Friday, November 13, 2009

ATEK on Andrea Vandom's letter to NHN Corp.

[The letter available in English or Korean]

[Update - changed the title of the press release as per ATEK's request; the letter in question does not ask NHN to 'pull the plug' on AES]

ATEK released this today:

ATEK: Naver Should Remove Offensive Material
from the Anti English Spectrum

The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK) is pledging support to recent calls for NHN, the parent company of, to take action against the online community of the Anti English Spectrum (AES), a race hate group that advocates vigilante tactics against foreign teachers that operates on

Letters were posted to the NHN Corporation, both in Korea and in Irvine, California, where the company's US branch is located. In the letters, written by Andrea Vandom, a PhD student in International Relations at the University of California, it is explained that the racist material on the Anti English Spectrum's page violates Naver's user agreement.

On the page it is suggested that AIDS infected foreign teachers are purposely spreading the disease, while molesting children, raping Korean woman and consuming large quantities of narcotics. These accusations have also been printed onto calling cards and distributed on streets of Seoul.

In her letters to the NHN Corporation, Vandom stated:

"This group’s highly defamatory statements violate Article Ga-4 (Defamatory Posts) of Naver cafe’s terms of service agreement and rise to the level of violations of the Korean criminal code."

Vandom also pointed out that Article 4 of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), which the Republic of Korea fully supports, states that the promotion of racial hatred, such as in posters used by the Anti English Spectrum on their Naver page, is illegal. By hosting these posters Naver is in effect assisting racist activities, which under Article 4(a) of the ICERD, is an offense that Korea has declared "punishable by law".

With regards to the letter's Vandom mailed to NHN, ATEK president Greg Dolezal stated,

"The Anti English Spectrum is attempting to sabotage multiculturalism in Korea with their xenophobic accusations that are aimed at foreign English teachers who are innocent of the crimes the group describes."

Despite the implausibility of the group's claims Dolezal stressed,

"ATEK cannot accept such harmful material relating to foreign teachers being spread in the public domain, especially when it could skew perceptions of foreign teachers and harm our members. Therefore we whole heartedly support these letters and urge the NHN Corporation to honor Naver's content policies and remove the offensive material from the group's page"

The city of Irvine recently elected Sukhee Kang as its mayor. Kang was born and raised in the Republic of Korea, immigrating to the USA with his wife in 1977. A successful businessman and father of two, Kang made the history books by becoming the first Korean-American to serve as the Mayor of a major U.S. city. Earlier this week Vandom met with the mayor to get his support in persuading the NHN Corporation to remove all of the offensive material from the Anti English Spectrum's Naver page.

The NHN Corporation incorporated in 1999 and launched the search portal “Naver.” has grown to be the fifth most used search engine in the world and the Naver name has gone global with affiliates in Japan, the US and China. In 2006, both of NHN’s original founders, Kim Beom-Su and Moon Tae-Sik, relocated to the United States in order to learn more about the US market.

ATEK, a support group for over a thousand foreign teachers in Korea, wishes to give its full support to Vandom and her letters to the NHN Corporation. Consequently we expect NHN to enforce their user policies and remove all offensive material from the Anti English Spectrum's Naver page.


More on Anti-English Spectrum's past activities can be found here, a look at the messages they've been spreading can be found here, and a closer look at their campaign to link foreign English teachers to AIDS can be found here.


brent said...

I think a targeted surgical strike like this is good because at this point it would be hard to deny that Anti ES is helping to create public policy. No one here can actually say for sure the lengths that that organization will go to to do the things they want. The facts don't back up anything they say, and Korea's media sensationalizes anything they get their hands on.
I don't want to trample on free speech, but the government is listening to them. These are police matters, and these people should not be out there stalking English instructors. They have no right to be doing that. This vortex of crap is mostly coming from one place, so squashing it is a public good and protecting the rights of migrant workers. Last, they say they want to promote and help the good instructors but have done nothing of the sort.

Anonymous said...

love the work you are doing on your blog to expose the bs xenophobia and discrimination. keep up the good work! I also want to by Andrea Vandom a bottle of soju or alcohol of her choice

Chris in South Korea said...

I've always wondered what exactly the TOS was on a site like Naver - and how long such a prominent organization could continue to exist on it. Of course, a group like that doesn't stop even if their primary site is taken down - I'm sure there are other ways for them to communicate with each other...

Roboseyo said...

On the other hand, Chris, if they are denied a forum on a site like Naver, the only ones who will keep it up will be the radical fringe: all the thousands of members AES claims, but who basically registered three years ago and haven't done anything since then, or don't quite care enough to attend meetings in person, or subscribe to the e-mail list, will no longer take part, and AES will no longer be able to claim such inflated numbers. The remaining extremists will be exposed for what they are: a wacky fringe, rather than anything remotely representing a mainstream ideology.

Roboseyo said...

BTW Kudos to Vandom, Popular Gusts, and ATEK on this one. This is the kind of thing I like to see ATEK participating in, and I'm glad to see this kind of stuff happening.

Here's hoping Mayor Kang gets on board, and this issue gains traction in the U.S. press.