Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Criminal record check loophole or slow news day in Daegu?

I'd forgotten about this, but on July 4, the Yeongnam Ilbo published the following article.
When a foreign instructor with a 'sex crime record' refuses no inquiry can be made.

Because of a lax law only parents are anxious.

It's legally mandated that hagwon instructors have sex crime record checks, but because of a lax law, the check isn't done and parents are anxious.

Last May, Canadian native speaker 'C', who has been working for three years at B taekwondo academy in Mr. A's neighbourhood (Daemyeong-dong in Daegu's Nam-gu), was asked by the Nam-gu office for a criminal record check for sex crimes against children, but as of yet they have not received one. C has been working part time on weekends since 2003, before B hagwon moved to its current location, but no particular request for a criminal record check has been made.

According to the law, the representatives of institutions involved with children or youth must get criminal record checks from all people who are hired, and if they hire people with criminal records, they are punished.

Nam-gu office said in response to Mr. A's petition/complaint that, "As a result of the on the spot investigation the foreign instructor was let go in the middle of May and plans to return to his home country immediately. The situation is that C didn't inform us of his alien registration number and we can't do a sex crime background check."

However, it's been revealed that at the end of May, C accompanied a hagwon camp. Mr. A sent photographic proof of this to the Nam-gu office and again demanded a criminal record check be done. As well, if the relevant hagwon law is violated and instructors are hired without a check, a fine is levied against the hagwon, which he demanded.

Regarding this, the Nam-gu Office questioned the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family as to whether punishment was possible if 'the hagwon representative didn't ask the foreign instructor for a sex crime criminal check, but already planned to fire that instructor, and refused to check themselves.' The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family decided 'it is not punishable.' This is because the regulation punishing institutes which don't request sex crime background checks was established in 2010, and there is no legal basis to apply it retroactively.

Mr. A vented his displeasure, saying "If the law is this lax, anyone can refuse a criminal record check and greatly abuse the law by lying and saying they worked before 2010."

Regarding this, a Nam-gu office official explained, "Institute representatives can directly only request a criminal background check. If the foreign instructor refuses and the hagwon fires him, there is no basis for legal punishment."
What a bizarre story. The Canadian has been working at the Taekwondo academy for 3 years, or since 2003. No need for math skills, I suppose. And how is a Canadian working at a Taekwondo academy? I can only imagine he's on an F visa, unless he was volunteering, but the article doesn't say that. And why refuse the Criminal record check? Was there something to hide? If so, why did the academy have him along for a camp after he was supposedly let go? And why apparently lie about this to the Nam-gu Office?

Then there's the question of just who Mr. A is. At a guess, he seems to have it out for the academy, the way he keeps pushing for a CRC to be done (how did he know it hadn't been done?) and demanding the academy be punished. And then there's the office and the way it said it couldn't figure out his alien registration number (which would likely be useless for all but a Korean criminal record check), which sounds like they really didn't care.

I'm also not sure what law it is they're referring to (the amendment to the hagwon law that I know of was passed in 2011). But 'he was hired before it came into effect' seems like a weak excuse (the 2011 law made it mandatory for those foreigners already hired to hand in the necessary documents within a month of the law coming into effect. The fact that E-2 visa holders had already submitted such documents to the MOJ was ignored).

And then there's the question of why this was news (not that 'there's a loophole in the law that needs to be closed' isn't a common enough topic). It must have been a slow news day.

(Note: This was published several weeks before the discovery of Han A-ram's body in Tongyeong, which set off the current burst of concern about sex crimes against children.)

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