It Doesn’t Matter Even if English Teachers or Native Speakers are Criminals?Let's look more closely at a few things:
On March 17 in Incheon an ethnic Korean English Teacher was arrested for receiving marijuana cookies through International Express Mail. On the 24th an ethnic Korean English Teacher was arrested on charges of ‘making’ and selling marijuana.
According to a 2009 National Police Agency report on ‘The present state of crime by foreign English teachers,’ 274 crimes had been committed by foreign English teachers in the last three years. These crimes included theft, drugs, violence, rape, etc.
Included among these was a formal university teacher who appeared in re-enactments on many local networks.
There are more than 7,500 native English teachers placed in elementary, middle and high schools nationwide. According to estimates by the The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, there are 30,000 native speaking teachers working in hagwons or universities nationwide. However, due to the pressing need and rush for such teachers, a good many of them are unqualified.
In fact, there was a case of an American wanted for murder who was teaching elementary school students. It appears that for criminals from countries were English is their mother tongue, Korea, in the midst of a craze for English education, is used as a hiding place to avoid capture.
Native-speaking assistant teachers who work in schools need only to have graduated from a four year university, and because they didn’t complete a course in teacher training it isn’t verified whether they are low quality teachers or not.
In one instance a native speaking assistant teacher, using a bank note, showed his students the way to smoke marijuana [to roll a joint?] during class.
Cases of foreigners working as English teachers after entering Korea on a tourist visa are punished according to the case’s importance and at the discretion of the Ministry of Justice. Cases that are punished are very rare to the point that [only] those with bad luck get reported.
According to existing law, it is illegal for foreigners working at a fixed place to increase their income by working elsewhere. Students do not know this fact and think it natural to receive private lessons from foreigners. Police revealed that “In many examples of illegal tutoring, the students involved understand this but will not personally report on them and cannot turn them in.”
Many people have a prejudice that they can only learn English in the class of a “blond-haired, blue-eyed” native speaker. Generally, because there is higher demand for white teachers, they are paid more than ethnic Korean or black teachers. Because of this, cases have occurred where white people from Russia, Eastern Europe and other non-English speaking places have lied and pretended to be native English speakers in Korea. The reality is that this is not a desirable basis by which to choose English teachers.
Unqualified native speakers are working in Korea as teachers and our society is paying [the price] for employing unverified native speakers to satisfy the demand for English classes. Indeed, can we ever realize our expectations for high quality English education with these native speakers haphazardly brought to Korea with no regard for their major or skill?
To solve the problem, each step of employment visa issuance should be thoroughly verified. The verification process should not be loose like before. Always concentrating on national security and caution like the U.S., a stringent entry system with several steps, including a visa interview [should be] prepared. We should also, though a thorough verification beforehand, prevent Korea becoming a “funny country where if you only speak English everyone will give you money.”
Also, if there are cases of private hagwons hiring illegal native speakers, strong measures should be considered to halt their operations immediately.
Presently a revised bill proposing changes to the Kindergarten Education Law, Elementary and Secondary Education Law, and the Hagwon Education Law which requires native English teachers wanting to work in Korea to provide criminal records, a medical examination including drug screening, and academic background certificates has been submitted in the National Assembly, but the standing committee deliberations have not even been set up.
In order that we can believe in and entrust our children [to hagwons?] the National Assembly should promptly discuss this revision of related laws.
The title: "It Doesn’t Matter Even if English Teachers or Native Speakers are Criminals?" The knee-jerk reaction is to think, "clearly this 'journalist' doesn't bother to read the news." There were over 300 negative articles about foreign English teachers last year, and about 1,000 since 2004. Every time a teacher gets arrested for smoking pot, there are 10-20 articles about it, and regarding these most recent cases, over 50 articles have appeared. As if crime by foreign teachers "doesn't matter." Of course, when you reach the end of the article, you see that this rhetorical question is meant to prod the national assembly into action.
According to a 2009 National Police Agency report on ‘The present state of crime by foreign English teachers,’ 274 crimes had been committed by foreign English teachers in the last three years.Wrong. There was no National Police Agency report - it was statistics released by National Assembly Representative Lee Gun-hyeon. How difficult is it to get something that simple correct? (Apparently Rep. Lee contacted the Canadian embassy - and perhaps others - while researching the report telling them that he knew foreign crime and crime by English teachers was a big problem and wanted their help. They didn't respond.) Needless to say, the statistics in Rep. Lee's report are not put into context, but that would involve doing more than a Naver search, which is clearly not part of the job description. As I noted here,
The statistics reveal that 114 teachers were arrested in 2007 and 99 were arrested in 2008. So, for 2007, 114 out of 17,721 teachers were arrested - a rate of 0.64%. In 2008, 99 out of 19,771 teachers were arrested - a rate of 0.50%. As noted in Benjamin Wagner's report to the NHRCK, "The Korean Institute of Criminology... reported that in 2007 the overall “crime rate among [all] foreigners [in Korea] was 1.4% compared with the 3.5% rate among Korean citizens.” In other words, according to Lee's own figures, the foreign English teacher crime rate (0.64%) was more than five times less than the crime rate among Koreans (3.5%) in 2007 and half the rate of other foreigners.At any rate, as the article above notes,
There are more than 7,500 native English teachers placed in elementary, middle and high schools nationwide. According to estimates by the The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, there are 30,000 native speaking teachers working in hagwons or universities nationwide.I'd never come across that '30,000' figure before, which would mean that there are a total of 37,500 native speakers working in Korean hagwons, public schools, and universities out of this potential pool [2008 statistics]:
E-1 - 705 professors from English speaking countries
E-2 - 19,771 in total - 18,604 from English speaking countries
F21 - 3,060 spouses from English speaking countries
F-4 - 37,286 ethnic Koreans from English speaking countries
F-5 - 220 permanent residents from English speaking countries
There are an unknown number on tourist visas who teach English.
Of course, it seems odd, then, that "there are 50,666 F-4 visa holders [but] the government does not know how many are involved in English teaching." Of course, that's from a Korea Times article, so take that how you will. I thought I'd do a search to see if I could find out more about this estimate by The Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, and used terms in Korean from the original article:
전국 초 · 중 · 고교에 배치된 원어민 영어교사는 7500여명이다. 대학이나 학원에서 일하는 원어민까지 합하면 국내 원어민 강사는 약 3만명에 이를 것으로 교육과학기술부는 추정하고 있다.Oddly enough, this August 12, 2009 Money Today article seems to say the same thing:
지난 4월 기준 전국 초·중·고교에 배치된 원어민 영어교사는 모두 7088명. 대학이나 학원에서 일하는 원어민까지 합하면 국내 영어교육 원어민은 약 3만명에 이를 것으로 교육과학기술부는 추정하고 있다.Actually, it says exactly the same thing. I wasn't joking about only using Naver to write the damn article. Control C, Control V. As for this,
Included among these was a formal university teacher who appeared in re-enactments on many local networks.I'd never heard that before, but it turns out such a person was arrested last November, according to this Yonhap article (which is pretty much another cut and paste job). Also interesting is this:
In one instance a native speaking assistant teacher, using a bank note, showed his students the way to smoke marijuana [to roll a joint?] during class.I was pretty certain when I read that I knew who the source would be, and yes - it's from a Breaknews article which features a (blurred) photo of Anti-English Spectrum manager 'L'. You know you're dealing with a credible reporter when they quote from Breaknews.
Also recommended in the article is that "To solve the problem, each step of employment visa issuance should be thoroughly verified." So let's see. An Apostille doesn't work for Canada, so for the process of getting my last visa I needed a criminal record check, two notarized copies of said check and two notarized copies of my diploma, and all of those notarized copies had to be stamped by the Korean embassy, three copies of transcripts, and drug and AIDS tests. Except that I decided to do a visa run to Japan after arriving in Korea and when I got to the Korean embassy in Fukuoka, they looked confused when I passed them all this paperwork and told me that - in Japan - all that was needed was the confirmation number, application, passport and the fee. But I digress. One wonders how more thoroughly verified it can get, but I don't doubt for a moment that it can't go further. It's worth remembering that what is important is not solving a problem, but the appearance that one is solving a problem. I imagine many of the players (AES, politicians, journalists with an axe to grind, or who need something to crusade against) do not want the 'problem' to be solved. Where would the fun be in that?
At any rate, some of the criticisms noted in the article - for example, that choosing teachers based on skin colour is not logical - and suggestions are worth noting, such as this:
Also, if there are cases of private hagwons hiring illegal native speakers, strong measures should be considered to halt their operations immediately.Absolutely. However, you can be sure the Hagwon Owner's Association will make certain that never happens, so it's much easier to go after a group of foreigners that is essentially powerless.
The revised bills referred to at the end of the article are of course Choi Young-hee's bills which are translated here. I'll look more closely at those bills after I translate this article, which focuses on the bills and Choi Young-hee's recent comments about them. Anyone who thinks that she might take advantage the recent arrests to embiggen herself and push for the bills to be passed will not be disappointed.