Two weeks ago I noted that two National Assembly representatives had made irresponsible statements about foreign English teachers. One of these representatives was a GNP Rep. from Busan (and SNU graduate) Lee Joo-young, who, according to the Korea Times, said:
In the inspection, Rep. Lee Joo-young of the ruling Grand National Party urged the ministry to tighten the rule on E-2 visa issuance, arguing it’s so lax that many convicted foreigners attempt to cross borders with legal residential status. The legislator did not disclose the exact number of foreigners caught for the violation.[...]This was in an article about how the Ministry of Justice said it would "revise immigration rules to ban foreigners found guilty of raping Korean children from re-entering Korea permanently." Why such a revision would be needed is a mystery. As Benjamin Wagner pointed out,
"Many foreigners have been caught attempting to pass through the immigration process with forged documents, indicating rules should be intensified further,” Lee said.
The MOJ has pointed out time and time again that they have absolute discretion under the Immigration Act (art. 11) to exclude anyone they like.It seems immigration can keep out almost anyone they like, and this certainly covers foreign rapists, but creating a new 'revision' makes it sound like something is being done to protect children, especially from foreigners living in Korea, who have such a sex crime rate that's five times less than the Korean sex crime rate.
"[P]ersons deemed likely to cause danger and harm to the public health . . ." (Art. 11(1)1)
"Persons deemed likely to commit any act detrimental to national interests of the Republic of Korea or public safety . . ." (Art. 11(1)3)
"Persons deemed likely to commit any act detrimental to economic or social order or good morals . . ." (Art. 11(1)4)
But let's return to Lee Joo-young's statements.
Yonhap provides more information about what he said (and a Yonhap TV news report can be seen here.):
In connection with blocking entry to foreign criminals who have sexually abused children, GNP Rep. Lee Ju-yeong pointed out that “Measures to prevent child molestation by foreign native speaking teachers are insufficient.""[I]t has been confirmed that such relevant documents are easy to fake and change." Really? By who? What would he propose beyond getting criminal record checks notarized, or receiving an Apostille, and being verified by the Korean Embassy or receiving an affidavit from the teacher's embassy? It's easy to suggest that foreigners are a threat and are going to fake documents so they can come to Korea and, judging from Lee's comments, commit crimes, spread AIDS and do drugs, but how about suggesting some solutions beyond the tired 'Let's strengthen the verification process'?
Assemblyman Lee said, "When conversation teaching (E-2) visas are issued, criminal background check reports, AIDS test reports, drug test results are required to be submitted, but it has been confirmed that such relevant documents are easy to fake and change," and emphasized that inspection processes needed to be strengthened.
Wait. It gets better.
According to Asia Today [here via Google cache],
On this day, at the parliamentary inspection of state administration, GNP Rep. Lee Ju-yeong said "Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters" and "Immigration denies [document] falsification is possible but documents needed to receive E-2 visas, such as criminal background check reports, etc, can be easily falsified in places like Itaewon.""Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters". Lovely. Is there any proof of that? For example, in Benjamin Wagner's NHRCK report, this table lists sex crimes by foreigners from the seven English speaking countries which can receive E-2 visas.
Compare this to the English teacher sex crime statistics recently released:
So, out of 37 sex crimes (of all types) by 'English speaking' foreigners in 2007, 2 were English teachers. Of 39 (to October) in 2008, 7 were English teachers. Comparing English teacher sex crime figures to all foreign sex crime for those years would result in a tiny percentage. To back up his assertion that "native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters", Rep. Lee offers us... nothing.
He also tells us that "criminal background check reports ... can be easily falsified in places like Itaewon." I guess he must have read this article. When making policy recommendations, it never hurts have Choi Hui-seon-penned Sports Chosun articles around, I guess.
The article continues:
I'm not certain if the example of molestation used above was provided by Lee or Asia Today. What should be noted is that it's a bad example, since the teacher had the case dropped for lack of evidence.
In fact, on October 16, 2008, a foreign teacher molested an elementary school first grader in an English classroom at a residents’ center in Seoul’s Seong-dong gu,
But wait. It gets even better:
Assemblyman Lee pointed out that "When considering the fact that schools and hagwons try to hide the sexual crimes committed by these foreign teachers, then the number of undisclosed crimes would be a whole lot more."Well, there we go. No wonder he doesn't have to prove his "native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters" remark. There are unseen crimes which make statistics unnecessary! How useful for him! In other words, regulations for issuing E-2 visas must be strengthened because of crimes that are not confirmed to have happened, and though he can’t be sure how many crimes – if any – have been hidden, Rep. Lee assures us that the number is ‘a whole lot more.’ How many more, Rep. Lee?
(Photo from here)*Okay, that many.
At any rate, just how many children had been molested by these undisclosed sex criminals was not disclosed by Rep. Lee. One wonders if tightening the visa process would weed out these undisclosed criminals, as Rep. Lee did not disclose how many of these undisclosed cases involved foreign teachers who had faked their criminal records checks, allowing them to move into a position in which would offer ready access to child victims due to the fact that their criminal past remained undisclosed.
It seems we can now extend to Rep. Lee the title of ‘Korea’s Donald Rumsfeld’, as it seems for Rep. Lee that the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.
This is not to say that such things don't happen, mind you. There is one confirmed case that I've mentioned before:
On May 4 and 5, 2008, Yonhap, Financial News, and the Maeil Gyeongje reported that Seoul police had noted that a teacher they arrested for teaching illegally had at one point worked at a high school illegally, molested a male student there, and was fired after working there for three months. It appears he was not arrested for this.If there are schools and hagwons which are allowing any teachers to get away with molestation at their schools because instead of instead of being charged by police they've been fired in order to preserve the school or hagwon's reputation, then does the fault for these molesters - foreign or Korean - being able to find employment around children again not fall upon the schools and hagwons? Obviously, those to blame for such unproven undisclosed crimes would be the hagwon owners who hide such crimes, if they do indeed exist. At a time when Korean society is searching for ways to prevent and punish sex crimes, you'd think these schools and hagwons would be scrutinized for such lack of action.
On the other hand, foreigners are obviously much more of a threat to Korean children and women than their fellow Koreans, right? I mean, it's been on TV!
And as the great Sohn Hak-gyu once said, “Public perception is no less important than rational judgement.”
*There are no E-2 visa holders on the paper in the first photo, and both photos are unrelated to his foreign sex crime comments. The first photo is from here.