South Korean immigration authorities recently raided Eaton House Prep (pictured), an authorized international school in Hannam-dong, Seoul to investigate the visa status of foreign teachers. Photo by Han Joo-hyung
A slew of unauthorized international schools that recently mushroomed in downtown Seoul are facing a shutdown amid a massive crackdown on visa violations of foreign teachers.
There are about 10 such English-only alternative schools in Seoul’s well-heeled Gangnam district alone, where foreigners teaching subjects other than English on E-2 visas face eviction from the country.
These schools authorized as a hagwon, or private academy aimed to provide alternative programs to students who pay for extra tutoring after school or struggle at traditional schools, but they had been used as a channel to early-age overseas study for children in wealthy neighbors.
Immigration authorities said foreign teachers at these institutions should have obtained the E-7 visa, not E-2, to work as school teachers.
After the crackdown, an unnamed international school in Seocho district rushed to cancel a middle-school program and close an annual English language summer camp. Another school in Gangnam is understaffed to teach more than 100 students after eviction orders issued to its foreign teachers.
On May 30, Korea Immigration Service raided Eaton House Prep, an unauthorized international school in Hannam district, to investigate the visa status of foreign teachers. Since then, the school has suspended regular programs planned for its 150 students. Many of these students are children whose parents are large business owners or famous celebrities.
Tuition fees of this institution are expensive with more than 25 million won ($21,700) a year, comparable to those of top authorized international schools in Seoul.
By Yoo Joon-ho
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