Friday, July 13, 2007

Sometimes you really just have to sigh

Despite the best efforts of The Korea Herald to highlight the problem - and initiatives by the Korean government to stamp out discrimination in the workplace - it seems that some people just don`t get the message.

Gina Song of Bundang Kids Club is a case in point.

She was responsible for the following advertisement for teachers: "If you are young and white, you are alright with us." Really, about the only thing you can do is sigh, and laugh out loud at how ridiculous this situation really is.

The advertisement went on to say, "Average weight (or thin) people are preferred. Also please, no Australians/New Zealanders/Irish etc. Brits may be considered under special circumstances. Of course, no non-native English speakers or ethnic minorities."

The Kids Club hagwon, in a rare example of honesty, warned any potential applicants that the contract they sign with them is probably not worth the paper it is written on.

"One year contract required by law. Please note, however, that cultural differences exist with respect to contracts."

The hagwon then reproduced this alarming message: "English teachers in Korea occasionally have contract disputes with their employers. In the Korean context, a contract is simply a rough working agreement, subject to change depending on the circumstances. Most Koreans do not view deviations from a contract as a breach of contract, and few Koreans would consider taking an employer to court over a contract dispute - we don`t think you will take us to court either!"

Really? Well, Bundang Kids Club probably covered its bases with the following: "Salary negotiable. Paid vacation. Optional medical insurance. Year-end bonus - if you complete one year."

The "optional medical insurance" is required by law and is absolutely non-negotiable. When The Korea Herald called Ms. Song, she cheerfully agreed, but suggested, "Some teachers want to save money so they decide not to have the medical insurance."

It saves the school money, too, a detail she conveniently left out along with the fact that non-payment of medical insurance is illegal.

When it was pointed out to Ms. Song that she was breaking multiple Korean laws with her advertisement, she cut the conversation short with: "I am hanging up, I do not wish to speak with you, and you will not be considered for this job."

That is a great pity because the advertisement was so tempting. An e-mail to Ms. Song went unanswered.

By Chris Gelken



No comments: