[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 Naver.com, 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 Naver.com.
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 Naver.com in 1999 and launched the search portal “Naver.” Naver.com 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.