Saturday, December 19, 2009

Anti-English Spectrum in the Epoch Times

The international newspaper The Epoch Times has an article about Anti-English Spectrum titled "Foreign Teachers in Korea Vilified by Anti-English Group." I like the subtitle: "Group’s views don’t represent mainstream, says Korean diplomat"

It quotes one of the more useful statements presented in the CBC The Current piece on Anti English Spectrum, that of
Younggoog Park, Minister-Counsellor of Public Affairs at the Korea Embassy in Ottawa.

“Their reactionary views and opinions do not represent the sentiment of Koreans toward Canadians or other foreign teachers,” Park told the CBC’s The Current.
This is a very useful statement for those opposed to AES, and is important because it's the only example I know of of someone associated with the Korean government criticizing them. The words and deeds of government ministries and politicians in Korea have normally been supportive of them. The article has comments from Don Baker as well:
“There's always been a little ethnocentrism in Korea,” says Don Baker, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia.

The people involved in the anti-English teacher movement, Baker says, are products of an education system that for years taught that Koreans were a pure race.

“Until about five years ago Koreans were taught in school that Koreans were a pure race and unlike other people they've never had a mixture of genes; they're a pure people. The government has now changed that because they've got over a million foreign workers there.”

Baker, who travels to South Korea frequently, says the situation is exacerbated by the fact that the country has a shortage of women as a result of selective abortion.

“Koreans want to learn English, but they get turned off by the behaviour of the foreigners, especially when foreign men are dating some of the more attractive women in Korean society when there's a shortage of women in Korea.”

He also notes that Koreans are “extremely nationalistic” and take offence when some English teachers show their ignorance of and lack of interest in Korea’s 4,000-year culture.

“I've seen westerners in Korea who show, just the way they talk, that they really have no clue of the sophistication of Korean culture, and that really irritates Koreans.”
It's nice to see the journalist consulting someone who knows a lot about Korea. The work of Baker's that I've read has had to do with the Kwangju Uprising (he was in the city during its immediate aftermath, and his harrowing trip to Seoul on a 'local bus' with Linda Lewis is related in her book "Laying Claim to the Memory of May" (and can be read here)) and one of his essays was the basis for this post.

Overall, it's nice to see AES getting some critical publicity in Canadian and now international papers - but what needs to happen is for such articles to appear in Korean.

Oh, and the "Dismantle the AES" facebook group now has over 500 members. I don't think 'dismantling' the group is what I'd aim for; I'd just like to see the Korean media take a critical look at them and for the media, immigration, and politicians take a step back from them. There are other sites that complain about foreigners on the internet in Korea, but few have the influence that AES seem to have (at the same time, you don't want to overstate that influence, but having had almost every major paper and network give them favorable press and seeing they way they certainly influenced the HIV tests and commentary on Bill 3356, it's clear they do have enough influence).

9 comments:

kushibo said...

And then it appears in the Korean press and then what?

I recall back in the 1990s, Oprah Winfrey said one of it was a mistake bringing White supremacist and other hate groups on her show to expose them because — in addition to showing a wider audience what kind of hate was out there — she gave them a forum for their views which actually made them stronger.

What is the Korean-language media exposure supposed to do? Get them officially labeled as a hate group by the NHRCK. That should be where Koreans first read about AES. More people should contact NHRCK and file a complaint about AES.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

"Dismantle the AES" Facebook group should be changed to "Discredit the AES".

I've said as much, as well as suggest going the NHRCK route, rather than bothering the NHN, which is useless.

Anonymous said...

The Epoch Times' coverage would mean something if said paper weren't in the same "alien graveyard" league of media as the K Times.

matt said...

Kushibo,

To make that analogy work, you'd have to add that Phil and Arsenio and Rosie and Conan and Ellen and whoever else have already had the white supremacists on their shows and have let them put forth their views without comment or criticism. Would Oprah having them on for the purpose of calling them on their racist views in public for the first time not serve some purpose?

Getting that comment from the Embassy in Ottawa calling them a fringe group into print in Korea would be useful I think, at least as far as getting something out there to counter the support for their cause shown by elements of the media and government, though I agree that treading carefully is a good idea, as you wouldn't want such coverage to make them appear sympathetic, as if they're being "unfairly attacked" by foreigners.

Darth Babaganoosh,

I agree - "Discredit the AES" is an excellent name, and a better aim.

Anonymous:

Well, every little bit helps, I think. After all, AES used Breaknews, a tabloid if ever there was one (and the Sports Chosun) to push their E-2 = AIDS campaign...

Anonymous said...

Ethnocentrism is is showen by not only Korea and but also by many other natoins. It is nothing special with any country, i don't understand why you emphasized too much that point like it is unique with Korea society??? for what?

Also, i strongly doubt that Mr. Baker really mentioned that the shortage of woman is a part of reason that Korean's hatred over foreigners?? I will contact Mr. Baker for his real opinion on what you quoted here. Let us see if Mr. baker, the professor of the University of British Columbia, really menthioned as you quoted here.

You must know that most of your articles are so biased for what you wants. Anyway, it is your blog so it is your right about what information you post up, but you should take responsibility for its consequence.

Chris said...
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Explorer said...
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Anonymous said...

Agreed. I do believe that the current pro-ATEK anti AES articles are indeed skewed and giving a limited forum of the issue. With the apparent, one sided dialogue being put forth, it is ATEK, the foreign English Association, that is unjustly slandering and maligning this organization, it is ATEK that is violating an open forum of speech by stifiling sentiments that run counter to it.

matt said...

"it is ATEK, the foreign English Association, that is unjustly slandering and maligning this organization"

And hamburgers eat people.

Care to show me an anti-AES article in Korean, the language in which it really matters? Good luck finding one. The debate is indeed one sided - in AES's favour, as they've been mentioned approvingly in nearly every mainstream media outlet in Korea in articles that almost never provide an opposing point of view.