[News Follow-up] Severe Alcoholic Openly Teaches StudentsIt's always nice to see articles that cover genuine concerns about foreigners in Korea but are written in such a mature, sensitive way so as to not cause any offense. Or it would be nice to see them, I mean. I'm also impressed by the health center that gave out information about one of its patients, and by the reporter whose English was good enough to interview the acquaintances of the deceased so as to help paint the deceased as a chronic alcoholic and have a jumping off point to criticize the foreign teacher recruitment system (a brave new topic!). Still, considering how messed up his 'quote' of the ATEK release is (compare here), I have some doubts about his English ability. I also like the bit about the foreign teacher community being worried about a backlash. No one has said a word about a backlash as far as I know, because, despite the record of the Korean press, I doubt anyone would have believed a newspaper would sink so low as to use the corpse of a suicide as a soapbox for more (and more!) xenophobia. How wonderful to be disappointed.
Unbelievable Native Speaking Teacher Employment System
At 6pm on the 19th native speaking teacher B (32) was found dead after jumping naked from the waist down from an apartment in Millak-dong in Busan.
Police said that according to the apartment watchman and other sources, B threw off his pants in the hallway on the 14th floor and then threw himself [out of the building]. CCTV also caught him alone in the elevator with a soju bottle.
Before this on the 14th at Gimhae Airport B wanted to go home without a ticket and caused a disturbance. At this time he was also drunk.
Why did the native speaking teacher jump to his death?
American B entered the country in December after receiving a visa to work as a native speaking teacher in Busan. At the apartment he jumped from, he was known to acquaintances who lived there. After receiving his pay at the hagwon on the 15th, he caused problems such as being absent without leave, and left the 'one room' he had lived at until then to stay in a motel. Police said he drank alcohol in the nearby Gwanganni area the day he died and are trying to determine precisely what led to his death.
The hagwon said B already had almost 2 years experience working as a native speaking teacher in Gyeonggi-do and a clean criminal record.
Through the health center it was found that a employment health exam had been completed. The hagwon said, "He was a big person and normally had an outgoing personality so we can't imagine him doing something like this."
But acquaintances in the native speaking teacher community knew B differently. In New York, where he lived for some years, he received treatment for severe alcoholism, and at the time he entered Korea he had not fully recovered. A severe alcoholic who caused a disturbance in a public facility and jumped to his death worked as a teacher and openly taught students in Korea.
Native speaking instructor recruiting is full of loopholes
Due to increased demand for native speaking instructors and economic difficulties in North America, the number of foreigners wanting to come to Korea has grown. Loopholes in the native speaking instructor employment process persist, however.
After frequent incidents, in 2008 there was a trend towards strengthening screening such as instituting criminal record checks, but checking for drug or alcohol addiction is a blind spot that remains neglected. Education is being crippled by native speaking instructors who are frequently absent, or who unilaterally break contracts.
Kim Jeong-suk, policy department head for the Busan branch of the National Association of Parents for True Education said, "At this time in the area of education there are many saying only that native speaking instructors are needed but there is little effort to make real teachers" and, "It's urgent a system be established in which there is a certain deferment period allowing for verification and administration instead of hiring them immediately after registration due to instructor supply and demand, which is said to be an issue."
A hagwon official explained that teachers must go through a phone or video interview, but with such a short and indirect interview the danger of potential incidents by them cannot be completely ruled out. As one hagwon official put it, "When hagwon owners gather, they all complain, "When recruiting native speaking teachers, it's the luck of the draw,"" and, "It's unreal that there are more than 12 kinds of academic and other background documents. Hagwons can take desperate measures like hiring gyopos or hiring directly without going through agencies, but there are no reliable alternatives."
Health authorities also said, "As employment health exams provided by health centers are limited to checking for contagious diseases like AIDS, TB or Hepatitis, it's not possible to determine drug or alcohol addiction."
Meanwhile, due to this incident, Busan's native speaking teacher community is not hiding its troubled mood. There's a worry that instructors who work diligently in hagwons might also be caught up in a witch hunt. On the 21st, ATEK released a statement to its members and the mood is easing. ATEK said, " whoever's fault this situation is, one can not help regret it" and "We want to help foreigners experiencing social adjustment or contractual difficulties at any time."
I'm starting to get this robot thing, though. I really am. Since it's clear that its expected for foreigners in Korea to have no failings whatsoever - ie. to not be human - robots make a lot of sense. Just think about English teacher robots: no AIDS, no 'crippling education' through absences, and they "won't complain about health insurance, sick leave and severance packages" - the benefits are endless. And why stop at English teachers? Why not make industrial robots that won't complain when they when they don't get paid or lose limbs in machines or when they go blind from being locked in tiny rooms with toxic substances? They'll be legal as well, so no more foreigners who have the nerve to fall to their deaths while running from immigration officers. And what about all these projected problems from wives imported from southeast Asia? I mean, sure, it'll push the Korean robotics industry to the limit to create a viable sexbot that can also cook Korean food correctly, but I'm sure the latter capability can be replaced with the ability to survive ten-story falls. Just imagining such a blissful future is sure to bring tears to the eyes of the editors at the Busan Ilbo. Or maybe those would be due to sandpaper-dildo sodomizing I'm wishing upon them. So hard to tell...
The Busan Ilbo has also graced us with an editorial about foreign teachers!
I'll save that for tomorrow.