Am I in “too deep” to quit this hagwon job? (19 Answers)

Bail on ESL teaching contract Korea

Question asked –

My current hagwon contract ends February 1, 2017. So, I started applying for new teaching jobs and have been offered what appeared to be a great job in Incheon from a decent recruiter.

Last week the recruiter sent me the contract which I immediately signed. But after signing I’ve had second thoughts. Incheon doesn’t seem like such a great place to live and work. There are many factories = pollution and it’s further out of Seoul than I realized.

According to Google maps, it’s two hours from Incheon to Itaewon during peak traffic. Since I signed the agreement and submitted all of my paper work, is it too late for me to back out of  it? The recruiter confirmed she took my docs down to immigration for E2 visa processing already. Am I in too deep to quit now?

Read 19 Answers

When does your new hagwon job actually start?

Not until March 1. I had to give my current employer 60 days notice and I’m taking a month off to travel to Vietnam between jobs.  I told my current hagwon director the the reason I’m leaving. They agreed to give me a Letter of Release so I can transfer my E2 visa to the new school in Incheon. The one which I don’t think I want now.

So your paperwork has supposedly been with immigration for 7 business days?

Yes. I’m concerned that since Immigration already started processing it,  I can’t just quit and look for a new job again without a hassle.

So, you haven’t told the recruiter you don’t want the Incheon job now?

Not yet. I wanted some advice before I pull the trigger.

Why don’t you just tell the recruiter that you’ve had a change of heart about working at the Incheon hagwon. Explain, the reason why…Even though your paperwork has been submitted to immigration, you’re only doing an E2 visa transfer. It’s not like you’re applying for an E2 visa for the first time which requires additional processing. Immigration won’t care if the recruiter cancels it. They probably encounter this situation every day there…

Yeah, teacher submits E2 paperwork, teacher changes mind, recruiter cancels. Rinse and repeat! Nothing new for immigration.

I understand, but I’m worried the recruiter will be upset and wont’ give me back my documents. Also, haven’t they already been paid by the hagwon for recruiting me? That means they lose their commission. Whatever that amount is…

Yes, but tread cautiously. I’ve heard recruiters get $1,000 US or more for placing a teacher in Korea. That’s a big chunk of change to lose!

Recruiters have teachers bail on them every week, I’m sure. They should be thick skinned by now… and it’s just one of the costs of doing business. As for their commission, they don’t get paid until your paperwork is processed. Every contract between a hagwon and a recruiter has different nuances. Some schools won’t pay the recruiter a finder’s fee until the teacher gets an ARC card. Other schools won’t pay the until the teacher has actually taught 3 months at the school.  The recruiter hasn’t made a dime off you yet, trust me.  Moot point!

The recruiter can’t hold your paperwork at ransom. The problem is: Will they be motivated to go back to the immigration office and retrieve it and then mail it back to you? Just forget about your paperwork. Get new documents for whatever new job you take.

If you’re concerned about the recruiter getting nasty about it, just tell the recruiter that your hagwon won’t give you a letter of release so you can’t take the new job. Obviously, a lie…. but at least it doesn’t sound like you’re jamming out after the work the recruiter has done for you so far.

Curious… why are did you even consider leaving your hagwon in east Seoul and moving out to Incheon, in the first place?

It was a bigger apartment and 200,000 won more a month.

Makes sense, but then again Incheon isn’t Seoul, so I get why you changed your mind…

Just tell the recruiter you don’t want the job now. Whatever reason you tell him, that’s entirely up to you. Some teachers make up fibs because they don’t want upset the recruiter. Other teachers are worried about being sued or threatened by the recruiter. The problem in Korea, is that Koreans and foreigners have a hard time telling the truth with each other, because of the implications. Understandable because foreign teachers don’t trust recruiters and recruiters become jaded working with what often appears to be unreliable or unprofessional foreigners. It’s the nature of the business. I’d just be straight up with the recruiter and tell him, the reasons you don’t want the job. Who knows, maybe he’ll understand and find you a job in Seoul with equal housing and pay.

Agreed. You need to be honest with the recruiter. Don’t write off every recruiter thinking they’ll freak out just because you change your mind about a contract you’ve signed. You won’t be sued or anything silly like that….If however, your paperwork has been approved and stamped by immigration for the Incheon school, that could be an issue, but I doubt your paperwork has even been pulled out of the stack of E2 transfers Immigration has on their desk. It’s only been 7 days. Call your recruiter now!

I think you jumped into this contract based without really weighing out the pros and cons. Sure it pays a lot more and you get better housing, but you neglected to consider the travel time between Incheon and Seoul. As for the pollution factor, that’s something I wasn’t even aware of when comparing the two cities and I can’t understand your concern. My point is: Before you sign a new job offer, sleep on it for at least a few days before signing and sending your paperwork. You’ll probably get off without any issues this time with your recruiter, but then next recruiter or school may not be so forgiving.

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