Reaction to The Four Million Dollar Teacher

In Uncategorized on August 6, 2013 at 2:41 pm

“The $4 Million Teacher” is a great article that a friend shared with me about an innovative Hagwon teacher in Korea, who apparently makes 4 Million USD a year. Hagwans are the evening schools which Korean kids go to, sometimes until midnight, studying everything from math to English. Korea now has significantly passed the US in terms of literacy and university achievement. BUT please don’t let that statistic trick you into believing Korean schools are better. The kids are learning all of this stuff in hagwans and they typically attend hackwans from 3:00 or 4:00 PM till late evening five days a week, a full day on Saturday and sometimes half day on Sunday. Plus they have home teachers. So no, Korean education isn’t necessarily better, the kids just spend a lot more time studying and this is all private, paid for by parents, not the government. When I worked in a hackwan in Busan I asked my co-worker, if Korean schools are so good, why can’t they prepare the kids for the national exams?

The human cost of the Hackwan is that the Korean kids simply don’t have a childhood. The hackwans all run buses which pick the kids up at school and take them to the next hackwan. They shuffle back and forth like this, generally eating two or three meals a day outside the home. When they finally get home at 10:00 or 11:00 PM they have to do their school homework. My third and fourth grade students were telling me that they slept as little as five hours per night.

As for whether or not you should run to Korea to make money, the most money I have ever heard of a foreigner making in hackwans or private tutoring in Korea is $5,000 USD a month and the teacher in question was absolutely killing himself with hours of work, prep and travel. The highest paid teachers I have ever known in Korea and in Taiwan, which has a similar system called bushiban, were all local. They would teach exam prep in huge auditoriums and receive a salary based on the number of attendees. A very popular teacher could earn in a single Saturday what a foreign teacher earns for a month.

While the internet and particularly youtube is full of foreign teachers trying to make a name for themselves, I honestly don’t know if any of these are actually making money or if a Korean employer would even be interested in hearing your ideas for a new and innovative teaching method. What I saw in the many schools I worked at in Taiwan and, admittedly, only one in Korea, the schools had a method or a curriculum. They simply needed a white monkey to deliver the lesson, make the kids laugh, and not cause problems. And if you did that, you received your salary.

Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.

Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army. The book is available at

See Antonio’s Destinations video series and find out about his column on




Brooklyn Monk fan page

Brooklyn Monk on YOUTUBE


Brooklyn Monk in 3D

Order the download at

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)

Brooklyn Monk in Asia Podcast (anti-travel humor)



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: