That fall I saw an advertisement in the school paper to teach English conversation in South Korea. Interested parties were to contact a Mr. Shin at the KHI Institute in Pusan. There was a phone number. On a lark I called it.
Mr. Shin’s English was decent enough and we talked for quite a while. His institute was only one block from the main entrance to PNU (Pusan National University) so all the students were college-age. Most were cramming for their English Language job interviews and they really needed conversation practice with native speakers. If they failed the English portion of the job interview, they wouldn’t be able to get a proper job upon graduation. Fair enough.
Shin made the whole deal sound pretty sweet—it didn’t take much to sell it to a bored, restless, broke college kid.
This is not a 학원 horror story like so many you’ve heard already. But all of this happened well before there was a Dave’s ESL Café, or even the Internet, e-mail, blogs, cell phones, or any of the other things teachers in Korea use to communicate or raise awareness to unfair employers. It’s hard to even conceive of ex-pat life in Korea today without any of those things.
In the end Shin and I decided to give it a go…