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Hagwon required to double check foreign teachers’ history

English language private institutions will be required to check the passports, visas and foreign registration cards of foreign teachers before employment, according to a revised law related to private institutions, the Education Ministry said Tuesday.

According to the law which will take effect in Oct. 26, private English institutions, called hagwon here, will receive penalties of 3 million won ($2,600) or face closure if they do not follow the new requirements.

The same law revised in July requires owners of hagwon to check documents submitted when applying E-2 visas such as criminal record checks, health checks and degree certificates.

“As the number of foreign teachers increases at private institutions, problems are on the rise with some involved in sexual assault and drug trafficking. And we revised the law twice in order to enhance the verification process and protect students from potential crimes,” said Han Chang-jin, education official in charge of private institutions.

The law is intended to obligate hagwon owners to double check foreign teachers before they hire, but will not make foreign teachers submit the documents every time they move to a new hagwon or every year, said Yoo Byung-gil, official of Justice Ministry in charge of immigration.

“Foreign lecturers don’t need to submit the documents whenever they seek jobs at hagwon,” he said.

A Korean-American wanted for attempted murder in the U.S. was found operating an English academy in Gangnam District earlier August, shocking many parents and students and raising voice to toughen identity check for foreign teachers.

There are about 22,600 E-2 visa holders in Korea and of them, about 15,000 foreigners are employed at hagwon for teaching English.

By Lee Woo-young  (