Revenge is a dish best served after you've practically forgotten all about it.

Oh yea, my boss back in Korea was a shitbag. Almost slipped my mind. I've intended to put some mean stuff up on the internet about those dickholes for a while now, and I procrastinated so long I almost forgave and forgot. What a nightmare that would have been. Anyway this isn't going to be funny, it's just so that if anyone is thinking about going to work there and googles "Iksan YMCA" like I did lo those many months ago they'll actually have something to go on. The place isn't on black- or graylists because only because no one updates those anymore, so this is a public service, sort of like how we raised the word dykepile to prominance in google searches.

First off. Iksan is a small, economically depressed town in North Jeolla which is frankly a bit of a backwater province. This has a lot to do with Koreans' own internal prejudices about the place and its people instead of something intrinsically wrong with the folks, but just be aware that if your recruiter tells you that it is a bustling city of 300 thousand people a short trip from Seoul, it is not. All true Korean cities are enormous, if there aren't over a million people, it's really more of a town than a city. It's also 2 hours and a half from Seoul. By bullet train (KTX). It is reasonably close to Jeonju, a fun town, and as one of the few foreigners in Iksan, you'll be given a lot of license to act like an ass with no consequences, as the people won't know what to do with you. It was also originally named Iri, but was consolidated with a bunch of tiny towns and villages and renamed. The population of the city proper is around 150 thousand.

Secondly. The nominal head of the YMCA, Mr. Lee, is a kleptomaniac in the clinical sense of the word. He can't be near someone else's money without taking a piece for himself. He tried every scam in the book, amateurishly, and almost landed himself and his wife in prison over it. However, since Koreans hate causing embarassment, and nothing is more embarassing than being called a thief and sent to jail, the authorities seem content to give him a do-over every time he sends his round-eyes packing and brings in a fresh set.

He started by deducting everyone double the official income tax rate, and pocketing the difference, essentially skimming 3% off everyone's paycheck. Since Iksan is a small pond and he is a relatively big fish, we could get no help from the local tax office, and eventually had to take our case to Seoul. When he got a call from the national tax office, he began lying like crazy, telling them a) he wasn't deducting extra from our paycheck, although everyone had the stubs to prove he was, b) claimed he had already given the money back, which obviously was seen through in about the amount of time it took the words to get out of his mouth, and that c) he was going to give the money back, which he did, after telling me I was fired for calling the authorities on him. I told him to Ja-Di-Ga, in so many words, and that was that.

Next he had us work three weeks of unpaid overtime, to the tune of four thousand dollars a head. Negotiations over THAT took us until the end of the contract. Long story short, the teachers had neither the ability nor the spine to present a unified front, half the teachers gave up and got nothing, half of the teachers caved for two hundred dollars, and I was able to shake him down for a cool nine hundred for myself.

After that we learned that he wasn't paying into our pension fund. The first three months he paid in nothing, and following that, he paid in whatever he felt like, for whoever he felt like. Some people would have nothing put into their account one month, the full amount the next, and a fraction the month after, while others who were making the same wage had completely different contributions each month. Despite the brazenness with which he did this, we had to bring it to the attention of the Pension office that our salaries weren't going through perfectly normal wild fluctuations from two thousand to zero every month, we were being embezzeled upon (from? at? towards?) This is what nearly landed him in jail. Funny thing is, he did the same thing to a pair of teachers the year before, except one was ethnically Korean, spoke the language, knew the customs, and was as sick of his shit as I was. She and her boyfriend got their money paid them plus damages, all we got was our own money back.

Finally, he announced that through an unforseen scheduling conflict every Western teacher noticed the first week, we'd have to go home a few weeks early. We all needed a change so we happily accepted, but what the YMCA didn't tell us is that Korean law only obliges an employer to pay you your year end bonus if you work 365 days exactly. The plan was to "pro-rate" our bonuses, but word leaked before zero hour, and with two thousand dollars on the line most of the teachers were able to locate their balls. we got our money and got out.

Third. No one is interested in helping you. As you may have noticed, none of the local authorities have the wits or the will to stop him, and you have to be doing their job as well as yours. If you are a weygook, you aren't really a person. He had to pay a fine for stealing from a teacher who looked and spoke like a Korean, but he was only told to give the money back when he took from us. The Korean liasons at the YMCA are terrified of losing their job, which in that country, and especially that area is a big deal, and Koreans are very averse to conflict. This means that the liasons will not pass along "troubling" messages to the boss, lie to your face about the YMCA's aims and actions, and even in one instance, spy on you to curry favor with management, even if they are also being stolen from. As for the fellow teachers,

Fourth. You will be working with the biggest bunch of twats, lunkheads and deviants you've ever seen in one place. Anyone can do this job, and anyone does, including some nasty wierdos. One of the teachers found himself in some serious trouble when he was caught teaching adjectives by rating the girls looks and showing them pictures of bikini models. The fourteen year old girls. He followed that up by cursing out a schoolboy, which is a HUGE deal in an Asian, respect based country. He'd been giving everyone the heebie-jeebies for while, and as this happened about two weeks into the first time we'd been actually monitored the questions of what he did for an entire semester when no one was looking were even more uncomfortable. To wrap the story up, he was not fired because it would have been inconvenient to fill his place on short notice.

The Iksan YMCA: Perverts, kleptos, and doormats. I'm sure it's similar in many schools in South Korea, and anywhere you go you'd be rolling the dice on ending up in a situation just like this one, but this one is a sure bet for bullshit and headaches.

The lessons to take away form this is: Mr. Lee will steal from you any way he can. When you ask for your money back he will plead poverty, play childish interpretation games with your contract or out and out threaten you with firing. No one is interested in coming to your aid, and since I imagine that we will soon be the internet's premier search result for both "Iksan" and 6 girl prepubescent dykepile anecdotes, you can bet your ass you'll have to deal with more creeps than we did. Good Luck!

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2 Responses to “Revenge is a dish best served after you've practically forgotten all about it.”

  1. # Blogger Freshman

    How long has this been going on? The you blogging, I mean? And how dare you leave out the time Mr. Lee tried to steal ten dollars from me?

    I like that you can write nine thousand words on how much the Y sucks without getting around to the painful reality that is working in the Iksan Public School System for a full year. Hamyeol Boys Middle School, anyone?  

  2. # Blogger Seldon T. Scranton

    Ah yes. Addendum: They actually tried to shake my one friend down for the cab fare his school gave him one day when he snagged a ride with a fellow teacher. Again: They heard ~$10 was up for grabs, and it was not beneath the city's premier ESL institute to try to snatch it, much like the execs in the "pennies from heaven" bit on Arrested development.

    And yea, Iksan blows, but that's Korea man. May as well bitch about the weather. And I'm sure I've already bitched about the weather somewhere on the page.  

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