I'm not employed by SMOE, and I should note that I have nothing against the program, but SMOE doesn't seem to be satisfied with their recent press. This seems pretty close to violating some civil rights here - take a look for yourself from SMOE's website:
There will be some Holidays coming up like Chuseok and Korean New Years. If you are planning to go outside of Korea. You will be Quarantined when you return. If you are quarantined, you will be using your sick days. (You have 15 days sick leave)
Schools may ask you to not go outside Korea because of the Quarantine week. [emphasis mine] Because you are leaving outside of Korea, schools will be missing an English teacher for that time being.
It scares me to think that something as exciting like traveling to other countries might be cause to make an employer say that. I understand not traveling to dangerous places - going to tour Afghanistan's or Iraq's sights isn't exactly the best idea right now. But Taiwan? Japan? Half the reason some people come to Korea is also to travel to nearby countries during vacations.
Sure, they can ask - but are you obligated to follow that request? They can't take any official action against you for checking out China or Japan - but relationships make the job. Good relationships with your boss, co-workers, other teachers, etc. are more rewarding than the contract. Bad relationships can move you to the front of the chopping block for whatever reason they can make up.
On the bright side, using your sick days means you'll be paid for that time you're sitting at home watching movies.
Does this change your plans for the upcoming holidays? Comment away!
© Chris Backe - 2009