Thursday, April 22, 2010

The number of foreign criminals defiling Korea is skyrocketing!

I came across this Wikipedia page on the Chosun Ilbo and discovered that under "Criticism" this was written:
The Chosun Ilbo is strongly criticized for its past history of collaboration with the Japanese military government, and later with the authoritarian governments of Park Chung-hee, and Chun Doo-hwan. The Chosun Ilbo and Chosun Sports (along with the left wing Kyunghyang Sinmun) have also run stories on foreign English teachers that have been criticized as sensationalist and xenophobic [1 2].
Or rather, that's what it said up until 4 days ago. There's been a slight change since then.
The Chosun Ilbo and Chosun Sports (along with the left wing Kyunghyang Sinmun) have also run story on crimes of foreign English teachers. This news relate to increasing of foreign English teachers in Korea since 2000. In 2007, 32.7% of foreign English teachers in Korea are unqualified instructors. This is illegal activity in any country. They often entering Korea by Tourist Visa. The unqualified instructors often fake their degree. Sometimes they did drug, murder, crimes.[Link to this story, translated here]. Increasing of illegal English teachers making trouble in Korea. Several crimes of foreign English teachers who fake their degree making them under the microscope [Unrelated link here].
You can see the changes made to this entry here, as well as all the other changes made by this (obviously) Korean user here. The changes were made to entries about the Korean-American relationship, Anti-Americanism in Korea, and 'Fucking USA.' I'm sure it'll take hours of research before we are able to conclusively determine where he stands on these issues.

On the one hand, this goes to show how these articles affect the perceptions of those who read them, and we see just how terms like 'unqualified' are misused and then misunderstood by readers. ("This is illegal activity in any country." Uh, okay.) At the same time, I don't know if it was really necessary to add the sentence about the Chosun's articles about English teachers in the first place. While yes, the Chosun has run some of the most sensationalist stories about foreign English teachers (1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8), it's not like it's alone in that regard. Almost every paper in Korea has published sensationalist stories about foreign English teachers and given space to Anti-English Spectrum to air their views (with perhaps the exception of the Hankyoreh).

Moving on, there are some useful links in that diatribe against foreign teachers, including the final link, to this Korea Times article from March that
I missed at the time titled "Foreigners' Crimes Rise Significantly." It looks at statistics regarding five major crimes, but oddly leaves out drugs (which may well be the crime by foreigners that gets the most media attention).
The National Police Agency (NPA) said Wednesday a total of 7,812 foreigners were arrested last year for involvement in the five major crimes - homicide, robbery, burglary, rape and physical assault. - an increase of nearly 18 percent from 6,615 in 2008.

Police said a total of 260 foreigners were caught for robbery last year, up 95 percent from 133 in 2008, making it the fastest growing serious crime. Burglary came next with a 45 percent increase, followed by homicide at 21 percent, rape at 11 percent and physical assault at 8 percent.

An estimated 1.2 million foreigners, including those overstaying their visas, are living in Korea, accounting for 2.4 percent of the country's population of 50 million.

A total of 543,812 major crimes - including violations by foreigners, were reported in Korea in 2008, according to recent statistics from Rep. Shim Jae-chul of the ruling Grand National Party - a dramatic increase from 454,550 cases in 2004. This means the number of crimes has risen by about 5 percent annually during the four-year period.
Of course, the article goes on to talk more about foreigners and ignore the 'dramatic increase' in crime by Koreans. It's also interesting that though we have crime stats lined up to illustrate a veritable crime wave by foreigners, there didn't seem to be enough time to call up immigration and get something more exact than "an estimated 1.2 million" for the foreign population. Not that it really matters, of course, because the Times clearly has no interest in viewing those figures into the context of the foreign population.

Using stats I posted here, (and this Korean population statistic), let's look at the estimated crime rate for serious crime among the foreign and Korean populations.

The number of such crimes in total for 2009 was 543,812; if we subtract 7812 (the number of foreign crimes) we're left with 536000 out of a total estimated population of 48607000. If we subtract the number of foreign residents (in 2008, 854,007) we're left with around 47753000, and a crime rate for serious crimes of 1.12%

In 2008 there were 6,615 such crimes by foreigners out of a population of 1,158,866, which results in a crime rate of 0.57 (or 50.8% of the above Korean crime rate). For 2009, 7,812 crimes out of an estimated foreign population of 1.2million results in a crime rate for serious crime of
0.65 (or 57.9% of Korean crime rate). To be sure, the rate is rising. At the same time, when put in context, the foreign crime rate (for serious crime) is still significantly lower than the Korean crime rate.

We're also told that
The number of incarcerated foreigners has increased nearly four times in nine years. There were some 1,000 foreign inmates as of August, the Ministry of Justice said - in 2001, there were only 251 foreign inmates, but the number jumped to 562 in 2007.
According to the statistics I posted here for 2000, the population in October that year was 500,591, making it clear that the foreign population has increased 2.4 times during those nine years, making for an foreign inmate increase of 1.67 times if this population growth is taken into account.

The article also looks at other crime:
According to the NPA and the Ministry of Justice, a total of 28,126 foreigners were caught for minor breaches of the law in 2008. The figure stood at some 10,000 in 2005, indicating the crime rate showed a nearly three-fold increase in just three years. Traffic violations were the most frequent crime with 7,298 cases in 2008, followed by fraud with 3,390 and violation of foreign currency laws at 1,557.
Good lord! Minor breaches of law have increased three times in just three years! I look forward to a media blitz about the dangers of foreign drivers. (Apparently, the Gyeonggi Police's foreigner crime prevention classes begun this month do indeed include driving lessons (and these classes have come into being across the country)). The Times article ends by mentioning Korea's foreigner-only prison.

In truth, however, the Korean press barely picked up on this. Yonhap contributed the graphic above (the foreigner graphic isn't quite as good as this one), YTN made a very brief mention, and the Munhwa Ilbo, Joongang Ilbo, Newsis and Financial News posted short articles. The Korea Times spent the most amount of time on it. No surprise there.

More crime statistics can be seen here, which reveal that in the five months from October 27 last year to March 31, 1354 foreign criminals had been uncovered in 9 different police districts, and out of these 157 of them were arrested and 92 were set to be deported. Of the 1354, 227 were arrested for serious crimes [as above], 211 for drugs, 209 for forging documents, and 56 were arrested for economic crimes. 50% of those caught were Chinese. Here's a more complete breakdown:

Here are crime statistics for Koreans and foreigners, as well as foreign population stats from 2003 to 2008:

Now, if you calculate the crime rates there, They do actually double among foreigners between 2003 and 2008. At the same time, even after doubling, B/A shows the percentage of total crimes that are committed by foreigners, revealing that in 2008, 98.75 %* of crimes were committed by Koreans. Obviously, this is not a fact you'll see in the press very often (if ever). What's odd is that these figures give us crime rates for 2008 of 5.65% for Koreans and 2.94% for foreigners, much higher than the ones suggested here, for example, which say that in 2007, according to the Korean Institute of Criminology, "[w]hile the crime rate among Koreans is 3.5 percent, it is 1.4 percent among foreigners." Also, if you add the National Police Agency stats in the Times article for violent and non violent crime, you end up with a total of 35,938 crimes for 2009, which is a very small increase from the 34,108 crimes for 2008 in the statistics above. I wonder what the Ministry of Justice's statistics for last year are; it may be that each agency/ministry offers differing statistics.

Of course, not mentioned in the Times article or elsewhere when discussing the Korean crime rate was this (from 2007):
A rising number of sex crimes among teenagers is becoming a serious problem in Korea. The number of reported sex crimes including rape, indecent assault, and attempted rape more than tripled in eight years, from 567 cases in 1999 to 1,810 cases last year.
Or this (from 2009):
Sexual crimes against children under 13 has jumped 59 percent in recent years, going from 721 cases in 2004, 738 in 2005, 1,081 in 2007 and 1,220 last year.
Or this:
Violent crime like murder, robbery, rape and arson has more than doubled since the 1997 Asian financial crisis, but arrests and indictments have gradually declined. The rise in violent crime far outpaced the increase in population [...] In 1997, when the number of violent crimes shot up, population growth had stagnated, yet the number of such crimes committed for every 100,000 Koreans rose from 25.1 in 1997 to 43.2 in 2007.
Now, of course the media examines these things - they're the source for the above quotes! But when it comes time to discuss foreign crime, it's treated as something separate, unrelated and more threatening - which sums up media and government discourse surrounding foreigners. Searching at Naver finds that most recent articles about foreign crime have focused on banning sex criminals and the new fingerprinting initiative. As Brian notes, every foreign visitor will be fingerprinted and photographed from August (because if the cool kids (who we sometimes hate!) like Japan and the US are doing it, so will we!). One reason this is being done is to keep banned foreign criminals from re-entering Korea. You know, like this:

You can always count on the Donga Ilbo! Hell, it's even the same column that this came from. If someone could just explain the musical note...

*typo fixed.


brent said...

You didn't even mention that most of the foreign population is adult and not children or the elderly.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

the musical note is the familiar sound of "cha-CHING!"

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Re: wiki:
(reverting back to delete the bad-English off-topic rant about illegal English teachers.)


matt said...

Well, I've mentioned it before:

If it can be agreed that children and the elderly tend not to commit crimes, then it`s worth looking at the demographics of the Korean and foreign populations in Korea. According to the CIA, children under 15 and elderly people over 64 make up 27.6 percent of the population of Korea. According to Korean Immigration Service figures, children under 16 and elderly over 60 make up 8.2 percent of the foreign population.

It probably could stand to be said again, though.

Darth Babaganoosh:
I wonder if he'll be back to revert it back to his 'revised edition.'

hoihoi51 said...

many korean went to japn to commit crime. it is big problem of the korean crime in Japan

Anonymous said...


Do you have any facts to back up your assertion? If not it just sounds like you are trying to spread anti-Korean propaganda.

Kamiza said...

Crime is always a valid issue to discuss and debate in the media.
What is so silly about SK's treatment of the subject is that they feel compelled to divide it
along these outdated "내"/"외"
"person" lines--a very long-standing tradition in this country.
"Korean" vs. "foreigner" seems so prehistoric in this context.
Of course, we all understand this is a part of SK's process of dealing with this relatively new phenomenon of have over a million
outsiders living and working in a traditionally isolated SK.

I think we all identify the fact that this issue could be treated with a great deal more tact; actually, the matter requires it, lest it degrade into little more than xenophobia and blame-shifting to the "Other"--that is, if it hasn't already.

hoihoi51 said...

>B_Wagner said...


hoihoi51 said...

Darth Babaganoosh said...

It's nonsense, hoihoi51. What do those links prove?

The Japanese media and congressmen demonize Zainichi Korean in Japan just as the Korean media and congressmen demonize foreigners (usually English teachers) in Korea.

The stats of both "skyrocketing crimes" by both parties are not backed up by the statistics, just by the xenophobes.

Anonymous said...


What Darth Babaganoosh said.


i like the illustration of foreigners as fat guys in windbreakers. that's me. i am the fat guy in the windbreaker.

Anonymous said...

Hi, great post. I just hope though one day you will deal with the light sentences and Koreas refusal to deal with the pedophile, rape problem in Korea. They talk a big game, but nothing s ever done about. LMB says the same thing every year, when a high profile case is outted.

Anonymous said...

“B/A shows the percentage of total crimes that are committed by foreigners, revealing that in 2008, 99.75 % of crimes were committed by Koreans”
I'm not sure I've understood this, but I see 2008's B/A = “1.25%” in the image.

BTW, are these actual proven crimes this time? Can we rule out that the numbers include incidents or indictments where eventually no crime was to be found?

Thank you for your great blog, I like everything about it except the white-on-black, but I have just now found out I can get rid of it by selecting “No Style” in Firefox. Great for bland types who rinse their kimchee.

matt said...


I have covered the slow pace of legal change regarding sexual abuse/assaults against children before, and I plan to cover the most recent case (and several others) at some point.

Worth noting is that this time around they have actually passed several laws, all within weeks of the most recent incident - see here and here. Whether this leads to any changes is anyone's guess, but I was shocked at how fast progress was made this time around.


I have no idea about the specifics of those crime stats. As you'll notice, some of the stats above produce different crime rates than what I've seen before, so it's hard to know what is more accurate (The justice ministry, the institute of criminology, national police stats...).

Anonymous said...

I see, thanks. But 100 minus 1.25 is still 98.75, not 99.75

matt said...

Er. Yeah. I meant 98.75%. I've made dumber typos than that before... Consider it fixed.