Wednesday, March 28, 2012

English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2:
The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created

During the early morning of January 12, a netizen who went by the username 빠알류치 ('bbaallyuchi,' ID 'calpis'), who had been fuming over the postings on English Spectrum, created a new Naver cafe ( where netizens could gather to post about the incident, and called it Anti English Spectrum.

(Screen shots of Anti English Spectrum's header from January 13
(top) and January 14 (bottom), 2005. Click to enlarge.)

It started off slowly, with only a few posts on its first day, but by the end of the 13th there were around 200 posts, then up to over 400 posts on the 14th, 800 on the 15th, 1000 on the 16th, and 1400 on the 17th. It surpassed the 2,000 post mark on January 21, a little more than a week after forming. As for members, more than 3,000 joined in the first two days, and a week later the number was 7,000, with the 10,000 figure being surpassed after a month.

While many of the early posts from the site have been deleted, the fifth post is still readable (first result here). It posts the English and Korean language notices which greeted visitors to English Spectrum's website less than 24 hours after the Joongang Ilbo broke the story the previous morning:
Notice & Disclaimer

English Spectrum is an important web site utilized by foreigners and Koreans alike. It offers it’s users a variety of useful information from job opportunities, cultural information, city attractions, accommodation information and more.

It also allows a variety of discussion boards to run on its sites for the benefit of its users. These allow the user to post questions about a variety of issues (job, living, legal, teaching, etc) affecting their life in the Republic.

In many instances, the content available through English Spectrum represents the opinions and judgments of the respective user not under contract with English Spectrum. neither endorses nor is responsible for the accuracy or reliability of any opinion, advice or statement made on these forums.

As a result of negative newspaper reports depicting but a small percentage of user opinions, we at English Spectrum have decided to pull the offensive forum and are taking steps to re-organize how these forums are operated and monitored.

-The English Spectrum Team-
Here's a translation of the Korean language message:
English Spectrum’s official position

English Spectrum regrets that several indiscreet users made bad posts that had nothing to do with our intention. As English Spectrum's forums are open and anyone can post there, they do not reflect our opinions and we do not approve them.

Currently, the relevant bulletin boards have been deleted. As well, from now on any objectionable content discovered at the English Spectrum site will be immediately deleted and steps will be taken to warn the writer. The open forums will also be changed so that posting will be possible only after logging in.

English Spectrum hopes this ugly incident will not cause its proper function as a healthy site for people responsible for English education in Korea to be distorted or intimidated, and in the future we will try our best to become the a useful internet sight contributing to English education in Korea.

We would like to convey our profound appreciation to all of you who have shown continued interest and we would also like to take this chance to promise to provide better service to the many of you with a great interest in English education.

- English Spectrum representatives and staff -
Later on the 12th, the Korea Times would report on the discovery of and closure of the site:
English Instructor Web Site Criticized for Sexist Content

A Web site for foreign English instructors teaching in Korea temporarily shut down after one of its columns was accused of carrying sexually offensive content.

English Spectrum (, a popular site for foreign English teachers, had a column entitled "Ask the Playboy," which carried advice for male teachers on seducing Korean women, the local daily Joongang Ilbo reported Tuesday.

The column included posts by anonymous users who used offensive language to boast of their sexual experiences with Korean women and make fun of Korean culture.

Within a day of the report, English Spectrum took the column off the site. The offensive posts were due to the lack of a moderator for the column, Lee Ki-il, an operator for English Spectrum said.

The site currently has temporarily suspended services while it reorganizes and reevaluates how it monitors its forums, according to a notice on its Web site.
The Korea Herald would also publish a brief article about this a day later:
Web site for foreigners pulls offensive forum

English Spectrum, a website that provides information for foreigners living in Korea, has temporarily suspended service after a report in the Korean vernacular JoongAng Ilbo caused a stir among Koreans.

The site,, is primarily an information resource on entertainment and job listings for English teachers.

The JoongAng article focused on one part of the site, "Ask the Playboy," and highlighted comments made by foreigners relating to sexual conquests with Korean women. The website responded by blocking the content of the site and posting a disclaimer on the main page, "As a result of negative newspaper reports depicting but a small percentage of user opinions, we at English Spectrum have decided to pull the offensive forum and are taking steps to reorganize how these forums are operated and monitored."

Wayne Gold from English Spectrum told The Korea Herald, "I don't want to comment on it right now."
As for the two notices which the site posted, some of the commenters at Anti English Spectrum noticed the difference in the two messages... or complained that one of them was in English at all.
2005/01/14 18:08

Interesting posting... but as we already know... here is the supremacy of English. The official statement is in also in English... this is Korea...

2005/01/14 20:16

That English announcement has not been translated into hangeul. They put the English and hangeul up separately. If you look closely, the English and Korean announcements are different. The Korean announcement is quite aggressive, while the English announcement is a little soft.

2005/01/15 06:19

Idiots, this is Korea!!

2005/01/15 13:28

[...] That's the official statement? How irrational is it? That's the representative? [...]
Human garbage-like yankee bastard! Live with your dick cut off, yankee fucker!

2005/01/17 23:37
[posted perhaps after reading this translation]

The English and Korean content are totally different. The tone is not that different. There is absolutely no expression of regret in English. There is nothing about taking steps to warn [users] in the future. That measure was only put up to pretend for Koreans. That kind of talk is not said at all to the actual foreign bastard users. Only at the end when they say they're taking steps to make policies for the future for operating and monitoring [the forums are they the same]... that's all... I'm at a loss for words... actually.. writing things like "negative newspaper" and "small percentage of user opinions," makes it sound like something small has been blown out of proportion... It's very cunning... [...]

2005/01/22 13:14

English spectrum are being two faced.
Little was written about the incident in the media on the 12th, with only one article being published that evening. This was the first article about the incident by My Daily, but it would not be the last. The article begins with a screenshot of the Korean-language official position posted by English Spectrum.
Foreign English instructor site which denigrated Korean women temporarily shut down

The foreign instructor site which was criticized for its content denigrating Korean women has been temporarily closed.

The site operates various forums to exchange job information and promote friendship among foreign instructors.

Recently the site's Ask The Playboy forum, where content such as photos and writing which denigrated Korean women, such as 'Korean women are easy to enjoy,' became known to netizens in various communities and aroused public criticism.

Once this was reported by some media outlets, the site's Ask The Playboy forum was subject to nonstop posting of complaints and swearing by our country's netizens who criticized it.

The site operators expressed their position saying, "English Spectrum regrets the bad comments posted by some thoughtless users, which is not related to the site management's purpose." "As English Spectrum's forums are open and anyone can post there, they do not reflect our opinions."

As well, they stated that the problematic forum which caused a stir has been deleted. As well, it has been changed so that posting can only be registered after logging in and from now on if any objectionable content is discovered, it will be immediately deleted and steps will be taken to warn the writer.

Though the site released its official statement, netizens continue to post critical comments at other bulletin boards. As well, the issue is not dying down as photos from the bulletin board are continuously being spread through the internet, and the site hosting the official position statement has been temporarily closed down.

Reporter Park Eun-jeong
As noted in the final sentence, though English Spectrum's site was temporarily closed, "photos from the bulletin board [were] continuously being spread through the internet," and some of those photos would turn the scandal in new directions.

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