So I had secured a job. One at a school with a really good reputation and 6 other foreign teachers. This would allow me to speak to actual peers, not just children all week.
I needed to figure out a way to tell Abraham that I was quitting my job. I couldn’t just tell him I was unhappy and wanted a change. He would never go for that. So I came up with a plan to tell him that my brother (I don’t have a brother btw) was really sick and I needed to go back to America to be with him. It seemed foolproof. Abraham didn’t know anything about my personal life so he wouldn’t know if I was lying.
One day soon after I had secured my new job, but before I was able to lie my way out of my current one, David asked if he could speak to me during our break one day. At this point David and I hadn’t talked too much aside from the small talk when we would see each other around school. So I found this request a bit strange. Anyway, one day we went to a coffee shop during our break. He asked how I was feeling about working there. I obviously hated it, but what was he getting at? I asked him what was going on and he started to tell me all these insane stories about Abraham.
He was close with the girl who worked at the school before me, Julie (I’m pretty sure that was her name) and told me so many horrible stories about things that she had experienced which led her to leave. When Julie had first come to work at the school she actually had to live with Abraham for a few months until he sorted a place for her to stay. During that time, he would eat her groceries without question or replacing them. She even witnessed him asking parents of students to bring in supplies (toilet paper, tissues, etc) for the school in which he actually took home to use for himself. Upon hearing these, I wondered if potentially he was struggling for money. David then told me that he pays for his kids live in Canada while he and his wife commute back and forth during the year and that he had a really expensive car. So one could assume Abraham was just cheap. This then explained why he was always turning off my a/c and heating – to save money on the bill. Julie and Abraham fought constantly because he was always taking money from her pay with bullshit explanations. David also had the same flight reimbursement issue that I had, and saw it as his first red flag. He also had numerous arguments with Abraham about various HR things throughout his time there. I then opened up to David and told him that I had actually found a new job and was planning to leave. He warned that Abraham probably wouldn’t react well but after hearing all these stories, I knew I was making the right decision. Lastly David mentioned something about our pensions. In Korea, and as per our contracts, schools are meant to pay a small percentage into a pension in which we match from our wages and we are able to take that money away when we leave. Abraham apparently wasn’t paying into this for us but will still deducting the matched amount. I never saw a pay slip so I never knew.
The time had come for me to tell Abraham that I was leaving. I sat him down one Friday after school in his tiny office. I was so fucking nervous, I just started crying. I hadn’t even said anything yet. I just burst into tears. I told him that my brother was very sick and I needed to be home with my family. He looked me dead in the eye and said ‘you don’t have a brother.’ How the fuck did he know that? I kept lying, ‘yes I do, and he’s dying!’ I was so appalled that he had accused me of lying that I stopped crying and just said, ‘I’m leaving as soon as possible’. Abraham then asked if I could wait until he replaced me. Seemed like a fair deal so I left the office feeling pleased, but still offended he called me a liar.
In the week following my resignation, Abraham and his wife were so fucking mean to me. They would watch me while I was teaching. Abraham’s wife who used to smile at me every day started to shake her head with a scorned look when we would make eye contact. One time, she yelled at me in front of the students for sending a quick text. It was a very hostile working environment. I would have complained to HR, had there been an HR to complain to.
During my notice period, they had started looking for someone to replace me. Also during this time, we were working on a Christmas show for the parents. I had briefly seen the woman they had were looking to hire in Abraham’s office one day. But on the night of the performance she had come to watch the show. Abraham had introduced her as the new teacher to an audience full of parents. I debated whether or not to tell her to run for the hills but David felt it best not to. For whatever reason, I listened.
The following Monday I came in and I was hungover as balls. I don’t know why but for some reason I had the brilliant idea of calling Abraham out about the pension thing. I figured I was too hungover to give a shit. I asked him into my classroom and said, ‘are you paying into a pension for me?’ He responded very calmly and said, ‘no.’ To be honest I can’t remember his reasoning but it was in our contract so in my mind there was no excuse. I also mentioned that he was taking out money from my paycheck for a pension to which he didn’t have an excuse. I flipped out. I started yelling and cursing at him asking why he lied to us, blah blah. I stormed out of the school and turned off my phone so he couldn’t reach me.
I went home and started packing. I wasn’t even sure where I was going, but I started doing it anyway. At some point I had turned my phone on to find it was now not working. The contract was in his name so I assumed he just turned it off. A while later, maybe around 6-7pm, I had a shower and got into my pajamas. With my hair still in a towel, the doorbell to my apartment rang.
There was a camera at the door so I could see who it was. There was Abraham’s wife and she looked like she was about to kill someone. I hesitated a bit; perhaps I would just pretend to not be home. I stood there for a minute trying to figure out what to do. Then the banging started. He was there too. In my state of panic, I assumed they might just have their own key and just come in anyway. So like a complete idiot, I opened the door.
The two of them flew into my apartment screaming and hollering at me in half Korean, half English. Abraham was threatening me with all sorts of things: he was going to call the cops to get me out of the apartment, he was going to have me blacklisted from the country, he was going to have me put in jail, and he went on and on for what seemed like hours. They were up in my face, pointing and making very aggressive hand gestures. I was terrified. Abraham’s wife even started throwing around some of my belongings. I just stood there, in my jammies and towel, crying hysterically, screaming for them to get out of my apartment. Finally, they stopped screaming and told me they would be back in an hour and I better be gone by the time they got back.
I ran down to David’s place and thank goodness he was home. I couldn’t even speak; I was crying to hard that the words coming out of my mouth were incoherent. He sat with me a minute and calmed me down so that I could tell him what happened. We then rushed back to my apartment to pack everything up as fast as we could. We brought everything to his and I used his computer to get in touch with my friend to see if I could go to hers. He also let me use his phone to call my parents in America. He then suggested we get some food to relax which he weirdly didn’t pay for. I had just been evicted; a free dinner would have been nice. We also went to the bank where I took out every last penny in case Abraham wanted to close that down as well. Afterwards, David put me in a cab with my stuff and I was off.
I cried the whole hour drive to my friend’s house. I was terrified as to what would happen to me. Could Abraham somehow find me? Could the Korean police find me? Would I be banned from Korea and the rest of the Asian continent?
I was still paranoid as fuck, but finally calmed down after I arrived at Hayley’s house. I called my mom and explained that I was safe now then she and Dad quickly booked me a flight home. But it wasn’t for 2 weeks. Luckily I had a vacation during that time so it wouldn’t be so bad.
The following morning, I checked my email. I had one from David, asking me if I was ok and telling me that after I had left, Abraham had gone to his apartment and told him not to let me stay there, not to help me at all, and not to speak to me but Abraham didn’t even explain what happened. I was so relieved to get out of that place. I was now on the opposite side of the city so I hoped I’d never have to see that man again.
A second email was in my inbox. It was from the recruiter who had gotten me the job with Abraham. She was asking me what had happened in which I replied and told her. She then responded saying that Abraham was ‘sorry’ and would like to know if I could come back to finish my notice period. Was this a joke? This man, who verbally raped me the night before was asking if I would come back and work for him? I had to be dreaming. But I wasn’t, he actually asked me to come back. Where would I live? Was I allowed back in my apartment? I told the recruiter that because of what happened I feared for my safety and would be leaving the country asap.
That weekend we were off to Thailand for 10 whole days of stress free relaxation. I was nervous about my visa though and thought perhaps Abraham had actually blacklisted me from the country. It worked out fine though and I was able to leave and re-enter the country without a problem.
In the time between Thailand and leaving to go back home, I sought out legal advice on my situation. Not because I wanted to sue Abraham or anything but because I was worried I wouldn’t be able to come back to work at my new job. The lawyers assured me that his threats were empty and he couldn’t blacklist me unless I was convicted of a crime. He also had no grounds for the cops to come and find me. I also asked them about his request for me to come back. Was this normal? They were as baffled as I was.
I flew home shortly thereafter to wait for a new visa to arrive. 6 weeks later, it came and I was back to Asia in no time.
I was so excited to get back to Seoul and teach English in an environment where I felt comfortable. I made friends with the other English teachers at my school instantly. My new apartment was in the biggest officetel complete with restaurants (that delivered to your apartment), a gym, a supermarket, a pharmacy, you name it! It was all there! I was finally happy in Seoul.
Looking back, I don’t regret anything I did which lead to what happened with Abraham. I do realize that some of my actions led to his bad behavior but had I not done that, I probably would have left Seoul with a bad taste in my mouth. I also wouldn’t have been miserable during my year’s contract. I probably wouldn’t have stayed as long either and wouldn’t have made the awesome memories that I did.
For a long time I was really embarrassed about what happened. I only told a couple people and didn’t want to talk about it. I even got a bit anxious while writing this post. The lesson to be learned here is to make sure you research something before you do it!
Turns out this sort of thing happens to a lot of foreigners in Seoul, especially in smaller schools. I recently Googled the school to see if I could find anything about it and came across a post from someone (I assume it was by the girl who replaced me) that said they heard Abraham’s wife had hit me, which is why I left. She didn’t, but she did humiliate me. She and her husband also caused me to become very paranoid for a long time while I was in Korea, even after my return on a new visa. I developed proper anxiety which led to panic attacks.
Anxiety aside, the rest of my time (2 years) in Seoul was a lot happier than my time with Abraham. I have really fond memories of Seoul and hope to visit soon.