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Blacklisted: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULI would like to Blacklist YBM Ssangmun ECC located in Seoul run by director Mary and Supervisor Suzie, a school that still owes me over $1,000 while I am at home and unable to do anything about it.

The address and phone number are as follows:
4F, S and F Building., 749-16 Chang 5-dong, Dobong-gu, Seoul 132-928
Tel : 02-956-0509

I was a bit naïve coming into this and I highly recommend that you do not work at this place (or any YBM HOGwan) under any circumstances. My experience was so awful that I did not finish my contract. It was the worst experience of my life and I don’t say that lightly. I left behind my apartment and boyfriend to come home due to this job.

-The day I started work, I was told I would have to work 12+ hours a day for “Intensives” (not mentioned in the contract) as a brand new teacher. Yes, I was working up to 13 hours a day for at least 3 weeks. I felt trapped as I was in a new country and had nowhere to go. This was a nightmarish period. I am 24 years old and this is not my first job and I was so exhausted I cried every night. What the job did not tell me was that the person before me quit and they desperately needed me as a replacement for intensives. Intensives happen about 3 times a year and you get barely any overtime. They will find any way possible to keep you there as long as humanly possible and take away your overtime.

-I taught 8-11 classes on a regular basis., often with no breaks. Believe me, 8-11 40 minute classes is EXHAUSTING.

-My supervisor Jeannie forgot or neglected to pick me up from the bus station upon arrival. About 2 hours late, 3 Koreans who spoke absolutely no English picked me up. I was given a note I could not eat until the morning due to a blood test (after a 20+-hour fight. I was starving and the next day I had my blood test. Then I was brought to work and told I couldn’t eat until hours later.

-WORKSHEET TIME! Rather than give us our scheduled breaks, this school forced me and my coworkers to stay inside the office and make worksheets. These worksheets were absolutely pointless and I never saw one of the worksheets used. When I asked to make worksheets for classes I actually teach since we never seem to have enough material I was told I was not allowed. The worksheets were checked by our supervisor Jeannie (now promoted to manager) who yelled at me for not finishing one once when all the computers were broken. When I complained about worksheet time my supervisor said I was “Weird.” When I threatened to quit, I was threatened with very expensive penalties. My supervisor Jeannie took delight in forcing me to do the useless worksheets. On the YBM website it clearly states that teachers are not supposed to provide the teaching materials.

-My apartment in “Anyang Apartments” had cockroaches, and wasn’t clean. I was given no bed and an absolutely filthy smelly mattress to sleep on and used sheets, and a used blanket and used pillowcase. The apartment came with no curtains (I was woken up at 5 am on a regular basis) and no Tupperware. The stove had to be replaced as it was broken and the shower and sink were broken. The air conditioner (in 105 degree weather) broke shortly afterwards. When I asked my coworkers they had the same problems and or worse, especially with roaches, which infested the entire building. The walls were filthy and covered with random brown stains (which they school cleverly tried to cover up with furniture) and the torn, filthy furniture had literally been dragged in from the trash (this was confirmed by my coworkers.)

-Sick days! I was under tremendous pressure not to take a sick day. Having taken only 2 sick days I set the record at YBM Ssangmun ECC for most sick days. Eventually I developed several infections that went untreated and had to go home without even telling them because I was soooo ill and was having severe kidney pain I felt my life was in danger. I discussed the pain with my supervisor Suzie and the possibility of having to go home and the only thing they could offer me was switching one class around. The did not offer to cut a single class to help me. At least I thankfully caught an emergency flight home and YBM immediately proceeded to harass my boyfriend who worked at another school and his coworkers trying to find me. (They gave me no help beforehand in finding medical care except to say wait 2 weeks or go to the ER-, which I had already done, but had nobody to translate)

-Upon arriving home, they told my boyfriend that he (who worked for a different school in the same company) would have to pay the overtime due to my coworkers. That’s right. They tried to get my boyfriend in a different school to pay THEIR overtime.

-My paystubs were withheld from me almost every single payday. I had to send 4-5 emails begging for a copy of my paystubs every time we got paid, sometimes to no avail.

-In the winter, there was NO HEAT provided in below freezing temperatures for the afternoon students who paid slightly less to go to the program. Students sat there in their full winter coats gloves, hats, and scarves and complained it was too cold to learn. I stood there in my coat and scarf and was too cold to teach. People were constantly ill and still showing up for work and school. I had to beg from the main desk for the remote to turn on the heat, which was often withheld from me. You can forget about heat or AC in the teacher’s room. Oh, and summer is worse. Expect to be working weeks in 90 degree weather with no AC.

-We went through 2 managers and 2 supervisors and several people quitting within just 8 months of being there.

There is so much more to say about the awful time I had there, but to shorten this long, horrible story, I learned my lesson the hard way. Upon arriving home I understood the exploitative and slave driving nature of the YBM ECC Company. I heard even worse experiences from other schools. Do not work for this company especially YBM SSangmun ECC, that’s all I can say.


-15 # Completely DisagreeESL Teacher 2013-06-24 14:42
I was shocked at the exaggerations littered throughout this review. I have personally known six foreign teachers (not to mention several Korean teachers) who thought highly enough of Ssangmun ECC to resign after one year. If Ssangmun ECC was a 'bad hagwon' it certainly would not have teachers committing years out of their lives to them at the rate that it does. I think this reviewer would not have been happy anywhere she ended up.
-18 # RE: Completely DisagreeTracy 2013-06-24 16:43
I do agree with your comment. This teacher does sound to be nit-picking and not open to cultural differences.

To the OP:

You do not know that each school is the same. All franchised hagwons are individually owned and run. Each Director has their own way of running their schools to the franchised format (curriculum). I personally know teacher who work in YBM ECC schools in Jeonju, Seoul and Geoje Island who are having been working there for many years and enjoying their experience.

If you were having such a bad time you could have given one month's notice and found another position in Korea which is not difficult to find especially when you are already in Korea on an E-2 visa.
+17 # RE: Completely DisagreeAnother ESLTeacher 2013-07-05 15:38
I assume that you mean re-sign and not resign. Because there have been 3 people who have recently resigned. As I'm sure you're aware the cost of resigning is very high and I have heard of people losing millions of won including having to pay the company a million won for a letter of release. Now that is bad practice. Don't presume that committing to finish the years contract means that someone is happy. Certainly it is sometimes better to endure and get the bonus at the end. I wonder why people are so keen to put down someone who can speak the truth about their experience, perhaps we feel a need to validate our own decisions. These decisions would change if your personal experience was different, particularly if it seriously impacted your health. Don't let your difference of opinion dictate your assumptions about someone. We all have the capacity for happiness. :)
+5 # RE: Completely DisagreeJimi Burden 2013-11-21 13:58
I am shocked that a YBM lackey would come on here and write this bollocks. Oh wait, no I'm not, since I know they monitor their employees' facebook accounts. This company is skidmark on the face of education.
-21 # RE: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULESL Teacher 2013-06-27 07:18
I think it is a bit comical to see such a outlandish post. YBM is the biggest and highest grossing academic corporation in South Korea. Do you think they got to this point by cheating people??

Word has gone around that your boyfriend is still an employee for YBM. Is this true? If your boyfriend was pressured to doing all the things you posted, why would he want to stay?

* Most academies have an 'intensive schedule.' If you teach elementary or middle school students, you are almost certain to have a schedule change with more teaching hours. If you owned a business, wouldn't you try to cut costs while trying to make your employees efficient? You got your overtime pay, no? - quit complaining

** WORKSHEET TIME! -- No one likes to do R&D work, but all academies have some form of it. Also, I would like to see where the "YBM website it clearly states that teachers are not supposed to provide the teaching materials." Take a look at the sample contract: www.ybmecc.co.kr/contract.asp

*** Why would you need permission to eat after a blood test? You probably didn't convey to them that you were hungry.

**** The purpose of the "Relocation Allowance" of 200,000 won is to help with the costs of buying new bed sheets, curtains, and the Tupperware. Why would they prepare Tupperware for you? That is just ridiculous. A lot of academies don't even provide Relocation Allowance.

***** If you knew anything about the working culture in Korea, you would know that taking sick days is frowned upon. You either need a doctors note or the Supervisors approval to go home. If you went to the ER, the doctor would have definitely written a note for you. However, you didn't ask for one. That is why they stress the health check-up so much before coming to Korea, as you even stated that your first day of work was a trip to the hospital.
YBM is the only instutition that I know that provides bonuses for attendance.

Stated in 3.7 Attendance Bonus : "Under the 12-session contract employer will pay employee an attendance bonus for the following levels of attendance
300,000 Won bonus for missing no classes (Medical or non-medical reasons)
200,000 Won bonus for missing 5 or less classes (Medical or non-medical reasons)
100,000 Won bonus for missing 10 or less classes (Medical or non-medical reasons)"

This is probably why you had the record for the most sick days...

****** If you came with your boyfriend, who else would Ssangmun ECC contact? You ran away in the middle of the night and the academy was scrambling to cover your classes. If anything, you were the reason that your boyfriend and coworkers felt additional pressure and stress from the academy.

I am not trying to undermine some of the difficulties you went through, but to falsely comment on certain facts about the institution just isn't right. I hope you have a better working experience in Korea now that you know the cultural differences in the work environment... if there is a next time.
+17 # RE: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULAnother ESLTeacher 2013-07-05 15:26
I find the original review to be fair and honest. It’s easy to presume that because you had a positive experience that other people’s opinions aren’t valid. There are many variables that are different for each individual. I wonder if you would be feeling as positive if you had to deal a serious illness and their lack of support, or working as an afternoon teacher and being bombarded with the unprecedented tactic of free classes to placate parents. Truth is, she did have a bad experience and everything written here happens to be true. I’m happy that you’re in a position to consider that comical, it certainly wasn’t comical for her.

YBM certainly didn’t earn their success by cheating people, however as the recession deepens and ECC hogwans close, it depends more on the professionalism of individuals, which in this case was sorely lacking. Furthermore many people choose to make the best of a bad situation and finish the contract for financial reasons, breaking the contract is a stressful decision to make, particularly when you are seriously ill and need emergency treatment.

While most academies have an intensive schedule, teachers hours are usually significantly less for most other academies. People turn to YBM for their reliability and professionalism . When this fails them, as it most certainly did in this case, that balance is lost. I’m sure that we would all love to own a business and “make our employees efficient,” however when an employee is overworked, working maximum hours alongside a few of her coworkers, and certainly more hours than any teacher I know in Korea, then I think it is fair to complain and let other prospective employees know. We have to make wise choices in this economic climate and it is a big step to work abroad. People certainly do not choose YBM for their overtime rate and most YBM teachers I have met prefer to avoid that.

As for worksheet time, again this is a fair criticism. It is not standard across all ECC’s and is certainly not mentioned in the contract. One of the major selling points of the company is that all the teaching materials are fully provided and that was certainly compromised in this case.

I think it is worth listening to the writer’s experience of being sick working for Ssangmun ECC. The truth is that nobody else commenting here appears to have shared that experience and so the judgements and assumptions in the reply comments are misplaced. It is ridiculous to assume that the number of sick days was a financial decision based on the pay structure. If finances were in the forefront of her mind, the massive cost of leaving the company before finishing the contract would have been avoided. There comes a point where despite the judgement and assumptions of individuals commenting here and despite the pressure of superiors who are scared of losing profit, your own health has to come first. It’s also worth mentioning the emotional blackmail and aggressive manner than management display when somebody decides they have to leave. She is not the only employee in recent times that had to face this.

As you say yourself, having a sick day is frowned upon. Now imagine dealing with an illness as it develops and becomes more serious being in a foreign country: the trivializing of the condition by superiors who’s superficial concern is paper thin, the embarrassment of your superiors gossiping about your condition to others and questioning it across the office, the aggressive financial threats and emotional manipulation of someone in a vulnerable position. This is not “cultural” and it certainly doesn’t reflect the Korea that I know. Nobody can be sure that they won’t get sick and her first trip to the hospital on the first day would have been the mandatory visit required by all new arrivals. While the companies primary concern has to be profit, the overall handling of the situation particularly by people who have now left the posts was poor and as such I think it’s fair to say that there are far better hogwans than Ssangmun ECC out there. For that matter many of the other ECC branches are run professionally and many people have good experiences.
-3 # 2 years at Ssangmun ECCSsangmun ECC teacher 2014-07-11 15:58
I worked at Ssangmun ECC for 2 years and I really enjoyed it. I will say that it is difficult to adjust to the hagwon teaching schedule, because they require a lot from you. I will also concur that starting in intensives is a bad introduction. That's the busiest time of the year when the elementary school kids are on vacation and they put on extra classes in the morning. How did I get through that? I just made friends with my co-workers (Korean and Foreign) and we would vent to each other, and go out together after work to let off steam and chill out.

There are some genuinely nice people at Ssangmun ECC. I can say that one of my foreign female co-workers ran away in the middle of the night, and then all of her classes were divvied up between the remaining workers, so that really sucked. It was very selfish of her to leave that way. She could have said "I don't want to be here anymore" and waited a month or maybe 6 weeks until a replacement is found. That way none of the coworkers are lumped with extra classes.

I saw many different personalities come and go in my 2 years at Ssangmun ECC, and the people that got the most out of their time, were flexible people and friendly with their Korean partner teachers. I still have good friends that work there. It took me at least 6 months to feel comfortable with the teaching schedule, but after I adjusted I loved it.

I have really good memories of working at Ssangmun ECC. Some of the people that the original reviewer was talking about. I know very well and they are nice people.

I understand could come in and feel defensive in this situation, but getting frustrated and thinking that everything and everyone is against you, is not a productive way to resolve these issues.

I made a lot of rookie mistakes at first, but I put my head down and tried my best, I was friendly with my coworkers and asked them for help. This is the way to make the best of a stressful situation at Ssangmun ECC. Everyone is in the same boat - make friends and work together.
-22 # RE: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULESLTeacher 2013-06-29 06:53
The exaggerations & contradictions in this post are misleading to people thinking of joining YBM ECC.

The sample contract does mention the intensive courses, of which there are 2 per year, not 3. (Elementary school vacations)

The reason for leaving is contradicted. First it was due to the job, but later it was due to sickness.

The lesson to be learned is read your contract before you sign. If you sign a contract, you're agreeing to its terms. Break the terms & lose all your benefits. I don't think any school could owe money to a teacher that did a midnight run. Trying to get money out of a school after taking off without a word is naive.

YBM ECC Ssangmun is not the enemy. Read the contract! Research living in Korea! Know what to expect before you board the plane. Don't be surprised when people in Korea speak Korean, not English.

I imagine the OP would've had the same problems with any school.
This comment has been deleted by Administrator
-4 # RE: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULsutefanii09 2013-12-24 09:03
Wow, sounds to me like someone is a little immature. I hate it when people constantly complain about EVERYTHING. In the future, try to make the best out of a negative situation and you will feel better. It sounds to me that you made up your mind from the start to have a miserable time and that is exactly what you did.
+5 # RE: YBM ECC SSANGMUN SEOULNai994 2014-01-12 16:01
^^ This reply sounds immature to me! Sounds as if the school was definitely abusing their power in this situation. I had a similar experience as the OP. YBM is known to do this sort of thing! Moral of the story- stay away from YBM!

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