[Editorial] The victims of native speaking instructor 'luck of the draw recruiting' are only studentsPerhaps a better title for the post would have been "Dead foreign teacher returns to work as zombie, eats students' brains; more scrutiny needed during hiring process to prevent potential zombies from working as teachers."
On the 19th an American English hagwon instructor took his own life while drunk. It's become known that the dead instructor had received treatment for alcoholism for some years. He also, while drunk and in Korea, behaved indecently in public and caused a disturbance in a public institution. One can only be aghast that such a person was working as a native speaking teacher.
Criminal acts and various scandals by native speaking teachers are nothing new. The various crimes that we know of up to now include assault, child molestation, sexual assault and, of course, taking and selling drugs, Their crime rate has also increased each year. In particular, of 95 foreigners caught for smuggling last year, 28 were native speaking instructors. Among these are also instructors who were deported from the US for gang activity and afterward were arrested for distributing drugs here.
Due to the demand for native speaking teachers, the number of teachers in elementary schools and hagwons increases every day. However, the verifying of qualifications and management and supervision of native speaking instructors are still riddled with loopholes. This is because it's not practical for schools or hagwons to verify qualifications themselves. While instructors do get interviewed by hagwons, it is extremely limited time-wise and indirect, and it's difficult to determine if they have a criminal background. According to a health center, the current employment health exam cannot also determine drug or alcohol addiction. It's become known that the dead instructor's criminal background was clean, and there were no problems on the health center employment health exam.
Every time native speaking instructor crime is exposed, amending relevant laws or strengthening the management and supervision of instructors are suggested, but there have been no improvements. Even with amendments to laws which make it mandatory for native speaking instructor to submit criminal background checks, medical reports including a drug exam and academic degrees, we are still at a loss. In the end, it is our students who suffer due to the haphazard hiring of native speaking instructors. The structural weaknesses of the management and supervision system which allows potential criminals such as fugitives and convicts work as instructors must be fixed at all costs.
It's interesting that the perpetual studying needed by Koreans to reach a 'native speaker level' of English (perpetual because it can never be reached) is mirrored by a perpetual need to 'improve' the foreign teacher recruitment system due to westerners' unique potential for criminality and moral laxity. I like the bit about the "various crimes that we know of" - there are always more to be uncovered, especially since there are hidden crimes.
It's not surprising that no mention was made of the 'deferment period' suggested yesterday that would allow time (presumably) for psychological evaluations of potential teachers; hagwon owners would fight it tooth and nail. But seeing as it was the policy department head for the Busan branch of the National Association of Parents for True Education who suggested it, it would seem the idea of subjecting foreign teachers to further scrutiny is an attractive one to some people.
It's also ironic that this story came to light at the same time Blackout Korea was discovered by Koreans (leading, unsurprisingly, to this anti-teacher blog, which is at least honest in its url about what it wants). Whatever one thinks of Blackout Korea, it does remind one that Korea is probably one of the last places you'd want to be if you were a recovering alcoholic, considering the availability of cheap alcohol which can be purchased at any time, something which may have played some part in the demise of the teacher.
As always, it's pretty shoddy 'journalism.' The crime rate is climbing; no statistics are needed to prove this, since we 'know' it must be. It's "difficult to determine if they have a criminal background" - especially when criminal record checks are not required for non-E-2 visa holders working in hagwons, but the number of articles dealing with foreign teachers with 'F-2' or 'F-4' in them can likely be counted on one hand. Criminals deported from the US are obviously not US citizens (and Ronald Rhee, the wanted murderer arrested last March, was a Korean citizen) and hence not subject to any foreign criminal record checks. Since the editorial brought Rhee up, here was the Donga Ilbo's depiction of him at that time:
Why hasn't the Busan Ilbo made a similar cartoon for this case? At any rate, the paper continues its tasteful reporting by telling us that the 'dead teacher,' who 'took his own life while drunk,' also "behaved indecently in public." That's their way of describing the fact that he took off most of his clothes in the hallway of the apartment building before leaping to his death. I wonder if a search through their archives will turn up an editorial telling people not to leave trash in parks and forests after Roh Moo-hyun threw himself off a mountain.
Back to Rhee and his ilk. There have been three wanted murderers caught working as foreign teachers in Korea. Each time they were caught, more talk of strengthening the E-2 visa was generated, with nary a mention that two of the three were Korean citizens and another was (likely) on an F-4 visa. The fact remains that neither the media nor authorities suggested doing anything or actually did anything that might actually prevent this in the future, which makes the 'we have to protect the children' mantra sound pretty empty, serving only as a cover for race-based fear-mongering.