Monday, May 30, 2011

Expel those drug addicted, molesting foreign instructors

On May 3, the Gyeongin Ilbo published the following article:
'Expel' drug addicted, molesting foreign instructors
Provincial assembly board of education member submits bill to strengthen administrative measures for hiring by hagwons

In the midst of recent incidents - such as foreign English teachers smuggling and taking drugs and teachers within Korea committing molestation - becoming social problems, the Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly has, for the first time in Korea, submitted a bill to strengthen administrative measures aimed at such problems, and is therefore gaining much attention.

53 members of the Gyeonggi Provincial Assembly, including education committee member Choi Chang-ui, will submit such a "Partly revised bill on the Ordinance for the establishment and management of hagwons and private lessons in Gyeonggi-do." to the 259th provisional session which opens on the third.

The ordinance bill mandates that hagwons who hire those addicted to narcotics, marijuana, or psychotropic drugs will face suspension of business for the first violation, and will have their hagwon license cancelled for the second violation.

In addition, the ordinance bill will order hagwons which do not carry out criminal record checks for sex crimes when hiring instructors to correct this the first time, and stipulates that hagwons with subsequent violations will face strong administrative measures such as suspension of business and cancellation of their hagwon license. The bill also establishes that hagwons caught hiring sex criminals as instructors will not face correction orders but will face immediate suspension of business and cancellation of their hagwon license.

Representative Choi said, "This bill was submitted amidst the emerging social consensus that sex criminals and drug takers who create a harmful environment for children should be made to disappear from places of education," and "I hope this bill will be an opportunity to strengthen the responsibility of private hagwons when hiring instructors."
While the title clearly states that native speaking teachers are the problem, the article has only one mention of foreign teachers, saying that this bill targets "foreign English teachers smuggling and taking drugs and teachers within Korea committing molestation." The second part - "teachers within Korea committing molestation" (국내 강사들의 성추행) seems to be intentionally muddy, as it does not make clear just who the teachers committing molestation are.

A look at the bill itself, which can be found here, makes things clearer. The goal of the bill is to change the criteria for taking administrative measures against hagwons, in this case, for failure to carry out criminal record checks for sex crimes and drug offenses. Thus the bill will revise the existing law for hagwons in places where it restricts the fundamental rights of students. In regard to this, it lists the following aims:
To establish standards for administrative penalties according to the enforcement of a system to restrict employment of those who have committed sex crimes against children or youth, according to article 44 of the 'Child and youth sexual protection law.'

As there have been cases of foreign instructors arrested for things such as taking and trafficking drugs, in order to prevent the teaching activities of those addicted to narcotics or other drugs, penalty clauses will be established and criteria of administrative measures will be prepared.
Another aim is to set penalties for hagwon owners or instructors who do not complete training courses. The bill lays out the following punishments:
1. Failure to get a criminal record check for sex crimes: 1st offense, correction order; 2nd offense, suspension of business; 3rd offense, cancellation of licence.
2. Hiring a sex criminal: cancellation of licence
3. Hiring someone addicted to narcotics, marijuana, or psychotropic drugs: 1st offense, suspension of business; 2nd offense, cancellation of licence
4. Being absent without permission from training for those who manage or establish hagwons: 1st offense, correction order; 2nd offense, suspension of business; 3rd offense, cancellation of licence
5. Being absent without permission from training for instructors: 1st offense, suspension of business; 2nd offense, cancellation of licence.
Beyond the mention of foreign teacher arrests in the introduction, the only other mention the bill makes of foreigners is in regard to qualifications required by immigration for foreign teachers (with, of course, no mention of the pertinent visa). No mention is made of the fact that foreign instructors (on an E-2 visa, of course) require criminal record checks already. If the bill is calling for Korean criminal record checks (as Choi Young-hee's bills seem to do, and which have already been put in place by SMOE for its foreign public school teachers), it does not make that clear at all.

Otherwise, its nice to see pressure being put on hagwons to take more care in hiring, as the other aim - to ensure background checks are done on (presumably Korean) employees is something that should have been put in place long ago (though the move towards stricter punishments for (and prevention of) sex crimes against children has only really been an issue for the last five years).

That said, though the contents of the bill make only two mentions of foreign teachers (and do nothing to provide statistics backing up the assertion that there have been 'cases of foreign teacher arrests') as can be seen above, that's not how the Gyeongin Ilbo has chosen to report the bill, making it sound like its aimed at foreigners who are addicted to drugs and molest children.

The article sounds similar to an article back in January which said that "regulations for hiring instructors for hagwons in the Seoul area will be greatly strengthened," and though it was clearly aimed at Korean hagwon instructors, it used the example of a "native speaking English instructor who molested an elementary school student" to illustrate "sex crimes occurring again and again at hagwons [which] have caused parents a great deal of worry." That of course let to this nonsensical article about foreign instructors fleeing the new regulations in Seoul and turning Daejeon into a hive of scum and villainy.

Also worth noting is the use of "drug addict" to describe foreign teachers (as opposed to merely drug takers or traffickers, as the bill refers to them). While there have been periodic descriptions of foreign teachers as 'drug addicts' over the years, one wonders if the news reports on the case of the two (apparent) suicides of foreign teachers in Busan in February (reported on here, here, and here), wherein those who died were described as alcoholics and drug addiction was mentioned as a problem, have influenced the discourse on foreign teachers and drugs. Before those cases, when the government announced new drug tests for foreign teachers, the term 'addiction' was not brought up, but after those reports, a news report about a hospital in Busan chosen to do the new drug tests referred to teachers being tested to see if they "are addicted to drugs." And now, while this bill in the Gyeonggi provincial assembly does not mention the word "addict," every article (7 at this point) about this bill refers to it being intended to block foreign 'drug addicts' from working as hagwon instructors.

The debate over and outcome of the bill is covered here.

7 comments:

Gary Norris said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
brent said...

Again, the people that come in under 6 month tourist visas or are on family visas are left alone to do whatever they want. They have no checks, no restrictions.

At least they see that they have to apply pressure to the academies because they've run into a dead end trying to have zero crime from e-2/public school instructors.

wetcasements said...

Mixed feelings. I'm all for forcing hagwon to clean up their acts, because in the long term this would lead to better conditions and treatment for NET's.

But the fact that the reformers are pretty much fueled by bigotry makes me very uncomfortable.

Gary Norris said...

I deleted my first comment because I wrote a lengthier and proofread post on my own blog about it with a link to Gusts. I like this post as I appreciate the attempt to show how reform is working and not working and how the press perverts what the government is attempting to do.

it snafu, of course.^^

anyway my post is here. "On the Perverted Foreigner in Capitalist Culture"

everfree said...

Are Korean doctors, law makers and journalists still so blindingly stupid that they can't tell the difference between a 'drug user' and a 'drug addict'? I mean, really? I wonder if they can tell the difference between an alcoholic and someone who drinks a glass of wine at dinner.

Dear Korea, please send all of your doctors and scientists back to the west for another 20 years. They obviously haven't even bothered to read the thesis papers they plagiarized to earn their respective positions. It makes one wonder if someone who occasionally drinks could actually be admitted to rehab for alcohol addiction in Korea. Oh wait, rehab probably doesn't even exist here, as the locals fail to even recognize rampant alcoholism as a problem.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I wonder if they can tell the difference between an alcoholic and someone who drinks a glass of wine at dinner.

Sure they do. If you drink alone, you're an alcoholic. If you don't, you're not. Simple.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

I can only surmise that these laws are not aimed at E2-visa holders since everything in the bill is already in place for E2s to get their visas.

Which leaves the non-E2s. So now even if you are an F2, F4, F5, or Korean and you do not submit checks to the hagwon, the hagwon will be penalized. Good.

And even if they pass the checks, but the person they hire does drugs or molests a student, the hagwon is penalized. Good.

If EVERYone working at a hagwon now has to get checked, regardless or visa or nationality, then this can only be a good thing (it's all about protecting the children, right? Right?)

I guess there is no advantage now to hiring illegals and tourists. Or maybe there is... if the school gets penalized even if a LEGAL visa holder does something bad, why not hire the illegal in the first place, anyway, and save some money on salaries?