Friday, March 04, 2011

An accurate, reliable, impartial news report

As noted in the NHRCK report, "The Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) is a government owned television network [and] the largest television network in Korea." It also links to their website, where we are told the following:
KBS regards it a core duty to reflect the diverse voices of Korea through the distinctiveness of its programs, while bringing the world home to its audience through speedy and impartial news reports.

In today's environment of multi-faceted communication and media with a flood of information and sensationalized commercialism, KBS strives to fully satisfy the people's right to know and quality programming through honest and transparent management. By airing accurate and reliable news as well as high quality programs, KBS leads the way in setting the standard for Koreas journalism and broadcasting culture.

A public opinion poll conducted in 2002 showed KBS to be the most influential among the domestic press and electronic media circles. [...] The Korean people have come to trust in KBS to consistently deliver reliable and straightforward programs.[...]

KBS fully embraces the diversity as well as the cohesion of the various cultures of the world.
It may be worth keeping all of that in mind while watching and reading this KBS report from July 3, 2009 (found through a link on Anti-English Spectrum's site; the video of this 6 minute news report can be watched at the KBS link):
'Out of Control Foreign English Teacher' Molests [someone] while High during Lesson
"Is that my child's native speaking teacher?"

The number of native speaking English instructors working in Korea is increasing, and so are their crimes.

At school they are sincere teachers, but outside class they constantly go off the rails. We have the story of their two faces.

Choi Seo-hui - have foreign instructors also been caught for habitual gambling and drugs?


Yes. Yesterday more than ten English instructors were uncovered. During the day they taught students and at night they lived lives stained by drugs and gambling.

Incidents in which students have been molested have also occurred one after the other. We've covered the truth about how some native speaking instructors go off the rails, making one uncomfortable about entrusting their child's education to them.

[Shot of web profile; under 'Most precious thing' is [untranslated], "Seeing the light glisten off the sweat on the curve of a woman's breast, thigh, back, butt, or almost anywhere on a woman's body."]

This was written on the internet by a foreign English instructor living in Korea. He said he came to Korea for money and the pleasure of women and boldly put up photos of himself.

An English instructor at a hagwon in Seoul who had been in the US army posted nude photos of women on the internet which he said were of his students.

It was revealed he posted nude photos he'd taken of his coworkers and racing models he'd picked up and even posted photos of his students. The deviation of native speaking instructors like this is becoming more serious by the day.

Yesterday in the Itaewon area police caught 13 foreign instructors for habitually smoking hashish (a kind of drug) and gambling.

It's come out that since January they've met 113 times to gamble and smoked hashish 100 times. Most of the suspects work in Seoul or Gyeonggi-do as public school teachers, with some working as instructors at well known English hagwons in Gangnam.

Kim Gi-yong (Detective, Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency Foreign Affairs): "The group was made up of language hagwon instructors, and at home they wagered millions of won habitually gambling and taking drugs. They currently maintain that they are completely innocent."

They put up the gambling time and place on a well known overseas website to recruit accomplices and avoid being caught.
[The only reason foreigners use Facebook is to avoid detection.]
Also, it was revealed that at an ordinary house in Itaewon, they went so far as to set up a poker table and habitually gambled. Every month, a picture of the winner and the amount they won was put on the wall of the gambling house and on the internet site.

We visited the English hagwon in Gangnam where a teacher who was caught works.

Hagwon official: "Our hagwon? This is the first we've heard of this. Please speak clearly. Who is this?"

The hagwon declared there was no such teacher.

We also visited the elementary school in Gyeonggi-do where another teacher worked as an English teacher for the after school program. At the school they were completely unaware of the same facts.

School official: "We confirmed this properly through the embassy and later the visa was issued but it was checked to see if crimes had been committed in New Zealand, and only people with no crimes were given permission to work by the embassy so we know that there was absolutely no problem.

When parents heard the news, they were also shocked.

Parent: Are you serious? That happened? How could it be - really? Your teacher is ____ [the teacher's name], isn't that right?

Child: "Today the English teacher was sick and didn't come to school."

Parent: "I went to an observation class but even then there was nothing that stood out, and it was fine."

However the reaction of people who have encountered native speaking instructors close up is that this kind of thing is nothing new.

English hagwon operator: "When socializing with the teacher, I've heard him talk freely about doing drugs many times. (Do they do drugs and come to class?) He looked spaced out and taught very simple, basic things, which is why I thought he was on drugs while teaching class."

There are also endless sex crimes by foreign instructors.

Recently there was an incident at a well known hagwon in Seoul where parents complained after two native speaking teachers molested female elementary students.

The 'Citizen’s movement to expel illegal foreign language teachers' cafe manager: "At the hagwon that received the complaint, the hagwon and the native speaking teachers said, "It was just a simple misunderstanding due to cultural differences and we did nothing wrong."

Also, in Seoul a native speaking teacher working for a district office-run foreign language program was charged for molesting a grade one elementary school student under his care last December, but last week was cleared for lack of evidence.

Crime by foreign instructors like these is never ending but the fact is that the number of native speaking instructors in Korea is continuously growing.

A parent: "Korean teachers have some limits. There are many cases where they do not know real life vocabulary. This is because they simply learn language in a technical sense, without an appreciation for the connection between language and culture."

Due to the perception that native speaking instructors are unconditionally better, even hagwon owners break rules and are trying as hard as they can to hire native speaking instructors.

English hagwon operator: "Our hagwon instructors said native speakers are 'decorations,' as the saying goes. Because of the strong preference for native speakers by the mothers and parents of students at most hagwons, most have native speakers."

However, in truth, background checks for these native speaking instructors are not being properly carried out.

The 'Citizen's movement to expel illegal foreign language teachers' cafe manager: "A foreign instructor responsible for sex related crimes against children and minors and assault against police in Canada was stripped of his teaching qualification there. This person is now in Korea working as an English instructor at a county office in Gyeongsangsnam-do and participating in a summer camp by teaching young students.

Native speaking instructors themselves say that the native speaking teacher qualification check should be strengthened.

Alex (23, American native speaking instructor): "There are a lot of people who are either not qualified or who, in a sense that they have no teaching experience only a bachelors degree or are not qualified in the sense that this is not something they enjoy doing. Not necessarily ESL but teaching English – teaching in general rather – is not something that they enjoy doing. They're here just sort of passing time."

[Translated as: "There are many cases where native speaking teachers have only a university diploma or are inexperienced. They have no interest in teaching, let alone English education. There are also people who just want to kill some time."]

Under the English education craze, an increasing number of native speaking instructors, who are treated like VIPs, act abnormally and without scruples, and there is an urgent need for strict qualification checks in order to prevent our children from being exposed to this.

The title is a bit misleading, with "환각 수업에 성추행" sounding more like "molestation during stoned lesson," or that the teachers molested students while high.

The personal website shown at the beginning of the report was linked to here and the subject of an AES-aided Breaknews article in August 2006, which shows just how far back KBS was reaching to construct their narrative. As can be seen from the screen shot above, they mistranslated the part about racing models.

The 'poker ring' bust was the subject of several KBS reports at the time of this report, and is covered in more detail here and here.

The Anti English Spectrum-based story about the molestation taking place at a hagwon was never reported as having been investigated by the police and was the subject of this report posted three days before this KBS report (and was the first of five negative articles about foreign English teachers by intern Choi Hui-seon: 1 2 3 4 5 ).

More about the "native speaking teacher working for a district office-run foreign language program" who was charged with molestation can be read here and here (from January and February 2009). This KBS report actually confirms that the charges were dropped for lack of evidence. Between this story and an unconfirmed tip from AES, it seems hard for KBS to justify the statement that "There are also endless sex crimes by foreign instructors."

KBS obviously decided the 'AES manager's story about the Canadian teacher stripped of his credentials back home warranted further scrutiny, as it was the subject of another KBS report less than two months later.

As for this:
By airing accurate and reliable news as well as high quality programs, KBS leads the way in setting the standard for Koreas journalism and broadcasting culture.
If this report is considered "accurate and reliable," then one certainly hopes that KBS is not "setting the standard for Koreas journalism and broadcasting culture."


holterbarbour said...

I heard that as a middle-aged adults, the newscasters are likely to have engaged in sexual activity at some point in their lives. Do we really want those kinds of people hosting our news programs? I think not.

Anonymous said...

Classic post.

Roboseyo said...

great post. well done.

Stuart said...

I met some KBS reporters in 2008 at a group meeting that was hosted by one of my friends. A lot of Korean people go to the party as well as foreigners.

He rents a bar out and it's 15'000 won per person, with all the draft beer and snack food you like.

They tried to tag me as a womanizer and a drug abuser by asking me questions such as; "Do you have a lot of girl friends?" and "What's in that cigar you're smoking? I think it smells like marijuana."

KBS is another news media group I threw on the garbage heap along with SBS and fox news a long time ago.

Anonymous said...

(1 of 2)

As Matt has pointed out in previous posts, it's interesting that when it comes to wonomin kangsa/kyosa the Hankyoreh seems to have the most objective coverage. Seems curious considering their coverage of US military issues in the past (esp. 90s). That is to say, if the wonomin is today's GI, which seems to be the case, one might assume the Hani would pick up the issue and run with it. Yet it's the "conservative" media (e.g. KBS, Chosun Ilbo) that seems to be leading the charge.

I suspect the ROK/USFK relationship may be part (most?) of the reason the Korean "conservative" press exercised/exercises more restraint when it comes to GI/USFK reporting.

If that's the case, in contrast to coverage of military personnel, the "conservative" media doesn't seem to have any trepidation over creating ill will or provoking criticism from the US gov with biased coverage of US civilian citizens in Korea (e.g wonomin). Irresponsible reporting by the Korean media on US military personnel generates a swift response:

"[American Ambassador James T.] Laney says the problem is not that American soldiers are committing more crimes, but that an irresponsible Korean press is portraying them in a particularly lurid way to an inflamed public." NYT, 1995.

(Substitute "American soliders" for civilian wonomin.)

The US gov and its reps (in contrast to Canada and the UK) have made it quite clear that it takes no offense to irresponsible reporting on wonomin kangsa and the perceived AIDS/drug/criminal threat they pose to Korea, indeed it has given a green light to "conservative" media like KBS and the Chosun Ilbo (with its 5 story blitzkrieg by Choi Hui-seon in 2009) to be as "lurid" as it pleases to "an inflamed public." Ambassador Stevens for instance, a one time wonomn kangsa herself(!), doesn't seem to have the slightest interest speaking out on behalf of US wonomin in Korea. On the other hand, when it comes to US GIs (mentioned above) or even US meat, (mentioned below) US ambassadors have been quite outspoken.

Contrast Ambassador Stevens' approach to that of former Ambassador Vershbow during the beef crisis. It seemed like hardly a day passed without Vershbow making public statements criticizing the Korean media's negative reporting on beef and asking Koreans to stop discriminating against US beef and be more rational and "scientific" about the issue.

Even ex-AmCham prez (and 'blue-eyed' Korean citizen) Jeff Jones, on behalf of the private sector, got in on the action with the beef issue calling Koreans "emotional" and adding that "[i]n Korea, passion often leads before rationality.'':

"It's not an issue based on fact. . . . The problem with the beef issue is there is no substance in the argument. It's an emotional issue. It's an emotional issue because people fear that they will be harmed." - Jeff Jones, KT, 2008

(Substitute "beef" for "wonomin with AIDS or on drugs".)

Anonymous said...

(2 of 2)

Naturally, there's an enormous economic interest in making sure US beef doesn't receive discriminatory treatment and continues to flow into Korea. But is there less of a US econmic interest in the area of English education?

There are approx. 12,000 (E-2 visa) non-Korean US citizen wonomin kangsa/kyosa in Korea, assuming they earn USD $21,500 a year salary (2 million KRW a month), that amounts to USD $258 million annually. In 2009, the USDA put the value of beef sales to Korea at USD $215 million ($43 million less than the revenue earned by American E-2 visa wonomin kangsa).

And substantially more revenue is earned from Koreans studying English abroad.

According to a 2007 report by 'Industry Canada with the participation of the Canadian Embassy in Seoul and the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service' (see "The Language Training Market In Korea"):

"In recent years, Korea has spent more per capita on English language training than any other nation. Indeed, the Korean market is significant: $4.6 billion [USD $4.7 billion] is spent on English language education abroad . . ."

(I'm assuming this is an annual amount since Samsung Economic Research Institute(SERI)'s 2006 "The Economics of English" report stated that Koreans spent "806.6 trillion [Korean] Won" [USD $721.9 billion] on English in 2005.)

While I don't have stats to back this up, I think it's safe to say the US takes the lion's share of that USD $4.7 billion spent abroad on English education.

The revenue the US earns from beef sales to Korea pales in comparison. As mentioned, in 2009, the USDA put the value of beef sales to Korea at USD $215 million (with 2003 being a peak year at USD $754 million.)

While I don't have any objective data to support this statement, I'd would argue that the stigma against wonomin in Korea (i.e. as dangerous, immoral, diseased, drugged-out individuals) has some effect (possibly a substantial effect) on the likelihood of Koreans choosing the US as a place to learn English from American wonomin. In other words, the reputational costs translate into lost revenue.

If the US is willing to go to the mat over discriminatory treatment toward beef for a few hundred million why the indifference to discriminatory treatment towards its citizens which has the potential to affect a market valued in billions of dollars?

The US just doesn't seems to "get it". In terms of international relations, from a "logic of appropriateness" perspective, it has failed to do the right thing by speaking up against human rights violations that even UN SG Ban Ki Moon has recognized [1,2]; moreover, as explained above, from a "logic of consequences" perspective it has also failed to appreciate the significant economic losses incurred in reputational damages.

(** I'd appreciate comments on any errors, botched statistics, bad math, differing opinions, etc.)

Anonymous said...

It's good to see the american ambassador(Stevens supposed former english teacher) and embassy has its priorities straight putting animals, cows(beef) before people(english teachers), what a crappy embassy american that is in Gwanghwamun.

Can's Stevens be stripped of past titles based on present non-action?

How about 1-Man demonstrations in front of the American Embassy saying "It cares more about American animals/beef than American people/English teachers."