Yesterday we got proof in writing. When I say we, I mean the Koreans and not the 'foreign' teachers at my academy. And it was in Korean and not English so us foreigners do not totally know what is going on. Proof of what? Well there has been a rumour going around for some time that my academy is having a Christmas Day party and that all employees must attend - my academy has several branches and employs many people. Oh, and Christmas Day is on a Saturday this year. I'm told that people going stand to be in the running for various prizes, cash I think.
As of yet 'we' have received no letter or email so talk of going being mandatory is presumptuous so I don't want to jump the gun with my views but some of my Korean co-workers have been told they have to go and they believe that everyone else is going too. I feel this is of course totally and utterly unworkable, unreasonable and unenforceable. I just don't know how they would expect to pull it off. If the owner tried to pull a stunt like this at Chuseok or Korean New Year and said everyone had to attend then there is no way people would put up with it.
The only way round it, in my opinion would be to give everyone Christmas Eve off (Friday) and say, OK, we're giving you this day off but please come to the party and we can celebrate together. I think most people would attend and try to have a good time. It wouldn't be impinging on our most important holiday or even our weekend time, where we are not contracted to work. I am very interested in the wording of any email I get on this matter.
I cast my mind back to 2007 and the Christmas party that people 'had to go to'. Again, this was on a Saturday though not Christmas Day. We had to first watch our owner play football for about sixty minutes. Then we went to some place were we watched various branches perform acts of varying degrees of mediocrity. I refused to participate in any performance related matters and wasn't alone. Then we were treated to a lot of talking (90% in Korean) and prize giving - mostly to branch managers and not teachers. We were told that those who did not attend and won a prize forfeited their prize. Bah humbug!
There was no Christmas food, a key component of what makes Christmas Christmas. It could have been any given day of the year. Oh, and by the way the free pitchers of beer given to every table were open when we arrived and had been obviously spiked with something I presume to have been soju.
I know Christmas is not massively important here and don't expect Korea to bend to my point of view but, as this day is a public holiday here, to be able to be free to choose what I do then. I like my academy, I like working there and the people too. I have no issues with who I work for as they've always been fair, but please don't tell people what they have to do at Christmas. I look forward to getting an email some time soon.