Negotiating with Koreans
The other day I interviewed for a part time job with a Korean hagwon. They told me the maximum rate they pay their part timers, and I told them I typically get 25% more than that. They asked me if I’d accept 12.5% more than their maximum instead. I told them that would be acceptable. We agreed on a schedule, and I left. Three days before I was to start, they called and asked me if I’d accept their standard maximum. I told them I would not. They said “Well, thanks for your time then,” and hung up. Then they called yesterday and said “Can you start in two hours, if we meet your payment requirements?”
This reinforces the idea that in Korea, the deal isn’t agreed upon until the contract is signed, even if a verbal agreement is reached, or one party declines the offer.
I’d like to stress the fact that when negotiating with Koreans, it is vital to have an alternative to working with them that you don’t find unappealing. Having a good fallback gives you much more negotiating strength. If I absolutely NEEDED that job, I would have had to take their offer.
NOTE: Someone left a comment to this post expresssing doubt over whether or not I am in Korea. It was written in rather pointed terms and violated my one rule: be nice, so I did not allow it to appear. However, I will answer it. I am currently NOT in Korea. This interaction took place outside the country, which is why I didn’t mention specific amounts of money, as they are not in won. I have worked for Korean-run hagwons teaching Korean students English in three countries.