Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The "undisclosed crimes" of potential child molesting foreign English teachers

On this list may be 21,000 E-2 visa holders,
who are "especially potential child molesters"! *

Two weeks ago I noted that two National Assembly representatives had made irresponsible statements about foreign English teachers. One of these representatives was a GNP Rep. from Busan (and SNU graduate) Lee Joo-young, who, according to the Korea Times, said:
In the inspection, Rep. Lee Joo-young of the ruling Grand National Party urged the ministry to tighten the rule on E-2 visa issuance, arguing it’s so lax that many convicted foreigners attempt to cross borders with legal residential status. The legislator did not disclose the exact number of foreigners caught for the violation.[...]

"Many foreigners have been caught attempting to pass through the immigration process with forged documents, indicating rules should be intensified further,” Lee said.
This was in an article about how the Ministry of Justice said it would "revise immigration rules to ban foreigners found guilty of raping Korean children from re-entering Korea permanently." Why such a revision would be needed is a mystery. As Benjamin Wagner pointed out,
The MOJ has pointed out time and time again that they have absolute discretion under the Immigration Act (art. 11) to exclude anyone they like.

"[P]ersons deemed likely to cause danger and harm to the public health . . ." (Art. 11(1)1)

"Persons deemed likely to commit any act detrimental to national interests of the Republic of Korea or public safety . . ." (Art. 11(1)3)

"Persons deemed likely to commit any act detrimental to economic or social order or good morals . . ." (Art. 11(1)4)
It seems immigration can keep out almost anyone they like, and this certainly covers foreign rapists, but creating a new 'revision' makes it sound like something is being done to protect children, especially from foreigners living in Korea, who have such a sex crime rate that's five times less than the Korean sex crime rate.

But let's return to Lee Joo-young's statements.

Yonhap provides more information about what he said (and a Yonhap TV news report can be seen here.):
In connection with blocking entry to foreign criminals who have sexually abused children, GNP Rep. Lee Ju-yeong pointed out that “Measures to prevent child molestation by foreign native speaking teachers are insufficient."

Assemblyman Lee said, "When conversation teaching (E-2) visas are issued, criminal background check reports, AIDS test reports, drug test results are required to be submitted, but it has been confirmed that such relevant documents are easy to fake and change," and emphasized that inspection processes needed to be strengthened.
"[I]t has been confirmed that such relevant documents are easy to fake and change." Really? By who? What would he propose beyond getting criminal record checks notarized, or receiving an Apostille, and being verified by the Korean Embassy or receiving an affidavit from the teacher's embassy? It's easy to suggest that foreigners are a threat and are going to fake documents so they can come to Korea and, judging from Lee's comments, commit crimes, spread AIDS and do drugs, but how about suggesting some solutions beyond the tired 'Let's strengthen the verification process'?

Wait. It gets better.

According to Asia Today [here via Google cache],
On this day, at the parliamentary inspection of state administration, GNP Rep. Lee Ju-yeong said "Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters" and "Immigration denies [document] falsification is possible but documents needed to receive E-2 visas, such as criminal background check reports, etc, can be easily falsified in places like Itaewon."
"Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters". Lovely. Is there any proof of that? For example, in Benjamin Wagner's NHRCK report, this table lists sex crimes by foreigners from the seven English speaking countries which can receive E-2 visas.

Compare this to the English teacher sex crime statistics recently released:

So, out of 37 sex crimes (of all types) by 'English speaking' foreigners in 2007, 2 were English teachers. Of 39 (to October) in 2008, 7 were English teachers. Comparing English teacher sex crime figures to all foreign sex crime for those years would result in a tiny percentage. To back up his assertion that "native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters", Rep. Lee offers us... nothing.

He also tells us that "criminal background check reports ... can be easily falsified in places like Itaewon." I guess he must have read this article. When making policy recommendations, it never hurts have Choi Hui-seon-penned Sports Chosun articles around, I guess.

The article continues:
In fact, on October 16, 2008, a foreign teacher molested an elementary school first grader in an English classroom at a residents’ center in Seoul’s Seong-dong gu,
I'm not certain if the example of molestation used above was provided by Lee or Asia Today. What should be noted is that it's a bad example, since the teacher had the case dropped for lack of evidence.

But wait. It gets even better:
Assemblyman Lee pointed out that "When considering the fact that schools and hagwons try to hide the sexual crimes committed by these foreign teachers, then the number of undisclosed crimes would be a whole lot more."
Well, there we go. No wonder he doesn't have to prove his "native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters" remark. There are unseen crimes which make statistics unnecessary! How useful for him! In other words, regulations for issuing E-2 visas must be strengthened because of crimes that are not confirmed to have happened, and though he can’t be sure how many crimes – if any – have been hidden, Rep. Lee assures us that the number is ‘a whole lot more.’ How many more, Rep. Lee?

(Photo from here)*
Okay, that many.

At any rate, just how many children had been molested by these undisclosed sex criminals was not disclosed by Rep. Lee. One wonders if tightening the visa process would weed out these undisclosed criminals, as Rep. Lee did not disclose how many of these undisclosed cases involved foreign teachers who had faked their criminal records checks, allowing them to move into a position in which would offer ready access to child victims due to the fact that their criminal past remained undisclosed.

It seems we can now extend to Rep. Lee the title of ‘Korea’s Donald Rumsfeld’, as it seems for Rep. Lee that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.

This is not to say that such things don't happen, mind you. There is one confirmed case that I've mentioned before:
On May 4 and 5, 2008, Yonhap, Financial News, and the Maeil Gyeongje reported that Seoul police had noted that a teacher they arrested for teaching illegally had at one point worked at a high school illegally, molested a male student there, and was fired after working there for three months. It appears he was not arrested for this.
If there are schools and hagwons which are allowing any teachers to get away with molestation at their schools because instead of instead of being charged by police they've been fired in order to preserve the school or hagwon's reputation, then does the fault for these molesters - foreign or Korean - being able to find employment around children again not fall upon the schools and hagwons? Obviously, those to blame for such unproven undisclosed crimes would be the hagwon owners who hide such crimes, if they do indeed exist. At a time when Korean society is searching for ways to prevent and punish sex crimes, you'd think these schools and hagwons would be scrutinized for such lack of action.

On the other hand, foreigners are obviously much more of a threat to Korean children and women than their fellow Koreans, right? I mean, it's been on TV!

And as the great Sohn Hak-gyu once said, “Public perception is no less important than rational judgement.”

*There are no E-2 visa holders on the paper in the first photo, and both photos are unrelated to his foreign sex crime comments. The first photo is from here.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if any so-called Assemblymen(Lee) ever talk about the fact that schools and hagwons try to hide the SEXUAL CRIMES committed by KOREAN TEACHERS, which would make their undisclosed A WHOLE LOT MORE.
Or, whether the FACT(proof is out there) that A LOT MORE KOREAN TEACHERS are out there MOLESTING their students/CHILDREN than foreign teachers.

Perhaps Assemblyman Lee is covering up/diverting attention for some of his KOREAN TEACHER MOLESTING friends?

Anonymous said...

Being new to reading about news from Korea, I am absolutely stunned that English teachers, of all poeple, seem to be singled out. I watch ArirangTV and I get the sense that Koreans are trying to make themselves into an international post-racial society. So how in the world did English teachers, as opposed to foreign gardeners or southeast Asian women roped into the sex trade, find themselves singled out as sex-fiends? And why sex-fiends and not shady thieves? It seems to me that Koreans would appreciate English teachers, considering how much they value the teaching of this language. Amazing! And I thought the xenophobia was more acute among the liberals there... 0.0

Puffin Watch said...

||So how in the world did English teachers, as opposed to foreign gardeners or southeast Asian women roped into the sex trade, find themselves singled out as sex-fiends?||

Anonymous, my point is always the young, white rich westerner is an easy target. Any society is always going to have those who look to blame their ills on the foreigners in their ranks. If Koreans started to vilify the immigrant workers, the viet brides, etc., well, there's a whole wing of the UN that will rain fire and scorn down upon them.

But no one looks out for the rich white kids and Korean politicians know it. They're a pretty safe target.

Consider the other foreigners:

3D workers/viet brides: as noted, this would make for very very bad press.

US Military: Koreans in the street might hate the GIs but the politicians know its suicide if they tried to demonize the American military.

Foreigner Business Community: They leave, they take jobs.

Diplomats: No one much picks on them ever.

E2 Teachers: Koreans generally don't see E2 teachers up rooting and leaving as a threat. Koreans really think they can teach English better and we're just getting in their way.

Puffin Watch said...

A line of thought:

If this kind of anti-western hate ever got into the popular western press, it would result in people giving Korean products a pass. It's like when the French don't want to go to war, there's always a backlash against French products. In the case of Korea, people might go "geez if they hate our sons and daughters over there so much, they must hate my money too. See ya, Samsung."

Korean companies would lose sales, stock prices would decline.

Hence, this is a risk. Companies like Samsung, LG, etc usually have to disclose possible risks. It would seem right and proper to contact the "investor relations" links of major Korean corporations with sales in the west and fwd them urls such as these. Note you view this as a risk to the stock price and wonder if it has been disclosed.

You know, friendly, polite, to the point, business like.

Anonymous said...

But how did E-2s get hit with the sexual predator image? This is so random because the police stats don't even come close to backing this up! >.<

brent said...

It was because of the Neil case (although he wasn't even on an E-2).

Anonymous said...

brent - things were in motion 2 years before the Neil issue came along. It's never really been about kids. The kids have just been exploited again (this time politically) to accomplish other goals.

This particular wave started here.

I tried to comment on the misunderstanding that Neil was the driving cause here.

Anonymous said...

The strategy has been simple (stigmatize foreign English teachers in whatever way possible) but the technique has had to become more refined as foreigners (too few unfortunately) have challenged the accusations.

Back in 2005, it was "cowboy English teachers" working freelance and without visas that were the problem. E-2s were the good guys.

Anti-English Spectrum even tried to clarify that for people in their Feb. 2005 announcement:

"Definition of low-quality native speaker teachers: those who have come to Korea without E-2 visas for the purpose of engaging in sexual pleasures and to create trouble. What are E-2 visas? Visas that are issued by the Immigration Office to those who have a 4-year university degree from overseas and have a teaching license."

But since foreigners working illegally as English teachers are a difficult group to identify it made sense for the group to focus on stigmatizing E-2 visa teachers and they became the "definition of low-quality native speaker teachers . . . who have come to Korea . . . for the purpose of engaging in sexual pleasures and to create trouble."

In 2006, actual crimes were needed to blacken the E-2s image but since the only high profile crimes by foreign English teachers of the time were by Korean-Americans (not even on E-2 visas)these were used as examples of why the E-2 visa requirements needed to be tightened. Since the game was relatively unsophisticated then and no one knew what E-2s really were yet, this type of deception worked just fine.

But then complaints were made and cases were brought, which provided data provided showing the alleged sex crimes to be imagined or simply falsified. That's where we are now and why we need to push all those sex crimes off into the hazy distance of "undisclosed crimes."

"Undisclosed crimes" are a wonderful technique because you never get the chance to prove your innocence.

Of course if you were to accuse a politician, such as Rep. Lee, of undisclosed sex crimes in a public newspaper you'd have your ass sued so fast it would make your head spin. But foreign English teachers are pretty much ok with it I've noticed. For all their first world education they prove to be very ill informed about their rights in Korea when compared with, say, the 3D migrant workers. Most seem to assume Korea is one of those weird Asian countries like Burma where martial law allows the government to do and say whatever it wants. Their ignorance and indifference is of course is a great boon for unscrupulous Korean politicians.

Anonymous said...

If they want to improve the verification process for criminal background checks there is an obvious solution. The Korean government needs to enter into agreements with the "Big 7" and draw up a document whereby foreign nationals authorize the Korean government to request CBCs directly from national-level law enforcement. That way the documents pass from country law enforcement to country law enforcement and there is no danger of manipulation or forgery. Of course, this would require extensive coordination, manpower and government expenditure, particularly in the early stages. It's much cheaper just to require the teacher to do all the footwork and collect all the paperwork. But it is foolish and renders the required check completely pointless.

Anonymous said...

How about a 1 man demonstration at the National Assembly with a sign saying something like...
1. Mr. Lee GNP Rep. from Busan(and other Assemblymen) stop scapegoating E-2 Visa holders.
2. Sexual so-called crimes dropped for a lack of evidence don't count as crimes.
3. Stop blaming E-2 English teachers for so-called undisclosed sexual crimes.
4. E-2 Visa teachers do not = drug takers.
5. E-2 Visa teachers do not = AIDS/HIV infected disease spreaders.
6. E-2 Visa teachers are qualified to teach English according to your Immigration laws.
7. E-2 Visa teachers do not = fraudsters of criminal background check documents etc...
8. If it's so easy for E-2 Visa teacher to falsify documents in places like Itaewon why don't you or the law do something about that, or is it really easily done?
9. E-2 Visa teachers do not = "Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters."
10. Mr. Lee why don't you suggest some real solutions other than many of your unsubstantiated words?
11. Mr. Lee why don't you do something about the monthly(12 times per year minimum) defamation of E-2 Visa holders as a minority group in S. Korea's various public media outlets?
12. Please stop diverting attention towards E-2 Visa holders and picking on the English teacher minority group for unjustified or non-factual reasons when you could be doing something much more beneficial for the people of S. Korea.
13. Stop listening to hate groups like ANTI-English Spectrum.

Puffin Watch said...

Great summary Mr. Wagner. I seem to recall back in winter of 2003 or 2004 there was the case of the American english professor who got his job using forged diplomas. He created his own online journal, although he made it look like it was a third-party legit academic journal. He'd submit articles to the journal and, lo, they would publish him. He'd collect some bounty the school paid every time a prof got published.

I believe some lower level profs thought the guy was full of it but no one had the guts to go to senior who hired the fake and tell him as much.

Anyway, he was smoked out eventually, it hit the press, and immigration then made everyone on an E2 visa frog march themselves to immigration with their diploma. Immigration then looked at it and made you sign some kind of paper.

It seemed to me that incident was a kick off that the white devils in Korea might not be up to a lot of good. And then the English Spectrum thing hit the fan...

Puffin Watch said...

||For all their first world education they prove to be very ill informed about their rights in Korea when compared with, say, the 3D migrant workers. Most seem to assume Korea is one of those weird Asian countries like Burma where martial law allows the government to do and say whatever it wants. Their ignorance and indifference is of course is a great boon for unscrupulous Korean politicians.||

Indeed. As I've noted, the 3D workers have no choice but to fight back. Not to diminish what they've accomplished, mind you, and the broken skulls they suffered to win the rights they have. But if the choice is fighting in Korea of lumping it and going back to Cambodia, fighting seems more logical.

E2 teachers, well, we have great lives waiting for us back in Canada, the USA, etc. Maybe job prospects are a bit dim at the moment but most have a comfy room with their parents to flop in. In Canada, there's the free health care, and maybe even welfare benefits.

It is far, far easier to show Korea your ass, get on a plane, and head home. That will of course bite Korea in the long run. Korea is now in the business of exporting a lot of disgruntled North Americans who tell all their family and friends what a spiteful, untrustworthy nation Korea is.

Even more odd, when some groups like ATEK step forward, there's a backlash from white whine crowd. Not to rehash ATEK's missteps but I would suspect even an ATEK that made all the right moves would still be loudly opposed by the whine-ocracy and player haters.

It reminds me a bit about a comment from Bertrand Russell. Russell was very involved in women's suffrage. He was always gobsmacked by the back lash he got from women, the very people he was trying to help. He noted no such backlash came from Russian serfs during their emancipation.

The E2 system does breed a certain attitude that everyone is the same. Same pay, same apartment, same social status. If someone pops their head up and does something above and beyond, there are some that don't like that. The whine-ocracy views it as a reflection on their lack of effort or ability. And they go on the attack. I think of Joe from Zenkimchi. He's parlayed his food writing into some major media attention, both domestic and International. But there are people that tear down his efforts claiming he's just this uncle tom who tells Koreans what they want to hear. It's not because he's got raw talent. No. He just knows how to bite the pillow.

Anonymous said...

That's why I left. They couldn't pay me enough to deal with this turgid drivel. Go hire some 22 year-old fresh out of university with no teaching experience. This garbage doesn't happen in other parts of the world.

matt said...

Puffin Watch:

Good points. Another reason to pick on E-2s is that there seem to be an endless supply of them.

The degree check at immigration offices was at the end of 2005, after the English Spectrum incident. I'm not familiar with the fake degree incident you mention - perhaps it's listed in here somewhere (that really needs to be updated, through there are so many Korean language articles to be linked to that it would have to be broken into several parts).

Here's an idea: How much does a full page ad in the NYT cost? You could bring up a hell of a lot in a full page. And every time a "IT'S THE EAST SEA!! full page ad is taken out in a big US paper, it makes the news in Korea.

Alternately, we could act like well-trained house pets, take out an ad by the 'English teachers for the recognition of Dokdo as Korean Territory' and hope for a momentary pat on the head. Arf!

Anonymous said...

Only $70 U.S. dollars
Buying a newspaper ad in the Los Angeles Times will run you about $70,000 for a full-run, full-page black-and-white ad.

It is suggested that negotiating directly with the newspaper will cost less. I think a campaign would be best, running newspaper ads in Florida, Texas, Chicago, Seattle, as well as Los Angeles and New York.

Any ideas on the headlines? If signed "English Teachers in S. Korea" there could be a backlash by F-series Visa holders. Maybe permission should be sought by them:(

Puffin Watch said...

Hey Matt,


I think this is a good summary of the professor with the faked degrees.

As further motivation for Ramos, Konkuk University has a policy of awarding generous payments (in the neighborhood of US$8,000 each) to professors who publish in major academic magazines. For most professors, it's difficult to do this even once in a year. Not so for Dr. Ramos, who set up a website with a name resembling that of a major journal and began to "publish" articles that he'd plagiarized from other sources. He quickly netted 17 million won (about US$14,000) after doing this three times in a year. All told, he took the school for about US$60,000, not including the free housing provided him by the university.


It's a shame this one has fallen out of collective memory because it's jaw dropping in what Ramos could get away with and how little was done at any point to verify anything.

Anecdotally, I used to have coffee with a guy who worked with a couple ESL "professors" who created their own textbooks via a vanity press and then used them as the textbook in their course. The cover price was way higher.

Puffin Watch said...


Here are some links to dead articles about the case.

matt said...

Not a bad idea, going for smaller papers instead.

Puffin Watch:
Thanks for the links. I know a few months after the English Spectrum incident immigration added the need for transcripts. That was by summer 2005, but I don't know when exactly.

Mat said...

Hey Matt, still enjoying your blog!
This one was really good, I liked the bit about fake documents. I wonder where you can get them done in Itaewon? Kings Club I guess. I'm working in London at the moment and we have lots of Korean students at the school. I thought I'd share some of the ways THEY get arround U.K visa regulations. One way is to pay a Korean 'agent' hundreds of pounds for a fake letter saying they attend a 'school'. This is problematic because sometimes immigration call the 'school' and realise it doesn't exist. The best scam though, is that mum and dad pay thousands of pounds for a course at a real school. The course is then sold on the black market (for a fraction of the price) to a Korean student who can be bothered to study. She then answers "yes" whan Jee Hee's name is called on the register. Jee Hee is then free to piss her inheritence up the wall on overpriced soju, safe in the knowledge that she has a legitimate student visa. Pot, kettle... you know the rest.

Thomas said...

I was recently denied a visa for illegal teaching(extra job) but i taught in korea for 5 years, did very well, and never molested a child(imagine that) yet i did witness a girl being molested while sleeping ina jijilbang. was he a foreigner! nope a korean. i testified in suwon court against him. Go to a jimjilbang in korea and you will witness alot of sexual perversity by koreans. now Im making real money in the middle east. koreans are losing their minds and their perspective.

Rich S said...

If you don't like it then get your ass out of Korea. This crap happens to particular groups of minorities (especially immigrants) in the U.S. all the time. Just because you white people never experienced racism like this in the States, doesn't mean you have the room to bitch about a foreign country you CHOSE to be in. Simple. And that crap about this making Samsung and LG stocks go down and an overall decline in success, is the dumbest thing I've heard this year. People will still buy their products as long as they are high quality. Your thought process doesn't make any sense Puffin Watch. One easy rebuttal to your idiotic remark: People are mad that China tortures people and are communist but we still buy all kinds of shit from China and their country is rolling in money.