A person who ran an unauthorized school teaching US curriculum in Gangnam was fined 3 million won ($2,700) for violation of the elementary and secondary education law.
The school, set up in July 2018, taught subjects such as English language, American history and biology under a US curriculum to about 110 students from ninth to 12th grades from 8:30 a.m. until 3:10 p.m. for a tuition fee of 12 million won per semester, and ran after-school club activity programs as well.
The accused insisted that it was a hagwon, or private cram school, that merely sought to supplement the existing public education system, but the court rejected his claims.
The Supreme Court said Monday it upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced him to a fine of 3 million won for recruiting the students and running a hagwon in the form of a school without approval from the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education.
The accused opened the school accredited by a US nonprofit organization called AdvancED in July 2018 in Seoul’s Gangnam and hired licensed teachers or those with three or more years of teaching experience after acquiring a foreign university degree.
He recruited about 110 students and received 12 million won in tuition fees per six-month semester.
Those who completed the 12th grade curriculum at the school could take the Advanced Placement test, like high school students in the US.
Under the elementary and secondary education law, anyone who intends to establish a private school must obtain authorization from the metropolitan or provincial superintendent of education.
The law stipulates that any person who uses the title of a school or invites students and operates facilities in de facto form of a school without obtaining authorization to establish a school shall be punished by imprisonment for not more than three years or by a fine not exceeding 30 million won.
About 250 unauthorized “international schools” are estimated to be in operation in South Korea.