Incognito Press

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How to do a Midnight Run without Getting Caught

Posted by E on August 6, 2007

packed-bags

I want to preface this entry by saying that I’m genuinely sorry that your situation has brought you to my blog.

First of all, I will assume that you gave this job a fair shot and you have done a fair amount of soul-searching before you came to this conclusion and googled “midnight run”.
But here we are. You clearly want to get the hell out of Korea and your hogwon – your apartment is lousy and all your fellow expat teachers are unsociable drunks; you don’t have hot water and the old ajuma next door shits in a bucket; your class is made up of screaming imbeciles and you would rather throw yourself off the Lotte World bridge than endure another game of Bingo. Your director is a penny-pinching, whip-weiling sadistic fuhrer-type who wants to work you until you drop dead, while your teacher-partner only knows how to apply ten coats of make up a day and say “Hello, how are you?”.

elisa with students

Me at my second school in Seoul – I loved this job but hated the first one. Proof that you CAN make it in Korea if you stick it out!

Little children run after you on the road and scream non-stop “Teacher, how are you?” and “Meegook dweggi” (pig-foreigner). You’ve burned your esophagus on soju during your first welcome dinner night and frankly, you think soju is seriously overrated. The smell of kimchi in the morning makes you vomit uncontrollably in the alleyway by the whore-parlors while walking on your way to your air-condition-less school.
You hate the stares, the double shifts and the huge gobs of spit littering the sidewalk.
You want to get the fuck out of here. But how the hell to do it??

Ok, let me first say that before you take this radical step, you should try to get yourself a “release letter” from your hogwon. Yes, some people CAN get out of their hogwon hell and do it legally. It happened to me.

I ran into difficulties in my first month in Ichon. The supposedly-20 hours only job was turning into 30, and I was supposed to accompany kids on school trips for which I would not ever get paid. Never mind that I wasn’t supposed to teach infants but middle-schoolers and adults. However, I did eventually manage to get myself out of the contract. But it wasn’t pretty.

I got angry. I cried. I came across like a total freak who had no maternal instincts whatsoever. I hated children, I told them in a straight face, and never realized that until now.
They asked me if I would stay even if I were to teach older kids. But by then I knew I didn’t want to stay in this shady academy, and I had found a reputable school in Seoul who really wanted me (plus they gave me my own apartment and more money, so I was determined not to let my first month in Korea be ruined by one shitty hogwan).

I told them I couldn’t stand kids at all. But I really, really loved Korea and I would do anything to stay. I just couldn’t help that I had no maternal bone in me.
We got into a shouting match. I shouted back. I basically told them that I wouldn’t stay there, no matter what, and since I had my air ticket back already, I could leave anytime. But if they gave me my Release papers I would work the month for free, and the other school would give them a finder’s fee.

Finally, they agreed. So it turns out that for my first month I worked for free, but I spent the next twelve months working for a fantastic director at a different Seoul ESL academy. And I am really, really glad I stayed. Not because I grew to love Korea that much more (like all places and experiences outside your comfort zone, it has its ups and downs), but because it was an experience that pushed me to the limits. Looking back now, more than a decade after I left, there is much more that I miss about my life in Seoul than I ever thought possible (and no, not just the kimchi bokumbop!)

my classAnd so, in the end, I am really, REALLY glad I stuck it out. Korea is the kind of place that tests your character – and you discover what kind of person you are made of.

Being honest CAN work – as long as you are not intimidated by the reality of a confrontation. But OK, say you KNOW that your director isn’t a rational human being, and bribing him with working a month for free (to reimburse him for the airfare) won’t work.
What are your options?

a) stay, grin and bear it for an unterminable year
b) get on the first bus/train/donkey cart to the biggest city and just walk around; it won’t be long until you see an ESL academy where you can walk in the door and ask if they will hire you on the spot. Half the time they will, or will refer you to a school who will. Alternatively, try to find recruiters who can introduce you to schools for a small fee, and remember, there are always schools who will take an illegal teacher – but be prepared to be paid a little less. But they will take care of you and your lodgings.
c) Just hang out in Seoul or Pusan and live off private lessons – only if you have enough cash to rent a room for a month, until you make arrangements
d) Do the infamous Midnight Run! After all, that’s why you’re here!

So without further ado, here are Elisa’s 10 Steps to a Succesful Midnight Run:

1. Cut your losses. Be certain of your decision, since embarking on it means there is no going back. You will not be able to reenter Korea for at least a year, at least until your E2 visa expires.

2. Do not tell ANYONE. Other than your grandma or best buddy who will be meeting you at the airport back home, TRUST NO ONE. Even people who confide in roomates have been burned! That nice Australian chap who you go drinking with after class and shares in all your moaning and bitching about your school, accomodations, brats, etc. may indeed turn around and stab you in the back for extra kudos and a better schedule.
And by the way, if you DO decide to tell your folks back home that you are coming back early, I strongly encourage you to email them, or call them when you are SURE that your roomate(s) are out or not within earshot. I’m serious.

3. Ship some of your belongings home before you take off. Some of you who live alone may think – “Why bother? I don’t have a roomate so nobody will see my packed suitcases waiting by the door until my flight next week!

You’re dead wrong.
Hogwon directors and their minions have been known to make unexpected visits to teachers’ apartments whenever it strikes their fancy. Seeing all your stuff packed up will definitely ensure that you don’t get that nice month-end paycheck you’ve been waiting for before you fly this coop. So don’t be stupid.
Hide your suitcase if you can, and if you can’t, pack at the last minute or ship some of your stuff home early. Hey, it’s just a lot of souvenirs and cheap knock-offs for the folks, right?

Elisa with SouthKorea class4. Realize that someday, you may actually regret not having stuck it out, and that Korea wasn’t actually that bad. Then go to the bank and withdraw all the money you have – you may need to make several visits. Do NOT tell the bank that you are cancelling your account! Remember that your school initially set up your account, so they could be notified of the closure! Just tell them that you need the money and then pretend you don’t understand the question. It’s not their business to question what you’re doing with it! If possible, make sure you leave about a hundred bucks in there so the account doesn’t close entirely. You can always try taking it from an ATM back home – it worked for me.

5. Give yourself plenty of time before you are expected back at work. In other words, don’t do it on a weekday! The more time you have, the less likely anybody will notice you’re missing until it’s too late and you are sipping on a cocktail on your flight back home. This is especially important if you live in a small town and have to wait at a bus or train station before connecting to Seoul. You never know if someone there might know you or your school director!
Be prepared to have a story ready! Your grandma died, you’re visiting home for a week (this would only work if you’re running on a major holiday like Chusok), or just taking a weekend trip to Seoul/Bangkok/wherever.

6. Make up a family emergency if you have to – but be prepared to act convincingly or you will forfeit that paycheck or worse! Make sure you know exactly when you need to leave – you can get your ticket online and pick it up at the airport. I don’t recommend having it mailed to you. Too risky that someone might see it.

7. I am assuming you weren’t a total moron and you let your director keep your passport “for safe-keeping”, in which case you’re shit out of luck unless you can convince them of a great emergency, or just that you want to visit Beijing on a 4-day trip (It’s a nice city, I recommend it).

8. If you need to buy yourself some time, play sick. Really sick. Make sure you get the day off, and that nobody sees you (including the other teachers and doorman downstairs) leaving. This is really, really risky and you might get caught, especially if that doorman decides to call your hogwon wondering what you are doing with all those suitcases. That’s why it’s important to have shipped most of your stuff back home and just carry a backpack and/or duffel bag – you’d look like you’re just going out of town for the weekend.

9.  As you’re leaving through customs, tell them you are going back home to visit. Under no circumstances you are to tell anyone that you are doing a run. If they really want your ID card back, give it to them. Breathe, don’t choke on your adrenaline, and just get through those doors!

10. TRUST NO ONE. Yes, I’ve said that before, but it’s important enough to reiterate it again!

Ok kids, please write back and tell me how it all went! And remember, although you’ll feel like Jason Bourne in a spy movie, it’s not really all that bad! If you keep your plans to yourself and keep a cool head on your shoulders, nothing will go wrong. Good luck, bon voyage, and see you when you get home!

Best part of living in Korea - getting to travel through Asia for cheap!

Best part of living in Korea – getting to travel cheaply throughout Asia! 

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99 Responses to “How to do a Midnight Run without Getting Caught”

  1. Gabi said

    Hi,
    Im freaking out. Thank you for writing this. I just need to know…why do I have to lie to the people at the airport? Will they hold me or something? What on earth should I say? I dont have a re-entry permit and the ticket is one way…Dont I need to give them the alien registration? Gulp. I am stressed. I need to channel some Bourne, but I am a wimp…Thanks for your time.

  2. Elisa said

    Hi Gabi…sorry to hear you’re freaking out! When you’re safely back on familiar shores, I hope you’ll drop me a line at my private email address and tell me your story…if you don’t want to post it here. Just curious to know what drove you to the breaking point, and if you made it back alive…just kidding!
    You’ll be fine 🙂
    Ok, your question is a valid one. That is actually the only point I’ve mused over for a while, not really 100% sure of what to recommend. So this is just my opinion, ok? I HONESTLY don’t think the airport folks will make a big fuss – when they ask for your registration card back, give it to them. They’ll just take it and let you go. There is, however, a slight possibility that they may look at the date on it, realize that you still have a long time left on the visa (by the way, how many more months do you have left on it??) and ask you if you are coming back.
    One can either lie and say yes, I’m coming back, or tell the truth – no, not in the near future.

    Since you DON’T have a re-entry stamp AND your ticket is one-way, I suppose that lying won’t help matters – you’ll just have to say no, and if they ask why you’re leaving so early (hopefully they won’t ask anything!), tell them it’s a family emergency back home, or that you were fired, etc.

    They won’t bother to do anything to you, they can’t detain you as a foreign national for just quitting a job. Keep telling yourself that. Also, when my contract expired and I left, they took my card at the airport and I don;t remember them bothering to inspect it for a date, so technically I could have been doing a run and they wouldn’t have known it. But your visa expiry date is also on your passport, so somebody might notice you still have 6 months, or whatever, left on it, in which case be prepared to give them an excuse as to why you’re leaving so early.
    You could always smile and tell them how much you loved Korea….
    So don’t worry – and remember to write me when you get back!

  3. Maria246 said

    I got raped in Korea and I want to leave.

    If I tell my hogwon that’s why I’m leaving is that a considered a legitimate excuse? Or should I just do a midnight run?

  4. Elisa said

    Maria, I’m sorry to hear that happened to you. To answer your question, it all depends on how you want to proceed. If you report a rape, your hogwan will insist that you go to the police. They will send someone to accompany you, or may call the police themselves. If you don’t want that, make it absolutely clear to them. If you are ABSOLUTELY SURE that you don’t want to report this, and you don’t want to deal with everyone at the school finding out, then you should do what your instinct tells you to do.

    Imo, it IS a legitimate excuse and I think that most directors would understand that you need some time off, but also be prepared that they may ask you to work (especially if you are physically okay) until they find a substitute. They may also tell you that you can only have a week, or a month off. I don’t think they will say “okay, just go back to your country”. But that’s just my honest opinion.
    Please realize that you may later on wish that you had told someone there BEFORE doing a midnight run. It may become important to you over time that you know how the situation was handled in Korea, by Koreans.

    What you could also do is tell them everything, wait for their reaction, and if they are being jerks about it, leave anyway. If they say – take five days off work, or something like that, then accept it anyway, but just leave. They won’t know you’re gone until several days after.
    good luck with everything…please let me know when you make it home ok!

  5. Maria246 said

    Time off, don’t make me laugh.

    I told my boss. She got very angry with me. Blamed me. Didn’t want to go to the police at all.

    I guess I’m doing a runner sometime.

    Next paycheck maybe.

    Do they stamp passports for just regular tourists who enter Korea? I have two passports (American and Canadian) and only one has my E2 Visa, can I slip out on the other passport or will they notice a lack of tourist stamp and freak out?

  6. Elisa said

    Yeah, they’ll probably freak out. Every time I’ve ever visited a country my passport was stamped (other than Cuba), and when I exit they check for that entry visa. You should leave on the same passport you came in. They won’t care – they can’t detain you anyway, they have no reason. You could have been fired, for all they know.
    If you need to go, just go. Nobody can stop you if you decide to go. Your boss can try to intimidate you or be a total bitch, but she has no power over you. She can fire you, kick you out of the apartment you’re in, or not give you a plane ticket back. What’s the worst she can do, anyway? You’re already planning to buy your own ticket, so she can’t hold that over your head.
    The only thing she can do is not pay you. So leave after your get your paycheck, and don’t worry about it!
    Tons of people leave. I read somewhere that the average teacher stays in Korea about 3 months. I don’t know if the statistic is true, but if it is, I never realized how many people really leave.
    There’s no reason for you to stay if you don’t want to. You are nobody’s slave.

  7. Dawn said

    I’m also partaking on the midnight run, I arrived in a hogwon two months ago to find out it had changed names and under its previous name and address I found terrible stories about it on the net. I contacted five previous emoployees who recommended I leave now. He has witheld 2 weeks pay already so he has basically got my flight money that I would owe and he is five days late on my second pay check and just keeps saying tomorrow. He also has me working overtime without pay. I was told this wouldnt happen until four months in and then it gets really bad. The thing is I like Korea and really would just love to work in another school and I have been told this is an option,and I don’t need a letter of release. I would have to go to japan and get a new visa sponsored by the other school who want me and know the situation. I’m not sure what may happen I keep being told to go for it but Im a bit anxious about the matter. For me it would be a midnight run to Japan and into a new school. Any advise on the matter is welcomed!!!

  8. Elisa said

    Hey Dawn,
    it seems everyone agrees that you should leave. Honestly, get out of there. You’re going to continue getting used and eventually they’ll likely come up with a reason to dock you pay anyway. Get out of there!
    You’re in a similar situation to the one I was in – where I didn’t want to go home just yet, and was fortunate enough to make enough connections so I could come across a good school who wanted me. Do as they tell you – just go to Japan and come back. To tell you the truth, this happens all the time, or so it used to. I knew of lots of people who would take a mini-weekend trip to Japan every 3 months and re-enter as a tourist just so they would continue working under the proverbial table.
    There is no reason for you to worry – although of course I understand your anxiety, I would be going crazy in your situation. But remember, there have been TONS of people in your position who have done this, and it was a piece of cake. I personally knew a number of them. Apparently they actually enjoyed the mini-foray to Japan.

    My advice – make sure that it is the other school who pays for your flight ticket to Japan. Tell them that you don’t have any money for a flight. If they want you, they will pay – all schools tend to pay for that flight, it’s cheap. Remember, they would be paying a headhunter a finder’s fee for you anyway – and it would be more than the cost of that ticket! And if they are about to fork over some cash, realize that they wouldn’t do it unless it was perfectly okay for you to do this. After all, who wants to lose out on money, especially hogwan directors?
    The way you can look at it is this: 1. You can’t stay at the current school anyway; 2. You would have to go back home anyway; 3. In the worst case scenario, you would have to leave and come back in a year; and 4. What have you got to lose?
    So to sum up – by all means, get the heck out of there. I’m sure there will be lots of schools who would love to have you, and now that you are lucky to have found one, go run off!
    And please drop me a line to tell everyone how you went – and how things are going in your new job!

  9. Ark said

    Hey there.
    I’m debating whether to make the run or not… I’d say in the giant scale of things, I’m about midway on the hagwon scale: my director is nice, I get paid on time, bills aren’t bad… major problems include that, although indeed I teach about 30 hours a week like my contract says, those hours are spread from 9:30 in the morning to about 8 o’clock at night. If I’m ever not doing something during one of my breaks, fear not, they find work for me to do. I’ve started going out for lunch just so I can see the sun.
    Besides that, my teaching style (which is more appropriate for adults anyway) isn’t what my school wants — although, like all Koreans, they aren’t entirely sure what they want either. If my students do poorly in class, I get lectured for my course being too difficult… except that it’s typically because the kids like to play Starcraft with their pencils rather than pay attention to the white guy rambling at them about irregular verbs. (The kids who did listen do quite well.) If students do well, I’m accused of making my class too easy. My apartment, which was guaranteed to be a 15 minute walk away from school would indeed be one — if I was walking on top of a Korean taxi with a driver who cared even less about longevity than your average one; otherwise it’s an hour jog.
    I spent more than two years in college studying specifically to be an ESL teacher (writing major, but decided ESL was what I wanted to go into midway through my junior year), and caught between being a babysitter and pingpong ball as the head teacher and director constantly and consistently give me conflicting directions, orders, and then, lectures, I just wonder how much further until I break. (Good story is the one about a half hour lecture for not making uniform check marks on the report cards… then another lecture for not finishing the work that had been given to me right before the check mark lecture.) They deeply offended me by forcing me to remove my goatee, and tossed me some wonderfully racist reasons why; I’m as pale as a ghost — and atheist to boot, which I shared with them in an attempt to keep my beard. When that innocuous little bomb dropped, all the Koreans at the school suddenly treated me like I was somehow dirty. It’s been “suggested” that I convert to Christianity in a way that really seemed like an order. Can’t have the kids’ parents thinking their kids are being taught by the Devil, right?

    Ultimately, I think I will decide on returning to the US — getting my Masters degree, and attempting to convince myself that Korean children are actually a figment of my imagination: a kimchi chupacabra, if you will.

    My main concern is getting my plane ticket home: I’m not a well-traveled individual, unfortunately. Where do I go to get a plane ticket? How do I pay for it? Almost everything I own is in Won, and my card is only an ATM card… no debit. Naturally, I want to be careful about who I ask in person because I imagine if my school finds out about it, they would use it to exact divine justice upon my heathen self.

    Thank you very much for all the advice!

  10. Elisa said

    It sounds like your school is average based on what I’ve seen and heard from people 🙂 … you know, judgemental staff who preach and lecture at you as if you’re a total moron, long hours, horrible little brats. lol Actually, it kinda reminds me of a milder version of the first school I was at, which I got out of after a month (they didn’t pay for overtime and extra work, which was a red flag). God, I hated those split shifts…thank god (figuratively speaking, of course, lol) that my new school didn’t have more than maybe a spare period to kill). Simply because I didn’t have those split periods helped when I went to do privates after school.

    Oh no, you told them you weren’t a Christian, huh? Oops, I guess there should be some sort of Korea advice column about not doing that. They must think you are a total immoral dolt, lol. It’s absolutely crazy how rampant Christianity has spread through there. They’re not Jehovas’ Witnesses, by any chance. My last director and half the employees were. Is it a Yoon academy?

    Ok, so to quickly get onto your question – a lot depends on which town you’re in. Are you in Seoul? Hopefully you are in a large city, or can get to one on a weekend. I remember going to buy tickets to China at a travel agency in Itaewon – the army base neighbourhood in Seoul. There are loads of travel agencies there, and they all speak good English. You can also find travel agencies by looking in the Herald newspaper at all those ads for package tours to Beijing or Thailand. Or any other local English newspaper.
    An agent there won’t give a rat’s ass about your motive to buy a ticket – just go through them, have them make the arrangements, and go back to pick up your ticket. If you can, try to get a ticket that has the option to change dates (for $100 or whatever). It gives you greater flexibility. You could have the travel agent call you on your cell phone, or email you when it’s ready. Pay them in cash.
    Have you been taking out your cash? You should start stockpiling it somewhere. You can also wire it home, lots of people do that and your school won’t be suspicious AT ALL. Trust me.

    Several people I knew were wiring money home every month, to pay off their student loans, and the school actually sent one of the Korean staff down to the bank to help for the first transfer. Tell them you have to send money for student loans and credit card bills.
    So first, start sending money back home into your account. You’ll feel better. Also, have a thousand $$ in won hidden in cash through your apartment for the plane ticket – hopefully it won’t cost that much, but things have changed since I was there.

    Hey, here’s an idea. You can even express interest in visiting Tokyo or Bangkok or something, and asking one of the Koreans you know about where would be a good travel agency for getting cheap flights. So anyway, if you live in or close to Seoul, you won’t have a problem. Whereabouts are you located?
    I guess in worst case scenario, you could use something like Expedia for buying an online ticket. But the prices will be a lot higher, and you can’t change the dates at all, it’s entirely nonrefundable. Plus, you have to have a credit card. Being in your situation, I would recommend you go through an agent unless you are absolutely desperate and stuck in the middle of nowhere.

  11. Ark said

    Thanks for the advice.
    I’m currently in one of the satellite cities of Seoul, so it’s pretty easy to get there and get around. I’ll definitely look into the travel agents in Itaewon.

    And no, my Korean coworkers are Catholic. Angry about it too, it seems. And yes, they think I am a man without morals. Every Monday I get 20 questions about what was I doing that weekend, where did I go, who did I hang out with, did I drink too much, blah blah blah. They are still convinced that I’m lying to them about the fact that I don’t drink alcohol, and suggested that I must just do hard drugs instead. Guess to have morals in this country, you have to see the logic of hooking up live current to a cross.

    It’s really too bad, I know I could like this country if I could just see it in a positive light. I mean, I lived in Japan for a year and that was the best time of my life. Just, the constant, oppressive feeling of mistrust, distrust, and deception by people who think they are better than me has really ruined it. For the people who can grin and bear it, I truly respect them.

  12. Sarah said

    Hi Elisa,
    Ive been considering doing a midnight run now for a few months, but I wanted to give Korea a fair shot and see how Spring went. Despite the nice weather, things at school have not changed, and I am getting ready to run soon. Another teacher chose to run a couple of weeks ago, and I believe that the school is concerned that other employees will run too. Is there any way in which the school can prevent someone from leaving? I’m sure the school has copies of my passport/alien card – can they inform immigration not to let me leave the country, and stop me once they check my passport/alien card at the airport?

  13. Elisa said

    Hi Sarah, and sorry for the delay in replying…
    In a nutshell, NO they cannot prevent you from leaving the country. You are not an indentured slave there. If they had your passport it would be a different story, you would have to go to the consulate and explain that they had it and refused to give it back to you, which I think is illegal in itself. But the good news is, they don’t have it.
    All schools have copies of our passports/ID cards on record – they have to anyway, to prove that you’re legal and cover their ass if they get visited by the authorities. So don’t worry about it, they can’t do a thing to you. There’s really nothing they can do.
    The biggest issue for you is to make sure you get out of the country before they figure out that you left. So what if they call immigration or anywhere else? You’ve left already! They couldn’t stop you or do anything at that point.
    Leave suddenly and give them no indication – don’t tell anyone at all. Just book your ticket and get out.

    In terms of can they tell Immigration ahead of time to hold you in the country and not let you go – they would be laughed at. Immigration is not in the business of holding citizens of a foreign government hostage in the country if they want to leave. That would be a major international scandal. No, they can’t call anybody. And they know they can’t. Don’t be intimidated by them.

    Just tell yourself that this is just like back home – you can quit a job you don’t like and just go away. Nobody can make calls to force you to stay against your will. That is illegal. It’s called kidnapping. You can appeal to the consulate in Seoul. So don’t feel entrapped. Just go. And just make sure nobody knows until it’s too late to try to threaten you or make trouble.

    Drop me a line when you’re back home, and have a safe journey 🙂

  14. Mista "C" said

    Hey Elisa,

    I did a runner in 2006 and had no problems. I lived with two other guys and one night bought my ticket at a PC-Bang, packed my bags in the wee hours of the morning and caught a taxi to the nearest airport. No problems at customs and never heard another word from the Hogwon director. Right thing for me, but the wrong way to do it. Which is to say that I completely regret leaving the way I did. I left for, don’t laugh, “love”. I was immature and made a rash decision that still haunts me. The job wasn’t great, the local ESL community was inebriated, my roomies were a pain, but the culture was amazing, the food was fantastic and all in all I feel I missed out on a great opportunity by up and leaving.
    Today, almost two years later, I’m trying to get back to Korea and give the ESL gig another go. I realize that it’s teachers like me that give all of us a bad name and that I may never be able to come back based on the potential for being “black-listed” and given the new Visa requirements, but I’d like to at least try, so my question to you is – what do you think the chances of coming back are? Can a midnight runner return?
    Feel free to judge, bash or question, just remember that we all make mistakes…

    All the best and thank you in advance,

    Mista “C”

  15. Elisa said

    Hi there Mista C,

    I’m not up on the latest visa requirements unfortunately, other than of course having a university degree. But honestly, unless there is something in the new requirements that I don’t know about, I don’t see why you cannot return.
    Of course it’s not something you should share with your new employers, much less before you are in Korea.

    So I just took the liberty of checking out some of these new requirements online – whew, what a nightmare it’s going to be for some of those hogwan owners to find new staff! There are too many hoops they are expecting potential employees to jump through – and there is somewhat of an attitude of treating future teachers as though they are criminals already. The blood tests, drug tests, HIV tests, etc, are excessive and betray the typical Korean superiority complex and xenophobia so many of us have experienced while we were there.
    But enough on that.

    Basically, there is no way your new employer is going to know that you taught in Korea unless there is another E2 stamp in your passport. You have 2 choices – either make up something along the lines of there was an emergency back home and you had to leave (which won’t prevent them from asking where you taught before, and wanting to get in contact with those people!), or just get a new passport – a much simpler alternative.
    You can always just “lose” your passport and apply for a new, clean one.
    Only immigration will have a record of you having had a previous E2 visa. I am not aware of any teacher “blacklist”, and I’m not even sure how feasable it would be for immigration to keep it, so I wouldn’t worry about it and cross that bridge as it comes up.
    If you want to tell your new employers that you have already been to Korea, you can say you visited a friend who was a teacher there – this way you also got the idea to work here. So this would enable you to talk about how much you would love to be in Korea again without having to disclose your full circumstances.
    So – to answer your question directly – yes, of course a midnight runner can return. But he/she cannot tell their employers that they have done the run, or they won’t be hired in the first place. They will see you as a liability and fear having to replace you, and nothing, absolutely nothing will make them secure and confident that you won’t take off. Nothing. Telling them that you have matured, made a mistake, etc, won’t change how they see you. So it’s best you don’t say anything at all. Just apply and see what happens.
    I predict that you have a good shot of getting rehired, what with the severe shortage of teachers they will be having – so many of those loser, alcoholic, drug-addicted people who typically would teach in Korea won’t bother jumping through these new nine circles of hell to teach there anymore. It creates a new demand, and you could just find an opportunity there.

  16. Robert said

    I need to run because of an illness in the family which my school will not give me sufficient time off for. I guess I can somewhat see the hogwans point of view because they simply don’t have the manpower to cover my classes. Nevertheless, family comes first, so I will probably run. I wanted to know if you have known of anyone to be yellowflagged or been prevented from returning to Korea in the event of run. I really like it here, so I hope this won’t stop me from coming back. I know I cant return until my visa expires, but otherwise will I be ok with the government to come back? Thanks for any advice you can give.

  17. Elisa said

    Hi Robert,

    sorry to hear that they won’t give you enough time. It’s typical of the Korean mentality that work is more important than personal life, and that the employee would rather sing BINGO with their students than be with his family at a time of need.

    Honestly, don’t try to see their point too much. They obviously aren’t willing to see your point of view, even if it comes at risk of them having to replace you altogether. What’s worse? Giving you an extra couple of weeks off, or having to compete with other hogwans at securing a qualified employee during a time when it’s getting increasingly harder to find teachers?
    I don’t know what they are thinking.

    Ok, so although I’m not all up to date on E2 rules and regulations, I don’t see any problem with you returning after your visa runs out. Unfortunately, you can’t use your previous position as reference, which sucks if you’re looking for employement at a well-known school. But you won’t have any problems with getting a job offer.

    The government doesn’t give a rat’s ass about people coming back on a legal work visa. What they’re more worried about is people overstaying their visas, or working illegally. If you have a job offer, are qualified to work there (i.e. have a degree, etc) they don’t have any reason to keep you out. They will need a lot of teachers in they years to come, since Korean job regulations now appear to be so insane (requiring blood tests and police checks) that they’re more trouble than it’s worth for some people.
    You should be okay. Do what’s best for you – not for the hogwan, who typically only cares about their finances. After all, if they cared enough for their employees, they would understand that you need the time off, and could extend your visa by a month at the end of your 12 months to compensate for it.

  18. Elisa said

    PS – I haven’t heard of any “yellow flag” or “blacklists” of people who ran. If anybody reading this knows otherwise, please update me on this so I can share it with everyone.

  19. Violet said

    Hi Elisa,

    Thanks for answering questions like this 🙂

    For several reasons, I’m going to be doing a runner in a few weeks, and I’m mainly worried about being questioned by immigration…have you ever heard back from the people who wrote to you about this, after they arrived back home?

    I have an E2 visa that’ll be about 7 months through, a one-way ticket and a single-entry visa. Dodgy.
    Do you think I should get a multiple-entry at the airport, or just stop being paranoid? ‘Caus I’m a really crap liar; I’ve heard so many different things, like “Oh, they’re gonna fine you 200,000 for leaving early”, or, “Maybe they put you in their little room for questioning”, Jesus.

    Thanks in advance,
    V.

  20. Elisa said

    Hi Violet, and sorry for the late reply.
    Unfortunately I haven’t heard anything from the people who wrote in the last few months. I’ve asked everyone to write and let us all know about how their run went, but I assume that as soon as they are back on familiar soill, they promptly forgot about the benefits of providing an account of their experience to others.

    I hope that you will write and tell everyone how it went. I wish there was more I could do to help, but honestly, I don’t have an easy answer for you. The last time I was in Korea was in 2001. It was easy as pie to make a run then; I didn’t hear of anyone being detained – other than the unlucky few who got caught doing their private lessons and ended up deported.

    In terms of you getting a W200,000 fine, I can’t imagine that EVER happening. I mean, it doesn’t sound reasonable – you are a citizen of another country and just going home. Nobody can force you to stay in Korea against your will, or FINE you for trying to go home. That’s ridiculous. Besides, what if you had been fired? What if your contract ended early, or you had a family emergency? No, I can’t see being fined – sounds more like something your school would say to scare teachers.

    Again, if you rationalize through these scenarios, you will realize that there is nothing anyone can do. You haven’t broken any laws. A job contract is just that – a contract. Between employer and employee. Quitting or getting fired are not against the law. Therefore, leaving Korea is not against the law, and nobody can detain you because you haven’t broken Korean law.
    Trust me, if they forced every foreigner who left early to fork over a big fine, it would be a major scandal. We would hear about it a lot more than just a hush-hush rumour.
    Also, why would immigration get involved? They see thousands of foreigners every day, some carrying E2 visas – if they made it their mandate to question everybody, there would be a looooong line at Inchon airport. If you get asked, tell them it’s a family emergency. But nobody will ask you anything – just be prepared to fork over your Korean ID card.

    Yes, a multiple-entry visa would help alleviate your concerns and erase suspicions. You could easily arrange for that in advance if you made up a scenario, like “I want to visit Beijing, Tokyo or Chang Mai on my holidays.” Then the school would send someone to go with you and arrange for a multiple-entry visa. It’s easy, I did it, but involves taking most of the day off to wait around at the visa office. I suppose you could do it at the airport, but why would you bother? If you’re there already, just leave 🙂
    I will try to look into this for you, and if I hear anything different I will let everyone know. Good luck!

  21. Austin said

    This it a bit off topic… it refers to one small part of the above blog: being called Meegook DweJi by Korean kids. Has Weigook tried calling them Hangook DweJi back? I have thought about doing this… but not wanting to come as an A**hole westerner I have refrained.

  22. Elisa said

    lol…that would have been an excellent idea…too bad I was held back by the same restraining thought that you have. I encourage everyone to do it to their a**hole kids on the last day of your contract! By then they’ll probably be on their best behaviour though – they’ll be sad you’re leaving and won’t have anyone to call dweji for a while….at least until the next unsuspecting optimist walks into that class!

  23. Miss K said

    I am having some issues with my employer, I work at a hogwon. I work full time and as per my contract, I opted for the national insurance plan. However, recently I have been experiencing some pain from my wisdom teeth, so I asked my director where I should go for treatment since I have yet to receive my insurance card. First, he told me that he would give me the name of his friend that is dentist that I should go to him. The next day he told me that I could pick one myself that is in the area and I did. I found one across the street from my school and my coworker made the appointment for the extraction for the following day. I even got x-rays, however the dentist explained to me that because of the location of the root of my tooth and nerve that he would not be able to do it (because if he where to make a mistake it would cause some major damage), so he told my co worker and I that I should go to a hospital. When my director came into the office that day, I asked my coworker to explain the situation to my director and she did. Then he told me that my insurance does not cover what I need, it only covers treatment. I do not know what to do now because I do not know where the money I have been paying has been going to and I still need my wisdom teeth taken out. Well I went ahead and got one taken out (using my co-workers insurance card) and paid for it myself and I need to see a dentist again to remove the other teeth and I also need to see a doctor about another issue. When I told him about the other issue he stated that I should use my co-worker’s insurance card again I of course refused and I asked him for the phone number to the insurance company he said he would get that to for me. Then the next day he did not show up to the office nor did he call me. I need to see a doctor, and have told him this again on Friday, I was in a lot of pain an I asked if I could go home and he said I had to ask my Korean co-workers if they could work my last two classes (because I am the only native teacher at my school and he said that he could not ask them for me) and so I asked them and they said no (after talking with him), so I had to work in pain. I am not sure what to do. There are a few things that I was promised in my contract and have not gotten for example a pay receipt on payday, he just deposits the money into my account, also I was told by my recruiter that I would get my diploma back and he hasn’t, when I ask my director about it, he refused. What are my options? Please advise, I would really like to stay in Korea. Thank you.

  24. Elisa said

    It’s pretty obvious that your hogwan director most likely didn’t pay for your insurance and pocketed the money instead. 99% of healthy young people don’t encounter issues with their health/teeth, so he gambled on nothing happening. Either this, or got the lowest-cost insurance, which excludes nearly everything. Obviously, he was wrong.
    How terrible to go through that, and in Korea of all places! I remember when I had to get my wisdom teeth out in Canada, and it was still a nightmare.
    The indicators that your director is not above board on this are:
    1. He first asked you to wait until his friend the dentist could look at you
    2. He keeps insisting that you use your coworker’s insurance card. I don’t know about Korea, but here in Canada this would be illegal
    3. He has other behaviours that indicate shady business practices, like not giving you a pay stub (so he can skip out on employee taxes, most likely) and refusing to give you your diploma back.

    What are your options? Ugh, that’s a tough one, considering you want to stay in Korea. I think you need to let your health and your body dictate what happens next. I’m not an advocate of doing the midnight run in all unpleasant circumstances; after all, I stuck it out the entire year. But when it comes to health and safety, you have to listen to your body and do what is right for you, not for the hogwan or anybody else.

    There are health issues involved in not extracting teeth when they need to come out, and when there is pain. You could have serious infections, or have your face swell up like a balloon – the latter happened to me when I postponed my wisdom tooth extraction. In the end, it had to be done under general anasthesia in a hospital, the year after I came back from Korea. I don’t know what I would have done if it had happened overseas!!

    Just to give you an idea of why I think your director never paid your health insurance: when I was in Seoul, I chipped a back tooth on some hard pretzel or something like that. As soon as I told my director, he sent the assistant director with me (to translate only, NOT to use his card!) to the dentist down the block, where they chiseled the tooth, no questions asked. Later that year, I got new prescription glasses and contact lenses for free. In fact, my director actually asked me one day if I wanted to get new glasses, since my insurance covered it and he was paying it anyway. Of course I said Yes!!

    So that’s some food for thought. Listen, if you have to leave Korea and leave your diploma behind, so what? You can get a replacement printed from your college/university for a nominal fee like $25. So don’t let the diploma be an issue, although you should demand it back.
    I am concerned about you, in that maybe you have no idea of how much dental pain you could be in. It can get really, really bad. If your face swells up and you are in severe pain, you won’t be able to teach. I’m not saying this to scare you, but honestly, it can be a serious thing. And who wants to have emergency dental surgery under general anasthesia in Korea, much less if it turns out you don’t have health insurance?

    I’m sorry, but it sounds like a bad situation and you may need to leave sooner than you thought. I wish you all the best.

  25. Missy said

    I have worked at a hogwan for the past year and my contract finishes at the end of June. I told my boss in April that i wanted to leave in may if possible but agreed to stay until june. The foreign teacher he is hiring cannot come until the end of July, so my boss wants me to stay an extra month. I really want to go home but my boss keeps saying how i should do the right thing and stay at the school until the replacement teacher comes. Im scared that if i tell him i dont want to stay, he wont pay my last month pay or bonus. Is there really an obligated transition period, ie is the foreign teacher obliged to stay longer because the replacement teacher hasnt arrived? or is it reasonable to just leave?

    Thanks for the advice,
    Missy.

  26. Elisa said

    Hey Missy,
    that’s an easy one 🙂
    Tell him that you WILL stay, but you want to get your last month’s pay AND bonus, in JUNE, as initially agreed. Tell him you need it to pay off a student loan, etc, and you had committed to pay it in June.
    If he gives it to you, everything’s good. You can choose to stay and make the extra cash, or leave. It doesn’t matter – the money is in your pocket.
    If he says no, tell him that you are really upset and won’t stay the extra month unless he can pay you everything by the agreed date, in JUNE.
    Make sure to tell him very nicely that it’s very difficult for you, that your parents are expecting you, that your sister is getting married, whatever – just tell him that you are going to make this BIG SACRIFICE out of the goodness of your heart, just to help him out – but you need your last month’s pay AND bonus by JUNE.

    Look, he is in a worst position than you. He HAS to have a foreign teacher there, and can’t get anybody for at least a month. So he will agree with your terms – he has no choice but to agree.
    DO NOT tell him right away that you don’t want to stay – that’s your only bargaining chip, so use it wisely. Get your money first.

    Otherwise, as a last resort (and ONLY as a last resort), tell him the truth: you are leaving at end of June no matter what. Legally he can’t keep you after your contract is over. In fact, by Korean law you only have a short amount of time you can stay until you have to exit the country. You should look into that. He might have to prolong your visa or you will be working illegally. Either way, if you ration with him and make up a story about WHY you have to go back home, he cannot force you to stay.

    Does that make sense?

  27. Barry said

    Hey,

    I’ve decided I have no choice but to leave; I just can’t live in these conditions any long. I’ve booked a flight from 5:00pm on a week day, but my school starts at 1:00pm. Not the best scenario I know- but do you think this will cause problems? They’ll definitely know I’m gone before I’m officially in flight, but I figure I’ll probably be crossing customs around that time, and for all they know I could have left in the morning- so I think I’ll probably be alright- what do you think about this??? Also, I’m going to have a bunch of cash with me- and I’m wondering if trying to take Korean Won out of the country (like 6-8 million) will be a problem? I know I don’t have to declare anything under 10,000 US, but will they make a big huff if I’m trying to take the local currency out? I can’t send anymore back home cuz it would put me over 10,000 US and they’d stamp my passport. I’m just thinking with the won so weak right now, maybe I’ll sit on it until it comes back up, as is expected. Thanks for your time.

  28. Elisa said

    Hey Barry – first of all, will you let us all know when you are back home safe? I get so many emails from people in Korea, but once they leave, no one writes a note to say how it went! So please send another message with your personal account!

    Ok, the easy one first – you won’t have ANY problems with the currency issue. When I left I had something like 6 grand in won and it wasn’t an issue. As long as it’s under the $10K, nobody will bat an eye and you don’t have to declare it. Everyday, there are rich tourists traveling through different countries with several thousand dollars in local currency and honestly, it doesn’t matter. Also what doesn’t matter is what currency it’s in – it’s the actual figure that counts, rather than whether it’s in dollars or won.
    However, you might find that you get a better exchange rate in Korea than back home. Look into this – maybe you can exchange $1000 or so into dollars while you are still in Korea, and then wait on the rest. Up to you, but in any case, don’t worry about it.
    The other matter – leaving later that same day. There’s nothing they can do about it – I don’t think your director will be racing to the airport to stop you; you’re right, he will probably think you’ve left already. But is there no way you can get the day off? Like, call in that morning and say you’ve been vomiting all night and feel totally like shit – you’re so dizzy you can’t even walk to school. Realize that they won’t freak out until at the earliest 1:30pm – because you could always just be late for class, right? Try to take a sick day, or at least the first class or two off. That sets the clock even later, and by the time they knock on your door, you’re checked in at the airport.

    The other thing is, try to get checked in right away, even if it’s a few hours early. Like, get through immigration, etc by 1 pm or so. That’s what I’d do. Once you’ve passed the check-in point, gone through security, checked your bags, etc, you’re in the clear. Nobody will pull you off the plane (especially for quitting your job, lol). So just hang out in the departures lounge for 4 hours.
    Hope that helps!

  29. Missy said

    Hi Elisa, thanks for the advice.
    My employer still refuses to pay my bonus unless i stay the extra month. Someone suggested that when my contract finishes to not go to school and teach again unless he has paid the salary and bonus. Do you think this is a good idea? or would it just make the situation worse? I also read that by law, the severence payment does not have to be paid until up to two weeks after the contract has finished so how can this be tackled? and also, now i understand why but although i have already worked 12 months as a teacher, and I dont want to sound naive but the contract i signed was for 11 months (when i approached my boss about it in the 10th month, he said it was a contract mistake) so i dont know what the best thing is to do. Your advice is really appreciated.
    Thanks again,
    Missy.

  30. Elisa said

    Your contract says 11 months? Oh God, that’s not good.
    All of this boils down to whether you trust your director, and I mean, really, really trust him. If you just open your intuition and tune into the first gut instinct you have, does it seem like he really will pay? And that “typo” on the contract seem genuine to you?
    I’ll tell you what it sounds like to me. He put 11 months because legally he doesn’t have to pay you that bonus. He’s been stringing you along with that bonus promise, but – and here’s my honest opinion – it’s not likely that he will pay you. He’s had all year to modify the 11 months into 12 months on the contract, so basically what has happened is this:
    1. He is legally covered against paying you the bonus because legally, under Korean law you are only entitled to get it if you have worked for a full 12 months. I bet he’s been doing this to all of his other foreign employees and getting away with it. Ask yourself this – How could you prove in court that you worked there for 12 months? Is there any paperwork? Not likely.
    2. He is stringing you along and you are essentially working illegally right now, and will be until the 13th month
    3. When he finally gets another teacher in, he will have no further use for you, so what makes you think he will pay you what he owes you then, if he won’t pay up now?

    If you ask him on Monday and he STILL refuses to change the contract to 12 months – you have your answer: he will not pay you the bonus. He is lying.
    I’m sorry to say, but it looks like you’re not getting the bonus either way. I think your instinct is nagging at you and telling you the same thing.
    So get your last salary and get out of there. Your visa will be up anyway, and you don’t want to get fined for staying in Korea beyond the time allotted.

  31. Missy said

    I did a Japan visa run, but my boss didnt organise my trip to japan until i had already been working at the school for about 2 and a half months, (im not proud i didnt have the proper visa initially but thats what happened and that is why my visa expires in August). Anyhow, i realise too, why my boss probably made the 11 month contract but i didnt when i signed it. My boss seems really unaware of my contract and i believe that he would pay the bonus but only if i stayed an extra month. He is making the bonus into a bribery tool.
    A friend suggested to go to school as normal, and just let him know how much he owes, including the bonus (which i have done) and when my contract finishes, and pay date has been (which is on wednesday), if he has not paid the correct amount, I should refuse to go to school and teach. I dont know if this is a good idea.
    what do you think?
    Thanks again,
    Missy.

  32. Missy said

    sorry for so many questions and thanks for the previous advice.

  33. Elisa said

    Missy, sorry for the late reply, I’ve had my mind on other things lately (getting a scholarship into a course I want to attend, and yes, I finally got it).
    I don’t mind your questions, and you are welcome to ask anything you want! It’s just that I don’t really know how to advise you. Personally, I wouldn’t do what your friend suggests until you have all your money in your hand – and by that, I mean to take it out of the bank too. You don’t know how the director might react if you stop working, and you should definitely make sure you have your bags packed and are ready to leave if he throws a major tantrum. Don’t do it if you’re only bluffing. Do it if you feel you have nothing to lose – and are ready to leave anyway.
    Is he paying for your plane ticket back home? If he isn’t, you’re free to take off as soon as you get your salary.

  34. Justanotherwaygook said

    So here is the deal, for reasons likely experienced by many ESL teachers, I got put into a shit hogwan. I actually think that by Korean standards, this would rate between a 5/10 to a 6/10. We get paid on time.

    Other than that, things are utter bollocks. It’s a pretty simple equation to me, my job is terrible, I’m in a shitty small xenophobic Korean city, and I am not enjoying my time here very much. Furthermore, I don’t see how I’m proving anything by wasting any more of my life here, when I’ve seen what it has done to my co-workers, and how they have been shafted at the end of their contracts. It is also a bad sign, when there are forums on some ESL sites specifically about this chain of schools. I’ll write much more eloquently and at length about this at some other point, but for now it is relatively immaterial.

    My concern is this. I have been here for a little over three months, and they covered my airfare to Canada. I’d gladly pay them back, no matter how much I detest them, but I know that if I indicated to them that I was leaving, then the shit would really hit the fan and I would be left holding a big bag of it that was undeserved. I have also decided, that for my own conscience, I will pay back the flight within six months of landing at home.

    I am more concerned about what will happen at immigration when I show up there to leave. I can’t afford to buy two plane tickets if I miss my flight, and I don’t know if they know that I am on the hook to the school for my flight money.

    I figured, that Sunday would be a good day to leave, as I have time to get to the airport from my city, and hopefully immigration will be understaffed and lazy this day.

    I was just wondering, if anyone had gone through the under six months on your contract run, and what their experience was. There was actually a death in the family two days ago (my grandfather, which makes things shittier).

    So, if you know of things to have on you, paperwork, what to say, or any of the like, then please let me know.

    As well, I promise to email you my post-run experience.

    Anonymous for obvious reasons

  35. Elisa said

    Is there no way you could simply lie to the school and tell them you need to go back to your grandfather’s funeral and you’ll be back in a week? Don’t you think they’d let you go? hmmm….

    FYI, the day of the week is irrelevant in terms of airport staff – they are NEVER understaffed and lazy, much less on a weekend when there is a lot of traffic (like people coming and going before the beginning of the week). So that factor doesn’t matter – that is, don’t count on them being understaffed/lazy.

    So are you basically saying that you will buy your ticket at the airport? You may or may not get a seat, since summers are very, very busy, but then again, it’s probably better that you try to buy it at the airport and see what’s the cheapest way you can go. Or do you already have an open-ended ticket from the hogwan??? If you do, that would be great!

    You’re not going to miss your flight. IF they bother to ask why you’re going back, tell them there’s a family emergency. (They might or might not ask why you don’t have a multiple-entry visa).

    The one thing you CAN count on is that immigration at the airport won’t give a shit as to who paid for your ticket. Honestly. They don’t give a shit. Why should it matter to them, anyway? Think about it, this is nothing to them. So don’t worry about that at all.
    Remember, they can’t stop you from leaving. Foreign teachers are fired all the time, and people go back everyday. It’s routine to see teachers departing at the airport. What are they gonna do, stop you from getting on the plane because you quit your job or was fired? I don’t think so.
    Unless there’s an arrest warrant out on you, NOBODY can keep you from leaving the country (and NO, as much as the hogwan would love to, they can’t call the cops on you for quitting – the only thing they could do is try to sue you for breach of contract – which is a civil suit matter, not a CRIMINAL matter- and they would only bother to try suing you if you were still in Korea.)

    Try to relax, and if I were you, unless your ticket is already booked in advance (which you should try to arrange if you have it), I’d go to the airport on Saturday, even if later in the evening – in case you have to wait around until there is room on a flight. Have you ever seen The Amazing Race? Sometimes there are no flights until the next day. Pretend you’re on that show, breathe, and write back when you’re safe back home.

  36. Justanotherwaygook said

    Elisa;
    I have pre-booked the flight, to avoid this scenario. Now all I have to do, is show up at the airport three hours early, walk through customs and I should be ok. I’ll do my best to relax, but given the stress of the job, and the situation, it isn’t easy.

    I am pretty sure that there are no arrest warrants out for me, unless the school pre-emptively issued one. That wouldn’t surprise me however if they did, since the bosses son is a cop.

    I am going to pay back my air-fare here, based on the nine days of unpaid work I will have done and will leave the difference in the form of a check. I don’t think that this will make a difference in terms of being blacklisted, and I am not worried about it, it’s more for the sake of my own conscience so that I feel like I did the ‘right’ thing.

    There is nothing in my contract that indicates that I have to provide a set amount of notice, and I’ll have paid my flight money back, so I doubt that they can pursue anything with me.

    I am unsure if I have a multiple re-entry visa. My stamp indicates ‘good for multiple re-entries’ but my Visa has ‘S’ for ‘Single’ printed on it. Doesn’t really matter at this point, but the multiple would be nice.

    I’ll keep you posted on how things play out.

    -NJH

  37. Justanotherwaygook said

    Five harrowing days to go. Will I make it? Stay tuned…..

    I PROMISE a full write-up, first chance I get, because I wish that there had been more reliable information for me. Your blog pops up on Google searches, so hopefully, this will help others in my case.

    The countdown begins…..

  38. Elisa said

    Good luck to you!!
    I’m sure you will be all right, but I don’t blame you for being extra nervous right now…I don’t think I’d be able to sleep much at all. But honestly, I think everything’s going to turn out fine. The most important thing is you have your ticket, your flight is on schedule, your passport is in hand – there’s no reason for you to have any difficulties at all in returning to your own country.

    Yes, PLEASE do a write-up and I will actually post it as an entry in this blog – with your name on it if you are brave enough 🙂 …. it will help others immensely.

    Take good care and stay brave! Remember, you’re Jason Bourne or Bond or whatever your greatest spy idol is…lol

  39. Not a waygook anymore! said

    Sitting in the departures area, cleared immigration with no issues….the full story is coming soon. Thanks for the post and advice, it was helpful.

    -NJH

  40. Elisa said

    Wonderful news!! Sorry for the late reply, I’m taking a week-long course and it’s been impossible to get internet. I hope your flight went well and can’t wait to hear your story! I will post it on this blog as soon as you send it to me.
    Btw, which part of my advice did you find helpful? I’m glad I was able to help in any way. Welcome home 🙂

  41. Violet said

    Hey there,

    I just wanted to send an update on doing ‘my runner’, and what happened with immigration:
    It’ll be a really short post, because it was fine.
    There were no problems with leaving at all – the immigration guy was really friendly [! I know, very weird] and that was that.
    I gave him my E2 card, he said: “Have you finished?”, I said “Yeah, all done” and anyoungegaseo bro!
    I’m now back in NZ and happy to have left my red-neck gyeonggi neighbourhood way behind.
    C’est fini.

  42. Elisa said

    Good for you, Violet. Thanks so much for writing back and I’m so happy for you and that you made it home ok – I bet you’re kicking yourself for having stressed out so much!
    So, without further ado, welcome home and enjoy the politeness, the comfort and the good plumbing! 🙂

  43. Justanotherwaygook said

    Eliza;
    All things considered, I made it out without any major problems or difficulties. I have not really been near a computer, but as soon as I am, I will write.
    I followed the advice that you wrote, and as of July 2008, it was spot on perfect. I had a multiple re-entry visa, so I kept my alien card and said that ‘I may be returning’. Passport was stamped and I was on my way.

    -NJH

  44. Alwaysawaygook said

    I wonder just how many people do midnight runs every year? It would have to number in the thousands. I pulled one myself to escape a bad situation. I had no problems whatsoever with immigration when leaving. The sad part about the whole situation is it’s the students who suffer the most, unless of course they are little shit bastards from hell. I taught only adults and they were great.

    Has anyone ever heard of English corners? Basically, a bunch of English learners get together with several native speakers to practice English. They were very common when I taught in China. They are non existent in Korea. I couldn’t find any and nobody knew what they were. I think basically what it is is that if there is going to be any purveyance of the English language, the greedy school owners want a cut. They have lobbied to have our visas set up that way. For example, in theory, we could get fired for volunteering at an orphanage. The whole issue of being tied to your employer is draconian. Korea bemoans the fact they can’t find enough native speakers to come and teach. I guess they don’t realize how when one teacher gets screwed over how many people that teacher will tell their story to.

  45. B said

    Hey Elisa,

    I’ve taken the weekend to make my decision about doing the run and I think I’m gonna go for it. My hogwan is typically sneaky, not as bad as some, not as good as others. And in my four months here I have also been followed and approached three times by foreign workers who apparently think I’m a Russian prosititute. The last time scared me enough to make me consider calling it quits. I heard someone following me in the dark on my way to the subway so I walked faster, he walked faster. So I walked in the street and he followed me. I turned around to face him and he ran away. I don’t want to tell my boss about this and that I want to resign because I think she’d freak out and withold pay for me leaving. The only thing that worries me is, once I am back in Canada, is there any way for her to track me down and sue me for the plane ticket over here, and for breaking contract?

    Thanks,

    B

  46. Elisa said

    ah, the Russian prostitute thing…lol, but every foreign woman including myself have gotten that at least once, so don’t take it personally!
    Ok, let me put your fears to rest: I can pretty much promise you and reassure you that NO, there is absolutely no way your old boss can sue you once you are here. The cost to hunt you down, pay for lawyers, translators, etc – so high that it is impractical and borders on impossible. Plus I assume she doesn’t have your old home address, right? Even if she did, and bothered to write you, just put “Moved – return to sender” on the envelope and drop it into a mailbox.
    Remember, you didn’t break the law, and it’s not illegal to quit, so it’s only a civil matter. Let me put it this way – I knew tons of people with student loans back in Canada ($40,000+)and they just left the country and worked in Korea, and nobody from Canada could locate them or try to sue them. The reverse applies.
    Honestly, don’t worry about it. There is absolutely NOTHING she can do. This is the LEAST of your worries right now – just get home safe and have a good trip!

  47. B said

    Thanks Elisa.

  48. Brad said

    I want to leave have not even gotten my card yet or done the hospital tests or anytrhing been here for 3 days. WIll i be good to go since it so early and do not have a card to give customs?

  49. Elisa said

    Brad, I honestly don’t know what advice to give you, so I’ll bow out of that now. How did you end up in Korea, and are you absolutely sure you want to leave so soon??? Maybe you could give it a shot, but then again, if you’re absolutely sure, there’s no sense sticking around and getting involved in a job only to leave it after a couple of weeks.

    Call your country’s consulate (you can get their info on the net, just do a google search for US or Canadian consulate in Seoul) and ask them your question. They’ll give you the right advice.

  50. Brad said

    Thanks for the replay i am going to stick it out to give it a fair chance. Even though my dad bought a plan ticket today for me to skip out of here. He said he will get most of the money back for it. Felt guilty.

  51. Robert said

    Hey Elisa,

    my school isnt terrible and my apartment is actually nice, but ten hour days with bratty little kids and a pain in the ass boss have got me contemplating a run. right now the plan is to leave after cashing my paycheck at the four month mark. my contract says that if i leave within six months i have to reimburse my airfare to korea and recruiting fees. A friend recommended me in the first place and working together we were able to cut out the recruiter, so I saved them a grand right there. but with the wan declining in value and student loans mounting i simply cant afford to buy a plane ticket home and pay them back for my airfare over. i am leaving without notice anyway so maybe it doesnt matter, but will the fact that i owe them airfare hinder my exit from korea.

    FYI: I have a multiple entry visa, and if questioned my excuse will be that im going home for a few days to attend a wedding, but of course it will be a one way ticket and i wont have release papers. do you forsee any problems at immigration? any further suggestions?

    Thank You,
    Robert

  52. Elisa said

    Robert,
    you do NOT need release papers to leave the country; they’re useful only if you wanted to stay and get another job. At the airport, nobody will give a damn if you have release papers or not, or if you have a return ticket. They will not bother to ask you – and even if they did, you could always say that you have a travel agent back home who can get you a cheap return ticket to Korea. Anyway, they won’t care.

    If you look at all the other people who asked me these questions in the past, you will see that the couple of them who took the time to leave a reply after they got home, wrote that they had no problems at all. Nobody hassled them about why they left the hogwan, if they owed money, etc. And you – just play dumb. They won’t even ask why you’re leaving – can you imagine the time it would take to ask everybody at an airport why they are leaving? It should be self-explanatory – you’re going back home. For a wedding or for whatever. It’s not their business to question you; you’re not Korean. You’re a foreign citizen returning to their own country.

    All this is waaaay outside the scope of the job descriptions for airport employees. You are not doing something illegal – you are just going back to your own home country. How can they give you a hard time? Don’t worry about it. If you have a multiple-entry visa, you can choose whether to tell them that you’re coming back in a month, or not at all. Your choice. Either way, the only thing they will do is take away your residency ID card if you tell them you’re not coming back. But it honestly doesn’t matter. They don’t give a damn.

    Just make sure to get all your money out of your bank account (leave around $50 so they don’t close the account and alert the school – you can always take it out later from a bank machine back home), and make sure you have your ticket changed for the day you want to leave.

    Do you actually have a return ticket or do you have to buy one? If you need to buy one, you could still stick it out another month and make extra cash, unless the won really depreciates. But if you want to leave right away, just go – and don’t worry, everything will be fine. Nobody has ever been detained at immigration for quitting a job (or getting fired) and going home – you’d be in more trouble if you stayed in Korea illegally after your visa expired, rather than go back home a few months early 🙂

  53. Robert said

    Elisa,

    I appreciate the prompt reply. I have read all the other posts about situations similiar to mine i guess i just needed some positive feedback on my own plans, which you provided, so thank you. The four month mark is actually still over a month away, and iam staying that long in order to make enough money for the trip and some extra so that i will land on my feet once i get back home. I have not yet bought my ticket and plan on doing it on expedia using my american credit card in the interest of complete discretion. it seems everyone says this but i will drop you a line when my escape is over, though that will be a couple of months from now.

    thanks again
    robert

  54. Justanotherwaygook said

    Hey Guys;
    It’s been two months since my run. The run itself was not particularly spectacular, and I’m not even sure that I did all that good of a job keeping everyone in the dark. It’s tough to hide that you are up to something, when your bike stops showing up to work, and you stop making long term plans with friends in the country.
    I think the biggest problem, is the lack of choice that teachers in South Korea are faced with. I also believe, that many ‘midnight run’ scenarios would evaporate if a different system was in place. When you are given a stark choice between gutting out a terrible work scenario for a year against doing a runner, it isn’t hard to understand why so many of them happen. The only other options are really kind of pointless (like going to the labor board), since that will in all likelyhood only prolong an already miserable situation. Korea is a great country, and it would have been a really productive and interesting year, if I had simply had the ability to find a better teaching position (say for example like at the school next door that treated their employees well). The language and cultural barriers certainly don’t seem to do much to improve matters either. So let’s be honest about what the ‘Midnight Run’ really is, quitting a lousy job and being forced to immediately leave the country due to its clumsy and arcane legislation.

    As of mid-July 2008, I was able to leave the country without any problems. I took this approach, and it worked flawlessly. I waited until payday, and then planned for the weekend following that day for my departure. Over the next three weeks, I dispersed with any possessions that I could monetize, but not take back (in my case, selling my scooter). Over the last three days, rather than pulling all my money out at once, and since I felt it would have been too risky to do my first (and only) wire transfer out, I cleaned out my account with ATM’s, waiting until Friday afternoon, about an hour before my bank closed for the weekend to do the final clearout. I don’t think that walking around with 3million won for a whole weekend is smart, but it seemed like the best alternative, and it wasn’t completely stupid to have some coin on you, in case you had to bribe someone at some point (remember, that the legality of what I did was questionable). I split the money up into three parts, and hid them in my guitar and carry on’s.

    Because I was in a smaller city than Busan and Seoul, I packed everything on the Friday night, then caught the first bus in the morning (at 5am), so that the guy who ran the convenience store across the street (and was also my buildings super or ajuma) wouldn’t see me and my luggage. A white guy with a large backpack, a guitar case, a daypack and a sidebag sticks out in a crowd in South Korea. As I was in Ulsan, I hopped the bus to Busan, and despite running into half the foreigners in my City on the bus (they were headed to the Mud Festival, great timing I guess), and giving myself a little extra paranoia for the day, I made it out of my city relatively unnoticed.
    I got a love motel, locked up my luggage and killed time sightseeing in Busan. My ticket was scheduled for Sunday Morning, so I set every alarm clock I had, cleaned myself up and put on a tie, and took a cab to the airport three hours before departure. I picked up my ticket, checked my luggage, and was through customs in all of 15 minutes. It was a bit surreal.
    The only detail of note, was that my school screwed me on 90 bucks when they told me it was for my ‘alien card and immigration’ (when in reality, after I got my passport back from the school – they told me that they needed it for immigration purposes, but then seemed awfully reluctant to give it back – it was re-stamped with a multiple entry visa). However, since I had a multiple re-entry, I felt it would be more prudent to say that I would be returning, and that there was a family situation that I had to attend to in Canada. This seemed to be the most plausible explanation for leaving the country, on the visa and passport I was on, and with only a one-way ticket.
    It seemed to work, and I even got a cool souvenir in my Alien Card. The gentleman I dealt with at Immigration was relatively friendly, and that was it, I was through.

    Hope this helps folks out there. This blog posting was a great thing, and until South Korea fixes an obviously broken system, I think you’ll find more and more visitors heading this way.

    -Nathan

  55. Elisa said

    Hi Nathan,

    I’m so glad that you took the time to post your experience here – it is by far the most detailed personal account I’ve received and I’m certain it will come in handy to all those unfortunate souls still stuck in jobs they hate, who are too scared to take the plunge and just take off.

    I’m also tremendously glad that you found my blog helpful, and I will post your comment in a new blog entry sometime this week. I know that your experience must have been so stressful, but you followed the plan down to the minuscule, nitty-gritty details, like leaving on a Sunday to give yourself time to get to Seoul, and everything you did was just perfect. You must be so relieved….though I bet you have some grey hairs to show for it, huh? Good for you to keep the alien card, it’s such a cool souvenir.

    Isn’t it strange how it seems like this nerve-wracking, dangerous thing, and then when you get through the 15-minute customs convoy where nobody cares whether you’re coming or going, all that drama turns into this surreal moment where you think “Holy shit, was it really that easy? All that stress for nothing?”

    In retrospect, and now that you’ve had some time to breathe and unwind, would you do everything the same way? Would you still leave? Did you actually leave a cheque for the school? I probably wouldn’t have, just for all the grief, but I thought I’d ask. Have you heard back from any other teachers there, as to what was the fallout after you left? I’d be curious to find out how they reacted, freaked out, etc.

    take care, welcome back, and thanks for remembering to fill us in on all the details,
    Elisa

  56. igotkoreaed said

    Hi Elisa!

    Your website is extremely helpful, and i succesfully (and rightfully!) ran this past weekend. With some careful reasearch and planning, nobody even noticed I was gone until I was on American soil. I loved Korea, i was sad it came to this.

    Not completely unexpected, I have received an email from the director insisting I pay her several thousand won within 2 weeks or she will sue for damages. A girl who left in June also got the same email too this week.

    Can she really do anything from there about this? Does anyone know anything about international law suits?

    Thanks for your help! 🙂

    confused

  57. Elisa said

    Hey there,
    congrats on the succesful run. And NO, she can’t do anything to you. If the emails stress you out, tell her you are blocking her email and do just that. End of story. My advice to you would be to do just that – cut her out of your email and your life and do not communicate with her, so she cannot have anything in writing to indicate that you received her notification, or that you’ve done something wrong. Do not negociate with her.

    There are so many reasons why she cannot sue you, but just to briefly cover the main couple of reasons:
    1. The cost of hiring an international lawyer to sue overseas would be prohibitive
    2. She doesn’t have your address in the US, does she? She couldn’t even serve you the lawsuit papers if she tried. Ask any American bailiff if they can do anything unless a person actually receives court documents. You cannot be sued unless you receive (and sign for) official summons / notification papers of a lawsuit.
    3. Even in the case that she would obtain a judgement against you, what can she do? Garnish your wages? You live in a different country and it would be absolutely useless unless you returned to work/live in Korea.

    If she DOES have your address, just drop all envelopes (unopened!) back in a mailbox after crossing out your name and writing MOVED all over it. Do NOT sign for any letters from Korea that require signature on delivery.

    Last thought – the girl who left in June still hasn’t received any formal postal mail from this woman, has she? These are all empty threats. If she was going to sue, she would’ve already tried it with that other girl. Anyway, if she consults a lawyer over there, she will undoubtedly be told to drop the issue. And it’s not like she’s going to spend even more cash to hire people to track you guys down. No, she has to spend that money to hire new teachers. Besides, there is a status of limitations with this sort of thing, so the longer she waits, the less you have to worry about this.

    It’s not a crime to quit a job. It’s not your problem if she paid recruiters a head fee for you – you are not her slave. So relax – the worst part is over. She has no legal basis to threaten you with. Enjoy your freedom! 🙂

  58. igotkoreaed said

    Thanks for your help!

    Do you know of any websites or resources where I can read more about international legal situations? I wanted to see if I could find a case like this to compare with. Thanks! 🙂

  59. Elisa said

    I don’t have anything particular in mind – you could always ask on Dave’s eslcafe. Just do a google search and ask around on forums like eslcafe. I’ve yet to hear of anyone being sued, but if it would ease your mind, just keep searching. I’ve only heard of teachers being sued within Korea, and teachers suing hogwans. Good luck with your search.

  60. James said

    I am conttemplating a run and have a couple of concerns. I am thinking of leaving because i am in a bad situation and need to leave. However, my employer would be quite screwed if I leave and I believe do everything in their power to withhold money and/or sue. I have been here through one contract and started another one without leaving the country.

    Because of my situation I cannot give my employer any notice that I am leaving, other than an email the day of departure.

    I have one years worth of pension money waiting for me to collect when I leave he country. I am wondering if the pension office will let my employer know that I am leaving when I go in and file to collect? Same with cleaning out the bank account..

    Even if my employer found out I was leaving before I left, but after I had collected my last pay, what could they do???

    I am flying to another country for a short vacation before I go home and wonder if the immigration authorities might give me any hassle? I can’t really say that I am going home for the death of a loved one because of the my destination before I go home.

    Most importantly, my contract mentions that I am responsible for costs of finding a new teacher, which could mean any amount. If they have my home address could they sue for some obscene amount? I ask because it is likely my employer could lose a lot of business if I leave, resulting in the loss of a lot of won.

    I know I should probably contact a legal adviser but I just thought I would see if you could offer any advice..

    Thanks a lot.

  61. Elisa said

    Hi James,

    your situation is complicated by a number of things that I am completely unfamiliar with, i.e. the pension, and the trip before you leave. For that reason, I am extremely hesitant as to any advice I can give you, since I honestly do not have a clue what to suggest.
    The only thing I can think of is to ask why you cannot take your short vacation first, come back to work, and then do the run shortly thereafter? Are you planning to do a vacation, return to Korea, and fly home from Korea? If so, you might be flagged, so I really don’t know what to tell you.
    As to the lawsuit, I think it’s not likely but I cannot tell you for certain what to do. You really should ask someone who might know more about this, like a legal adviser. Especially since you are planning to collect on a pension, etc. I’d hate to advise you on something that might cause you problems down the road. Good luck and hope it all works out for you!

  62. Kathryn said

    Hello,

    I’m going to pull a Midnight Run in about 10 days. (Man it feels good to say that.)

    My reasons are pretty similar to everyone else, i.e. the director breaks the contract like it’s glass at a Jewish wedding, I’m being treated worse than my colleagues because I’m the youngest and only girl, they keep adding to our workload and refusing to pay us for it…ect.

    Also there is the part where I’m gay, and although I had the foresight NOT to come out at work, the homophobic attitudes are strong and apparent, and being closeted is exhausting. I’m thinking enough is enough.

    Anyway, thank you so much for having this here. It’s really helped. My question is more for the masses: what did you do when you got back to the states? Did you put teaching on your resume, or is it best to just leave it off? (I’ve been here about 2 1/2 months). What was life like after the run?

    Thanks for your time, and I’ll definitely post my experience once I get back.

    Kathryn

  63. Elisa said

    Hi Kathryn,
    if you’re in the Seoul area, did you ever check out Seoul Sisters? It’s a pretty big group for expat lesbians, made up mostly of Koreans, Korean adoptees, foreign teachers and GI women – it helped a lot to hang out with them when I was there – and it’s where I met my Korean ex-gf. I think they’re still around…Anyway, if you are stuck in a small town, I really feel for you.

    Regarding your question, I know that it looks very cool to have a foreign place listed on your resume, but of course you couldn’t list it as a reference. You may want to put it there as a volunteer teaching experience – in which case it’s still on your CV, but nobody will feel like contacting your ex-employer.

    The other thing to remember is, nobody ever calls Korea to check a potential employee’s resume -what with long-distance costs and the time difference and all. My ex-employer just asked me to write my own glowing reference letter, and then he signed it. Nobody verified my Korean work references. So you can choose to forge yourself a recommendation letter, or just list the experience as a volunteer one (where they paid for your flight and accomodations in exchange for you teaching there.)

    I look forward to hearing more about your experience – have a safe flight back 🙂 … ps, you can email me privately if you want to chat more about the being gay in Korea thing – subversivewriter AT yahoo.com

  64. Kathryn said

    I wasn’t thinking of putting my school as a reference, though that conversation would be hilarious to listen to… But seriously I was considering putting it down under experience, just because if I leave out the minor detail of breaking international law, it does look pretty good. I might look to other places for future Rec letters, however…

    Anyway thanks for the reply. I am near Seoul, but not in it. I’ve heard of Seoul Sisters, but they seem to have disbanded or something. I guess it doesn’t matter now. Heh.

    Thanks, and I may take you up on that. 🙂

  65. Tiff said

    Thanks for putting up this post and all of the replies you’ve made, it was a good read. However, I didn’t see anything about runner who are working for a public school. As amazing public schools are suppose to be, they aren’t.. sure you get paid on time but it doesn’t make life any better. I’m stuck in a pretty hostile position at my school and I could feel own personal emotional well-being slowly drift away, if I don’t leave. Problem is I want to leave ASAP, but I haven’t fulfilled six months yet and don’t have the money to pay them back the airfare.

    What should I do? I have it pretty dead set that I need to leave Korea, but what are the legal ramifications of running from a public school? I want to one day return to Korea and work, but not to teach or at least not at a public school again.

    Any help/advice would be so greatly appreciated.

  66. Alwaysawaygook said

    Tiff,

    Your description of your school as “hostile” definitely resonates with me. In my case it wasn’t the faculty who were hostile but rather the students, especially the ajusshis (I taught adults). Do yourself a favor and just leave. I am telling you, there are much better places to live and work. China ain’t no walk in the park either, but it’s a thousand times better than Korea.

  67. Elisa said

    Tiff,
    Korean schools are run by Korean managers, and populated by the same kids who terrorize teachers in the afternoon hogwans….of course you could encounter a situation where you feel the atmosphere is hostile. I hear you.
    Just two nights ago I had a nightmare about my time at the school in Korea, largely due to the a$$hole foreign teachers who made my life hell there. While not exactly PTSD, it can take a long time to get over the stress, and sometimes the memory can come back when you least expect it.

    Honestly, I would imagine the ramifications are the same – you can’t come back in the same year, and when you do, you should preferably use a different passport (you can let your old one expire, etc). And of course you can’t use the school as a reference….otherwise, why not? The new school you’d work for wouldn’t ever have to find out – especially if your squeaky clean new passport doesn’t have any other Korean visas in it. Don’t tell them you were in the country before – unless it was just to visit a friend.

    Now onto the most difficult part – the issue of money, guilt, etc. If I were you, and made that internal decision to leave, I would just do it. Forget about paying them back. Just…forget it. Get out of there. Self-preservation comes first. You can deal with the guilt as you are sipping on a cocktail on the plane ride back home.

    But let me tell you from experience, from having talked with others in your place – there won’t be much guilt. Just relief. And excitement at having your life back 🙂

  68. Kate said

    Hi Elisa,

    I am thinking of leaving South Korea very soon…I have a terrible work environment and simply can’t stand it anymore. I have been doing a lot of research on how exactly to do the Run itself. I have one question for you. On one website it said that if my passport is flagged I can be detained…this terrifies me. Is this true? Have you ever heard of anyone being detained because their passport was flagged, and is flagging a passport something that happens?
    Thanks for your reply…

  69. Elisa said

    Hi Kate,
    I don’t really know what flagging a passport would do, but there is no reason for you to worry if you have no history of any trouble in Korea. Have you been involved in criminal activity? Would your school have any cause to call immigration? I’d wager the answer is no. So if I were you, I wouldn’t worry – passports don’t just get flagged without any cause.

    Everyone about to do a run must realize that essentially you are trying to beat the clock – get to the airport BEFORE the school finds out – once you are through customs and in the airport terminal, there is nothing they can do. They cannot pull you off the plane. They can’t do anything at all to you.

    I’ve never heard of schools flagging their employees before a run. Maybe if they got wind of their plans…but never just for the sake of it. However, if you would like to get others’ ideas on it, please check out the forums on eslcafe and ask around, see what imput others give you.
    Honestly, if you can’t take it and your mental health is being affected due to stress, I would just leave. As you can see, loads of people (even in my comments section) have done it, and nothing has ever happened to them. Being flagged is such a minuscule risk, so one in a million, that it does not outweight your sanity and emotional well-being – just forget about it and get the hell out if that’s what you need to do.
    Good luck 🙂

  70. Jack said

    I just wanted to share my experience of my midnight run. I was in Korea for a month, the job, not that great, the building, not heated except in the classrooms… which you could only be in while teaching, (being in an office 2 hours a day, teaching in the hallways after class… at 35 degrees? Not good). My place was Less than a total of 8X12ft (including the bathroom), no window, it was a prison box. I had unfortunately some major issues being in that small of a room with no window. I asked for a different place day after day, but nothing. I could tell my behavior, attitude, and mental being was being affected negatively by this.

    I loved being in Korea, the culture, the people. It was great, and I already miss it. The job wasnt great, but nothing is perfect, the kids were sometimes a pain, but they were kids, the food was decent enough… but they completely mislead me on the room when I took the job, and they knew it. I couldnt even do situps in the room in any direction without hitting my head, just not physically possible it was so small.

    I made my run this week. I read this page, among others before hand to look into my options, and here’s what I did. I was sick this week with a cold, no biggy, but I did use that to my advantage. I texted someone at school and told them I wasnt feeling good, and would be not coming in today. From there, I put the phone down on the bed and left. Took the subway to the airport and that was it really. I got to the immigration part, I didnt even have an Alien card yet. They asked me for one, I told them the truth, I didn’t have one, I hadn’t been there long enough to need one. She asked if I was coming back to Korea… I told her I hope so, but for now I needed to head home for personal matters to take care of. And that was it.

    I can honestly say that I am not happy about this decision, but I know that for my own mental and physical well being I needed to be out of that room asap. I had tried to be open to it, but it just didn’t work. I left the months paycheck for them, they had paid for the flight there, and technically in the contract I was suppose to pay that back if I left within the 6 months. I considered that to be the least I could do, knowing that I was going to leave them short handed.

    I met a girl on the plane who sat next to me. She was also a midnight runner… this made me sick. I was leaving because of how it was drastically mentally affecting me in a negative way (I wanted to yell, scream, was depressed… all things that I have never been… and I’ve traveled the world and have worked in prisons, for rehab kids, tough jobs, etc). Anyway, she was leaving cause she didnt like that she couldnt just teach one age, instead of several…. ok.. sure… and she’s quit on her contract 3 times in korea now, didnt pay back the flight there, took the last paycheck and left the day after, I hate to be associated with that type of runner and hopefully Im not. That to me is not cool. If you really feel that you are being screwed and your personal safety/well-being is at stake, then I support that you leave, it’s not great, but it may be needed.

  71. Elisa said

    Jack, you make an important point and I hope people do enough soul-searching before they rush to drop everything and escape to the comforts of home. For most teachers there, myself included, Korea was our first big adventure, the first international job abroad, which makes us feel like “real” adults. There are many kids who just aren’t cut out for this sort of experience, and they should do themselves a favour and not even bother going abroad, because they always end up running after encountering something as flimsy as an unexpected schedule change.

    As I have mentioned it over and over, I did stick it out for 14 months, and I am really glad that I did. But the couple of years it took to scrub that experience out of my blood was rougher – I was left with some body image issues that took longer to resolve, I felt fat all the time, and had a sense of complete mistrust of my workplace that, again, eventually faded after I went into a *normal* work environment.

    This is a personal decision that everyone employed in Korea (and any other foreign country they’re working in) has to make for themselves. I know there are loads of people who cannot handle kids at all – I did get used to it, but some, like that girl on the plane with you, probably didn’t know how to deal at all.

    Some people are naturally rigid, inflexible, they don’t have the social people skills to even articulate what they want to their employers in a professional manner. They’d rather run after a couple of months than fight for what was stipulated in the contract. They’d rather complain about the food than go to Itaewon if need be and buy American food. They might be stuck in a small village in the pit of nowhere when they realize that the fantasy of a quaint Korean experience actually ISN’T for them. That people stare, point at you, call you names that can be unintentially hurtful. That’s how small-town (and some big-town) Koreans are. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

    Perhaps something petty to the two of us is a huuuuge thing for someone else. Who knows, right? We all have our individual issues and personal boudaries – what one person can totally tolerate, someone else can be insanely irritated by. I just hope, though, that everyone reading this really searches inside themselves before they hop on that plane. Remember people, this isn’t only about the Korean employers and their tendency to “stretch” contracts, or about a$$hole co-workers or shitty apartments – this is also about your own image of yourself, and KNOWING, deep down, and remembering years from now, that you did everything possible to maintain your honour and your good name.

    Above all, you need to be accountable to your own conscience.

  72. Leavingonajetplane said

    Hey everyone,

    I’ve been reading all of the blog posts and i’m finding the information very useful and a little comforting but I thought i’d ask a bit of a different question. First a little info.

    I’ve been planning my run for weeks and despite being paid on time every month without fail, my pay was ironically late for the first time ever, damaging my plans somewhat. I was supposed to leave yesterday (monday) before school but alas there was no pay so I sucked it up and went into school for what I thought would be my last soul crushing day in hagwon hell. Unfortunately when I returned home I found that the prices of flights for today (tuesday) were way out of my budget and so I had to book a flight for tomorrow morning instead.

    Because I simply could not face one more day at my school I decided to pack up and leave last night with all of my belongings and move to my girlfriends. I am hiding out here today waiting for my flight however, at this point my school definitely now knows that I am not coming back. I left a note in my apartment telling them that I had left already (it also included all of the reasons why I left…petty I know but it made me feel better).

    So now I am panicking…they have a whole day to potentially catch me here or if they presume I’m still here it gives them time to contact immigration. Do I have anything to worry about at customs tomorrow? I know it has been said many times in this blog that they can’t detain me but what if they file a police report or worse? I know I’m probably going to be fine but was it a stupid idea to not just work one more day?

  73. Tiff said

    I’m sitting at my gate right now, another 15 minutes to boarding. I’m going through a lot emotions right now, I’m definitely happy and relieved, but I do still feel bad. But, it’s what is best for me. There’s a lot of “teachers” here and I wonder what their stories are and whether they’re running as well. Immigration gave me absolutely no trouble, the immigration office didn’t even ask me why I was leaving or even for me ARC, it was just a stamp stamp and I was on my way.

    I ran into my land lord, who lived two floors below me though, while I was lugging my luggage down four flights of stairs. I was like “chingoooooooo” and she was happy with that, I knew something would happen when I came home from work on Friday and found her outside @ 5PM cleaning veggies to make kimchi. I spent the weekend in Jeonju buying some gifts, clearing out the rest of my Korean bank account to only 8,000 won, and doing just relaxing & enjoying Korea one last time before I can come back again for another year.

    I can’t wait to be home! Thanks for everyone’s advice.

  74. Christine said

    Ok so here is my situation. I am currently at a school and I do not like it at all. I would really like to go teach for another school in another city. I do not want to go home in between. How does the whole visa thing work? Can another school give me a Visa while I still have a contract at this school? I am not planning on telling my school that I am leaving. Is there anyway for this to be done? Thanks.

  75. Elisa said

    Christine,
    I went through that exact scenario, and no, there is no way to do your plan without ending up working illegally. If caught, you could get deported at any time, and the school that hires you illegally will most likely pay you less money than their legal teachers.
    The legal way to do it is to get a “release letter” from the 1st school, then get the 2nd school to send someone to the visa office with you and get the work visa to list their school in your passport, instead of school # 1.
    There is absolutely NO WAY you can get a visa from another school until your current visa expires, or is modified at the passport office (after you show them the release letter and new offer of employment).

    Make absolutely sure that school#1 will never give you that release letter before you do anything rash. I wouldn’t quit unless I got a firm offer from School #2, and see if they can negotiate among each other, as in School #2 reinburse School #1 for their fees, etc. IF you don’t think that will happen, you’ll end up being in Korea illegally, since your work visa stipulates that if you stop working for the current employer, you have only a few weeks to leave the country.
    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news. You can also ask at the ESLcafe forums, see if you can get feedback from other teachers working in Korea illegally.

  76. Elisa said

    Hey Tiff,
    exciting news!! You sound so happy to be through those gates! 🙂 thanks for leaving your note, it must have been such a relief to go through the process without any issues, that you stopped to let everyone know right away how easy it was!
    You must be getting over your jet-lag right now, huh? Welcome home, and I hope you don’t have any lingering guilt about the school Remember that you made the right decision for you, and tons of other people have gone through exactly the same thing.

    Bet you’ll miss the kimchi though, lol….

  77. Elisa said

    To LeavingonaJetPlane,

    I was out of town for a few days so too late to comment on your query, but…yeah, your instinct is right. You would’ve been better to have stayed the extra day. It wasn’t clear if you did finally get your paycheck, or what happened? I will assume that you did, indeed, get paid.
    But I can’t image the stress I’d be going through if I was going to run and the school knew it already….I’d definitely have stayed and worked the extra day, instead or risking it. Anyway, now that you’re probably home, can you let us know if you made it alright?? Or were you detained?

  78. NotLookingBack said

    I read this blog before running away from Korea and it was very helpful so I decided to make sure to write back. I really didn’t follow any of the advice given here. Being last minute and close to Christmas, weekend tickets were too expensive so I left on a weekday (it was a monday and possibly they’d assumed I was already gone by that point). A fellow teacher also left with me and we figured both of us calling in sick would just make things worse and one of us calling in would be pointless as it would be obvious what was going on when the other didn’t show up to school. We didn’t ship anything home because it was expensive and we couldn’t be bothered. The cleaning lady saw us leaving with all our luggage right before school.. we just waved. Did she call our school? Who knows, who cares. Given the choice of telling no one vs. arranging one big last all nighter in Itae (posted all over facebook), we chose the latter.

    I had a multiple entry permit and a 1 way ticket home. I handed them my passport and said nothing, they just stamped the multiple entry permit and I was off. I still have my ARC. My friend did not have a multiple entry permit. The only difference being they asked her if she was returning and when she said no, they asked for and kept her ARC. She was right behind me with no issues. Simple as that. Had they asked me if I was returning, I’d planned to say ‘no’ to avoid any further questioning but they didn’t even ask (they didn’t ask to see my ticket either).

    The key point here is that what Elisa says here over and over is 100% true: your school can’t do anything and Immigration doesn’t care. They are looking for people overstaying, criminals, and other obvious red flags such as no proof of citizenship or entering the country in the first place etc. There’s really nothing to worry about whatsoever. Taking all these precautions is a good way to avoid a “scene” with your school that’s all. It just happens in our situation that we didn’t need to worry because our director really isn’t that smart. Plus if we’d had a “scene” we’d have taken the opportunity to say a few things to them (dog baby!) 😉

  79. Elisa said

    Hey there NotLookingBack,

    thanks for taking the time to leave an account of your experience! I’m sure everyone still in Korea and contemplating a run is gasping in horror at your audacity to break every rule and on top of that, have your one last big party announced all over Facebook! 😀 That was brave 😀
    So all of you lurkers who are planning your escapade, take note of what everyone who has done the run is saying: “your school can’t do anything and Immigration doesn’t care.”
    It doesn’t get any simpler than that.

  80. Alwaysawaygook said

    I am curious about how people deal with reverse culture shock and what they do once they get back to their home countries, especially now in light of the current economic situation. In my case, my emotions are all over the place. I worked for a shitty school that brought me over under totally false pretenses. I also had a relationship with a Korean woman that was a bit tempestuous and unhealthy. Under normal circumstances I never would have gotten involved with her but given the loneliness and isolation I felt things just sort of happened. In some ways I miss her and my job, although ultimately both situations were toxic. I am now unemployed back home and second guessing my decisions. My mind is the torturous kind where I will only remember the good and not all of the frustrations. I actually taught in another country before Korea and really enjoyed teaching and got accepted into 4 MA Tesol programs. I really wanted to pursue teaching as a career but my experience in Korea really soured me. I shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bathwater I guess.

    Can anyone relate to this? Maybe we should start a support group or something.

  81. Leavingonajetplane said

    Hi everyone,

    Well let me fill you in on what happened……………….nothing. My school had a whole day to do something about it, but I guess I’ll never know if they did.

    When I got to the airport the girl at the check in desk asked me if I was coming back, I just smiled politely and said ‘yes in about two weeks’ I said the same at the immigration desk and that was it. I even got to keep my arc card.

    It was incredibly nerve wracking and I did have to do some sneaking out of my apartment but worth it in the end. My school was horrendous and the director deserved everything that will come to her as a result of her actions…well lets hope so anyway.

    For those of you who have looked at every angle of your bad situation and figure running is the way to go….just do it, although my experience offers no proof that they can’t detain you…it seems that it is very unlikely…after all it would be a hostage situation.

    Thanks everybody and good luck.

  82. Leavingonajetplane said

    PS. I did get paid and the last day in bed not working was glorious, quit when you want and leave when you want…it’s your life.

  83. Elisa said

    quit when you want and leave when you want…it’s your life.

    Well put.

  84. Brandon said

    According to my contract if I want to quit early I have to repay the airplane ticket that they bought for me to come to Korea. Under a “midnight run” should I leave them money somewhere or just say to hell with it and take off without leaving a cent?

  85. Elisa said

    Under the midnight run, you take off. That’s it. So you end up breaking your contract illegally. Whether you leave them money or not is up to your conscience. It’s up to you, but don’t think that the school will think you’re any more honorable for it – they’ll despise you anyway because you quit on them. So do whatever you want.

  86. Brandon said

    ok. I assumed it was not reimbursed but that was the one aspect where I thought they’d have a foot to stand on legal wise. Was just scared it could come back to bite me on the butt. Thanks.

  87. Robert said

    i posted a few months ago asking for advice on leaving the country. i stuck it out longer than i thought i would and just left a few weeks ago. for anyone following suit…you have nothing to worry about. like it has been said in this forum many times they cant stop you from returning to you own country. when i went through immigration in incheon airport the officer didnt even lift his head, just stamp stamp on your way. i didnt breath a word of my plans to anyone and then left my neighborhood in deagu at the break of dawn on a saturday. 20 hours later i was in sunny california. on top of that my school has not tried to contact me about breaking my contract before six months was up. it has been a clean break in almost every way. i do feel some regret about leaving behind the students. and life doesnt seem as adventerous as it did a few weeks ago.

    but i wouldnt change my decisions if given the chance. i learned early on that i was no teacher and that it wasnt fair to myself or my students to pretend to be one. so if you want to go, then go. dont worry about anyone who questions the ethics of your decision. chances are it was a self serving decisions to go to korea in the first place, whether for travel, money, or escape. if those plans arent being fufilled then move on down the road.

  88. Jackson said

    Hi elisa,
    I have clinical depression that has been hard to deal with here in korea all alone. I have been here for one month, single entry visa, no alien registration card and want to do a midnight run. with a one way ticket, and 11 months remaining on my visa, will immigration detain me for not fulfilling my contract? and make me pay a fine before I leave ?

  89. Elisa said

    Hey Jackson, sorry I’m just getting to your comment. I was in Korea 10 years ago, so unless something’s changed (I seriously doubt it!), you should be free to leave anytime.
    With all the shit going on in Japan right now (radiation, etc) lots of people are leaving Asia. All the English teachers over there have caught flights out of the continent, so if I were you, I’d ride that bandwagon all the way home.
    It’s your health you have to be concerned about, first and foremost. You don’t want to have a breakdown over there – it’s not going to serve you OR your school. You will NOT be forced to pay a fine just for returning home.
    NO country has the right to detain a foreign national for leaving. It’s illegal. And frankly, immigration authorities are more concerned with who is coming IN the country than leaving. Just get on the plane and get the heck out of there if that’s what you want to do. You’re in charge of your life and your own experience, nobody else is. You’re stronger than you think, and you’re going to make it through this 🙂

  90. Angel said

    I remember how terrified I was as I approached the immigration desk at the airport. Will they ask me why I am leaving? Will they call my boss? Will they take my ARC Card? Will they ask me where I am going? Korean job already refused to pay me my check, can they now hold me in bondage to their contract? If Labor laws here dont exist for me then perhaps my freedom is in danger..Blah Blah Blah. *****The immigration stop was a breeze and they didnt care who or why I was leaving BUT I owe it to such blogs like these that I searched in terror for…for a sense of agreement about my decision and a sense of safety..so I crossed the burning bush and its my time to give back. Here is a little bit of my fragmented story.

    I am so glad you left Korea too. I pulled a midnight run a few months ago and entered into a Masters program here in the States. Anyone who is contemplating leaving..just leave. If the submissive culture is not for you then its simply not for you. The korean boss (hagwon) would pay me on time in fear that I speak up and question them about it, while they wouldnt pay the rest of the korean teachers on time? Why? Because they I guess..dont have to. I am so American that this idea makes me want to screech! There were many cultural bullshiz that I couldnt deal with. I was there are about half a year, then CUT! I never cut so fast in my life. South Korea night life is chill. The food is chill but whatever you do dont work for a hagwon without REALLY REALLY looking into it. I remember landing (return flight) on the plane in SF and being in total joy. OMG, I thanked the Lord that I was a frik’n American. All different shapes, skin colors were present at the airport. The English language was heard from every corner of the room. I felt safe, entitled to freedom, and most of all I had a voice again. They would enslave those kids, working them (teaching) for ten hours a day. As their loving teacher I’d try and give them breaks, candy, and teach them more or less how to critical think. Im not much of a blogger at all but I swore to myself that’s I pull something together is I ever made it back to the States free! So here I am! Also the cctv cameras everywhere are so obnoxious! Its like entrapment! Advice to those thinking about teaching in a hagwon in korea :no no no no. A Korean lady on the bus told me: Hagwons are not obligated to pay you at all since they are buisnessman. There is no affiliation with the government. Thus when you go to the labor union, they look at you blankly like ” your not one of us..so we can’t help you.” So teach at a public school or university. There they are mandated to pay you, less bullshiz, more free time to plan for lessons. Yes, they pay a little less but who cares! Atleast there isnt any mind games and superiority complexes like ” Hmm.. I think I could pay you Hmm…yah, I could” I remeber being in total shock as I listened to my boss. I was like ” Umm..yah..I’m leaving like in a few days.” I am brave, bold, and fearless when it comes to things that I know simple are not right. I know those three words practically mean the same thing but in a way they don’t. In order to leave I seriously had to dig deep, fugde their non-abiding contract, and tell no one expect my best friend. HOWEVER, I miss my little pumpkin pie students who I simply adore. I believe they will remember me for the rest of their lives. Hopefully, I was able to instill in them that learning if fun and that there are multiple ways to learn, its totally okay for them to explore. I pray that they are able to escape that 1900’s culture and TRAVEL the world. Perhaps America is not their cup of tea but I know there are plenty of cultures that are more freeing in terms of educational institutions than that one. I love my Korean students, my korean friends, and I miss my foreign partners in crime (night life was crazzie cool). On the other hand, I am so glad I left just as I did. Sorry for the sporadic ideas, misspelling of words, and incomplete thoughts that this passage may contain. I would rather the reader take in the content more than anything else. FUCK KOREA..there I cursed.

    O and also the cliques from foreigners are annoying. There mindset “O’ she doesnt want to hang out with us, so she must not like us. She rather try and learn korean and not get drunk with us every single night and gossip about the students. ”

    My mind set: ” Wow, I am going to teach these kids like no other, and explore the korean language and culture!”

    I have never encountered adults who were so close minded and petty. Here I was the youngest one, but there was a rotten jealousy or hatred for those staff members who were independent..perhaps they took it as threatening.

  91. Talkingheads said

    Hi, guys.

    Well, I am doing a runner in a month’s time. I have been screwed out of some vacation time, and am not being paid overtime, when the contract states that I should be. Anyway, I am planning on flying to Taiwan to see some friends for a few days or so, and then I actually plan to come back to Korea on a tourist visa and cycle down the country, from Seoul to Busan. I was wondering if I can basically hand in my ARC card to immigration when I leave for Taiwan, and then a few days later, return on a tourist visa and hopefully have no hassle at all from immigration when I return. Do you think this is possible?

    • E said

      Hey there. To be honest, I left Korea back in the spring of 2001 and I really have no clue as to what the current rules are. I wish someone else could pipe in and give their opinions, but this post doesn’t get a huge amount of traffic so you’ll probably not get any answer. I do wish you the best of luck though. The only thing I can impart is the moral support that whatever you’re going through right now, is only temporary. Soon it’ll be behind you 🙂

      • Al said

        Hi,

        Just arrived in Korea a few days ago and have been on the phone or talking to my friends about leaving and coming home for I can’t take teaching beg anymore even if it has been just a week. In tired and stressed the whole time and I feel like I am never prepared for class for the teachers never really tell me what to do and I teach younger kids with no co teacher so it’s very stressful. I can feel so much emotional pain building up and I want to leave. I did this job so I could get some money to travel but I see that a year is way way to long and j won’t make it until then, I want to keep goon as long as I can and I don’t want to do a full run for my school isn’t the worst, they are relatively nice to me but the director is never there and the other teachers generally help me only when I ask and they kids are always so restless because they pretty much never seem to have any physical activity so teaching them they can barely sit still, and it’s very hard to communicate my exact need to the other teachers.

        I’m the only foreign teacher in my school, I have no friends here and I just wanted to travel. That seems selfish but I am not sure what is worse, not pushing myself for a long time and seeing how much I can handle of this and enduring a lot of emotional and mental pain, or leaving and always knowing the what if and taking off in a month or two.

        I have read this blog non stop of my breaks and time at home when in not trying to grasp being here. And I do have a couple of questions?

        I have a recruiter that has helped me this whole process and they are an organization that will help me the whole time I am in South Korea, what do I need to tell them? Will they message me when I return even if I have already spoke to the school about it? I’m worried they will harass me about leaving. Has anyone dealt with this?

        Secondly I want to leave but I don’t want to completely screw the school. I want to give a notice and then they can get a replacement for me as well as for me to pay for my utilities and flight from my home to Korea so I have a clean slate. What is the best way of me doing this? Will the school fire me if I tell then I will leave in a month or two, I want to do the right thing for the school itself is not the best with management and such but it’s not a horror.

      • E said

        Ok, couple of quick things – first off, with the little kids – stop trying to be a perfectionist. A long time ago, another teacher told me that all parents really want is to see a foreign face talking to their kids. They don’t really care how much you get done, or if you have a lesson plan. Just let them scream and run around, and let go of any and all expectations. Just walk in there and play Bingo with them or Hangman. They’ll hear English being spoken, and what are they going to do anyway? Fire you? You’re their only foreign teacher!

        Ok, so if you don’t want to screw the school then you should give notice so they can have a couple months to replace you. BUT beware – you might not get paid for this. Unfortunately, if I were you I’d wait until at least my first paycheck before you tell them, because they will end up subtracting your rent and flight out of your paycheck. So wait it out, breathe and let the kids go nuts. Just sit down and chill out – the school either won’t notice, or they might give YOU notice 🙂 (Somehow, I doubt that).
        About the recruiters – fuck them. They got their fee, and who cares anyway. It’s their problem to sort with the school, and not yours. Sorry, but they’re the least of your problems right now.

        I think you should give it another week and don’t stress so much. Sometimes over-thinking can lead you to more panic attacks than need be 🙂

      • Al said

        Thank you so much! For your advice and for replying so fast, I am externally grateful and owe you one. I will wait a week and most likely at least a month before making the decide to leave but it I have another foreign teacher working with me and I knew at least one person to hang out with that would make the world of difference.

        I will update as I go on and about my choice to leave and how I will do it.

        Again,

        Thank you and I will relax with the little ones!

      • E said

        Yes, I feel for you and would encourage anyone thinking of teaching abroad to go to a major city, where there will be other foreign teachers. Even when they’re the biggest assholes (and often, they are) at least you can get to vent over drinks and benefit from the experience and advice of others who have been there longer.

        Your problem is you don’t have someone there to tell you that “Shhh, don’t let anyone know, but the school really doesn’t give a fuck if you teach the kids anything. They just want a foreign face to pretend they’re teaching. So instead of forcing a square peg into a round hole and trying to get the kids to learn, just chillax and the kids will love you more for it, and there won’t be any parents complaining.”

        These are basic things anybody who has been teaching could have told you, but you’re stuck in what I assume is a small town. So if I were you, I’d try to get on some ESL teachers board – there used to be Dave’s ESL Café, back when I was in Korea, for example. AND, get yourself to the nearest big city on the weekend. WHere are you, closer to Pusan or Seoul? If Seoul, go to the Itaewon district where the army base is and you can get a cheap room for Saturday night, and relax – enjoy the sights, chat with some English speakers.
        You cannot leave Korea without at least visiting a big city and experiencing that 🙂

        Remember, they are never going to fire you. Honestly, I’ve never heard of a teacher being fired unless they molested a kid or came in drunk every day. The school already paid the recruiter the big bucks and are invested in you staying there. So you can literally do NOTHING (I’m not advising you, but off the record) and still coast through.
        SO chill, play with the kids, bring in a song tape recorder and sing along – let them scream themselves into a stupor.
        The school will not fire you — and if they did, then you’re off the hook and don’t have to pay THEM back anything, do you?
        Get your first paycheck and enjoy Korea. And get onto some ESL board FAST so you can get some moral support and meet people to hang out with when you’re in Seoul.
        I met a shitload of people online before I even went to Korea. It really helped. Remember, just be yourself — chillax and relax. This is supposed to be an adventure! And the worst thing, if you do fuck-all, is they fire you and fly you back. 🙂

      • Al said

        That is true, the lack of support from another foreign is what is taking this from being a new job in a new country to a mission that I feel like every step is a challenge. Your advice helps me with chilling, I just stroll in a relax and make sure I don’t leg the kids bother me too much, and pretty do what I feel like or I will start to in the class. I like the other teachers for they are nice and this other teacher who speaks great English is helping me more for she spent a lot of years in America and can speak amazing conversational English. The director owns two of these places and according to my neighbor the guy who did my guy before was worried about his last pay for he thought the school wasn’t doing too well, it’s a modern place but it’s pretty dirty and some of my classes are like 2 or 1 kids for a block of time and I wonder if that’s means this place isn’t doing so well, they did hire me recently so maybe not but what are the changes of a hagwon closing mid semester?

        I do actually live in Seoul but I’m on the eastern side of the place and I am actually 1 block from the subway which is great, bit my neighbourhood is a bit boring according to my neighbor, lots to do, but for a foreigner it’s a bit harder. I will adventure to the foreigner areas soon.

        This girl Rachel who works for the other place said she will talk to the director for me and she is so helpful with that and I told her my concerns and about what I need to do with contract stuff.

        Thanks again for your advice, I will talk every hour slowly and make sure I just kill time anyway I can

  92. Paige said

    I did a midnight run in 1997 to Japan. Ended up LOVING Japan so much, stayed there for 15 years. Leaving S. Korea at the 9 month mark instead of teaching to the end of the contract was the best decision I ever made, but it was nerve-wracking. I thought the hogwon director was going to pull something, like accusations of criminal activity so leaving would be impossible. He didn’t find out until well after immigration had been breezed through, so no chance in retrospect. Still, I wonder what would have happened if he had?

  93. jason said

    good morning

    i need some help please i am running out of time..soo i work at a company called club med and recently i had an outbreak with my boss he threathed my job telling me if i dnt resign he will make my life hel here..i recorded this conversation and this happend 2 weeks ago..i am from south africa and my visa expires in september 2016..the problem started because i requested an holiday of 9 days which im owed to witg my chinese girlfriend so we want to get married but he refused us to go on holiday..so we can go to her hometown to do this..

    my only option is to do a midnight run with her..and i have been told that i can do this because i will not apply for a work visa until i get married..i will apply for a spouse visa within 2 months from now..

    i have taken the recording to a lawyer and i showed them proof of us working 72 hours a week with no overtime..and they are very angry..

    i just want to know if you can find out for me if i can do this and leave here..

    i am not afraid to take this step but i need to know its not auch a big problem

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