I understand that teaching privates for E-2 holders is illegal and lucrative, yet many people do it anyway. I have quite a bit of debt and some financial obligations back home, and teaching privates or some other form of supplemental income would help me alot. How often do they do private tutoring crackdowns? What is the general safety of this practice?
I was wondering when I was going to get a question about privates.
Private tutoring is one of those things that nearly everyone seems to have done, speaks relatively openly about and is paid very well for. Sometimes people are approached on the streets, in subways or restaurants and other times, parents of students and adults in class ask for some extra help. Koreans are hungry for tutors in all subjects and many are willing to pay big bucks for it. Some might wonder if there is such a demand for it, then why has the government taken such a strong stance against it? Why not regulate it? They have. They're called hagwons.
I could opine if I wanted, but much has already been written about it. The gist is that the government has been working very hard recently and over the past decade to level the playing field so that all students and households have an equal shot at succeeding in school. There's also the growing concern that education costs are linked to the rapidly decreasing birthrate as well. Again, if you're interested in that, I'd suggest digging around Google and the K-blogosphere as nearly everyone has added their angle to the story.
As you know, it is illegal and there have been the occasional crackdowns and threats from the government, but in general it's pretty safe. I "officially" state that you should not do it since it is illegal and getting caught is always a possibility. If the police do catch up with you, then you can expect to be jailed, fined or deported. From time to time you'll also hear about small groups of citizens who band together in an effort to snuff out illegal teachers by propositioning them and then turning around and calling the police. (Think that's bad? Look at what the crazies over at Anti-English Spectrum do.) There's also the lame people who try to sell their privates (pun intended). I couldn't find any ads for them today, but just for the extreme levels of their douchiness for trying to squeeze cash out of other expats, we should all ignore these guys.
Bottom line is that many Koreans want tutors, they'll pay well (usually around 50,000/hr) and that's good for teachers (and them if you're effective), but if you are really set on tutoring privately, only accept gigs from people you know or from solid recommendations. Other than that, it's not worth searching. If they land in your lap, well, then there you go.
There are, however, legal routes to go if you want to make some solid extra cash. If you really love working all day, well, then get two jobs. It's possible. You can teach adults on the split shift and do an afternoon school gig in the middle. It's a lot of hours, but you'll be pulling over 5-6k a month, plus benefits and the potential for double housing cash. Or you can teach at a kindergarten place in the morning and early afternoon and then a hagwon till late into the night. There are plenty of ways to make solid LEGAL cash. Of course, if you're on the E2 then you'll need to get permission from the school who sponsors your visa. That can be tricky sometimes, but as long as the two mediums aren't vying for the same market, then you should have no problems.
You could also consider getting involved in some aspects of the entertainment industry, but that's for another question and another post.
In the end, teaching privately is a lucrative business and can make you some big bucks. However, it could also end in deportation. If you have the F2 visa, then you can teach privately, but you're supposed to register with the government and report all earnings so you can pay taxes on them.
Making and saving money is important and you will be tempted to privately tutor. If you do, then that's your business. Just know that it could lead to problems.
Has anybody been caught in the game?
If anybody has any questions, just send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment.