On October 5, 2008, the Korea Times published an article titled "Ethnic Korean Teachers Not Screened for Criminal, Drug Record." This had nothing to do with ATEK and argued that people with other visa types should be tested in the same manner as E-2 visa holders:
Many foreign nationals and operators of language institutes or hagwon claim that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to ethnic Korean English teachers as those applied to other foreigners seeking E-2 visas.[...]On January 8, 2009 - three weeks before ATEK's 'Equal checks for all campaign' was announced - the Korea Times published "New Visa Law Angers Foreign Teachers Here" (hat tip to Brian in Jeollanam-do).
Under the Korean visa rules, native English speakers seeking E-2 visa are obliged to submit police background checks. However, foreigners who are ethnic Koreans or married to Korean nationals are exempt from the requirements as they are eligible for F-4 and F-2 visas, respectively.
Many other foreign teachers at private language institutes also complain that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas as those applied to other foreigners seeking E-2 visas.On February 4, 2009, the Korea Times published "Foreign Teachers Fight 'Discrimination'; Justice Ministry Discounts the Claim" about the equal checks for all campaign:
"If the government has decided to tighten the issuance of teaching visas because of increasing number of crimes by foreign teachers, what about other foreign teachers holding other types of visas such as F-2 or F-4?'' said an Australian English teacher in Daejeon.
In response, many E-2 visa holders have complained that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas. They are urging the government to use the same restrictions on teachers holding E-1 (professorship), F-2 (spouse of a Korean) or F-4 (ethnic Korean) visas.The article includes the same "the government should apply the same visa screening rules" comment as the previous two articles and also adds the phrase "urging the government to use the same restrictions" which will appear again. This is followed by an unrelated statement from Benjamin Wagner which makes it appear as if he is supporting the previous paragraph.
"The visa rules for E-2 visa holders should be revised as they clearly discriminate on the basis of national origin,'' said Benjamin Wanger[sic], a professor of Kyung Hee University.
On June 6, 2009, the Korea Times published "Teachers to Go to Court Over Visa Rule," which initially included this paragraph:
E-2 visa holders have contended that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas, urging the government to use the same restrictions on teachers holding E-1 (professorship), F-2 (spouse of a Korean) or F-4 (ethnic Korean) visas. They made it clear that they don't oppose background checks as a rule.Much of the first sentence in the paragraph above is similar to what was written in February, and the same two phrases appear again, the first one appearing for the fourth time since October. This paragraph was quickly corrected by Kang after a call from Benjamin Wagner.
On June 9, the Korea Times published "Bills Seek Tighter Screening of Foreign Teachers," and, despite having submitted to a correction three days earlier, Kang included this statement in the final paragraph:
"Meanwhile, foreign teachers' groups are urging the Korean government to test all teachers, whether they are Koreans or foreigners."The phrase "urging the government to use the same restrictions" has been changed to "urging the government to test all teachers," but is obviously very similar.
Also interesting is that the article says that the new bills will oblige "foreign English teachers to present criminal record and health check documents, including HIV-AIDS tests, before they are hired at public or private schools." This Yonhap article makes no mention of HIV tests.
It has been suggested that ATEK's 'Equal checks for all campaign,' and the wording in their 'cut and paste' petitions to the NHRCK were to blame for news articles which said that ATEK was calling for E-2 visa-style regulations to be expanded to other visa types. The articles in question were the February 4 Korea Times article and a February 5 Joongang Ilbo article; the latter however only states that other visas do not have to submit to the same regulations - it does not call for E-2 regulations to be expanded to other visa types as the series of Korea Times articles mentioned above do.
It should be clear that Kang's articles have used the phrase "the government should apply the same visa screening rules" at least four times since October of last year, with two of the articles predating the 'Equal Checks for All' campaign. Considering this, as unclear as the message of that campaign was, I can't see how it could be held responsible for the way it was reported in the Korea Times.
I have no idea if this is due to sloppiness or being pressed for time on Kang's part, or if it's due to other reasons. It may be worth noting that Brian in Jeollanam-do has reported that statements attributed to Park Nahm-sheik in an article by Kang from April were said to have been mistranslated or taken out of context, according to people close to Park. I wasn't surprised when I read Brian's post, as I had not had any luck finding his statements in Korean.
Another article by Kang from March this year has the supervisor of the Incheon education office, Koo Young-sun, on record saying that, "Many foreign teachers lack teaching methodology and some of them are not ethically qualified to treat children." A Yonhap article on the same topic (in Korean) has no mention of these controversial statements from the supervisor.
Perhaps Kang interviewed her and she had words for him that she didn't share with others. Perhaps she did say these statements to Yonhap but Yonhap decided not to print them (well, it's possible). Perhaps there are other reasons. All I can say is that when you see an article written by this author, you may want to take it with a grain of salt.
Of course, that applies to any media source, doesn't it?