In an interview with Expat Living, Ministry of Justice spokesperson Ahn Gyu-seok said there have been no changes to the rules for testing foreigners for HIV that already reside within the country.Oh, I see then. So what the Korean government said it's doing it's not really doing.
"Originally, we deported foreigners who tested positive for HIV. And they were not allowed to visit Korea again. But in light of the Jan. 1 announcement, the rule is just getting more flexible, meaning that the rule is not changed," the spokesperson said.
"If foreigners who work here test positive, we would not immediately deport them. ... If foreigners who test positive could be treated in Korea, we will let them stay. But as for foreigners who are judged by medical centers as highly dangerous, we will impose restrictions on them."In other words, he passed the buck:
As for how someone who is HIV positive gets judged "dangerous," Ahn said that after the Ministry of Justice is informed of an individual's status, it is then up to the Ministry of Health to designate whether or not they are deemed a health threat, or "dangerous."
When reached for clarification, Park Il-hoon of the Ministry of Health said that a non-Korean could be deemed to be negatively influencing public health if he or she was found to be having sexual relations within Korea, which would open up the possibility of deportation and a ban from reentering Korea.But how does one find out if someone is sexually active? Perhaps this is a niche Anti-English Spectrum could expand into. Instead of just making a passing comment speculating on someone's sex life after finding a used condom in their garbage, perhaps they could start collecting used condoms. [Note to self: If ever meet AES's manager Lee, don't shake hands.]
"If foreigners who test positive for HIV negatively influence public health, we will restrict them from revisiting Korea. For example, in the case of HIV-positive foreigners having sexual relationships within Korea is one example of when we would restrict someone," said Park. "If those foreigners do not influence public health, we, the Ministry of Health, will let them be treated with medication in Korea."
It seems that the lifting of the HIV travel ban will not effect Bill 3356, or so the national assembly representative who drafted it hopes:
Bill 3356 is scheduled to be debated in the Assembly in February. The bill, written by Assemblyman Lee Sang-jun, if passed, will mandate HIV/AIDS testing of all foreigners applying for work visas in Korea.So if the number of public school teachers is around 550,000 and the number of hagwon instructors and gwa-oe tutors is equal to that (I'd imagine it's much more), and if there were one million educators of all sorts, the 25,000 or so foreign English teachers (including an estimate of the number of F visa teachers) would come out to about 2.5% of all teachers. Is there really any reason to believe that testing only this small percentage of teachers who have a low crime rate (though the opposite is portrayed by the government, politicians, and the media) will really make children so much safer?
"It's good that the government is becoming more tolerant towards foreigners ... but we think that the government should prioritize the safety of our citizens before any other matters, so we think it was wrong for the Ministry of Justice to alleviate their regulations on allowing HIV positive foreigners to enter Korea," Lee's spokesperson Seo Bo-kun told The Korea Herald.
Seo further explained that part of the bill's intent is to ensure the safety of children taught by foreign English teachers. "I think this is rather a global trend. For instance, in the United States when schools are recruiting teachers the qualifications are stricter than other companies. They are especially cautious of their physical and health conditions."
Benjamin Wagner, a professor of law at Kyung Hee University in Seoul, said the apparent removal of HIV-entry restrictions is more of a PR move for Korea. And since being chosen as the host for the International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Korea had come under criticism from non-government organizations due to the irony of hosting an international HIV conference while at the same time banning the entry of HIV-positive people.It's interesting that Wagner has argued in his report to the NHRCK that the instituting of HIV tests upon E2 visa holders was a symbolic measure to quell citizens' fears of foreign English teachers stirred up by irresponsible press reports (over the past five years, but especially in the wake of the Christopher Paul Neil case), and that now a symbolic gesture has supposedly removed the HIV travel ban, this time to put a stop to international criticism. I'm sure this is symbolic of something, but I don't feel the need to elaborate on what that is, since such clarification would just be a symbolic gesture anyways...
"Korea's removal of the travel ban on foreigners with HIV is purely a symbolic gesture for the international community. In Korea nothing has changed," said Wagner. "In fact, the past year has seen an increase in mandatory in-country testing of foreign residents, with even foreign spouses of Korean nationals subject to compulsory tests in some cases. Migrant workers continue to be tested."