I hope everyone's having a happy holiday!
Why not follow Park Chung-hee's example and play yut with your loved ones?
The Two Faces of Tragedy & The Lack of Trust
12 hours ago
A two lane-road next to the construction site of the International Finance Center in Yeouido, Seoul, on Wednesday, collapsed, causing a 50-meter-long, 20-meter-wide and 30 meters-deep crater. The pit swallowed five trucks and resulted in severed electric cables causing power supply stoppages on 48 buildings nearby. Also a water main burst causing the area to be flooded. The power outage caused traffic signal failures and severe traffic jams continued till Thursday morning. A rescue team managed to save a 59-year-old construction worker, Lee, from the site. Police speculated that the ground became weak due to digging at the construction site combined with the downpour.Korea Beat also translated an article about it:
A Mr. Kim (42), who witnessed the incident, said, “nearby buildings suddenly lost power and then with a roaring sound the road by the construction site started to sink and then caved in, and cars parked on the street fell into the hole.”I couldn't help but think that the photo above reminded me of the collapse of a retaining wall at Gajwa station on June 3 of this year:
According to the Labor Ministry, some 2.8 million are employed by the construction industry. This year alone, 157 were killed and 3,748 were injured, up from 19 deaths and 362 injuries of the same period of last year.Here's a shot of the construction site for the International Finance Center, with the crater in the foreground:
In 1995, at the crest of a wave of private language institutes sweeping the country, the Korean Ministry of Education launched a pilot program called KORETTA, or Korea English Teacher Training Assistants, later renamed the English Program in Korea, or EPIK. It was the first and only nationwide government-initiated program to address the demand for English education in Korea, designed to place native English speakers in public school classrooms to co-teach alongside Korean English teachers. EPIK, however, was marked from the start by disorganization, miscommunication and allegations of corruption by its foreign teachers.So, just to make that clear, it wasn't just the language institutes which might screw over prospective teachers - working within a government-run program ran the risk of similar treatment.
In 1996, a summer intake that consisted of several orientation sessions, run by Korea University, brought in more than 860 teachers, but by the third week of October, fewer than 500 remained [468, according to the Times on Oct. 23]. Those who quit cited reasons such as inadequate housing, late salary payments and refusal of severance pay.
The airmailed marijuana was detected at Kimpo Customs at Kimpo International Airport, which notified it to the prosecutor's office. The prosecutor's office, in a "controlled delivery," let the parcel delivered to Syed [yes, they use his full name] Tuesday. Investigators then staked out his residence to monitor Syed's activities. After it was ascertained that he had smoked it on four occasions with the girlfriend, they arrested him, according to the prosecutor.Note that the girlfriend wasn't arrested. It seems such arrests weren't so common at that time; this teacher was just one of 23 foreigners busted for drugs in 1996, according to an October 30, 1997 Korea Times article:
Narcotic-related arrests of foreigners which stood at 14 in 1995, increased by 64.3 percent to 23 last year and jumped to 37 as of the end of September this year [...] Those arrested with the drug, were mainly Americans before 1995, but it was Nigerians who comprised the largest category in 1996 [,though] cases committed by Iranians and Pakistanis are increasing this year.Apparently, English teachers commit other crimes as well, as the Korea Times reported on January 11, 1997:
A patrolman shot an American English tutor who was allegedly resisting him after stabbing one of his American colleagues while intoxicated early yesterday morning in [Seongnam]. [The teacher, who teaches] English at Pagoda Junior Institute, was shot in the left thigh and has been treated at Songnam Hospital. He is suspected of stabbing one of his fellow English instructors (24), three times in the face during a quarrel that arose while they were drinking together at his house. [...] Rossi's Korean fiance said he was "unarmed" when the policeman fired at him. [...] A police officer said that the patrolman repeatedly ordered Rossi to stop, but he continued to resist and would not put down his knife, and the cop shot him after firing two blank shots.[Update] The victim's version of the story appears in the comments:
The way he told it, he was celebrating the end of his contract at his friend's apartment down the hall from his room. He had a ticket booked to leave the next day. They got pretty drunk. He figured someone called the cops because of the noise (they had been talking really loudly in English). At one point in the evening, as people had left and they both were tidying up the room, he said his friend tripped and landed arms first in the glass of the sliding door, breaking it and cutting himself. He claimed it wasn't too serious, just a few minor cuts, so his friend cleaned himself up with a towel, threw on the floor, and went to bed. The teacher was supposedly sweeping the floor when a cop got there. He said the cop saw the Korean passed out from drinking so much, saw the bloodied towel, the white guy, and put 2 and 2 together and came up with five. The cop pulled out his gun and aimed it at the teacher who claimed he quickly raised his hands and shouted 'Chingu, chingu!'. The cop shot two or three times, hitting him in the leg. He claimed he was denied treatment at the hospital because the insurance wouldn't cover injuries incurred during an arrest. I supposedly took a day or two before he could come up with the money. By then, it was too late. He had apparently developed nerve damage, which he claimed was caused by the delay in treatment.A February 2 Korea Herald article described 'itinerant' teachers.
Korea has overtaken Japan as the favorite destination for those looking to earn quick money by teaching English. Itinerant teachers now far outnumber their better-qualified and legally-contracted counterparts who almost always earn far less. One native speaker, who asked for anonymity said that he can spend half of the year in Seoul doing illegal teaching and the other half on various beaches around the world and still saves thousands of dollars. Such teachers are clearly not the answer to the high level of demand for English teachers. But while this demand and its consequent high wages persist, they will continue to flock to Korea.A February 3 Korea Herald article described how universities were "reducing the salaries, benefits and status of their foreign instructors," by creating 5 month contracts and paying per class taught. A letter in the Korea Herald on April 25, 1997 points out the other, more popular reason for English teachers being arrested these days:
I have met several individuals working here that have purchased mail-order diplomas from various sham operations. With these diplomas they pass themselves off as qualified instructors and gain access to the same positions that qualified ESL teachers are due.[...] I sincerely hope that the charlatans, scam artists, tourists and pitiful old hippies that have been employed to teach English in Korea will either leave or get training and certification which will justify their existence here in Korea.A month later, a May 31, 1997 Korea Times article described these teachers:
Tales of easy money have attracted "cowboy teachers," unqualified foreigners who ride into town and try to cash in, giving legitimate teachers a bad name in the process.The name of this article was "Immigration Cracks Down on Illegal English Teachers":
Between mid-December and the end of April, 315 illegal teachers were deported after sweeps of foreign language institutes (hagwon) and elementary schools[, when authorities used methods such as] spotting and trailing foreigners on the street [and] talking to security guards and staking out the lobbies of apartment buildings where teachers give expensive private lessons.The reason for this crackdown is mentioned here:
In 1995, English teaching jobs began to proliferate and foreigners swarmed to Korea. Most with work visas found their job situation unacceptable, quit, and either went home or began working on a tourist visa (which is highly illegal). Soon, the number of illegal English teachers greatly exceeded the number of legal teachers. This influx of illegal workers, in combination with the declining health of the economy in 1997, prompted Korean immigration to start seriously pursuing foreign teachers working on a tourist visa.Not all of the articles from that time dwell on illegal teachers, however. A July 8, 1997 Korea Times article described "the estimated 800 angry and disillusioned American teachers who lodge complaints about broken promises and mistreatment by Korea's hagwons and schools every year" with the U.S. embassy.
For more than three years, the Chief of American Citizens' Services, Katheryn S.R. Berck, has mailed a warning letter to all who inquire about teaching English in Korea that reads: "Due to the growing number and seriousness of problems experienced by American citizens teaching English in Korea, we counsel against taking such employment even at reputable colleges and universities..."On July 18, 1997, it was reported that 141 illegal English teachers who had entered Korea on a tourist visa were to be deported. In a Korea Times article the next day, it was said that this was due to the arrest of five (Korean) men who ran a recruiting agency.
Berck arrived as the Chief of American Services in the late summer of 1993. Six months later, she said, the reasons for warning Americans about teaching in Korea were obvious: "We were so exhausted with hearing people's horror stories, we put this out." Berck checked with other popular locations for foreign English teachers around the world and Korea is the only bad apple in the ESL market, cataloging hundreds more complaints than any other country, she said.
During the course of their investigation police discovered that 141 out of the 1,019 foreigners the agents found teaching jobs for were working on tourist visas.[...] 645 institutes offering art, math or taekwondo classes hired them to attract students.[...]A Korea Herald article from October 13 said that a "report, submitted by the Seoul Office of Education to the National Assembly, indicated 146 English language institutes [in Seoul], including three foreign-owned ones, had enrollment of 24,928 kids under the age of 12 as of the end of August." A Korea Times article from November 2 gave some numbers, describing "the 464 Language Institutes in Seoul that employ over 1,800 foreign teachers". It's obvious from the July article that more than language institutes were hiring them (not to mention privates).
Saying there are over 20,000 illegally employed foreign language teachers in the nation, the police are stepping up their crackdown on them. According to the latest statistics compiled by the Education Ministry, there were 4,171 legal foreign language teachers as of the end of last month. Ninety-four percent or 3,930 of them teach English[.]
A group calling themselves the American English Teachers Attacking Corrupt Koreans (AETACK) have sent random inflammatory anti-Korean electronic mail to subscribers on the Internet. In one poison missive sent to members of America On Line entitled"No Visa Waiver For Korea," the message said "(We) feel that Korea does not deserve this privilege because of its behavior toward us and other foreign workers," adding that "the Korean economy is sinking into debt oblivion so they don't have much money to spend...there is also the threat of opening the door to Korean Mafia-style criminals who are acknowledged to be a problem by the FBI."Some other teachers thought this was just an excuse to 'bash Koreans', while a Korean American compared them to the KKK. On February 2, 1998, the New York Times published an article about the taboo against interracial relationships in Korea, describing the lengths some families would go to keep their daughters away from their foreign boyfriends ("The parents locked the girlfriend in the home for 10 days, telling her to call in sick at her job. Then they alternated interrogations with lectures.") and typical attitudes (''A Korean woman must never date or marry a foreign guy,'' said Kim Hee Sup, a 34-year-old male office worker. ''All Koreans should try to maintain racial purity.'' ), though it wasn't all bad:
''It used to be pretty bad -- I'd get things thrown at me if I were dancing with a Korean girl,'' said Peter Keusgen, a 29-year-old Australian stock analyst who has spent most of the last six years in South Korea. ''Coming from that low base, Korea's come a long way. People are much more accepting now.''At any rate, the number of teachers would drop as the Korean economy collapsed and the Korean government asked the IMF for a bailout on November 22. A Korea Times article from December 17, 1997 is titled "English Teachers Mull Bailout of Their Own From Current Crisis".
What was once a land of plenty that offered money, fast-paced challenges and a chance to experience a foreign culture has now become a trap for thousands of foreign English teachers in South Korea who came over here for a little adventure and a way to pay off the heavy burden of student loans but who in a matter of days, saw their salaries cut in half and their very jobs at risk because of the plunge in the value of the won against the dollar.I seem to remember someone telling me the F stood for something else, but I digress. An April 1, 1998 Times article mentions that
By far, the overwhelming reason Korea has drawn more than 10,000 legally accredited English teachers and an even greater number of "illegal" teachers is money.[...] "Lots of teachers are planning a bailout of their own," said Mark Bray, a full-time English instructor at Taegu University. "People I know have already left and there's a saying here now: 'IMF - I-M-Flying'".
Foreign English teachers are giving up their jobs in South Korean high schools because their pay has shrunk in value, discouraging an ambitious English education plan that started just a year ago. Education Ministry officials said 126 out of 856 native English-speaking teachers quit as of the end of last month [and few would re-sign when their contracts ended in July].An interesting October 1998 article in Slate by teacher Rolf Potts looked at the expat scene in Busan before and after the currency crash:
To the untrained foreign eye, Pusan still looks like a manic boomtown. But the Americans and Canadians who have lived here for the last couple of years know better. This is because the seasoned expatriates of Pusan know their garbage.One thing that's interesting is that he refers to the experience of thousands of foreigners (anyone with "a native understanding of English, a college degree and a pulse") coming to Korea to teach English in the past tense, as if it was all over and Korea's economy would never recover. English teachers would soon begin to return, though it would take a few years for the number of teachers to build up again to pre-economic crisis levels. A December 14, 1998 Korea Times article describes this:
Just over one year ago, street-side garbage piles provided an almost inexhaustible supply of perfectly usable desks, couches, tables, television sets, electric fans and personal computers for itinerant foreigners looking to stock a rented room for a few months. At the time, Koreans were still giddy from three decades of steady economic growth, and throwing out perfectly usable electronics and home furnishings was a sly act of one-upmanship among the middle class. Koreans looked on in haughty bemusement as young Americans enthusiastically carted garbage back to their apartments.
These days, what's left of Pusan's expatriate community has all but given up dumpster diving. [...] These days, the garbage of Pusan is just garbage.
Though many were frightened away by the won's seeming collapse, those who have remained in Korea have watched the won make a modest recovery and have seen demand for their services skyrocket as of late. In fact, the need for teachers is so great that even some of the teachers who left are returning.Immigration did not fail to notice this, of course, and the Korea Times reported on April 9, 1999 that 71 foreigners would be fined and deported for teaching English without a proper work visa. Oddly enough, I could find no stories in the Times or the Herald in 2000 about foreign teachers, and only one in 2001, from March 7, which is about that other reason why English teachers sometimes make the news:
There are now so many unfilled teaching positions here that Dave's ESL Cafe, a popular website with the ESL crowd, recently started a new web page just for Korean jobs.[...] Where at one point [there were] less than 40 Korean job postings per month, over the past month alone [there have been] over 120.
[One teacher says that] "Right now, you don't even have to have graduated from high school. If you come over here on a tourist visa, you'll be guaranteed work, and a lot of money, too."
Four foreigners who teach English to kids between four and seven at an English kindergarten in the Gangam area in Seoul were arrested for smoking marijuana Wednesday. [...] According to the prosecution, they argued that they were not under the influence of the drug when teaching kids in the morning as they usually smoked in the evenings. An official at the kindergarten said that even smoking is not allowed at the institute and that officials had no idea that some instructors were on marijuana.There's nothing like conflating "smoked pot in their free time" with "they taught innocent children and no one even noticed they were on marijuana". As luck would have it, the next news item would be almost a year later, and it involved another drug bust, as a February 19, 2002 Korea Times article reveals:
The Pusan Metropolitan Police Agency said the foreign suspects, most of whom are working as lecturers in universities and language institutes in Pusan city, have been getting together in a foreigners-only cafe in Changchon-dong to have marijuana parties. Seven foreign offenders, including an American, two Canadians and a New Zealander, as well as four Koreans including the 38-year-old owner of the cafe, have already been taken into custody. "We are now tracking 10 other foreign suspects in this case via their workplaces and other channels,'' a police officer said."State of hallucination"? I guess they have to play up something, don't they? At the time I received a forwarded email from a teacher in Busan which gave more information about the arrest. It stated that when police raided the bar, they came with a list of names that informants had given them. Koreans were told to leave, and every foreigner's ID was checked. Those whose names were on the list, and those without ID, were given a urine test. An article about Busan expat scene and the aftermath of this drug bust (as well as an interview with the director of the upcoming film "Expats", which is set in Busan) can be found here.
On Saturday, police raided the cafe in question following a tip that about 60 foreigners and Koreans there were in a state of hallucination after taking marijuana. Seven foreign offenders were caught red-handed.
Foreign feral freaks are the toxic effluent of a culture that has, for all the best intentions, and despite many resultant achievements and public benefits, uniquely put the individual and his needs and concerns first. They are entirely, freakishly separated from the society, the world and the universe to which they rightfully belong, utterly selfish and willful and indulgent of all appetites, creepily sensual, crass, obnoxious, disrespectful, irresponsible; in a word, ignoble.Who needs the Korean media when this guy's around? Moving from teachers to hagwons, on September 5, 2002, the Korea Times reported that
In fact, not a few Koreans mix with the foreign rabble at the various rat-hole drinking establishments, whether out of morbid curiosity or fascinated disgust _ it is academic to speculate _ before returning home to their long showers.
Six children’s English education institutes have carried out false and misleading advertisings or forced unfair deals onto their member outlets. The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) yesterday ordered the six firms - Kizclub, Wonderland, LCI Kids Club, ECC, Kids Herald School and Swaton Language School – to cease the illegal practices.A September 25, 2002 article about the plans of the Youth Commission to release photos of people convicted of sex crimes with minors mentioned a disturbing fact:
An American English teacher convicted of attempting to rape one of his students is also on the list, along with a security guard who surreptitiously videotaped underage girls with three other foreigners.There's no more mention of those other foreigners, but I'm surprised that the attempted rape case didn't get more attention. It certainly would if it happened now. Speaking of sex crimes, on July 11, 2003, a person with the ID 'Lucky Guy' at koreanesl.com posted a short essay titled "How to Mollest [sic] your Students". It led to a number of complaints and angry responses by other English teachers who read it before it was buried after a few days. It would remain forgotten for a year and a half.
"Two customers were on the verge of quitting their jobs, and another was seeking psychiatric counseling,” she said Saturday. “Another customer had a job offer taken away. Our club is preparing to close."[...] "I get anonymous threatening phone calls at the club all the time. 'Why don't whores like you just die quietly,' 'Foreigners' whore! Why don't you shut down your club?' 'We will hold a picket demonstration in front of your club'... I get nervous anytime I hear the phone ring."They also interview another woman in the photos:
"My co-workers point at me behind my back… "I don't know how they got my email address, but I get tons of emails with frightening titles, so I don't even turn on my computer these days." Another girl pictured said she was offered a secretarial position in early January, but because of the photos, the job offer was withdrawn.Five months later another woman would receive similar treatment after refusing to clean up her dog's poop on the subway, which would lead to social concern about such "cyber terror". No such concern was directed towards the plight of these women, however. As for English teachers in general, the media had made the connections "English teacher = unqualified teacher" or "drugs" in the past to little fanfare, but with a handful of photos and some potty mouthed-bragging over sexual conquests, a new connection - "English teacher = they who screw our women" - was made, and it has proved an easy one to exploit for ratings or hits (as the Marmot noted, Dalian used the controversy in its early days to get noticed).
"because the English camp sexual assaults are a structural problem brought on by unchecked native speakers, such incidents could potentially occur at any time".The obvious response of the English camps were that the people who allegedly committed the assaults weren't native teachers at all. In response to this, the union's sole foreign member resigned in protest on June 6.
As basis for their claims, the union cited a) the fact that any native speaker with a degree could become an instructor, regardless of their teaching qualifications; b) native speakers’ relatively free attitudes about sex (and their expression of said attitudes); c) native speakers’ lack of a sense of responsibility, since few feel they are answering a calling, but rather have as their goal to stay for a short time to experience Korean culture and build up their resumes.
Some 5 percent of the foreign English teachers have a criminal record in their home country or committed crimes here, the founder of Korea Foreign Teacher Recruiting Association Choi Hyuk says. “Their crimes are mostly document forgery, but there are some convicted of burglary or sex crimes.”On October 24 the Seoul Shinmun complained about the lack of punishment for both illegal teachers and the hagwons that employ them. On October 31, the Korea Times reported in a similar vein on how "English Institutes Evade Immigration Law"
When hagwons get caught employing unqualified teachers, they receive a warning or five black marks from the government office, regardless of the number of unqualified teachers they employ. When they collect 30 black marks, hagwons are forcefully closed for seven days.It was revealed also at this time that other foreigners were caught bringing in large amounts of methamphetamine into the country, but since it was coming from Rajin, in North Korea, no one really cared.
From January 2003 until July of this year, 231 foreign English teachers got caught for teaching in Korea with tourist visas. Among these people, 27 of those were expelled, accounting for 11.7 percent of the total number. Most of others were ordered to leave the country without any further follow-up by the government.
According to immigration authorities, there were 14,355 native-speaking English instructors living in Korea as of August. Within the English-teaching industry, they say the number exceeds 30,000 is you include teachers without E-2 visas who are illegally teaching.As I wrote at the beginning, this number is far less than the number of E-2 visas the Korean immigration service said they issued in 2006. At any rate, it lists numbers by nationality, and also describes how visas are issued and even touches on racism in hagwons and the difficulty darker-skinned native speakers have getting jobs.
Citizens angerd by the nakedly sexual talk and actions of those kinds of white foreign teachers are voluntarily trying to improve things. The 14,419-member strong Anti-English Spectrum is actively organizing a “citizen’s movement to toss out illegal English teachers”, requesting police and prosecution action...Yes, we need less "nakedly sexual talk" and more teachers getting three month suspensions for molesting 12 year olds and high school students visiting Chinese prostitutes on school trips. When in Rome...
Residential Neighborhoods with Many Foreigners, Lawless Zones when the Sun Goes Down: Scary Night Streets, Foreigner Crimes Rising Daily… High Crime Zones Devoid of Public Authority AppearingGreat stuff. Anyways, on June 7 the Chosun Ilbo reported that the prosecutor's office released stats on foreigners busted for drugs in 2006. [Mind you, these stats are different than the ones listed here].
Of the 116 foreigners caught with drugs last year, 46 or 39.7 percent were Americans, making up the largest group. There were also 11 Chinese and 11 Canadians.[...] Prosecutors believe the rising number of American drug offenders correlates to a rising number of English teachers coming to Korea.Did you notice that the number of foreign drug offenders peaked in 2004? Perhaps that's not a helpful way to look at these things. I'd rather see arrest stats for Americans over the past few years than just a comparison to the previous year before making a statement about the rise in American drug offenders, but that's just me.
The total of 116 foreign drug offenders caught in Korea last year is a 28.4 percent decline from the year before. There were 88 foreign drug offenders caught in 2002, 86 in 2003, 203 in 2004, and 162 in 2005.
The judge said, "Considering the situation in Korea where significant part of foreign language education involves private education, the quality of the instructor is as important as that of regular school teachers. Without any proper qualifications, using a forged degree for employment is seen as an act disruptive to Korea's private education system. Strong punishment is called for."Oddly enough, this sentence came at the same time that Shin Jeong-ah, a former Dongguk University professor who fell from grace when her fake diploma came to light, was fleeing the country for the US. On her return in mid-September, a court rejected an arrest warrant (to hold her during the investigation) saying that she wasn't at risk of fleeing because "she may not receive a jail term as the nation does not have clear legal standards about penalties related to such charges." Well, if a hagwon teacher gets 6 months, a fake university professor should get quite a bit more. Right?
The police detained three on trafficking charges: two Canadians, 28 and 30, and a Ghanaian, 34. They could be sentenced to 5 or more years in prison if convicted. In addition, the police booked three Britons, five Canadians, 13 Americans and one Korean. The maximum penalty is a fine and 5 years in prison. All 23, except for the Korean and the Ghanaian, are English instructors at hagwon, elementary schools or universities. The Korean is a girlfriend of one of the teachers.It was once again stated that “Some of the teachers were intoxicated while teaching students.” The Korean-language media reported the incident in a different light, of course.
Foreign English teachers have been arrested for smoking marijuana before lessons and habitually using drugs in seedy areas. [Cheongnyangni? Miari? Nope, Hongdae and Itaewon] The number of foreign English teachers who regularly use drugs is increasing.[...]This case was also reported in the Chosun Ilbo and video of police searching an apartment is here. Over at the Korea Law Blog, Brendan Carr suggests that putting a different name on package of drugs mailed to you is not going to fool the police. In the Korea Times, American Attorney and law professor Sean Hayes described how drug investigations proceed:
A source at the foreign affairs division of the Seoul Police Department said, “American and Canadian English teachers think Korea is a ‘land of opportunity.’ [...T]he majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them.” Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a ‘land of opportunity’ but also as a ‘perverted heaven’.
In most criminal investigations involving drugs, a police officer will obtain information that a certain person is using or selling drugs from other suspects or from undercover agents/informants. After the police arrest you they test you for drugs, search your home and if they believe that you are involved in “hard” drugs or have distributed drugs, they will hold you and request a detention order pending trial.It should be mentioned, however, that they don't always use lists of names from informants. Earlier this year a bar in Itaewon whose owner had several convictions for marijuana possession was raided by the police. Everyone in the bar was given a urine test.
I knew the show was coming because I have an acquaintance with one of the “bad” foreigners in the program, and KBS went through a lot of nasty tricks, including threats, to get that interview. I won’t go into any more details of that incident other than the resulting interview they got was tame compared to the elaborate sleazy tactics they used to get it.On September 11 the Korea Times reported in an article titled "32% of Native English Teachers Found Unqualified" that Rep. Lee Kyung-sook of the UNDP announced that 32.7% of 997 foreigners who taught English at English immersion programs did not have CELTA certificates, "which is essential to teach the language here, Lee said". Funny, immigration doesn't think so.