I haven’t posted for a long, long time and have deleted (temporarily) most all the posts from the past year because things have turned way into Surreal Land.It started a week after I left Unnamed Hagwon, and I called Unnamed Hagwon Owner to ask when she would give me my severance pay and last paycheck. I also informed her that Immigration required us to come down there together to officially cancel my visa so I could work at my new school. She started screaming into the phone, saying she was upset that I told the other teachers that I was the first foreign teacher to stay there for one year and complete a contract.
“Well, it’s true, isn’t it?”
Of course, logic doesn’t work with people like her. Telling the truth about anything is a foreign concept to her. She told me to come by the school to get my money.
The next morning, Friday, June 23rd, Eun Jeong and I went to the school. The first order of business was to return the cell phone that Unnamed Hagwon Owner gave me – the one that daily gets text messages of pornographic spam. She took us into the conference room with Candy and H. and started ripping into us in Korean. I didn’t understand anything she was saying, and no one would translate. At one point, she got into Eun Jeong’s face screaming, and I got in between them.
“Hold on there! Your problem is with me, not her. Don’t you dare get in her face!”
This whole scene was boiling down to Unnamed Hagwon Owner trying to weasel out of paying me my full severance. She wanted to cut 200,000 won out of it. To add to the surreality, H. at turned a full 180 degrees in her attitude. She started defending Unnamed Hagwon Owner in saying that I was not a good example of a head teacher, quite the opposite of what she was saying up until my last day there. According to her, despite my saving the school and taking charge of the schedules, the hirings, the firings, the special events – I was a bad teacher because I started complaining about Unnamed Hagwon Owner after she trash talked about me to my new bosses. This was coming from a woman who constantly complained about how crazy Unnamed Hagwon Owner was and had decided to quit.
I found out later that earlier in the week, Unnamed Hagwon Owner had all the teachers out for dinner. There was some whispering between Unnamed Hagwon Owner and H. The next day, H. wasn’t quitting and was getting a few hundred thousand won raise.
You can come to your own conclusions on that one.
We left, and I went to work. Chris then came up to me and said he found out through Eun Jeong and his wife that Unnamed Hagwon Owner was going to sue me for defamation of character. So I guess she wasn’t going to pay me my money.
That night, I called Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s estranged sister – who has been considered a ‘ghost’ by her family because Unnamed Hagwon Owner hates her. I asked Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s Sister if she had a copy of my contract, since she was the one who hired me. (I kept my copy of the contract in my desk at work, stupidly, and it had disappeared during my last week at work.)
Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s Sister was appalled by what her sister was doing, but she didn’t have a copy of the contract. She barely even talked to her family, she said.
The next morning, Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s Sister called her mother briefly and said that Unnamed Hagwon Owner should pay me my money. A few minutes later, Eun Jeong got a call from Unnamed Hagwon Owner. She was screaming so shrilly that Eun Jeong said she wasn’t even making sense in her sentences. We then got a call from Chris, saying that Unnamed Hagwon Owner called them and said she was getting me arrested for threatening to kill her and her family.
We went into complete A-Team mode. I contacted as many former workers of the school as I could to make statements defending me. I got a recording of Unnamed Hagwon Owner’s Sister confirming that I never made any threats to her or her family. We started making a plan of action.
The next week was spent dealing with different government agencies. The headquarters of these agencies in Seoul were great. Yet the regional offices were lazy and confrontational. We found out through the tax office that Unnamed Hagwon Owner never paid taxes from the money she took from my paycheck. She also owed me overtime for teaching winter intensive courses on top of my normal course load in January. She owed me my last paycheck and severance. And we are finding recently, she likely didn’t pay many of the bills with the 900,000 won she took out of my paycheck between September and December.
The Tax Office started making inquiries. We figured this out because my school got a call one morning from Unnamed Hagwon Owner saying she was coming over with the police to arrest me. Fifteen minutes later, she called to say she had changed her mind.
The Labor Board scheduled us to have a hearing on July 11th. As we predicted, Unnamed Hagwon Owner called them at the last minute to reschedule – a delaying tactic. The rescheduled hearing is set for July 19th. We’re predicting that she will delay it again.
In the meantime, I am finding out stories from former teachers about how Unnamed Hagwon Owner harassed them and their families before they left. I also found out which ones were true friends and which ones were just, as Chris called them, wusses.
Lots of other things have happened in between, usually involving Unnamed Hagwon Owner screaming at people, lying to them, and raving incoherently.
Our lives haven’t been totally on hold. For one thing, we have discovered we live in a beautiful area. Two weeks ago, we decided to climb the trail up the mountain where we saw the temple. We found that there are four temples on that path up the mountain, including the famous Mang Hae-am temple, which is known for romantic sunsets and a miraculous stone Buddha (I still haven’t gotten a picture of it). Here are some pics.
The path up the mountain is not too hard either. We could get to the top in thirty minutes, and it’s beautiful all the way. As a result, I have been trying to climb the mountain and run all the way down every other day. Eun Jeong joined me on my little ‘jog’ last Saturday, and she loved it too.
Christina and Glen also had their second housewarming party (the one for their Korean friends), which we joined. It was a classic Southern shrimp boil – bring your own shellfish – on their rooftop patio. I had made a cocktail sauce to go with the shrimp, and it was a hit.
Eun Jeong loved their place, which is really great.
We also met some interesting people. Many of the folks there were doctors. Later in the evening, Judge Park and his family joined us. Judge Park is a nice man who is in line to possibly be a Korean Supreme Court Justice. He and his family are moving to North Carolina this month for ten months so he can get some government-paid extra training at Duke. He was sympathetic to my story, which, yes, he had to hear. He gave some advice and is trying to help too, despite his big move.
I’m still enjoying my oven. I’ve made muffins, biscuits, and macaroni and cheese. This weekend, I’m hoping to tackle making a focaccia.
UNIVERSITY LECTURE I’M LISTENING TO ON MY MP3 PLAYER: American Identity by Patrick N. Allitt
WHAT I AM READING: Eragon by Christopher Paolini
LATEST FOOD I’VE COOKED: Homemade Bran Muffins and Biscuits and Gravy
LATEST THING I’VE DONE TO MAKE EUN JEONG LAUGH: Do my dance to Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good”