All About the Benjamins

15 Sep

Earlier I planned on dropping a few lines about my recent addiction to Korean barbeque, but I’ve decided to change it up. Why? I’ve been hit with a bit of a dilemma and I feel it might turn out to be the first rift in the relationship between myself and the school administration. For any of my readers considering coming to Korea to teach, take note. You quite possibly will have to deal with a similar situation.

Yesterday after my morning classes were finished I asked my co-teacher when I would be able to receive the 300,000 Won settlement allowance (as well as my first month’s salary) the school owes me . Naturally, after having set up three Korean bank accounts, I figured they could easily deposit the money in just a few days. This may not exactly be the case.

Before thanking me for bringing it to her attention, my co-teacher tells me she just needs to file some paperwork on my behalf with the school administration and the money will be deposited soon after. I got the feeling I would’ve been completely assed out had I never brought it up. No problem though. I return to my desk to watch football highlights before taking off for the day.

Today, however, after barely making it through five-mind numbing lessons with a group of sixth graders who couldn’t give two fucks about comparative adjectives, the story changed. My co-teacher now tells me I will have to have a sit down with her and the principal to go over, and officially sign, my employment contract before any money can be sent my way (mind you I have already signed the same contract three times with various entities). A bit of patience is lost, but alright. Sign the damn thing and get paid right? Wrong! 20 minutes later my she again appears at my desk and informs me that the school administration apparently will need several other documents; namely my resume and a copy of my college diploma–of which I already submitted to both my recruiter and the EPIK staff during the orientation. In fact, when I originally signed  my contract with EPIK, I specifically asked if I would need to hold on to bring either my diploma or transcript to the school I was set to work at, and they assured me that they would forward all documents to the Busan Metropolitan Office of Education and that there was no need. This is precisely the type of run around I was hoping to avoid during my time here.

Now I wrote before how I understand my low social standing as a native english teacher here in Korea, but all this misinformation has me feeling like I need to perform a damn shuck-n-jive just to get what’s owed to me. Maybe I should do a full out minstrel show where I eat fried chicken and loudly explain how much I love watermelon. “Aww massa, I showls wish I had me some watermelon to snack on why I wait for my scraps!” Hell, I’m already singing and dancing for several hundred students per week. What more do they expect?

To be fair, my co-teacher seems like she’s doing her best to help me out, but she’s caught in-between  my needs and her loyalty to a system that thrives on bureaucratic red tape for anyone who’s last name Doesn’t end in Lee, Kim, or Park. She claims she will make a call to the Busan Office Education first thing tomorrow morning to sort everything out, but my fear is, with Chuseok approaching next week (I have the week off and am heading to Seoul), this shit may not get resolved until after the holiday.

I’m going to hold off on blowing my lid. I don’t want to jeopardize the good standing I have with my co-teacher, but if I walk in tomorrow to another fairy tale about what I need to do to get paid, shit might get a bit ignorant. Mama didn’t raise no fool, and she for damn sure didn’t raise no punk.


Kimchi Dreadlocks


16 Responses to “All About the Benjamins”

  1. Flyrobotics September 15, 2010 at 3:15 AM #

    Get em fam!!!

  2. Roshida September 15, 2010 at 10:19 AM #

    Just to let you know, that it is the schools job to give you the 300,000 won, not EPIK. Your school needs to get it together and bring out your contract if you need to. You suppose to have that money ASAP. You’ll officially get paid after one month you have been here.I don’t know what they are trying to do?

    • Jaywoodseyo September 15, 2010 at 10:30 AM #

      Yes, I know it is my school’s responsibility to get the 300,000 won to me. I just don’t see why they are saying I need to submit more documents. Got my contract in hand and I plan on using it. Thanks for the comment!

  3. Jimmy September 15, 2010 at 2:09 PM #

    I have to contradict you there. As far as we were told, it is EPIK’s responsability to pay both the allowance and the airfare. I may be wrong but that was our understanding.

    Jay, we were told specifically by people at the orientation and at the EPIK office in Gwangju that you should not be sigining any contract with your school unless EPIK knows about it.

    It could create a conflict of interests otherwise.

    It sounds like you have a bit of a pain in the arse school bud.

    • Jaywoodseyo September 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM #

      Just got back from the negotiating table (i.e. the school’s budgetary office). I’ll get the settlement fee from them by the end of this week–so they say. Still I’ll have to wait until th 24th to get my first month’s salary while the rest of the school gets it on the 17th. I’ve been told that EPIK will be depositing the reimbursed airfare around the 25th –so they say.

      As far as the contract, it’s identical to the one I signed with EPIK. I triple checked to make sure every letter in the document was the same. Plus, as it turns out, I didn’t actually have to sign anything. The Assistant Principal just wanted to read through it with me (even though he can’t read a lick of English) to make sure I understood the terms–as if EPIK didn’t drill the shit in enough.
      On a side note Jimmy, I went through eslstarter as well and the application process was nothing but smooth sailing.

  4. 3gyupsal September 15, 2010 at 4:17 PM #

    I had to do the same thing with the contract. The school just needs a copy for their records. Korea is absolutely shit when it comes to keeping track of things. If you decide to leave your job and try to get a hogwon, or university job, you’ll have to get another transcript and haul out your diploma again to show immigration just so that they know you are the same person. Just have a look at the contract that the school wants you to sign and compare it to the one you already did sign, it should be the exact same thing, public schools usually don’t screw you on that kind of stuff.

    I remember the first few weeks I was at my job, I didn’t get my diploma back from the regional education office until a few weeks later, and someone had folded the damn thing. I was pretty pissed about that. Also you won’t get your first month’s salary until the 25th, that’s when EPIK salaries get paid.

    Good luck getting up to Seoul during Chuseok, if you are lucky enough to get a bus ticket it might only take 12 hours, so I’d try the KTX or other train, but don’t be surprised if the tickets are sold out. Chuseok is one of the two large holidays in Korea, and Chuseok traffic is notorious. I’m not saying don’t try, and I’d be happy to be proven wrong, but Chuseok is not a good time to move.

    Also get this taken care of: It is your Korean tax exemption form. It’ll take about 3 months for the IRS to complete the paperwork, but if you submit this form, you won’t have to pay Korean income tax for two years.

    • Jaywoodseyo September 15, 2010 at 4:26 PM #

      Luckily, I got my KTX tix to Seoul last week. All taken care of! Also, when I tried to submit the tax exemption form to the IRS, they said I have to wait until December 1st to submit it. I told this to my school and they say I can be reimbursed for whatever taxes I pay, but I’m not holding my breath.

      I saw on the contract that EPIK teachers get paid on the 25th, but there is a clause that states it must be paid out on the preceding business day if the 25th fall on a weekend. I guess I get paid on the 24th.

  5. 3gyupsal September 15, 2010 at 5:32 PM #

    My mistake, that tax form should be this one. That declares your residency to be in America. My school didn’t tell me about that until 2 years after the fact, but they didn’t take out any income tax anyway. They just take out the pension, health, and unemployment insurance. (I asked them not to take out unemployment insurance for a while, but after I got married I decided to go for it. You can collect unemployment for a few months after you loose your job. Unfortunately you’re stuck with the pension though, you can get it back but you still gotta pay into it.)

    Chuseok is a three day holiday. The 25th is on a Saturday this month, if your school is taking Friday off, there is a chance you might get paid on Monday. Just remind your office about that.

  6. Molls September 15, 2010 at 9:50 PM #

    J- While you’re going through all this, you should also check and see if you can get your 40 acres and mule 🙂

  7. Light Bright September 16, 2010 at 12:26 AM #

    Well, you are balling over there in SK! :)) I’m glad you got everything figured out Jer, now I can relax and not let my Ninja side kick in. Good iishh Bro 🙂 🙂

    • Light Bright September 16, 2010 at 12:29 AM #

      Ohhh yeeaaa… how’s that BBQ??? I bet great! I was watching the food network and this Asian BBQ joint in New York was said to be one of thee best… Mmmmmm… BBQ 🙂

    • Jaywoodseyo September 16, 2010 at 12:30 AM #

      Almost figured out. I’ll bring it up again in the morning and we’ll se where it goes from there. I got this!

      • Jaywoodseyo September 16, 2010 at 12:55 AM #

        No worries. I’ll be posting about Korean BBQ in no time.

  8. superfantabulous September 17, 2010 at 2:54 PM #

    Try not to get your panties in a bunch about this type of stuff or your in for a long year. This is completely typical public school behavior. They obsessively check everything again and again to make sure they’re getting it exactly right so they don’t get in trouble from the people higher up. I’ve been asked at least 6 times this past year what my birthdate is, what school I graduated from, what city I lived in in the US, everything they could have found out from all the documents I’ve given them. Just give them the papers they ask for and don’t try to apply logic to it, because you’ll drive yourself crazy.

    • Jaywoodseyo September 17, 2010 at 3:20 PM #

      Done and done.
      I like my gig, even with the hassle. Plus, I negotiate from a place of poise and strength. Got the settlement money and my first month’s salary is right behind it. Thanks for the positive words. I’ve been well prepared to deal with stuff like this in Korea so it didn’t surprise me as much as it gave me a chance to stress good communication between myself and my co-teacher. No love lost at all.

  9. Gibbering Madness September 21, 2010 at 8:49 AM #

    Watch out for the Korean tax scam. You should be paying 3.3% tax, plus medical and pension. It all adds up to a little over 9% Check to make sure what you should be paying. A lot of schools overcharge on tax and pocket the difference. Don’t think that just because it’s a government school, they are honest. they are often more dishonest than hogwans. Get on it early and save yourself some stress later if they are pulling this on you. It’s VERY difficult to get any scam money back from a Korean.

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