Monday, November 3, 2014

The End of the EPIK Job Security Myth

photo courtesy of Kat Hazzard

All good things must come to an end. It seems the DMOE is being forced to finally jump on the national bandwagon. Tonight the teachers in Daegu received this email:

Hi All - 

I'm sure many of you are wondering why the contract renewal process has not yet started. We were prepared to have the official document out two weeks ago, but have been delayed due to a serious budgeting issue that occurred after our yearly audit by the national government. To be blunt, the DMOE is now having to succumb to what has become a national trend in the downsizing of the native English teacher program. For those of you that have been with us for awhile, you know that we have been somewhat impervious to these type of budget cuts, while places like Seoul and Busan have already seen drastic cuts. 

Before you read on, if you are an NET that hasn't gone through the renewal process at least once (that would be our February 2014 teachers), you will probably benefit from reading over the wikispace page regarding the general renewal process.

Originally, we were asked to cancel renewals and the new teacher intake for February. In order to avoid such drastic actions, we have been in negotiations for the past week and a half with the Superintendent and City Council. We have finally come to a consensus. The plan for February renewals is as such:

1. We will significantly increase the number of NET's that must travel between 2 schools. This was determined by counting the number of classes total at each school (3rd - 6th grade for elementary school, 1st - 3rd at middle schools). If the class total was 21 or more (30 for middle school), that school will receive 1 dedicated NET. Anything less will result in a traveling NET. We are still in the process of figuring out which schools are effected, and what the school pairings will look like (based on location and total class size). We won't be able to officially announce the school placements until the first week of December, but you may work under the assumption that the majority of schools will become traveling schools. 

2. Schools that currently have 2 NET's will change to 1. Understand that some schools may have 1 August and 1 February NET. Seeing as we must honor the August contract, the February NET will be asked to transfer. If both NET's are February NET's, then we will leave it up to you and the school to decide who will stay. If you and your school are not able to make that decision, the DMOE will do so for you in a random manner. If you work at a Global model school, it is possible that one or more positions will change to a traveling NET. 

3. There will be no high school positions, save for a handful of special exceptions (Foreign Language HS, Science HS). If you are currently at a high school and are offered a renewal contract based on your work performance, we will give you the option to move to either a middle or elementary (most likely traveling) position. We will contact you later for your preference.

4. There will be about 2-3 positions available in February at our Global Education Center (near Duryu Park) and G-Station (located in Beomeo station). Generally, the Global Education Center focuses on middle school programs, while G-Station focuses on elementary school students. We have attached information about both centers, if you are interested please refer to those documents. In addition to our regular Center positions, there will be about 3 or so teachers that will be dedicated to high school programs. The high school programs will also be held at the Center or G-Station. You may indicate on the renewal form if you would like to be considered for any of these positions, we will contact you individually later on with the application process. If you apply for a position and are not selected, you will be either be able to stay at your old school or be moved to a new location (we will contact you after the application process is finished).

5. The DMOE will change its pay scale to match that of Incheon/BusanEssentially it is about 100,000 won less per pay level. We will still honor an automatic upgrade in pay scale upon renewal. Don't forget that traveling NET's are subject to a 100,000 won traveling allowance as well. 

6. In the case that there are more NET's that wish to renew than available positions, we will fill those positions based off of your school's end of year evaluation and mid-year evaluation. 

7. For those of you that were considering a transfer, you may still apply for one. However, you must fully understand the current situation. Realistically, we will have far less openings than normal, therefore we will have much less options for placement. If you are not granted a transfer, you may stay at your current school. As always, specific school requests will not be granted.

8. If you are one of the NET's that are forced to be moved (this will specifically effect HS NET's, schools that are shrinking 2 NET's to 1), we will contact you later to find out your preference for placement. Understand that we will do our best to meet your preference, but nothing is guaranteed. 

At this point in time, we are looking at the official document going out tomorrow. We will give you and your schools a week and a half to send in the necessary information (intent for renewal/renunciation and evaluations). Contract renewal results are expected to go out by the end of November, school placements should be finalized by the beginning of December, and if all goes well, the renewal contract signing meeting should take place on Friday, December 12th.

We understand that this is a stressful development, and these changes might have a profound effect on your decision making process. We hope that, however less than ideal these changes seem, that they are much better than what we've seen happen to NET's in other parts of the country. 

It looks like I'm getting out just in time. As of March 2015, I'll be switching over to the night shift as a I start a job in a reputable hagwon in Ulsan. I'm looking forward to it.

In the meantime, I know many of my friends are bitterly disappointed as they realise the relationships they've worked so hard to build at their schools are going to be cut short by legal technicalities, and some of them question if they even want to stay in Korea any more. 

I wish you all the best of luck in making your decision, and if you choose it, finding other jobs. 


  1. So I left Korea ~1.5 years ago and although I was teaching in more remote areas, I started to get a sense of this sort of shift and downsizing of NETs but I couldn't have guessed it would have started so soon. I'm unsure of what has happened since I've been away but besides Seoul, Incheon, and most recently, Daegu, has this been happening elsewhere?

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Yeah, it's happening in pretty much every major city now.