Friday, August 24, 2012

Foreign instructor at a university in Daejeon to be fired for internet postings

On August 13, the Joongdo Ilbo published the following article:

Controversy over SNS post denigrating Koreans by "University native speaking instructor"
University plans to receive resignation

[Reporter Bae Mun-suk, published on page 5]

M, a native speaking instructor at A university in Daejeon, has caused controversy by posting video and writing denigrating Koreans on his personal social network service (SNS),

Last month, M posted on his personal facebook page a group photo of students alleged to be the students he lectures, changed the expressions of those in the photo to make them look similar and posted questions belittling the faces of Korean people saying "Find the twin brothers" and "How many girls are in the picture?"

In the comments to the questions, another native speaking instructor chimed in with "Reminds me of my students in kimchiland." As well, instructor M linked to videos denigrating Koreans such as a satire about how Korean women favour western men, an episode about the normal end of a date with a Korean woman, and a satire about Koreans forcing Korean food on foreigners.

A university official said, "After finding out about instructor M, we requested that the post be deleted." "We will soon receive his resignation."

In the meantime, the university is selecting an instructor with qualifications (a degree) who must pass through an interview process and submit documents such as a criminal record check.
While posting photos of your students (at all, in fact) and making fun of them (if that is what actually happened) is probably not the best idea - especially using your real name - the description of the Korean-denigrating videos leaves out a little bit of information, as the following screen shot reveals:

What's clear is that the videos above which are marked out were not posted at his personal facebook page but at the facebook page set up to criticize the dreaded MBC video. Of course, there's no mention of the MBC video (because, it should be remembered, foreigners victimize Koreans, not vice versa). The video above labeled "video denigrating Korean women" is in fact the Shocking Truth About Foreigners, a parody of the MBC video.

The "video denigrating Korea" is Lunch in Korean Cafeterias:

And the video "denigrating Korean women" is Dating in Korea:

While the two videos above might not be 'fair' depictions of Korea, at least they weren't aired by a major television network. And as far as we know, no one was fired for the MBC report, unlike the above teacher.

The Joongdo Ilbo decided that the first article wasn't enough, however, and followed it up with another the next day:

Negligence in the management of native speaking instructors in Daejeon area universities

[Reporter Bae Mun-suk]

Amid the controversy caused by M, a native speaking instructor at A university in Daejeon who posted video and writing denigrating Koreans on his personal social network service (SNS), it is being pointed out that universities' management of foreign teachers after they are hired should be strengthened.

An investigation on August 14 found that, according to each university, there are a total of 290 foreign teachers in Daejeon area universities, with 24 at Chungnam U (10 full time, 14 NSETs), 12 at Hanbat U (all NSETs), 34 at Daejeon U (all full-time), 40 at Hannam U (30 full time, 10 NSETs), 34 at Mokwon U (26 full time, 8 NSETs), 46 at Baejae U (all full time), and 100 at Usong U (60 full time, 40 NSETs), among others.

At these universities, among foreign teachers, native speaking instructors with qualifications (bachelor's degree or higher) who pass through the interview process and submit documents like criminal record checks are are hired for a one-year contract.

However, as a good many universities do not have special programs for foreign teachers to help them adapt to life and culture after they are hired, problems are emerging.

Because of this atmosphere, universities take control of the situation too late, only after an incident has occurred.

In the case of M, who aroused criticism, the school found that in class his attitude towards Korean students was very favourable, but his true face turned out to be the exact opposite.

Before this, a native speaking instructor at B University in Daejeon made trouble when he was caught in a drug taking incident.

An official at a university explained that "Among native speaking instructors, there are cases in which some cultural differences cannot be overcome." "However, on the school's side, it's difficult to manage dozens of native speaking instructors one by one, and this opportunity should be taken to develop a methodical management system."
Oh no, a single teacher posting stuff on the internet! We must control all of the foreign teachers lest they write bad things about Korea! Teaching them about Korea's four seasons and how kimchi prevents H1N1 should do the trick! (Note the name of the uploader who posted the Dating in Korea video - 4distinctseasons). Also, searches on Naver for the foreign university instructor caught for drugs turn up nothing. I have to wonder if reporter Bae pulled that story out of his/her rectum, which would be a pretty safe thing to do - who's going to question a story about a foreign teacher being arrested for drugs?

At any rate, at 10:00 that night a slightly edited version of the article stating that it had been published on page 6 of the hard copy went up with the subtitle "At Chungnam U, etc, a total of 293... there are no cultural adaptation programs" and with the last paragraph missing. On the bright side, the Jungdo Ilbo apparently decided not to do a 10 part series on the evils of white men. So that's a bonus.

In related news, the other day Newsis (and several other local outlets) published an article titled "Daejeon has 481 foreign hagwon instructors... a large increase from last year" about how the number of foreign English instructors working in Daejeon area hagwons has increased since the end of last year, from 290 instructors working at 171 hagwons at the end of December to 481 instructors working at 239 hagwons as of the 22nd. Daejeon is apparently divided into east and west education offices, and there are 97 teachers at 102 hagwons in the eastern district (up from 59 at 64 hagwons in December), and 384 instructors at 137 hagwons in the western district (up from 231 at 107 hagwons in December). The final paragraph:
An official at the Education Support Office said, "With interest in foreign language education growing and hagwons meeting the demands of parents who prefer foreign instructors, it's expected that the number of foreign instructors will continue to increase." "Through continuous instruction and inspection and verification of such things as sex crime background checks, educational background and health checks, we will thoroughly supervise them."
That final sentence reveals that the prediction that "the number of foreign instructors will continue to increase" is, in fact, threatening, but not to fear: they will be continuously inspected, verified and supervised via health checks (read: for drugs and AIDS) and we'll make sure they aren't child molesters. It's all well and good to say that you want to make sure you've hired good teachers, but I doubt you'd see that statement made, or see it chosen for publication, in a story about Korean teachers.


godspace said...

This guy was railroaded. Lucky he wasn't lynched.

Anonymous said...

All foreigners are ajumma-kicking, AIDS infected drug addicts but my children must absolutely attend a pricey hagwon to be taught English by them.

The many cognitive dissonances in South Korea are something to behold.

That said, no good can ever come from using Facebook.

Roboseyo said...

1. ferchrissakes, folks, create a SECOND facebook account for your students and bosses to find. Use a pseudonym for the one where you put your drunk pictures and snarky videos.

2. given the sheer number of facebook walls I've seen those videos on, I find it hard to believe that alone was the reason this person got the boot.

(paranoid version) maybe someone in a high place didn't like the effort this person was putting toward organizing expat teachers into a more coherent group, and used those posts as a hook to hang his firing on
(more plausible version) maybe someone at his workplace really didn't like him, and used those posts to finally smear his name enough to get rid of their hated rival/supervisor/employee/teacher

Shitty any way you slice it, and another example of the way nobody knows where social media fits on the public/private spectrum... but if THAT's reason enough to get fired from a teaching job these days, either Korea'll soon have five native English teachers left in the whole country... or there's something else going on.

Korea To Japan said...

In the MBC video, the forigner faces were blurred. The foreigner video making fun of his students on the other hand...

Not to mention it's low class to get back at his students for what a TV station documented.

He deserved his firing.