Friday, June 08, 2012

Foreign teachers in the news

For the last two months, there have been no stories of foreign English teachers behaving badly. The last such story was an "exclusive" Ohmynews article from April 5 titled "Foreign English instructor who assaulted taxi driver 'disappears,'" about an "American English instructor in Daejeon who violently assaulted a taxi driver" (as opposed to committing a non-violent assault) after refusing to pay a 4,400 won fare and disappeared after the police investigation, possibly having left the country, leaving the victim's family angry.

This story might sound familiar, as it's similar to this case that occurred in Gwangju last year, both in its details (American teacher investigated for assaulting taxi driver flees country), and in its ability to attract leftist attention (Ohmynews in the most recent case, Gwangju & Jeollanam-do People for Peace and Reunification in last year's case). Such negative attention by the far left directed at foreign English teachers is not common (the Seoul Sinmun and especially the Kyunghyang Sinmun aren't averse to such reports, however - see their interviews with and Op-eds by former AES leader Mr. Lee). Though there are aberrations (like the 'foreign instructors are vampires' reports by Pressian and the aforementioned article by Ohmynews), the Hankyoreh and Ohmynews generally never cast negative looks in foreign teachers' direction, but I guess the 'American beating up a taxi driver' tale, which likely comes off as seeming rather USFK-ish, is too difficult to resist.

At any rate, two months have gone by with nary a report of bad behaviour, until June 4, when three news outlets reported the following story, as narrated by Newsis:
'Maladjustment to school life'... Native speaking assistant teacher arrested for millions of won in property damage

Police caught a native speaking assistant teacher who didn't adjust well to school life for tens of millions of won in property damage.

On the 4th, the Gyeongsangnamdo Masan Central Police Station arrested and detained A (33), a Canadian native speaking assistant English teacher on charges of property damage for breaking the door of an apartment elevator machinery room as well as ground wire insulators.

On May 31 at 10:30 in the morning, A damaged the door of the elevator machinery room and ground wire insulators in an apartment in Masan Happo-gu in Changwon, and is charged with property damage to the apartment to the tune of 30 million won.

As well, he is also charged with stealing 32,000 won worth of goods such as beer and ice packs from a fridge at a motel in the Haendae area of Busan on May 29th at 4:30 pm.

A police official said, "During the police investigation, A stated that he came to Korea in March and while working at a middle school in Changwon as a native speaking assistant English teacher found it difficult because he couldn't speak Korean and couldn't communicate well." "It seems that, as he could not adapt to school life, he committed these crimes."
An elevator machinery room? Insulators? At least it's not your run of the mill drug bust, I guess, but I'm sure there's other ways to deal with inability to communicate with your co-teacher. (Also, I hadn't realized Changwon, Jinhae and Masan had been merged into one city.)

Speaking of drug busts, four foreign teachers were reported arrested for drugs yesterday, as related at the Marmot's Hole. Initial reports said that J, an American and either a former English teacher or currently a high school teacher, had brought 264 grams of marijuana back from Cambodia, though this KNN report and others now says it was around 400 grams on two trips ("enough to get 1,100 adults high"), which he sold in bars in Haeundae, with 5 grams reportedly costing 200,000 won. At any rate, he was arrested and detained, and three other teachers, an American and two Canadians, including a 30 year old female Canadian who works at a Haeundae elementary school and an instructor at a hagwon in Namcheon-dong (according to the Busan Ilbo) were booked without detention for buying from him. The woman is seen having her apartment searched in the KNN video, and similar footage with scarier music can be see at YTN here. The teachers were also busted for habitually using oxycodone, but there's no word where it came from. My favorite article title came from the Kukmin Ilbo: "Native speaking teachers who smoke drugs and teach elementary school-aged children arrested."

The KNN video adds the following:
An American native speaking instructor was arrested after taking drugs bought through international mail in 2010 as well, and it is estimated that drug use like this is widespread among native speaking instructors.

Byeon U-cheol, head of the drug investigation division of the Busan Metropolitan Police Agency: "At places like the National Institute of Scientific Investigation, hair tests can test for drug compounds up to 3-4 months, but because native speaking teachers have a urine test, they are not [can't be] tested 3-4 days after [drug use]."
It's not clear that he's referring to the drug test foreign teachers must take, but that would seem to be a fair assumption. Is this perhaps a hint that hair tests should be added to the drug tests, just to make them that much more comprehensive (and expensive)? I have no idea, really, but I do think urine testing can detect drugs beyond a mere 3-4 days, especially for regular users.

Perhaps this arrest may explain why a police officer from the drug crime division of the Busan police left a message at Anti English Spectrum a week ago soliciting tips (here, first result).

At the moment, there are 18 articles that a Naver search turns up on this bust - quite a bit more than the three for the elevator smasher or one for the taxi assault, so one could surmise that Korean news outlets like to report on foreign teachers with drugs. But how does this compare to recent arrests for Korean drug users?

On June 5, the Korean Coast Guard arrested 3 divers and booked another for taking drugs to unburden themselves of the fatigue of working in the water. The men had 3-7 years diving experience (diving for seafood like abalone and sea cucumber) and had taken meth and soju or smoked pot several times since October last year in vicinity of the Seosan bus terminal. This was reported in 10 articles, some being from small internet outlets, some from local papers (Gyeonggi Ilbo, Gyeonggi Sinmun, Incheon Sinmun), and some from mainstream news (YTN, Kookmin Ilbo, SBS)

Also on June 5, Newsis reported that 46 people had been caught for meth in Jinju, with 14 being arrested and detained, and 32 being booked without detention. The dealer got the drugs from another dealer he met in prison. The number of reports on this large bust? Five, all (except for Newsis) from small internet news outlets or local papers. Needless to say, the lack of attention to this story (compared to three divers smoking pot and taking meth) is odd, and would suggest that there is no easy-to-discern pattern here.

At any rate, also on the fifth, Kormedi reported on the release of the book (in England) 'Drugs-Without the Hot Air' with its article title stating that alcohol is 3 times more harmful than cocaine. Perhaps this is influenced by the Chosun Ilbo's war on alcohol, perhaps not.

And finally, in some good news, Newsis reported yesterday that the Sundance Channel is showing Breaking Bad starting in July. Five years late is better than never, I guess.

1 comment:

monty_internetty said...

" is estimated that drug use like this is widespread among native speaking instructors."

Ah, Korean journalism at its finest. Who cares if it's unsubstantiated speculation coz this will get the ajjuma's all juiced up and gossiping.