Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The lost 22,202

What with Bill 3356 proposing an amendment of the Immigration Control Act to establish the "legal basis to require foreigners applying for an employment visa to submit a criminal background check and health certificate" "to deal with the threat they pose to [Korean] society’s public order and ... people’s health," the complaint filed with the National Human Rights Commission over the inclusion of HIV and drug tests in E-2 visa requirements, and these requirements being taken to the constitutional court, it's been a busy few months. When anti-English Spectrum's Lee Eun-ung wrote an article for the Weekly Kyunghyang Shinmun, he mentioned that
Choe Yeong-hui, a Democratic Party lawmaker, said a bill is being prepared to include crimes committed by foreign teachers while in Korea when they seek employment.
Well, as the Korea Times (and Yonhap, in Korean) report, this bill was submitted yesterday:
Rep. Choi Young-hee of the main opposition Democratic Party submitted the bills obliging foreign English teachers to present criminal record and health check documents, including HIV-AIDS tests, before they are hired at public or private schools.

Under immigration regulations, applicants for an E-2 English teaching visa have been required to submit those documents since December 2007.

"E-2 visa holders, once caught for taking drugs or sexually harassing children, were often found to be rehired at another school or hagwon,'' said Yeo Jun-sung, an aide for Rep. Choi. "The proposed bills are to remove these loopholes from the current immigration law.'' If the bills are passed at the National Assembly, they will go into effect from next year.
I don't understand what loophole there could possibly be. If a foreigner on a work visa is arrested for a drug or sex crime in Korea, I'm going to assume that they'll either be deported, or do jail time and then be deported, with little chance of returning for years. Is this not correct? If those convicted of crimes are deported, how does this proposed bill change anything or 'remove loopholes'?

A possibility may be that the schools or hagwons fired the teachers for drug use or sex crimes, but didn't report them to the police. The only place to lay the blame for a situation like that is at the feet of the school administrators, who, in a climate where sex crimes against children - by teachers, even - are rarely punished severely, decided not to involve the police to protect their own reputations.

One case that is touted as an example of this is the Australian teacher who 'threatened' his ex with AIDS, who, it was claimed, "had before been fired for molesting a child." Actually, according to this article, a co-worker said that he poked high school-aged girls with paper (?) and read their palms, while in this article it says that the blacklist read, "he often puts his hand on the students’ bodies. It does not rise to the level of sexual harassment but it is absolutely inappropriate. Students and parents said they were suspicious of him.” This case has been brought up several times (especially by anti-English Spectrum) as an example of a teacher who was guilty of molestation finding another job. Needless to say, in cases like this, or in actual molestation cases that go unreported, the new bill's call for a criminal record check will do nothing to stop such a teacher from being hired again.

The article continues:
In addition, the bills require "cannabinoid tests'' to detect marijuana users. The authorities initially planned to conduct the tests on E-2 visa applicants, but the idea was scrapped in March last year due to a lack of equipped hospitals and the fact smoking marijuana is not illegal in some countries.
Again, as Brian notes, there were only 18 drug arrests (to October) last year of E-2 visa holders, with 24 out of 17,721 E-2 visa holders in 2007 being arrested for marijuana being the highest number - a rate of 0.14%.
Rep. Choi said Korea had a total of 38,822 E-2 visa holders last year. Among them, 11,067 were registered with hagwon, and 5,553 at elementary and secondary schools, but 22,202 were not accounted for.
The Yonhap article says that 38,822 foreigners were issued E-2 visas and entered the country, just to clarify that. 22,202 are not accounted for. There are numerous problems with this.

First of all, here are the stats on E-2 visa holders in Korea as of October, 2008: There were 19,375 visa holders, with 18,174 of them being from the seven English speaking countries allowed to teach English, and 1201 others teaching mostly Chinese or Japanese. Now, I think I know where this 38,822 number is coming from. When I wrote the post about the history of scapegoating English teachers in the Korean media, I used figures from the Ministry of Justice's website that said that, for example 29,263 E-2 visas issued in 2006. Those figures are not correct - or at least do not reflect that number of teachers that are in Korea at any one time. If I had to make a guess, I'd imagine they combine the number of teachers holding the visa at the beginning of the year with those who enter the country on new visas during the year - but I really don't know. Perhaps that is the source of the 38,822 figure. All I can say for certain is that the number quoted above is incorrect.

Second of all, it seems we're dealing with people who either have no idea how immigration deals with E-2 visa holders, or who have not checked their facts and may end up scaring the public. I can't help but notice that a criticism that has been aimed at undocumented foreign workers - that they can't be tracked down by the government - is a spectre raised when national assembly representatives speak of 22,202 unaccounted-for English teachers.

Third of all, what does 'not accounted for' even mean? Are the 1201 teachers of other languages included in the totals of 'accounted for' teachers above?

The final paragraph of the article reminds us that it is, indeed, a Korea Times article about visa tests by Kang Shin-who:
"Meanwhile, foreign teachers' groups are urging the Korean government to test all teachers, whether they are Koreans or foreigners."
How many times is he going to get this wrong?


Anonymous said...

I'd wager the KT is intentionally getting a lot of this stuff wrong.

ton180 said...

That and the lawmakers information. It seems that they get statistics right out of the air when they need them. It seems really odd for law makers to make serious claims using information that has not been confirmed. It makes me wonder how they make other laws.

pocariboy73 said...

"Meanwhile, foreign teachers' groups are urging the Korean government to test all teachers, whether they are Koreans or foreigners."
How many times is he going to get this wrong?"

Actually Matt, I don't see the newspapers getting this point wrong. If you go back to the ATEK's ECFA campaign, the wording of the "cut and paste" petitions sent off to the NHRCK were along the same lines as what many of the reports have been saying all along. I don't lay all the blame on the Press. ATEK's ECFA campaign centered on gathering publicity at any cost, misinformation, and ignoring the concerns of the F Visa holders, ALL helped contribute to the mess the organization is currently engulfed in. You reap what you sow!

ATEK's Petitions to the NHRCK:

"While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."

Anonymous said...


For the umpteenth time, regardless of who said what, when, and how, please explain what is wrong with the ATEK "copy/paste" on the surface? You don't really think that you or any other teacher should go unchecked while others are do you?

"Actually Matt, I don't see the newspapers getting this point wrong."

I don't think Matt thought the "newspapers" got it wrong rather the dude from Anti-Spectrum?

I think this has been your problem all along Pocariboy73, just a little more attention to detail will go along way.

Brian Leiszter said...

This is Face Saving reaction in response to a bunch of foreigners complaining that Koreans are being unjust.

Thanks ATEK.

Didn't you know this is how Koreans respond when they are caught being unfair?

Brian said...

That's not BiJ, by the way.

(And if you ever get sick of the attention, Matt, you realize you can turn off comments on posts.)

pocariboy73 said...

Dear Anonymous,

With all due respect, Matt makes no mention of "the dude from Anti-Spectrum." Instead he refers to Kang Shin-Woo's article in the Korean Times.

Like I've said before, and I continue to say, the reasons the newspapers "keep getting it wrong" is because of ATEK's ECFA campaign and how it was interpreted by the Korean English media. ATEK's poor PR skills led to the current mess they are now faced with.

The "cut and paste' petitions and the way in which ATEK promoted their "cause" to the media caused GREAT confusion - even amongst the foreign community. Tony's choice of words and semantics did not translate well with the Korean press, nor did his semantics sit well with many foreigners opposed to ATEK reckless and misguided campaign.

When the newspapers continually kept "getting it wrong", Tony would go on to Dave's and say "they misquoted us again and we've asked for a retraction." This happened countless times and angered many F holders. Did the newspapers ever retract the "ATEK representing 25,000 foreign teachers” comments, no they did not. Except for the mention of "Union" in one headline which scared ATEK shitless, the newspapers never retracted or changed anything for ATEK. To this very day, I don't believe ATEK seriously wanted anything corrected as publicity at any cost was foremost on their minds.

Please "Anonymous" pay more attention to details in the future. Failing to do so does us ALL a disfavor.

Thank you.

Anonymous said...

You said you don't "see the newspapers getting it wrong" and Matt never said the "newspapers" were getting it wrong if you click on "an article"(when Matt provides a link then you should read it, that might help you get the jist) you will see the title at Marmot's Hole..."Anti-English Spectrum Dude on ATEK Petition"

The "dude" is Lee Eun-ung(the Anti-English Spectrum DUDE), Matt asked how many times is "he" going to get it wrong, NOT the "newspapers."
Comprehend now?
King of Twister

matt said...

Er, no, I meant Kang Shin-who was wrong. And pocariboy73 makes good points. The thing is, though, that Kang Shin-who already corrected an article regarding this a week ago (in line with Professor Wagner's report, or perhaps what could be termed ATEK's 'clarified' position), so it's surprising that he would write the same stuff again.

And Brian (not BiJ!), the linked article (which anonymous mentions) has Lee Eun-ung stating that this same national assembly rep. was planning on pushing this bill months ago, so I have my doubts that this is a response to ATEK.

Anonymous said...

Pocariboy73 makes good point(s)? I fail to see one good point regardless of my miss on who the "he" was. However, I was closer in that the "dude" was a "he" and the "newspapers" were not. Please inform on the good point(s). I'd still like to know the answer to MY question of Pocariboy73 to what is wrong with the surface of the ATEK statement = Pocariboy73... Do you really think that you or any other teacher should go unchecked while E-2 Visa Holders are checked??? I think you look anywhere but the surface to intentionally attempt to blind others. Complaining about the minor thing(presumed minor thing at this time) is only an attempt to hide the BIG FAT INJUSTICE/DISCRIMINATION of E-2 Visa Holders.

Brian Dear said...

It's pretty simple, this whole issue. All long-term visas should have the same statutory requirements (excepting diplomatic visas for obvious reasons.) If HIV and a criminal background are "dangerous" to Korea, then they are "dangerous" to Korea regardless of the E or F status of the resident. If those things aren't dangerous enough from the F series visa to warrant the requirement than they aren't dangerous enough for the E series visa people. The HIV test requirement for the Entertainer short-term visa is also ridiculous, since that same HIV test requirement isn't required for C-3 (short term visitors.) What Korean Immigration is suggesting is that different visa types represent different "risks." If you are a long-term visitor, you have the same ability to wreck havoc regardless of the type of visa upon which you enter. If this is about "protecting children," then that's the concern pf the Ministry of Education. After all, all E-2's are not teaching children, some teach adults, so the "protecting children" logic doesn't apply to all E-2s. If the MoE wants to "protect" kids, then they need to have universal standards for teachers, both Korean and foreign. After all, the "danger" posed to children is not specific based on national origin. This ATEK he-said she-said is getting tired. Who cares. The point is for non-discrimination based on DNA and consistent standards applied to everyone. Is that so much to ask?

Anonymous said...

Well said, Brian Dear.

I'm not all upset about my human rights, I just think the visa requirements unnecessarily complicate the process without actually achieving their stated aims.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

"Did the newspapers ever retract the "ATEK representing 25,000 foreign teachers” comments, no they did not."

When do Korean newspapers EVER retract anything? Very very rarely, if at all.

pocariboy73 said...

Well Rok Hound, if ATEK had of filed a formal complaint to Korea's Press Arbitration Commission, I expect that the newspapers would have retracted the "misquotes" or at the very least been much more careful the second, third, and fourth time around, instead of continually making the same "miquotes."

Check it out:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
matt said...

To whoever keeps leaving links that I've deleted, all I can say I really hope no one ever does to you what Mike - and others - are trying to do to Tony. Don't expect me to aid you in any way by hosting links to that homophobic post. And if you don't actually feel that way, and are just trying to make your information sound more scandalous ('sexual deviant') in order to present it to the Korean media, that's even worse.

Don't you think that continuing to go after someone you forced to resign (after relentless personal attacks) is a tad... extreme?

It doesn't seem like someone saying merely, "I disagree with what this organization stands for," but saying instead, "I want to destroy this organization by getting its members fired, arrested or deported."

I've seen the media sling some crap our way over the past few years, but right now you're making them look good; in fact you're aiding them in slinging crap at us. I can only feel pity for someone who seems to feel empowered only by running a hate site aimed at one person - which is what Mike's site looks like right now.

Why not try building something that represents you, instead of trying to destroy something that you feel doesn't?

Anonymous said...

James, or Tony if you prefer never left ATEK and continued to speak on their behalf. Yes, he resigned from his position as PR spokesman, NO that was not enough.

ATEK and James, excuse me, Tony started this rift with their dangerous comparison in a legal complaint to the NHRC involving the status and rights of F visa holders.

Had ATEK truly listened to and recognized the concerns of the F visa community by admitting mistakes and apologizing for them, we would not be where we are today.

Instead, James and ATEK continued to defend their actions and attack those that voiced legitimate concerns. That unfortunately is the reason we are where we are today.

Continuing to ignore the original complaints about ECFA, ATEK's methods, and the statements made by ATEK's spokesman and other supporters only further demonstrates their unwillingness to listen.

Anonymous said...

You guys should join Anti-English Spectrum.

You have the same agenda. And could probably teach them a thing or two about tactics.

You could offer them your English Internet skills in tracking down bad foreigners in Korea.

Thanks a lot for making foreigners look like scum in Korea.

Lee Eun-ung would be proud.

Anonymous said...

way to go guys - thanks for reinforcing the idea that all foreigners should be checked. Tony's not even an E-2. With geniuses like you, it'll be no time 'til we are all under the microscope.