Friday, September 25, 2009

Foreign English teacher crime statistics released

According to a Yonhap story entitled "Lee Gun-hyeon: 'Native speaking English teacher crime [is] serious'", the National Assembly’s Council of Education, Science and Technology member Lee Gun-hyeon of the GNP announced on September 24 the number of native speaking English teachers who have committed crimes over the past three years. Over three years the total is 274, with 114 in 2007, 99 in 2008, and 61 up to August of this year.

By type, at 84, most were arrested for violence, 57 for drugs, 17 for ‘intellectual crimes’ (likely forgery), 10 for rape, and 7 for theft. As for violence, cases had risen from 22 in 2007, 38 in 2008, and 24 to August this year.

By region, 138 teachers committed crimes in Seoul, 29 in Busan, and 17 in both Gwangju and Daegu.

Throughout the country, in 1,100 elementary, middle and high schools are some 7000 native speaking English instructors, and in hagwons there are about 20,000 . [Note – someone is not doing their math correctly or are using the wrong statistics. There are only about 20,000 E-2 visa holders in the country (which is the group I assume they are referring to)]

Lee said that recent crimes by foreign English teachers are causing students and parents’ anxiety to grow and that the verification system for unqualified foreign teachers needs to be strengthened and criminal information made public and that students should not be exposed to more crimes.

[I should probably note that this hasn't attracted that much attention. Naver only shows four different articles referring to it, most just reprinting Yonhap.]


Robert Koehler said...

"지능범" usually refers to scams and, as is most likely the case here, forgery.

matt said...

Thanks - I'll change that.

kushibo said...

Though I respect the right of the government to try to ensure that foreign residents don't engage in crime while living in South Korea, if done so fairly and according to the law, I wouldn't call these numbers "심각."

matt said...

You reminded me to add the article's title to the post. And yeah, according to the Korean Institute of Criminology, the overall crime rate among foreigners was 1.4% compared with the 3.5% rate among Korean citizens in 2007. With 114 out of 17,721 teachers arrested in 2007, the arrest rate is 0.64% - more than five times less than the Korean rate (which includes children and elderly in the calculation, low crime demographics that don't figure into calculations for E-2 visa holders - or most foreigners for that matter). The rate for last year was 0.5%. Declaring martial law in Haebangchon may have to wait...

jw said...

From what I've heard and read of many foreigners' interactions with the police, whatever the situation or scenario with a Korean local, the foreigner gets blamed and arrested by the police automatically, allowing the Korean perpetrator to escape, or at least sober up enough to get their story straight. Then, the police usually try to talk the victims out of bringing any charges...if the perp. is Korean.

That's what I've heard and read. Anyone else experienced or heard differently?

So my point is that the statistics for foreigner crime should probably be even lower than it is.

kushibo said...

Those are memes #31 and #34, Julian.

So how does that work with drug arrests, then?

Seems some of the narratives you've been reading that talk about how horribly foreigners are victimized conveniently leave out the things that show they were at fault.

Look, I have no doubt that there are some incompetent and/or bigoted cops out there. I've met some myself. But "whatever the situation or scenario with a Korean local"? B.S.

Unfortunately, cops are going to listen more carefully to the people they can understand, and if you can't speak Korean well, that puts you at a disadvantage. They also don't care for people getting indignant in front of them, regardless of whether they're Korean or non-Korean, and trust me, it's not a small number of foreigners that get themselves in trouble this way. I was helping someone who got in trouble with the cops and he wouldn't shut the f--- up, even though he was partly in the wrong, which made things potentially really bad for him. Fortunately, I could speak Korean well enough and I knew he wasn't an a-hole in real life, so I went the extra mile for him, but if I hadn't been there, he would have gotten a more serious problem (and one he sort of had coming).

Also, getting into physical altercation is a no-no, and while the cops let it go sometimes, sometimes they won't. In the US, for example, "fighting words" might be a justifiable reason for getting into a fight, but not in Korea, but some people do that anyway and — surprise surprise — they get arrested for assault.

So no, I think you're characterization is not entirely representative. In some cases, sure, but that doesn't explain the whole thing, and I know there are some people who get away with stuff they shouldn't, so I wouldn't say "foreigner crime should probably be even lower than it is."

Finally, my perennial advice: Get to know the cops in your neighborhood, giving them a cold drink on a hot evening or a warm drink on a cold night, before you ever need their help. Be nice to them, get to know them, even if you can't speak Korean well. They'll appreciate it, and they will have your back as much as they can if something ever goes down with you.


K said...


Chris in South Korea said...

It probably wouldn't attract much attention - it's essentially a non-story as low as the rates are. 61 through August - 2/3 of the year - means a projected 91-92 crimes for the year of 2009. In that, we can see that despite there being MORE English teachers, there are fewer arrests being made. Why? Fewer crimes being committed? English teachers running like hell from a scene? Getting deported instead of arrested?

These are stats that should be brought to the attention of the press more frequently - especially since it's the Korean media itself compiling them.

Anonymous said...

Matt, I know that you are implying that the numbers are wrong or miscalculated but there are people that do not have a proper visa that are teaching English in Korea. That's what the statistics are referring to.

matt said...

A clearer breakdown of the statistics is here. It doesn't mention visa violations, but then a large percentage of the crimes are simply listed as 'other'.