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.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:
“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.
“There's always been a little ethnocentrism in Korea,” says Don Baker, Associate Professor, Department of Asian Studies at the University of British Columbia.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.
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.”
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).