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Working overseas as slave labour!

by Archives October 22, 2003

My name is Marie Clapp, I am 25, and I am a Canadian citizen living abroad in Ilsan, South Korea. I am a recent graduate from Carelton Univeristy, and when I could not find decent employment in Canada and I began to think about teaching english overseas. I accepted a position with a Dramatic Art Private English School in January of this year and agreed to a one year contract. Well, almost immediately my story begins and ends just as horrific. Im still within the struggle because Im still residing in South Korea however in hiding because I cannot continue to live in my apartment. As of yesterday I quit my job because my director, Mr. Jang Hoon Park demanded that I hand over my passport when I refused, he stated that he will then forgo paying me for my monthly salary of 2 million won as of October 24, 2003.
This is how it began, once I arrived in Korea everything I was told my recruiters was false, as for my living arrangments, I was supposed to be living with a studio apartment in a univerisity resident facility with other foreign teachers. I was then placed in a small apartment overtop of a bar. Which alarmed me immediatley for my safety. In late February I somehow acquired an infection in my tailbone, I could not hardly, walk, sleep, or sit. After one week, I realized the infection was incresing and informed by Director I needed to see a doctor. He took me to a doctor that could not speak english and I was informed that I would need an operation. I was not informed or consulted about anything. I was then brought into this tiny room, that looked unclean and asked to strip down and wear a paper sheet, then two korean nurses entered with a doctor, the nurses restrained me by my hands and feet and the doctor performed an incision on my backside without any freezing, I felt everything and could only scream and cry, it was the most painful experience of my life. Then I was brought to my apartment by my director and told to rest. He later called me in the afternoon and asking me to return to work. I could still hardly walk, and yet I had to work that entire week while trying to heal. Although in my contract it stipulates that I was entitled to 3 sick days I was never allowed to use them. I still suffer from incision becasue I have to wait to return to Canada becasue the wound never healed properly. ALso, the most recent incident is with my paycheck, and this is the my story.

Here goes….

I am currently living abroad in Ilsan South Korea.. working as an english teacher for SBSi Kids Drama School ( don’t forget that name).. I have been here 10 months…yesterday my school director Jang Hoon Park drops a huge bomb on me.. In my contract it stipulates that he is allowed to take out a total of 250,000 won per month for the first 3 months as a deposit. Well he never did. So now 10 months on.. and I leave in January of 2004 he decides to do this.. He comes over yesterday afternoon and says that he is withholding 1.5 million won of my 2 million won paycheck (CAN$ 2 million won=2400) and only leaving me for the month with 500,000 and our payperiod is in less than 4 days. I have no more cash… I sent most of it home to pay my student loans and my credit card bills. I got into an arguement with him telling him that this isn’t fair and that I have already worked for this month and that money is entitlted to me, he refused to pay me. Now today he demands that I hand over my passport, when I refuse he tells me now that he will not pay me at all. So basically I have worked for this month free of charge. This is outrageous.. I have worked for him dutifully for 10 months.. yes, we have in the past had personal problems.. but it never affected my work as a teacher and my children love me at my school. However, he feels he is entitled to decide what amount of pay I will recieve for the next 3 months. Finally last night he calls me on my cellphone in front of my friend Richard and tells me he has another alternative.. when I arrive at the school to meet him for another session of talks he provides me with this proposal- You get paid 500,000 won this month (pay day is less than 4 days away and Im flat broke) and I will recieve my full pay next month. He has never even provided me with an explanantion.. when I asked if the other foreign Canadian teacher (like myself) is getting such a reduced amount of pay he says NO, just me… why I ask??? well, because you are leaving in 3 months and I am protecting my business and school… but from what I ask him?? I have worked for you while every other teacher you have hired in the past has quit, or left for one reason or another and yet I am the only teacher that stayed on and perservered.. so why am I getting penalized.. then he tells me that because our past Canadian teacher who began in late March 2003. and left at the end of July 2003 stuck him with a huge cellphone bill and now he is penalizing me for that. I asked then why not invoke this in July when it occured.. or if you decided this, why wait until 4 days before im expecting my full 2 million won paycheck… I could have made other arrangments if I was told at the beginning of the month. So now, because I will not forgo my Canadian passport to him he is refusing entirely to pay me my October salary. Please let everyone you know who is thinking of becoming an english teacher in Korea.. to refraim from teaching at an SBSi Kids Drama School because many of them are owned by the same family and there have been several problems like this…. Im not the only one.. but I think I’ve been the most screwed…. I just want you to know.. and for you to stay away from monsters like this…

This is my school address: Nam Ilsan Campus, #1452-1 Hosu Plaza 3-4Floor Beak-suk Dong, Ilsan gu, Go-yang si, Gyunggi-Do South Korea. Tel: (031) 904-7280 1
Fax: (031) 924-0533

thanks for listening….

Marie. Violet Clapp
Welland Ontario, Canada.

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