When we found ourselves in a bad situation with our director, we knew we needed to ask for help. The first thing we did was call the Ministry of Labor hotline. This article helped me find the phone number.
Call 1350, wait through the Korean automated voice, press 5 for Foreign Languages, and then press 1 for English. They have been very quick at answering my call, too. I think, at most, I waited about 2 minutes.
After listening to our story and asking me questions, the woman advised me to file a petition because our director had definitely done something illegal. My next questions were about the process of filing a petition, and she was more than helpful in explaining what needed to be done.
**She warned that we would need a Korean speaker to go with us because no one there speaks English.**
I also asked her where I should go, and she informed me that the Suwon location was the closest to where I live. I found out later that it’s actually called the Gyeonggi District Office. She told me what station to go to, what exit to take, and also what building it was near.
For those of you that also need to go to the Suwon location (Gyeonggi District Office), follow these instructions:
- Go to Sungkyunkwan University station (Line 1)
- Go out of exit 1
- Cross the street directly ahead of you
- Cross the street to the right (the building is on the right)
The building itself has a sign near the sidewalk, so it’s not hard to miss. Their hours are 9am-6pm, Monday through Friday.
**I want to point out that after researching where exactly this place was, I could NOT find an exact address. The MOEL website was no help, and other articles listed incorrect addresses.
I found that forum post, went to Naver, and then copy and pasted the address into Google. The only reason I knew this was the correct address to use was because it was near the station that I was told to go to, by the woman from the Ministry of Labor hotline. Why was it so hard to find an address?!**
Next, we had to find someone who speaks Korean to go with us to the Labor Board Office. I typed up a plea for help and posted it on a few Facebook groups, and we got many replies! We were prepared to pay the person, but we ended up contacting a Korean man who wanted to help, free of charge.
Once inside the building, we entered an office to the right and found a table with cubbies filled with different documents. Our new friend found the correct form and filled it out in Hangul. We filed 2 petitions, one for each of us. This is the information we put on the document:
- Phone number (they will send you text messages)
- ARC number
- Our director’s name
- School address
- School phone number
- Reason for filing the petition (big space at the bottom)
He wrote the same information on both of the documents, including the reason for filing, because our stories were the same. Then we handed it to a woman behind a desk, and we were finished.
A few days later we received a text message from the Labor Board. It stated (in Hangul, so you will need someone to help translate) our names, a 4-digit registration number, and gave the name of our representative. Another text came in giving us the second registration number. One for me and one for Andrew.
Three days later, we received another text message with the date and time of our Labor Board meeting. We were to come back to the same office where we filed the petition. Thankfully, our work time (2pm-9pm) allowed us time to go to an early a.m. meeting and still make it to work on time.
A week later, all four of us showed up for our meeting: Andrew and I, our Korean friend, and our director. We showed the text message to the woman at the front desk, and we discovered that we had to go up to the 3rd floor office to find our representative. We found him sitting behind his desk, among a row of computers. He acknowledged us, asked us to pull up 4 chairs, and we started the meeting.
**We wrote our story down a few days before the meeting and had a trusted friend translate it into Hangul. We brought it to the meeting and handed it to the Labor Board representative so that he could read what we had to say. It wasn’t necessary, but I believe it made things a bit more easy because he immediately knew what we wanted.**
He gave each side a chance to speak, and he asked our director and our Korean friend some questions. It helped that we had discussed the situation together, so our Korean friend knew the answers to most of the questions directed at us.
The meeting lasted 30-40 minutes. The representative concluded that our director should pay us back the money that he withheld from our checks, and we all signed a document confirming it. And then he typed something in the computer, and off we went! Case closed.
**I do want to add that we contacted a lawyer after this ordeal, and we were told some interesting facts. He said that the Labor Board has no real authority in situations regarding private school contract disagreements, and that even though they demanded that our director repay us, they wouldn’t have had any power to enforce their decision. The lawyer told us we were lucky that our director had even paid us because he could have just ignored the Labor Board and gotten away with it. He also advised us that if/when we hire a lawyer and pursue legal action, having an active Labor Board case would be detrimental. So, for people in our situation, it would be better to seek legal action first and have the lawyer sue for money owed to you – instead of filing a petition at the Labor Board.** (For anyone who is interested, we went to FLAg Association and would definitely recommend them. Send me a message if you have any questions.)