Koreans spend the most per capita on education of any people. Much of this money goes to private institutes or academies called hagweons (Korean: ??). Parents send their children to hagweons to further their education after school hours and during vacation periods. In addition, companies and individuals will pay for adults attending hagweons Hagweons cater to all age groups. One large group of these for-profit centers focuses on English.
Hagweons can be either single-purpose or cover a number of subjects. Thus, a hagweons might only teach English, or it might teach English along with other subjects, such as Korean, mathematics and geography. There are thousands of hagweons, ranging from ones with just one teacher and a score or fewer children to large chains with locations in a number of the larger cities.Hagweons are normally not run by educators. An entrepreneur hires teachers either on an on-going full-time basis or on some other less substantial basis. Teachers may be highly qualified and well-trained professionals or they may be university students working part-time in a field related to their major (e.g.
, English) or even not. Hagweons are not substantially regulated by the government. Native speakers of English constitute a significant portion of the English teachers in English hagweons. While the law generally restricts foreign instructors to citizens of Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia, people from the Philippines and India will sometimes manage to get positions through marriage, ???flying under the wire,??? or other exceptional ways. Instructors should be college graduates, but hagweons rarely consider training or field of study.
Some of the large chains have specific teaching stles and train their teachers in their methods and materials. Generally, hagweons pay foreign instructors a monthly salary for teaching around twenty to thirty hours a week, with a week or two vacation per year. A thirteenth month wage is paid for completion of a year of teaching. Many teachers are simply in the country for one year to get a different experience or to earn money to pay back college debts Many hagweons have no interest in keeping teachers for longer than one year, and teachers often complain of being ???cannon fodder??? squeezed of what they have to offer and discarded. So, while there are many hagweons that do have long-term quality instructors, there are many that do not. Often in these academies there is a .
hostile atmosphere between the foreign teachers and the hagweon administration. The current president of South Korea has placed a high priority on spreading English through the country. Ironically, this has hurt the hagweons, The President feels that the hagweon system leads to money ill spent. He has caused schools to offer extra services, including classes in English, after school.
As part of this program, college English majors are paid well to go to the schools to help the school children in their English. Many hagweons have been forced to close or consolidate in the last year, 2010. The same bodes for 2011. Protests by hagweon owners, e.
g., a large one in Seoul in 2010 fell on deaf ears and were generally not reported, especially by the conservative press.