Wednesday, May 04, 2011

"Former native speaking teacher" busted for "smuggling" philipon

[Update: YTN's follow up is here.]

Yonhap issued the first report (out of about ten so far) today:
Former native speaking instructor caught smuggling philopon

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency drug investigation unit revealed on May 4 that D, a 27 year-old South African woman, and C, a 32 year-old who formerly worked in Korea as an English teacher, were arrested for smuggling large amounts of philipon into the country (in violation of the Drug Control Law).

According to police, on the 28th of last year [that's what it says; it was actually February 28] D left Johannesburg, South Africa with 945.1 grams of philipon hidden in an empty space in the outer cover of her luggage and entered Korea at Incheon Airport after passing through Quatar, where it was to be delivered to C, who has been charged for trying to distribute it in Korea.

The investigation found that last December D met drug dealer P in Johannesburg, who offered to give her 10,000 rand (1,700,000 won) if she delivered philipon to Korea. She received 400 US dollars and a plane ticket to Korea in order to commit the crime.

It's been revealed that C, a Nigerian English instructor who came to Korea in 2006, tried his hand at a wholesale business selling popular, fast-selling clothing from South Africa, but turned to taking part in drug smuggling when the business failed.

After receiving intelligence, police arrested D after she entered the country at Incheon Airport. C, who had been on the run for two months, was caught last month.

Police are considering measures such as putting P, who was behind the crime, on an Interpol wanted list, and are looking into the precise details of contacts C made with international drug organizations while in Korea.

A police official revealed that, "This is the first time that a native speaking instructor has tried to smuggle a large amount of philipon, rather than marijuana." "Attempts by foreigners taking the initiative in smuggling drugs are increasing, and sources of supply for philopon are diversifying.
The Simin Ilbo adds that,
The philipon D brought was worth 3.2 billion, enough to dose 32,000 people at the same time.
At the same time? Considering that philipon is the drug of choice for Koreans, does this suggest that plans were afoot to attempt to set a Guinness record in a new category?

The Chosun Ilbo has this to say about the Nigerian English teacher:
Nigerian English instructor C came to Korea in 2006 and worked in a factory in the capital area, and it was found that in 2009 he worked at a branch of a well known language hagwon for 8 months as a native speaking instructor. It was revealed that until recently C did private tutoring for 2-3 elementary and middle school students and had a wholesale business selling popular, fast-selling clothing.
So he could have been described as a 'former factory worker' or 'former wholesaler,' as opposed to 'former native speaking teacher.' Mind you, usually when a headline mentions "Former...", it's followed by a job in a position of power, or an entertainer, or an athlete (though teachers sometimes make the headlines too, such as this former teacher who tried to set on fire the elementary school which didn't renew his contract).

Beyond that quibble, why is there no mention of the fact that this guy, being Nigerian and thus not eligible to teach English on an E2 visa, was teaching illegally? Where are the police statements about the need to better filter out drug smuggling teachers and calls for hagwons to be more responsible? (Perhaps future editorials will deal with this). And beyond hagwons, it clearly says he was teaching privately, which is, simply put, illegal. But then, I guess that could suggest he wasn't a real native speaking teacher, obscuring the "native speaking teachers are drug addicts and drug smugglers" narrative Yonhap (and apparently the Chosun Ilbo, and the half dozen other media outlets) are trying to construct. Which smacks of being a little desperate on their parts, seeing as there are enough cases out there of real foreign teachers committing such crimes. On the other hand, reports of such crimes have been a little slow lately (the Incheon bust last week was the first one reported in over 8 months), and, considering English teachers are usually not the meth-taking types, who knows when another chance will come to connect smuggling a kilo of philipon to native speaking teachers, to get to print things like this:
A police official revealed that, "This is the first time that a native speaking instructor has tried to smuggle a large amount of philipon, rather than marijuana."

We have a winner!

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