he also gives private English lessons to three groups of students.

During a meeting with The Korea Times in downtown Seoul, Cohen said he charges 50,000 to 70,000 won per hour for private lessons, thought the fee is negotiable.

He also said the part-time jobs bring him as much money as he receives from his main job.

I’ve never taught a private English lesson in Korea, but from my admittedly anecdotal sources, the amount per hour is about right.

If that name makes you groan, think twice before opening this Korea Times article or reading most of this post:

A 38-year-old Canadian who identifies himself by the alias Mark Cohen holds an E-2 teaching visa and is teaching English at a kindergarten in southern Seoul, but he also gives private English lessons to three groups of students.

During a meeting with The Korea Times in downtown Seoul, Cohen said he charges 50,000 to 70,000 won per hour for private lessons, thought the fee is negotiable.

He also said the part-time jobs bring him as much money as he receives from his main job.

I’ve never taught a private English lesson in Korea, but from my admittedly anecdotal sources, the amount per hour is about right.

Asked whether he knows that such tutoring is against immigration regulations, he said, “I don’t understand why it could be a problem. Many of my friends are doing part-time jobs like me.”

Many foreigners are unaware that private tutoring is illegal. Under the Immigration Law, E-2 visa holders and foreigners on tourist visas are banned from making money through giving private lessons.

Park Hye-soo, a middle school student who has lived overseas, is currently taking private English lessons to maintain her language skills. She pays 50,000 won per hour for writing lessons and 40,000 won for speaking and conversation with her tutor.

I take serious offense at the thought that we somehow ‘don’t know’ teaching privates is illegal. It’s possible – if your recruiter or school didn’t tell you, if you didn’t read your contract, and if you haven’t made any friends where the subject has come up. If you’ve done enough research or talking with other teachers to learn about Hongik / Hongdae, you’ve heard that teaching private English lessons on an E-2 visa is illegal. Oh, and yes – we use aliases for the foreigners but the real names of one of the Korean students?

A high school student who declined to be named is preparing for early admission to university here, and has two-hour sessions twice per week to boost his writing and speaking skills.

He also gets his essays proofread, and practices interviews and debating skills. The monthly cost amounts to approximately one million won. He said, “It costs this much as the sessions are fairly intensive.”

Perhaps – and for that kind of money, you’d expect that sort of treatment.

OK, Kang Shin Who, I get that your focus is education – a quick search of the Korea Times archive shows you’ve written dozens of articles related to education and those doing the educating. But what exactly are you trying to achieve here? Manufacture some sort of outrage? Is there any possibility of not writing these sensationalist hit pieces? Virtually every story you’ve written about foreign English teachers has been negative or taken an unfavorable slant. See any of these previous stories for proof.

Think about the students you’re talking about here as well – these are people trying to improve their lives in the ultra-competitive, ultra-pressure-cooker environment that is Korea. If the only way to get ahead is to get an edge, you’ll take any edge you can get – legal or illegal.

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