Foreign English teacher drug addiction 'verification' at hospitalsSo, let me get this straight: "Among foreign instructors who do not have legal visas, some have caused incidents which have led to social criticism and, along with it, increasing worries by parents," but now these newly government-designated testing centers will take care of this by accurately testing... only teachers who are legally here on E2 visas. Well then, problem solved! Certainly, the way to figure out if these illegal teachers (who are increasing, so it's said, though there are no numbers to back that assertion and from my own experience it seems there are actually less teachers here on tourist visas now than there were 5 years ago) are alcoholics or drug addicts is to come up with more stringent tests for the... legal teachers. Makes sense.
On General Hospital selected as 'Ministry of Justice conversation instruction employment medical exam institution'
Establishing a drug screening system... certification as excellent laboratory
Blood is being taken to check whether foreigners seeking jobs are addicted to drugs. Busan On General Hospital was selected by the Ministry of Justice as a "designated medical institution for conversation instruction (E2) required medical exams."
In order to ensure a safe learning environment for youth, the government has made it so that, from April 1, when native speaking instructors register conversation instruction requirements or receive permission for activities outside of residence, only medical exam certificates issued from medical institutions designated by the Justice Minister will be acknowledged in order to improve the system.
Due to English early education fever the demand for foreign instructors has increased, and, outside of foreign native speaking instructors who have received conversation instruction visas (E2 visa) and legally entered the country, cases of foreigners who come on tourist visas and teach English in hagwons and reside here illegally are increasing. Among foreign instructors who do not have legal visas, some have caused incidents which have led to social criticism and, along with it, increasing worries by parents.
Through the employment medical exam certificate, the Ministry of Justice will be able to distinguish whether a foreign English teacher is a drug addict or alcoholic.
Until April, foreign English instructors had gotten employment health checks at public health centers, but it was argued that it was not possible to accurately determine if they were alcoholics or drug addicts.
In order to secure reliable test results, the government will only acknowledge conversation instruction (E2) employment medical exam certificates issued by a fully equipped medical institution with a HIV exam system and a drug screening system including a cannabinoid test and a TBPE test confirming whether drugs such as marijuana, amphetamine, methamphetamine, heroin or philippon have been taken.
Busan On General Hospital said that to be hired, foreigners entering the country for conversation instruction have been verified, which will reduce the worries of parents and students.
On General Hospital director Jeong Geun said that, "Last October, we were recognized for our reliability and accuracy based on our cutting edge diagnostic testing equipment and excellent laboratory personnel." "With the accuracy and reliability of our test results, we can provide greater help in the important hiring of foreigners qualified for conversation instruction."
As for this measure "reduc[ing] the worries of parents," the same thing was said by the Ministry of Justice back in 2007 when it announced new E-2 regulations:
[S]teps will be taken to regulate the entry of foreign teachers into the country [...] in order to prevent from living in Korea native speaking conversation instructors who arouse public criticism through their drug taking, molestation, and alcoholism. [...]Three and a half years later, it seems the 'unease' with foreign English teachers hasn't gone anywhere - in fact, with more improvements to the E2 visa system announced last July, these new, improved drug tests (testing for amphetamine, methamphetamine, heroin and philippon - popular drugs with the E2 crowd!), and the removal of HIV tests for all foreigners except E2 visa holders (due to 80% of citizens polled disagreeing with them being done away with), it could be argued that the unease has increased. Or at least, that the unease is perpetual, with parents' stomachs kept churning in worry by periodic (and regular) news reports depicting the threat foreign English teachers pose to their children.
It is expected the unease of citizens caused by unqualified conversation instructors will be largely resolved by the Ministry of Justice's recent measures regarding conversation teachers which will make it possible to block drug users, those with criminal records and illegal conversation teachers who acquire visas using fake documents from entering Korea and stop unqualified conversation instructors who have entered the country without visas from teaching conversation illegally.
Oh, and it would seem the deaths (seemingly suicides while drunk) of two teachers in Busan - which left an editorial writer at the Busan Ilbo "aghast" that such people were teaching children and were also talked about in the media here and here - have influenced talk of testing to determine if teachers are alcoholics, something that generally has not been talked about in regards to foreign teachers* - possibly because even the lowest quality journalists might realize how hypocritical that might be.
[*An exception being the MoJ announcement above.]