Thursday, November 10, 2011

Ulsan's reputation hurt by fat, lazy, argumentative foreign teachers

Describing of the "mental structure that Koreans... hold," Hyunah Yang writes:
The main feature of the structure is the way that it dichotomizes Koreans and Japanese - us and them, victim and offender, good and bad. These categories appear exclusive and independent, but are mutually defined by one another. Through blaming, the existence of an enemy is made visible, and this in turn helps to define the collective identity of "Korean." Within this dichotomy, however, Korean identity is built only upon victimhood.*
Yonhap published the following story on Monday in the wake of the story of the Canadian teacher who was busted for the 'new kind' of drug - hashish.
Some 'poor native speaking instructors' in the Ulsan area hurt its reputation

Problems caused by some native speaking instructors who work in Ulsan area elementary and middle schools are hurting the reputation of Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education.

At the end of last month, Ulsan MOE received a letter of resignation from S(35), a middle school native speaking instructor who was arrested and charged for smoking cannabis resin (AKA hashish) by the Busan prosecutor's office on the 7th,

S had 29 grams of hash sent to his school from Canada and is suspected of smoking it twice by the Taewha River in Ulsan.

Last year and in 2009, twelve (3+9) native speaking teachers did not have their contracts renewed and were expelled by the office of education for poor teaching methods and having a poor attitude towards their service.

Native speaking instructors renew their one year contracts after being reviewed.

The instructors who were expelled often yelled at students, argued with their co-teachers or dressed poorly.

As well, the office of education said some were too fat and visited the hospital often, so classes progressed poorly, and some refused to teach after school classes.

An official at the office of education said, "There are 180 native speaking instructors working at elementary and middle schools (119 and 61 respectively) in the Ulsan area and most have outstanding experience and carry out high level classes." "However because of some instructors, the image of Ulsan and of course the excellent instructors is being damaged."
Once again, Korea is victimized by foreigners, in this case instructors (or teachers - they can't seem to keep that terminology straight). It's good to see government-funded Yonhap reinforcing the xenophobic, victimized aspects of the Korean identity by reminding people of the harm caused by these fat, poorly dressed foreigners who do not understand that the term 'optional' (in regard to after school classes) means anything but (like the 'democratic' in 'DPRK'). One wonders if, by yelling at the students, the teachers were merely trying to be heard over the din.

"I don't think you'd even hear a nuke if the north dropped one on you!"
(Kyunghyang Shimun, June 11, 2007)

I love the assertion that "because of some instructors, the image of Ulsan and of course the excellent instructors is being damaged." Yes, I'm sure most casual observers (who think about Ulsan regularly (don't you?)) were willing to give a city that is mostly chemical plant industrial sprawl the benefit of the doubt until they read about the 5% of foreign teachers who didn't have their contracts renewed for being fat and lazy ("That's the last straw - we're going to Haeundae this summer instead!").

While I'm sure things have improved since this July 19, 1970 Stars and Stripes article was written, it gives some idea of Ulsan's past:
Ills Traced To Smog

SEOUL — The Ulsan city health center released a report, to local press sources Thursday charging that an almost epidemic rash of headaches and nausea caused by air pollution has hit that highly-industrialized city 185 miles southeast of Seoul.

The center reportedly said a low-pressure weather front had caused toxic sulfur monoxide fumes to hang over the city for several hours Thursday, causing residents of the city's three most crowded districts to complain of severe headaches and vomiting.

According to the Health and Social Affairs Ministry in Seoul, the 10 major plants of the Ulsan industrial complex, just two miles from heart of the city, caused almost $500,000 in pollution damage this year, as well as adversely affecting the community's health.
This event appears to have inspired a story in Cho Se-hui's The Dwarf, in which the city of Ungang (a barely veiled Incheon) suffers a similar incident.

As for the Yonhap article, one wonders what editorial decision led to its creation...

* From "Re-membering the Korean Military Comfort Women: Nationalism, Sexuality, and Silencing," in Dangerous Women: Gender & Korean Nationalism

20 comments:

kushibo said...

From OP:
An official at the office of education said, "There are 180 native speaking instructors working at elementary and middle schools (119 and 61 respectively) in the Ulsan area and most have outstanding experience and carry out high level classes." "However because of some instructors, the image of Ulsan and of course the excellent instructors is being damaged."

Once again, Korea is victimized by foreigners, in this case instructors


The interesting thing is that they kept going out of their way to describe "most" of the teachers with words like "outstanding," "high level," and "excellent."

wetcasements said...

So Ulsan is the Cleveland of Korea I take it?

Brian said...

아이고. Not the first time the local press shit on fat, lazy, unhealthy foreign teachers in Ulsan: http://briandeutsch.blogspot.com/2009/05/12-of-native-speaker-teachers-in-ulsan.html.

From the Korea Times, writing about public school NSETs not retained in Ulsan:
Among the dismissed were those who often yelled at students, argued with Korean teachers assisting them and wore indecent clothes. Some had to visit hospital too often for weight problems and some refused to teach after school, according to the survey.

Mightie Mike's Mom said...

From Brian's comment and this article, sounds like some reporter did a bit of recycling....

matt said...

Kushibo,
"Kept going out of their way" is overstating the case a little, don't you think? And while I think I made it clear I was criticizing Yonhap's article, the Ulsan MOE deserves its fair share of the blame. For example, this article sounds very similar to a 2009 report in the Korea Times (via Brian) titled "12% of Native English Teachers Dismissed at Schools in Ulsan" (reported by Yonhap (imagine that!) with the title "Ulsan MOE kicks out 17 "poor" native speaking teachers") (Obviously things are improving, if it was 17 teachers then, 9 in 2009, and 3 in 2010).

Yonhap, in this latest article, may have chosen to focus on the negative (which rehashes a lot from the 2009 article, though it's not an exact cut and paste), but the main idea - bad foreign teachers hurt Ulsan's reputation - comes from the Ulsan MOE official. The Ulsan MOE also chose (apparently - I haven't seen the original report) to focus on the 'bad teachers' they booted out in the 2009 reports rather than the good teachers they kept on. And of course, Ulsan's reputation wouldn't have been 'hurt' by news of these bad teachers if the MOE hadn't released information focusing on them in the first place, so if their reputation is being hurt (and I think we can all be sure that's a baseless statement), they played a part in that themselves by choosing to focus on the negative in regard to the foreign teachers in the first place.

But Yonhap clearly decided to manufacture a negative story about foreign teachers here - perhaps they decided two months with no negative stories about foreign teachers (by them) was enough, doggone it! Of course, they've had more than enough negative stories about those other foreigners who are also, when thought about negatively, perceived to be white males - US soldiers.

(Oh, and I just saw Brian's comment after finishing this...)

Darth Babaganoosh said...

and some refused to teach after school classes

Well, sure, because 40 hours a week during regular hours is simply not enough. you have to do another 2-3 hours every night on top of that.

And since those classes are outside of normal hours (and beyond the 22 classroom hours required), the contract doesn't cover them, and the school is obligated to pay extra for them. How dare the teacher say he wants more money! So greedy!

AngryFrenchGuy said...

Hi

I'm a fellow writer/blogger here in Montreal and I'm doing some research on Korea and English for an upcoming reporting trip over there.

I came across your post about your encounter with the Robo-teacher and there are a couple of questions I have to ask you about that.

Thanks

kushibo said...

Kushibo,
"Kept going out of their way" is overstating the case a little, don't you think?


And "Once again, Korea is victimized by foreigners, in this case instructors," is not overstating the situation?

It talks about "delinquent" (불량) teachers... "some" teachers, but also states that most are very good, even excellent.

Maybe this delinquent teacher and "some" who are like him, and not teachers in general, are who they're talking about.

And it's a bit of a jump from Ulsan Ed Ministry's reputation is hurt by the hashish-using teacher to "Korea is victimized by foreigners."

There are a lot of things I don't like about the article, but they didn't have to go out of their way to describe most teachers as "outstanding," "high level," and "excellent," at two different points in the story.

So the question to ask is how should this story be written? I don't like the "reputation hurt by delinquent teacher" angle, but how should the teacher arrested for hashish get reported? I think that would be a more useful exercise.

As I suggested before, some seem to believe that it is anti-teacher to report this news at all.

And for the record, a teacher in Hawaii getting arrested for marijuana possession has and would make the news here. (I recall a notable case a couple years ago about two teachers dismissed for allegedly smoking pot in their car after school.)

matt said...

[H]ow should the teacher arrested for hashish get reported?

Obviously, not like this, the way the Busan Ilbo did, in its ridiculous attempt to link foreign teachers with 신종마약 by defining hash as such. How about like this, the way Yonhap had already reported the hash bust less than five hours earlier? This second report wasn't about the hash bust, it was about the fat, lazy teachers who were hurting Ulsan's reputation. So Yonhap has, as you put it, gone 'out of their way' to make a negative story about foreign teachers, one that is little redeemed by the mention that 'most are excellent' in the last paragraph following a title and four out of eight paragraphs that portray them negatively (or six out of eight paragraphs, if you include the drug bust story).

kushibo said...

"Obviously, not like this."

That doesn't answer my question. It ducks my point altogether.

I may not share the outrage over every single story about English teachers or poker players or GIs behaving badly, but I have been very critical of different stories and individuals in the media plenty of times. But there seems to be a vein of thought in the K-blogospheres where reporting on these stories at all is anti-English teacher (in general) or xenophobic or anti-American.

So again, I ask, how should the teacher arrested for hashish get reported? I think that would be a more useful exercise.

What type of reporting, if any, would you consider to not be out of bounds?

(And when the Korean media on English teachers starts getting even half as bad as the Orange County Register and some stateside outlets on Hispanics, then let's talk about it.)

Pete said...

Kushibo, thought experiment. Would this fictional news story with facts taken from real cases be ok since it goes out of its way to describe "most" Koreans with words like "outstanding," "high level," and "excellent"? I don't think so but I'm curious about your opinion.

Some 'poor Korean immigrants' harm the reputation of the U.S.
Jan. 5, 2008 (YONHAPLESS NEWS, USA)

Problems caused by some Korean immigrants to the United States are hurting the reputation of the country and the people that welcomes them.

At the end of last month, Korean student Park Hanse was arrested in Vermont for sexually assaulting the children of the American home stay family that welcomed him into their home.  The prosecutors’ office revealed that the two children, aged 4 and 6, had been sexually assaulted by Park more than 20 times.

Last year, Korean student Cho Seung hui killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in the shooting rampage which came to be known as the Virginia Tech massacre.  And in 2005, the naturalized Korean immigrant Sung Koo Kim, who emigrated to the U.S. with his family when he was 6 years old, was arrested for burglary and the theft of women’s underwear from university dorm rooms. It was later discovered that Kim’s computer contained child pornography and over 40,000 images of women being mutilated, raped and dismembered.

The U.S. has welcomed millions Koreans to its shores as visitors and even, as in the case of Cho and Kim, allowed them to become permanent residents and citizens.
 
Of course not all Koreans welcomed to the U.S. are allowed to stay.  Among those who are deported are criminals and sex offenders.  The California sex offenders registry contains numerous examples of Korean immigrants who are deported for sex crimes and violence, even against children. 



An official at the office of immigration said, "There are hundreds of thousands of Koreans who are high-level, law abiding citizens and vistors; indeed most have outstanding moral characters and having them in the U.S. is great boon for our country." "However because of some Koreans, the image of the U.S. as a country that welcomes them -- and of course the image of excellent Koreans themselves -- is being damaged."


(End of thought experiment)

kushibo said...

Pete, the biggest problem with your "thought experiment" is that you are analogizing the reputation of an entire country with the reputation of an employer whose employees may have broken the law.

Not same-same, despite the claim that the article on the Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education having their reputation take a hit for having hired people like a hashish-smoking teacher was tantamount to "Korea [being] victimized by foreigners."

But really, though, I wouldn't have a problem with using Cho Seunghui or other kyopo non-US citizen criminals highlighted in some story. Say, about Korean or Asian immigrants not seeking adequate mental health care, for example, or not getting screened for criminal sex acts back in their motherland, for example.

As long as it's factual, I don't mind something like Korea's corporate drinking culture and how it's a danger when it's exported to America. Just an example.

As I laid out in the post "One Teacher Is Not All Teachers," I think the problem here is not so much how these stories are reported; the problem is that they are reported.

So again, I ask: how should the teacher arrested for hashish get reported, if at all?

For that matter, do KoKos not have any business wanting to know if elementary and school teachers — part of a profession historically and culturally held in lofty regard (and held to higher standards) — are consuming cannabis on their own time?

kushibo said...

As long as it's factual, I don't mind something like Korea's corporate drinking culture and how it's a danger when it's exported to America.

==>

As long as it's factual, I don't mind highlighting something like Korea's corporate drinking culture and how it's a danger when it's exported to America. Just an example.

matt said...

Kushibo,

I answered your question. I found the Busan Ilbo article 'overly negative' because it tried to falsely link teachers to 신종마약, and the second Yonhap article to be a clear hit piece because they had already published a 'just the facts' piece hours earlier and followed it up with an article which talked about poor teachers hurting Ulsan's reputation in its title - something you gave no response to ('ducking the point'?).

I didn't see anything wrong with the first Yonhap article. I accept that teachers being busted for drugs will be reported as news, and don't see anything wrong with reporting a drug bust. At the same time, though, it's hard not to think that foreign teachers get a disproportional amount of coverage. According to these statistics, which go from 2007 to August 2010, 91 English teachers were arrested for drugs. Compare this to arrests of Thais for drugs which (if we extrapolate from the SPO figures and percentages here) which total 1,708* (between 2008 and 2010, so not including 2007 figures). English teachers are thus arrested at a rate 17 times less than Thai workers, but a quick search on Naver turns up 535 results for 원어민 마약, 564 results for 외국인강사 마약, but only 237 results for 태국인 마약. While I accept that, being teachers, they are going to get more attention for such crimes, more than twice as much attention for 1/17 of the crimes is quite the discrepancy.

What becomes problematic is unsupported statements like "Drugs and molestation by native speaking instructors in hagwons are never ending" (portraying foreign teachers as threats to children, while Korean instructors who are also 'unregistered' (and thus 'illegal') who were reported on in an article published at the same time, were not portrayed as such threats, presumably simply because they are not foreigners). Or articles like this KBS report which talk about 신종마약 and in the final sentence say that the investigation will expand to include foreign teachers (the first and only time the article mentions them). Why? No reason is stated, presumably because one is not needed. Readers will 'know' why, just like when it was reported that AIDS tests would remain in place for foreign teachers. English language reports had to explain why they were remaining in place, while the Korean language report did not explain why, apparently because there was no need to - readers will 'know' why. And they do; it would be foolish to believe years of negative reporting of this sort (National assembly representatives saying that foreign teachers are "especially potential child molesters," anyone?) hasn't had an effect (hence the mother of one of my students asking her daughter over the phone, "Are you alone?" when she found out her daughter was talking to the native speaker).

*Based on percentages of the SPO figures, 710 in 2008, 578 in 2009, and 420 in 2010.

Pete said...

Kusibo:

"Pete, the biggest problem with your "thought experiment" is that you are analogizing the reputation of an entire country with the reputation of an employer whose employees may have broken the law."

But that's what the article does. Read the headline and the quote from the education office, it doesn't say "the reputation of an employer" is being harmed like you said. It says the reputation of Ulsan is being harmed, as in the whole city. It also says all the other 180 foreign teachers' reputation have been harmed.

And the cause of the supposed reputation loss is not like you said "employees" who broke the law but just one employee who smoked hash by the river. I don't know where you're from but as far as I know it's not against the law to be fat or to dress poorly. So the claims are that a whole city and 180 foreign teachers rep is damaged by one guy smoking hash by the river - on the facts thought neither claim really follows.

By the way I'm shocked you found my fictional article thought experiment acceptable. But it explains a lot.

You ask how a story should be reported? I think that Park Hanse is a good example. No they didn't emphasize his ethnicity or foreignness or link his crime to unrelated issues involving criminals or fat, poorly dressed people who happend to be Korean. Just gave the facts.

"MSJ Student Charged With Assaulting Children

Rutland, Vermont - February 4, 2008

A South Korean exchange student at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Rutland is facing a long list of child sex charges.

19-year-old Hanse Park is charged with two counts of aggravated sex assault against a victim younger than 10, and one count of lewd and lascivious conduct. One of the victims told police they had been molested more than 20 times.

Hanse is being held without bail. Park faces life in prison if convicted."

http://www.wcax.com/story/7817086/msj-student-charged-with-assaulting-children?clienttype=printable

Or look at this article from a Korean newspaper. I think it did a pretty decent job reporting on a teacher crime. Of course it's a Korean teacher who committed it. Think about how it would read of it were a foreign teacher.

"Convicted Teacher Caught Raping Students
By Park Si-soo
Staff Reporter

A temporary teacher at a middle school in North Chungcheong Province was arrested for raping and molesting female teenagers, police said Wednesday. He had previously been convicted on seven counts of sexual assault and other crimes.

Police said the contract-based teacher, identified as Min, sexually assaulted an unidentified middle school student in February at a motel in the province. Police said the student was a runaway at the time and the 31-year-old approached her, saying he would rent a motel room to be used as a temporary "shelter."

He is also accused of molesting another teenage girl at a karaoke bar the following month, police said.
Police are widening their investigation to find out whether he committed other crimes.

Currently, criminal records of those sentenced to less than three years in prison are removed after five years. As such, schools can't always ascertain the criminal record of would-be teachers."

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2010/05/117_42811.html

kushibo said...

Pete wrote:
"Pete, the biggest problem with your "thought experiment" is that you are analogizing the reputation of an entire country with the reputation of an employer whose employees may have broken the law."

But that's what the article does. Read the headline and the quote from the education office, it doesn't say "the reputation of an employer" is being harmed like you said. It says the reputation of Ulsan is being harmed, as in the whole city.


From the article:
울산지역 일선 초ㆍ중학교에 근무하는 일부 원어민 강사들이 문제를 일으켜 울산시교육청의 이미지를 실추시키고 있다.

Note the: 울산시교육청의 이미지. It literally says the "'image' of the Ulsan Office of Education."

(The headline and the last line sloppily say Ulsan, not Ulsan Office of Education, but it being about Ulsan Office of Education's "image" is in the first sentence.

It also says all the other 180 foreign teachers' reputation have been harmed.

Yup.

And the cause of the supposed reputation loss is not like you said "employees" who broke the law but just one employee who smoked hash by the river.

It says "some teachers" (일부 원어민강사), plural. I mentions middle school teacher "S" and his 29 grams of hash, and then the twelve teachers who were expelled for yelling at students, arguing with they teachers, and wearing inappropriate clothing.

I don't know where you're from but as far as I know it's not against the law to be fat or to dress poorly.

I want to know more about what words were actually used about what actual situations regarding the "fat" remarks, but dress codes and norms of appropriate clothing in a professional situation (e.g., a teacher) are hardly unusual.

But like the "fat" remark, I don't know what they're precisely referring to. I do know, however, that if you took a good chunk of the people I see going to, say, Starbucks here in Hawaii or in California, they would be considered to be dressed inappropriately in many schools.

So the claims are that a whole city and 180 foreign teachers rep is damaged by one guy smoking hash by the river - on the facts thought neither claim really follows.

Well, not exactly. It's mainly that the reputation of the Ulsan Office of Education and the otherwise excellent 180 foreign teachers is damaged by the hash guy and the 12 teachers let go for yelling at students, arguing with their co-teachers, or dressing inappropriately.

By the way I'm shocked you found my fictional article thought experiment acceptable. But it explains a lot.

No, I didn't. I thought the analogy was way off. What I found acceptable was talking about the people you mentioned in your article.

You ask how a story should be reported? I think that Park Hanse is a good example. No they didn't emphasize his ethnicity or foreignness or link his crime to unreliated issues involving criminals or fat, poorly dressed people who happend to be Korean. Just gave the facts.

That's just great. Setting aside that the "foreign" teachers in the article in question are not called "foreign" at all but "native speaking teachers/instructors" (원어민 강사/교사), you have muddled what the article is about ("일부," not 한 명).

I submit, though, that an an article like Park Hanse, were it to be in Korea about a non-Korean, would be meet with jeers by many in the K-blogs.

Perhaps not matt here at Popular Gusts, though he might use it as an excuse to trot out bad examples of articles from past years, but the likes of Metropolitician who seem to think any reporting on "foreigners" is an attack of foreigners (check out this) would complain.

kushibo said...

matt wrote:
I answered your question.

"I wouldn't write it like this" is not really answering, "How would you write it," but since you "didn't see anything wrong with the first Yonhap article" (I'm not sure which one that's supposed to be), I'll accept that.

I found the Busan Ilbo article 'overly negative' because it tried to falsely link teachers to 신종마약,

In what way? By mentioning that the guy who was arrested was a 원어민 강사? Maybe I'm looking the wrong article, but I see them mentioning one person, not connecting it to other people.

and the second Yonhap article to be a clear hit piece because they had already published a 'just the facts' piece hours earlier and followed it up with an article which talked about poor teachers hurting Ulsan's reputation in its title - something you gave no response to ('ducking the point'?).

I responded to the Ulsan/UlsanOffEd image thing already.

The thing that bothered me about this post was that you took the jump from Ulsan Office of Education (and Ulsan's foreign teachers) "image" being damaged to a leap about Korean being victimized by foreigners.

Was that not the purpose of you quoting Hyunah Yang — Korean identity is built upon victimhood, and through blaming and placing English teachers as the "enemy" then Korean identity is maintained?

If so, that's really taking things not just too far, but going down a very caustic path. Which is why I pointed out that with the mention of "outstanding," "high level," and "excellent" native English-speaking teachers, it did not appear they were placing them as the enemy.

Did you take a look at the Metrpolitician post I linked? That is where the path leads. The "victimization" is right there.

I don't like a lot of things about how the Korean media reports things — including, but not limited to, English teachers — but there is an underlying foundation in the K-blogs where (a) reporting any crime is considered xenophobic, anti-teacher, "a hit piece," etc., and (b) these articles are seen through a prism like that of Metropolitician in the above article.

You seem to have gotten a foot caught in that hole, too. That sounds harsh, but where I'm coming from is that Popular Gusts used to be the place to go for objective analysis of what's in the news, but now it seems like you go looking for something to grouse about, with an "I dare you to write about foreign English teachers," and you mix up the current stuff with bad examples of the past, like so many toxic mortgages mixed in with AAA loans, to the point that it seems like what happened in the past is happening now, whether it really is or not.

For the record, I do agree with you that some of the stories are crappy. Some are poorly translated, many are poorly researched, and some are clearly designed to make some group (like a local Office of Education) look like white hats.

But when analysis of that turns into a perpetual vision that "they all see us as 'the dirtiest members of society'" (inner quote from the Metropolitician post), then things have gone off the rails.

Pete said...

Note the: 울산시교육청의 이미지. It literally says the "'image' of the Ulsan Office of Education."

The headline and the quote that I mentioned don't say what you say it says at all.

Headline: "울산지역 (Ulsan Region) 일부 '불량 원어민강사' 이미지 실추"
Quote: "그러나 일부 강사 때문에 울산은 (Ulsan) 물론 뛰어난 강사의 이미지까지 훼손되고 있다"

But thanks for referring me to the article, I guess I should revise what I said, it's not just Ulsan city's image that's being harmed it's the whole region of Ulsan. That's what both the headline and the quote from the Ulsan education official say.

the "foreign" teachers in the article in question are not called "foreign" at all but "native speaking teachers/instructors" (원어민 강사/교사)

Since when are Koreans referred to as "native speaking teachers/instructors" (원어민 강사/교사)? The term is synonymous with "foreigner". Or if that quote from the Rep. matt gave is any indication ("of all foreigners, native speakers are especially child molesters") being a native speaking teachers is even worse.

It says "some teachers" (일부 원어민강사), plural. I mentions middle school teacher "S" and his 29 grams of hash, and then the twelve teachers who were expelled for yelling at students, arguing with they teachers, and wearing inappropriate clothing.

Yes, "some teachers" are reportedly harming the image of the entire region. But you said "employees may have broken the law" and so I asked why the plural since only one teacher has broken the law. It's not against the law to be fat or poorly dressed or even to be fired for being so.

Metropolitician who seem to think any reporting on "foreigners" is an attack of foreigners (check out this) would complain.

Huh? That's what you got out of the post?

Anyway, rather than waste anymore time on this I'd rather hear your response to the earlier commenter. You never responded to the point he made about the two Yonhap articles.

matt said...

"How about like this, the way Yonhap had already reported the hash bust less than five hours earlier?"

There's the Yonhap article.

kushibo said...

I'm going to bow out of this discussion. I've had two comment go into the ether and I don't have time to rewrite anything. Also, I think what I wrote about your blog lately in my last published comment may have seemed harsher than I intended it.

I'll just end with a few points and then whoever wants to can have at it. I like this blog and since the middle of the last decade I've read some truly great pieces from you, matt. I like your objectivity and your insight (and your diligence in finding stuff), but I feel lately that you're in danger of becoming a one-note blog railing about how English teachers are portrayed in the Korean media, not just in cases where such outrage is warranted, but also in borderline cases that rely on a selective read and assumptions of intent.

I think the opening quote on this post seemed to suggest that Koreans must necessarily see English teachers as an enemy, and if that's where you're going, then you're following Metropolitician and others into a distorted reality.

There is prejudice against non-Koreans (including kyopo), and there is an underlying distrust of English teachers who use drugs, employ fake credentials, or break the law by illegal extracurricular teaching (which upsets the egalitarian ideals held by much of society, not to mention being a visa violation). These things were not created by the Korean media, even if they are presented through a sometimes-distorted lens by agenda-driven portions of the Korean media, or flat-out lazy and/or ignorant journalists.

That said, English teachers are also a privileged class in Korea, but that is rarely discussed in the K-blogs. Compared to the grueling process through which ROK nationals become teachers, it is a cake walk for native English teachers to become employed in Korea. And for White teachers, there is a halo effect that makes it far easier than for people who appear Black, Asian, or Hispanic.

Yet this group of people who are so easily employed because of their race and their ability to speak their mother tongue has convinced themselves that they are an oppressed group seen as the "dirtiest members of society."

There is very little balance here. Drug-using teachers are explained away by complaints that the host country is too uptight about drugs. Lazy or incompetent teachers are explained away by phrases like "you pay peanuts, you get monkeys." From a group with virtually no introspection, nearly all the problems are laid at the doorstep of the Korean parents, hagwon owners/managers, and government.

Is that not the same thing that so many 원어민 강사 are complaining that the Korean side is doing to the English teachers?

In the end, I see all this as not just terribly unhelpful, but downright detrimental. If you always see yourself as treated like a devil, how will you notice when/if things change?

How can it be that when things are markedly better than they were, say, before the 1997-98 economic crisis, there is far, far, far, far more complaining about how terrible things are?

matt, there is a great discussion going on at The Marmot's Hole (starting with comments #16 and #24) about Korea's pre-democratic past and who is responsible for bringing us there. In my humble opinion, I would rather see you talk about that kind of thing and dig up the things that end up in the posts characteristic of and unique to this blog.

But this has never been my blog. It's only been one of my favorite reads.