Teacher Stories

3 teachers from Jeju English Village speak out

A Korean Teacher's Story

One American teacher's Story

Human Trafficking Disguised as English Teaching

Hogwan Blacklist for Jeju International English Village plus Story

Review on ESL Watch

Teacher Describes Laws Broken by Jeju English Village

A Teacher's Story:

2007 Jeju International English Village Camp BEWARE

Hello folks!

My name is K.K. I worked at the Jeju village last January in Halim with three other foreign teachers. My contract was changed by the school, so that my E2 visa was illegal. All the teachers were forced to leave the country, without pay, and at their own expense.

Funnily enough, The Director Mr Lee Chan Won has permission to open a school again in Jeju in Seogwipo, even though he hasn't paid any foreign teachers from last January. It took me one year just to get a statement from the labor office regarding how much Mr Lee should pay me, and through this process they even refused to deal with the matter, saying it was a Seoul labor problem.

Being the cunning, slippery eel that he is, Mr Lee Chan Won has many disguises. The address on the Korean site for the "Seoul, Jeju Office" is actually different to the address used for legal matters, so it is very difficult to pursue him. At the second attempt, I'm issuing him with a legal document to appear at the Busan Prosecutor's Office in the next few months.
I now have his real address. The current director of the school constantly changes, so that now the Director is listed as Kim Dong Hwa on paper.
Mr Lee has tried to use an agent to bring more foreign teachers via Dave's eslcafe website. Yesterday I contacted one particular agent, but when I explained the situation she rang the office in Seoul, and told then that she will no longer advertise for the Jeju school. Now who said you can't find honest recruiters in Korea!

If you or your friends are considering working for this CRIMINAL, I would stay well away. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning than being paid. If you are a Korean parent considering sending your child to Jeju under the guidance of Mr Lee Chan Won, think again. Last year children were so distraught that parents were flying from Seoul to pick up their children.

As the icing on the cake, a representative from the Seoul Jeju Office called me personally after one and a half years. I thought he was calling to see how I was keeping, but in fact he was passing on a message that Mr Lee Chan Won was going to sue me for slander, as I had contacted his recruiting agent and told her the truth about this snake.

Have a nice day!

Yours sincerely,

K. K.
(posted on a private forum)

Recruiting Notice:
#11. Jeju International English Village camp!! ASAP
1) Starting date : Jun 1st, 2007 ~ August 24th
3) Working hour : 9:00-21:00 but teaching hour is 350 minutes per day and
rest of hour, play with students.
4) Schedule: for example , June 4th~6th, 7th~8th, 12th~13th like this untill
July 13th
And in July 16th~Aug 24th (1week, 2weeks¡¦camp ) (Mon~Sat)
5) Accommodation : Share with another teacher
6) Payment : 6,000,000 Korean Won plus flight ticket 1,100,000 Korean Won
(If you already in korea, they still paid for flight ticket fee


Further details from K.K.


Basically, there is a Seoul office which recruits students for the camp in Korea. Payment is made on the net through this site.

The Seoul office advertised early this year for overseas students through a man by the name of Howard Kim. From the information I was given, he placed an advertisement in the New Zealand Leader Newspaper earlier this year. The advertisement basically called for New Zealand students to come to Jeju,  with free airfare for a specified period. His contact number 3071005, but as I received this information today, I cannot confirm this.

My aim is to contact Howard Kim, the Newspaper or a parent to explain the situation.

This is as much information as I have in English about the camp below. I looked for the advertisement on the daveseslcafe website just now, but when I set preferences to "Jeju english camp" there are no advertisements. It has already been removed by the recruiter I guess.

There is plenty more information on the Korean Website. However I didn't get my girlfriend to translate in any great detail.

The recruiter was very polite. Her name was Brenda Kim ph 02-720-7346.

She immediately called the school and cancelled the advertisement when she was made aware of the situation.

www.daveseslcafe (ad there last Friday)

Our E-2 visas were cancelled because I specified my working address as the Jeju international English Village under the representation of KCG (Korean Campus Group). Now when I sent the contract to Seoul, KCG was liquid papered out in five or six locations on the contract and replaced by some initials which I make out to be OCE. I cannot understand why they did this. When I received my visa in Australia the location only had a number which I presumed was the location in Jeju. However I later found out my visa was only valid to work for a school in Seoul.

When Immigration checked out our visas, they realized they were all illegal. Immigration at first was accusing us of knowingly working with illegal visas which is completely preposterous. I have no idea to date if Mr Lee Chan Won was even fined by the Immigration office for his actions, but considering he is allowed to bring foreign teachers again to Jeju, I guess not.

I don't know anything about the current Director, but they only keep changing to avoid being pursued by the legal system for previous indiscretions.

My aim is to cut off his supply line so that no-one will represent him to recruit foreign teachers. Secondly I want the parents of the children from New Zealand to be made aware of this man's history. My aim is to ensure that this school is crippled, without any foreign teacher's or overseas students, and that it never opens. I'm determined in everything I do and I will succeed. I have had to wait one and a half years, but now I will destroy his business. I was made to feel like a criminal, and disregarded completely by this man. We were left there without money, or any kind of assistance, when we had done nothing wrong. Even on my record now, it states that I had my visa cancelled, and I had problems securing my next contract because the immigration office was suspicious of me.

If you need any more information or faxes of legal documentation I would be happy to provide them.

Yours sincerely,



Another Teacher's Story

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 29 Dec 2006 14:53:02 -0800
Subject: Don't go to JIEV
To: TheOlsens

Dear Natasha,

Thank you for contacting me. I am glad that you had the sense to look on the internet before making a commitment to this camp.

Yes, I worked at the JIEV and made an official complaint to the Korean police, Korean labor board, Korean Immigration board, and western lawyers working in Korea. A Uk teacher who used to work for the school, Jim Cuthbert, even went so far as to talk with the chief of immigration and a reporter about what went on, and I also told my story to this reporter from the Korea Herald, but when the reporter, Chris Gelken, went on to confirm! the details with the police, the labor board and the immigration board, they all denied that there was
any investigation going on, despite the fact that most of the teachers had not been paid and a host of other illegal things, outlined below. When I talked with the police interpreter about why she said nothing, she said she didn't want to get into trouble.

I can tell you what the camp was like for me, and for the NZ teachers and students, though now looking back one of them seems to have forgotten what she went through. Kathy Mclachlan (International Student Coordinator) at Wairau Intermediate School is that teacher. The other teacher is Bernadette Walles, also at Wairau Intermediate School, and I believe she still recalls the ridiculous nature of the whole thing. When I asked Molia why the teachers didn't leave, she said it would be because they would look bad and possibly get fired from putting the children through the experience. The New Zealand children were very hungry, they didn't like the Korean food, and also got extremely bored, it seemed to me, as I had to teach them the same lessons that I was teaching these ESL students, and there wasn't much for them to do. Some formed friendships, but in my opinion it was not worth the hardship that they had to endure.

I am still in contact with an Aussie teacher (Kelly) who works for this terrible company (sometimes called Oxford, sometimes called the KCG (Korea Campus Group) and Gukje and many other names) and that is how I found out that the winter camp is going on as promised, and Molia and Aroha are no longer working for Mr Lee. They were sick of the lies, the fact that they had money stolen from them, and the working conditions. Kelly has also had money stolen from her but she is too beaten down by the situation to do anything about it. According to the immigration board, they are only legally able to work at one elementary school, but they had been working at three or four, and certainly weren't legally able to work at the camp. Furthermore, when Jim Cuthbert went to the chief of immigration, he found out that his signature had been forged on a contract for a re-named school run by Mr Lee, with 3 more months added on, so if he tried to leave, it would look like he was leaving illegally. The Chief of Immigration promised to shut the school down, but nothing was done, according to the Korea Herald reporter, Chris Gelken.

The camp was illegal, nobody working there had any contracts except for me, there was only a nurse there for two weeks out of seven, and it was completely isolated. I saw many cases of blatant child abuse and can describe it. I myself went through mental abuse after the New Zealand teachers left.


When I arrived at the camp, nothing was set up, the teachers were supposed to be creating their lesson plans, but instead were expected to be cleaning and fixing up the camp. There were no lesson plans, no supplies, and each child from age 8 to age 16 was supposed to study the same book largely made up of crossword puzzles.

We had to beg Mr Song (the "enforcer" at the camp) to take us to the store to get us school supplies, and I felt absurdly grateful when he did so.

I did my best to create real lessons and real plans and tried to make it fun and challenging for the students but most of the teachers did not bother with this. For the first two weeks, I was one of two foreign teachers, the rest of the teachers were Korean who didn't speak English very well. Nobody had even a teaching certificate (except for the NZ teachers, Molia and Bernadette). The immigration board came at this time to check my passport, and I was still happy at that point and didn't try to say anything about the camp.

Throughout the camp, we were teaching in classrooms in 100+ degree heat with ineffective air conditioning, and there was only Korean food, no western food, as they may have promised you. At one point they grudgingly got some bananas and cereal for the NZ kids, but that was as far as it went. The children had no bug spray or sunscreen, and the camp refused to buy any for them. The rooms were infested with cockroaches, beetles and mosquitoes, and all of the children and staff ended up getting bitten a lot. The mattresses were thin foam laid
across metal frames, and for two weeks straight we did not have any hot water, as Mr Lee did not pay the oil bill.

There was no schedule, and Mr Lee also did not pay all of the amusement parks we went to throughout the time, so that at the end of the time, we weren't allowed to go to many of the parks, and they had to settle for taking us to the beach instead. It was an extremely hot summer and only twice were the children taken to the beach (which was only 15 minutes away by van). For recreation, the children were supposed to play on a gravel lot with a few bent and broken badminton rackets and two rubber balls and some jump ropes.

At one point, Mr Lee owed the grocery store over 1 million won (about 2 thousand NZ) and did not pay it, and so the cooks could not get food for the children. Over the course of a week when the NZ children were there, all of the children got progressively less and less meat, and more and more spam and rice, until one night, all the children had to eat was potatoes and a little bit of rice. The cooks serving them had tears running down their faces, and most quit the next day. The two men charged with keeping the teachers in line went out and bought milk with their own money for the children. Then Mr Lee must have found another grocery store, because we started to have food again.

Every other week Mr Lee would walk through the camp with a group of people, showing them how "great" the camp was, without letting them speak to anyone.

The mental abuse I suffered after the NZ teachers and children left was awful. But it began during the third week that I worked there. The "enforcer" Mr Song and his coworker, "Big" Mr Lee attempted to intimidate me and make me play along, but I wouldn't. They both screamed at me and the NZ teachers multiple times for going on strike to get basic things like being allowed to go on the internet and go to the store and get snacks and he made Aroha and Molia cry (And these are STRONG women!). He tried to get my pay docked because of several things that I requested (my room was full of mold and I requested another room, and then I asked for the bunk beds to be moved out of it, and they wouldn't). I had a contract made up in Korean and English that I had signed by Mr Lee because I didn't trust that he
would pay me.

I was right. He didn't.

I went directly to the police and the labor board but they wouldn't do anything. I even emailed all of my students and their parents and asked them to email and call Mr Lee, but he still didn't pay me.

So I never got paid at all for the camp, working 12 hrs a day for two months, going there on my own money, and going into deep credit card debt just to be there. I fulfilled every duty I had according to my contract, stayed til the end, just in the hopes that I would get paid, and sat up reading my airline ticket every night, memorizing the seat numbers, counting down the days until I could leave. Mr Lee owes me 4 million won ($8,000 NZ), and this is four months overdue.

In November, I took a human trafficking training at my new job, and found out that what happened to me was human trafficking. I was isolated, abused, worked til I dropped, and never paid. That is the definition of human trafficking. And the US state department warns against this on its website, but I figured that since I'd been to  Korea before and been paid on time, that this time would be all right. How wrong I was.

Please take this to any media you feel necessary, from Radio to Newspaper to Magazine to PodCast to anything you can think of. My account is as accurate as I can make it without going into too much emotional detail. The Korean children complained that their summer was stolen. Some Korean children got sprained ankles and third degree burns. The New Zealand children were largely shielded from what was going on, but were still bored, isolated, and under-fed. Your "free" trip actually comes with a huge price. In addition, the New Zealand teachers were expected to work teaching the whole time that they were there, and had to negotiate hard to get days off, and time off and contractual things that were promised (like vacations to other places for the NZ children, and some semblance of western food).

This is an extremely bad environment for NZ children. Bernadette and Kathy were lucky that nothing more serious happened to the children in their care.

Thank you for writing, I'm looking forward to hearing from you,

Melissa Tremblay