Thursday, July 29, 2010

Gwanghwamun uncovered... almost

From Yonhap and the Donga Ilbo:

After three and a half years of work (which involved uncovering old foundations), Gwanghwamun was uncovered yesterday, but won't be officially opened until Independence Day. Interesting that they're enclosing the area behind the gate - I guess they're trying to make it as historically accurate as possible, insofar as it resembles the palace's reconstruction from the 1860s (and not the pile of rubble it was from the 1590s to the 1860s).

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Itaewon: Mr. Lee's Neighborhood

[Note: The 'Lee' in this article turned out not to be Lee Eun-ung, but former member 'jasminhyang,' and corrections to the original article have been made. That article is now also missing the"loser's paradise" subtitles seen below. That the Lee in this article was Lee Eun-ung has now been incorrectly reported in Time magazine.]

On the 23rd, the New Daily posted an article - a long article - by reporter Jeon Gyeong-ung purporting to tell the truth about Itaewon. Robert already posted about it at the Marmot's Hole today, but as I translated the first third or so of it, I thought I'd post it here.

The Republic of Korea's hidden center, Yongsan's Itaewon

Itaewon - 'a loser's paradise' where Korean women are ruined?
A pack of black people looking only for sex
Fantastic clubs? Frequent crimes of drugs, fraud, perverted marriage
Government, media glorify 'Multiculturalism' ahead of purification

Until now, only Itaewon's spectacular side and its unexposed great power have been closely examined. However tall mountains always have deep valleys. That the national media and government ignore this for reasons such as policy is a serious problem.

Spectacular Temptation vs. the Clubs' Reality

In late October 2005, I contributed to the Monthly Chosun and covered the truth about crime by illegal immigrants. In the process, I became aware of “Anti-English Spectrum (the Citizen’s Movement to Expel Illegal Teachers of Foreign Languages) and from the group's manager and members was told in detail about Itaewon's dark nature. The representatives of this group explained such things as the truth about the clubs scattered around Itaewon, and about the true nationalities and attitudes of the foreigners who wandered about.

The founder of the "citizen's group", Mr. Lee (40) is an English teacher who received a TESOL certificate/diploma in Canada. During a two day interview he explained in detail the truth about Itaewon. Contacting him after a long time, I asked him what the situation was like in Itaewon, and he answered, "Still the same."

"Most of the foreigners you see wandering around in Itaewon are 'losers' who can't even maintain a social life in their home countries. These XXXXs use “English” to cajole their way around our country."

Living in Itaewon for over 30 years, Lee dreamed of being an English teacher. Having TESOL certification and other specialized English education qualifications, one would think it would be easy to get a job in Korea, but after actually returning home, he realized that Korea’s English craze did not involve learning how to fit harmoniously into international society, but instead was an illusion, a vague yearning for white people using English. Lee tried to understand this, but he could not understand at all how people who had faked their degrees and backgrounds could make so much money in Korea, how they could treat Korean women from children to housewives as ‘comfort women’ [yes, he went there, he used ‘위안부’] or ‘sex toys,’ or how Korean society left native-speaking English teachers alone as they committed misdeeds throughout society.

To confirm the truth about low quality foreign teachers, Lee sought out Itaewon clubs. Clubs would not even allow Korean men in, but speaking English fluently like a Korean American allowed him to enter easily. After entering the club he could scarcely believe his eyes. Ordinary-looking Korean women wandered around the club topless, starting conversations with the first foreign men they saw and within only minutes would be in their arms, playing at seduction and giving themselves to them.

Among the things a friend of his said he had observed was this: The first foreigner a Korean woman saw was holding a drink with drugs added to it, and without hesitation she drank it. After she lost her senses the foreigners pulled her over to another group of men and had group sex in front of them.

But looking back on those clubs, Lee noticed that the foreigners’ intonation, way of speaking and the level of their vocabulary were strange. Looking back on the stories they approached him with, most were from underdeveloped former British colonies in Africa or Southwest Asia, or were poorly educated social misfits or had fled their home countries after committing crimes there. They said mockingly in front of Lee, “Korean pussy is best!” “Best” in this case is a sarcastic expression meaning they’re ‘easy’. Seeing this, Lee decided to make people aware of native speakers and of the seriousness of our society’s surging sycophancy towards English, and formed the group.

“Among foreigners in Itaewon clubs, you’ll see that there are almost no decent ones there. Black people or southwest Asians especially like to lie about their nationality and approach women saying they’ll teach them English. The only thing they want is to have sex with Korean women. Also, it’s perverted sex.

He created an internet cafe at a portal and people concerned about the seriousness of the problem of low quality foreign teachers and illegal immigrants slowly began to gather there. Most of the members pointed out the adult entertainment areas and especially the “foreigner only clubs” in the Hongdae and Itaewon areas as problems. Lee and the others collected examples of the various problems revolving around Itaewon area clubs and personally confirmed the behavior of foreigners.

After that the group expanded offline and, working both alone and in tandem with others groups formed to stop crime by low quality native-speaking teachers and illegal immigrants such as the “Foreign Worker Countermeasures Citizen’s Solidarity,” spread into other various activities. As a result of this, over the past five years the group has initiated such measures as getting native speaking teachers with sex crimes in their pasts banned from re-entering Korea, strengthening the native-speaking teacher visa, maintaining the AIDS test for native-speaking teachers, and fingerprinting native-speaking teachers.

However, the group’s members are still worried about the way the Korean media (especially women-oriented media) excessively glamorize Itaewon. The reason for this is that foreign lechers are now targeting university students and even youth who know little of the ways of the world.


From there the article goes on to list every possible negative thing the reporter could find on the internet about people from Pakistan and Nigeria. Robert summarizes some of what is said in that section, and translates most of the article's conclusion as well, so go there to read the rest.

Now, as for what I think of the article, well, hey Lee Eun-ung, stop holding back - why don't you tell us what you really think of foreigners? "Most of the foreigners you see wandering around in Itaewon are 'losers' who can't even maintain a social life in their home countries" and "Among foreigners in Itaewon clubs, you’ll see that there are almost no decent ones there," indeed. Oh, and foreigners treat Korean women like "comfort women." Lovely.

But what I found interesting was that we're given a background on Lee. Growing up in Itaewon, dreaming of teaching English, getting TESOL certification in Canada, coming home and not being able to find a job, seeing foreigners who can get jobs easily at their worst in Itaewon. It basically wraps Lee and his motivations up in a neat little package - that is, if it's all true.

My reason for saying that is because, in this interview, Lee has once again altered the story of how AES came to be. For years, Lee has told and retold the story of the English Spectrum incident, such as in the Seoul Sinmun in 2008:
In 2005 photos and writings which degraded Korean women were posted on a community site for native English speakers teach English here. I confirmed that these native speakers had a corrupted perspective on Korea and carried on sexual relationships with minors and married women and realized that we could not entrust our children to such people and the movement was begun. We want a system to improve English education while stopping the harm that these native speakers do to Korea.
A few months later he wrote an article for the Kyunghyang Sinmun:
The opportunity to create the “Citizens Movement to Expel Illegal English Teachers” was a January 2005 post at an online foreign teacher community. Many people were outraged not only at the lewd clubs in front of Hongik University that degraded Korean women, but also sexual assaults by foreign teachers on middle school girls. We voluntarily formed our group so that at least our children would not be exposed to such unqualified teachers.
Of course, these versions of what happened at that time leave out the fact that the women "degraded" in those photos became victims of an internet witch hunt by the very people who started AES. As the owner of the bar the photos were taken in revealed in an interview with Ohmynews:
"Some online articles and the Anti-English Spectrum cafe said we were prostitutes, western princesses [yang gongju, a derogatory term for women who went with U.S. soldiers], and brothel keepers." The women said, "Because of the media's selective reporting and the netizen's collective madness we are suffering incredible mental anguish and a person is receiving psychiatric treatment."
This part of the story has always been omitted from Lee's retelling of the incident. And now we're told, "He created an internet cafe at a portal and people concerned about the seriousness of the problem of low quality foreign teachers and illegal immigrants slowly began to gather there." Translated literally it's "people in ones and twos began to gather there," which is absolutely not the case - AES had 1000 posts on it within a week or two of being formed. Perhaps Lee is changing his story for a different audience (there's much more of a focus on illegal immigrants in this article, something he's never really brought up before), but it's clear with him that the truth is always expendable - or perhaps, "expandable.".

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Joongang Ilbo has an interesting article about 'priority seating' on subways and how misperception of who should be allowed to sit there has led to some rather anti-social behavior by elderly people who believe they alone are entitled to sit there - as well as a backlash against such behavior.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Does anyone know if the Kim Ki-young retrospective described here (see here as well, and see here for the screening schedule) will have English subtitles? The schedule makes no mention of them, but it would be odd (though not unthinkable, of course) for the Korea Herald to have an article about the retrospective if there were none.

Why good teachers get busted for drugs

According to the Busan Ilbo, Maeil Gyeongje and NoCut News (no surprise with that last one), on the 20th, police revealed that a week earlier they'd arrested R, a 26 year old American middle school teacher, for ordering 28 grams of JWH-018 ("skunk") over the internet and having it mailed to himself. This came after he ordered a gram in May to try. Police, as always, suspect other teachers may be involved and are expanding the investigation. NoCut News (of course!) has this quote:
A Busan Office of Education representative said that "R had absolutely no criminal record, but after coming to Korea he encountered drugs while socializing with other native speaking teachers."
Well, you know what they say: "Native-speaking teachers corrupt absolutely."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The landscapes of Danyang

The other day I posted about the caves I visited in Danyang. I thought I'd follow up by posting about the rest of the trip.

Above is a view of the town itself. The water wasn't high enough to take the boat to Chungju, but perhaps later in the summer it will be. The bus station where I arrived at is along the water front at the far right. The photo above was taken from this bridge:

At the far end of the bridge is the tourist office and just beyond that, Gosu Cave. There's lots of good restaurants along the street in town that continues across the bridge. Danyang is known for its garlic, so garlic galbi and other such dishes are to be found there. I randomly chose Doljib Sikdang, as the maneul ssam jeongsik sounded interesting.

It was amazing, actually. Bossam, make-your-own bibimbap, loads of side dishes, etc. These little roast garlic cloves were tasty, and none of the garlic was particularly strong tasting.

As it turned out, I'd chosen wisely. The restaurant is well known, and another customer told me he'd driven with his family for an hour from Gangwon-do just to eat there.

The next day I headed across the bridge to the cave.

Typically, the restaurants in front of Gosu cave, which is a popular tourist spot, all served the exact same food, so after visiting Cheondong cave, I headed back into town to eat. One thing worth noting is that if you see a bus stop on only one side of the road, it means you can catch a bus going in the other direction there as well (simply wait on the other side of the road). In town you can generally just say the name of the place you want to go and the bus driver will either welcome you aboard or tell you to wait across the street for one going in the other direction.

At any rate, I ate lunch at the Danyang Jeontong Sundubu, which had the best dotori-muk I'd ever tasted. Too bad I didn't stay in town longer; I would have loved to have ordered a full dish of it.

A short bus ride to the north of town is the Doddam Sambong, or three peaks, which have been written about since the Joseon dynasty, lauded by Toegye Yi Hwang and painted Kim Hong-do.

With crowds milling about, speedboats zipping around, and music from the speedboat 'terminal' blaring, it wasn't exactly peaceful. Seongmun, or 'stone gate,' supposedly the largest stone arch in Asia, was worth short but steep hike up the adjacent hill.

Those previous two sites are part of the Danyang Palgyeong, or 'eight views of Danyang.' Five of them are reachable by bus, but three others are for those who have their own wheels. Two can be seen by taking a half hour bus ride to Janghoe ferry where you can take an hour-long cruise along Chungju Lake (made by damming up the Namhangang in the 80s). (It's also possible to go all the way to Chungju sometimes - it's best to check with the tourist office.) Due to the spectacular scenery, it's well worth the trip (even if the boats threaten to become floating noraebangs). It's also nice to be on a boat again, especially considering I grew up on a lake.

Here's Oksunbong, one of the eight views, which Toegye Yi Hwang (he of the 1000 won bill) described as the gate of Danyang when he was a magistrate there:

Gudambong is said to look like a turtle's shell when reflected in the water:

I didn't get to see any of the other eight views, but a man I chatted with on the boat (who was working for KBS installing digital TV transmitters on the tops of mountains, and who was nice enough to give me a ride back to Danyang) just sent me this photo of Sainam (it should be clear he had a much nicer camera than mine).

He also visited Dodam Sambong at a time which was much more conducive to taking photos:

Danyang is well worth visiting if you get the chance, both for its natural beauty and the food. There are lots of motels along the waterfront in town, and buses run hourly on the hour from Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (near Gangbyeong station on line 2).

Friday, July 23, 2010

SBS radio interviews AES's Lee Eun-ung

On July 9, 2010, Anti English Spectrum's Lee Eun-ung was interviewed on the SBS morning radio show‘서두원의 SBS 전망대, or "Seo Du-won's SBS Viewpoint." I've translated the transcript which was put up on their site later that day (see the first search result here):
Anchor Seo Du-won:
Last year (a) native speaking teacher posted nude pictures of (his) students on the internet causing a large problem and now not long ago a native speaking teacher who molested students at an elementary school in Daegu fled abroad. With unqualified native speaking teachers openly teaching children in schools and hagwons and causing problems such as sex crimes, we are in a situation where urgent measures are needed immediately. Why authorities are unable to block such native speaking teachers from entering the country is not understood. Lee Eun-ung, a spokesperson for the Citizen’s Movement to Expel Illegal Teachers of Foreign Languages is on the phone, and will talk about the present situation and measures to deal with it. Good morning Mr. Lee.

Lee Eun-ung:
Good morning.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Just how serious is the present situation of native speaking teacher sex crime?

Lee Eun-ung:
I’ve looked into the seriousness of the native speaking teacher sex crime situation. There are a wide range of issues. The places where they commit sex crimes have included most places of education but also have not been well exposed. Also, the approach they take to committing sex crimes is to disguise its form as being educational, and the reason they can commit sex crimes is that the minors don’t easily feel it to be a sex crime. And when it comes to targets of sex crime, they don’t distinguish between preschoolers, male or female school students. For example, one native speaking teacher played a game where the students touched his genitals. It’s quite dangerous.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Native speaking teachers don’t just teach children but also adults, and come into contact with a broad range of people. Are there many cases of crime targeting children?

Lee Eun-ung:
There are many sex crimes involving children, and we should be concerned about the fact that sex crimes against children are not exposed until they are uncovered. This is because unqualified native speaking teachers get a child to come to a closed off place or blind spot to commit their sex crime but as I said before the reason the sex crime occurs is because they use an educational method. So they are not easily uncovered. As I pointed out before there are a great many affected by this issue, but those who are victimized come from a variety of social strata. The professions of the people who have reported incidents of children suffered sex crimes have included people from various social strata such as teachers and public servants, and when you understand the number of reports we get of children suffering sex crimes at the hands of unqualified native speaking teachers, you can realize just how widespread crimes against children are.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Just now you mentioned unqualified native speaking teachers. You’ve said that people who are just foreigners who speak English generally well can become a teacher, and if they are to be employed, qualified people should be chosen. How many unqualified native speaking teachers have come to Korea?

Lee Eun-ung:
In truth there are no accurate national statistics, but if we just look at statistics and include legal teachers, we can estimate there are 50,000. There are 21,000 people on E-2 visas. In addition, if we exclude F2 and F4 teachers, we realize that the rest add up to at least ten or twenty thousand illegal teachers, though we don’t have accurate statistics.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
So many native speaking teachers are young?

Lee Eun-ung:
Yes, according to a job report about native speaking teachers most of the English teachers in Korea are in their 20s. Those in their 20s and 30s make up 90% of the total.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
How is it that native speaking teachers without qualifications come to Korea. Don't they need a visa?

Lee Eun-ung:
That's right. There are qualifications to become an English teacher. Have you studied for 4 years at a university in an English-speaking country? With that simple qualification, many unqualified teachers have had the opportunity to come to Korea. Also, in Korea because of English education and the rage for English anyone who is foreign and can speak English can reap the benefits of this and receive many favors and pleasures, and for this reason many problems have occurred.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Yes, I’ve been told that in order to be issued the conversation instruction visa, the E-2 visa, only those who have a 4 year degree from a university in an English speaking country can receive them.

Lee Eun-ung:
That's right.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
However, the Ministry of Justice has for three years required a visa screening for the purpose of language education including a criminal record check, but it seems this hasn’t been effective?

Lee Eun-ung:
It does have an effect, only, as a safety net, it’s not 100% effective. Of the foreign teachers we have uncovered, sex crimes have been committed by teachers who are working here legally. Especially in one case, a professor at a university in Daejeon had an FBI criminal record check and the government’s safety net did not filter him out. Rather, we received a tip and reported him and he was able to be removed. Also, a foreign teacher had a document for his E-2 visa that included a health and drug check. One teacher who considered this in itself to be a violation of human rights turned out to have been stripped of qualifications in his home country due to a sexual problem. To this extent it’s serious.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
So a teacher’s criminal record should be accurately confirmed before [deciding] one is qualified enough to be a teacher.

Lee Eun-ung:
Yes. Also with criminal records, the problem is that instead of a federal criminal record, a record from a state or county can be submitted . For example, if teacher A commits a crime in state A and moves to state B, a criminal record for state B can be submitted which will not contain the crime, and the teacher can come to Korea. Also, a problem with the system is that if someone changes their name then crimes cannot be verified and for this reason it’s not possible to have a 100% effective safety net.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
So I think it’s not easy to catch unqualified teachers. Spokesperson Lee Eun-ung’s site, “The Citizen’s Movement to Expel Illegal Teachers of Foreign Languages” is the only one to be seen.

Lee Eun-ung:
Yes, we’re the only one, and we specialize in this.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
How involved are you in such activities?

Lee Eun-ung:
We have 20,000 members. Through the National Assembly and media organizations we inform people of the seriousness of the situation and make many legal efforts to push for native speaker verification system legislation.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
As of this year you’ve been at this for 6 years. In that time how many native speaking teachers have you caused to be expelled?

Lee Eun-ung:
Our work has resulted in the expulsion, arrests, deportation or fining of 120 people. In regards to systemic and legal problems, we have made great efforts to have health, drug and crime checks done for the native speaking teacher visa.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
So how do you discover unqualified teachers? If you receive many complaints, do you enter into an investigation like a private detective?

Lee Eun-ung:
First, when we receive a tip, our role is to follow up on the tip and confirm the existence of the relevant hagwon and the teacher’s identity. As for the rest, if I or our group’s members can’t speak directly with the institution I will look to the other members for assistance, and with their cooperation we will come to the truth.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
I have heard that you once caught a native speaking teacher for drugs after a 150-day stakeout. How was that possible?

Lee Eun-ung:
As I just told you before, when we receive a tip, we first request assistance from our members. Most informers are reluctant to meet with members directly. So in this process, to first make contact I receive a tip and confirm that the tip is credible and from there we cooperate with members. Actually, the reason the person’s face and residence were known to us was absolutely because of this process requiring cooperation, which took about 150 days to catch the drug teacher.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Really incredible. So of course when it comes time to catch the unqualified native speaking teacher, you receive help from the police?

Lee Eun-ung:
Of course. We cannot infringe on the police’s jurisdiction because we should obey social and legal norms. Our part in the arrest process and such is only to cooperate.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
Those who are caught are not all deported. What about that?

Lee Eun-ung:
That is extremely difficult. For example, suppose the person who was caught in Daegu was not married. If Koreans didn’t want him deported, he would not be deported. To give an actual example, one person who committed a sex crime against a minor and uttered death threats in Canada could not be deported because he was on an F-2 Visa.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
What’s an F2 visa?

Lee Eun-ung:
People who have married Koreans and become the spouse of a citizen. If you look at such cases, it’s extremely difficult to punish and deport such people.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
So in such a case, those who are arrested can in the end only be fined.

Lee Eun-ung:

Anchor Seo Du-won:
This problem requires more continued attention so as to diligently devise a way to solve it. Thank you for talking with us today.

Lee Eun-ung:
Yes, thank you.

Anchor Seo Du-won:
This has been Lee Eun-ung, spokesperson for The Citizen’s Movement to Expel Illegal Teachers of Foreign Languages.


Isn't it great that the media has someone to turn to when they want to talk about foreign English teachers? Or uncritically accept the statements of someone on a soapbox, I mean?

I enjoyed the fact that the statement that there are "at least ten or twenty thousand illegal teachers, though we don’t have accurate statistics" didn't set off any bullshit detectors.

For some odd reason, Lee left out 'pawing through people's garbage' as part of the AES foreign English teacher 'detection and expulsion' process.

A few notes:
Regarding, "Last year (a) native speaking teacher posted nude pictures of (his) students on the internet," no such case made headlines last year. Or the year before. Or the year before that. 2006, on the other hand, did have the case described here and here about a teacher who unwisely posted his name, photo, and place of work as well as photos of co-workers and nudes of women that he said he slept with. Unless that quotation was referring to the original English Spectrum incident, which occurred in 2005.

As for "one native speaking teacher played a game where the students touched his genitals," while that could have happened, it also sounds a lot like the advice given in the 2003 "How to Mollest[sic] your students" at Korean ESL (which was discovered by Korean netizens in 2005 during the English Spectrum incident) where the writer suggested playing games for nefarious purposes.

Regarding "one person who committed a sex crime against a minor and uttered death threats in Canada could not be deported because he was on an F-2 Visa," it may refer to this 2006 case, or it may not. I have read a story like that in the media somewhere, which I think was an actual case.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Invasion of the body snatchers


Robert Neff has posted more photos of his trip to the site at the Marmot's Hole.

Original Post:

In the Korea Times yesterday was an article by Robert Neff about one of the stranger tales of foreigners visiting Korea - the tale of Ernest Oppert:
Oppert was not the only foreigner in Shanghai interested in opening Korea. In the early spring of 1868, Oppert met Father Stanislas Feron. Feron was one of three French priests who managed to get out of Korea alive during the religious persecution in 1866 — the same persecution that resulted in a short war between France and Korea.

Feron told Oppert that he had a plan to open Korea to the West. According to Feron, the average Korean desired relations with the West, but it was Daewongun, the regent, who was violently anti-foreigners. If Daewongun could be removed or coerced, Korea could then be opened up.[...]

Feron stressed the reverence Koreans held for their ancestors before he proposed something that was completely unacceptable to Westerners and Koreans alike — to dig up the bones of Daewongun’s father and hold them hostage.[...]

Once Daewongun agreed to open Korea the bones would be immediately returned. He also indicated that it was the Korean Christians who had devised the plan.
Things didn't quite go according to plan (they never do). For more information about this trip, a good place to look is Oppert's own book A Forbidden Land: Voyages to the Corea, which was translated into English in 1880 and is available here.

I have to say, though, that I'm not sure if the article was as well placed as it could have been on the Korea Times' webpage today:

Perhaps they have a different idea of "diverse foreign students" than I do...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The cavescapes of Danyang

The weekend before last I visited Danyang, in the northeast of Chungcheongbuk-do. Situated on a curve of the Namhangang and, when the water's high enough, considered a part of Chungju Lake, there's a lot of natural beauty in the area. Some of it is underground, as there are 4 well known caves in the area. I visited two, the first being Gosu Cave, which is very close to town (on the other side of the Gosu Bridge, just past the tourist information office). It was first explored in the early 1970s, and was found to have been a shelter for humans in the Paleolithic era. It's now home to some pretty spectacular rock formations.

One wonders how much H.R. Giger explored caves; I often felt like I was on the set of an Alien movie.

This photo should give some idea as to how tall the cave gets at points:

Needless to say, those suffering from claustrophobia and fear of heights might want to gove this a pass (as might those with a large belt size - the walkways get very narrow at points).

Four kilometers down the road from Gosu Cave is Cheondong Cave, which was first discovered in the 1970s.

The warnings that apply to Gosu Cave apply even more to Cheondong Cave, as the passageways at times force you to almost crawl, or to descend stairs backwards. Here's a view of the largest room in the cave:

All in all, a fun way to spend 5,000 won. I'll post more about the rest of the trip in a day or so.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The long history of fusion food in Korea

The first chapter of Robert Neff's book Korea Through Western Eyes tells the story of how Paul Georg von Mollendorff first came to Korea in December 1882 on board the steamship Hingshing. Upon arriving at Chemulpo, it anchored out in the harbor, where the passengers were greeted by different sets of visitors:
Later that evening, the steamship was again visited, this time by the local magistrate who came to pay his respects to the Korean officials. After a private dinner and a meeting with the Korean officials, it was determined that it was impossible for him to return to shore. The winds had increased in force and the strong current prevented boats from approaching the steamer.

For four days the magistrate and his entourage were all confined to the steamer. One observer noted that the Koreans were in no hurry to leave the ship and “in fact they enjoyed heartily our fare, and disposed of beefsteaks, mutton-chops, plum pudding, beer, claret, champagne and coffee with as much relish as any foreigner.” The crew feared running short of mustard because the Koreans ate it on everything.
I had what I thought was not sweet potato pizza but which turned out to indeed be sweet potato pizza the other day (the sweet potato was well hidden under the cheese) and got another nasty surprise: there was an unseen coating of mustard on the pizza. Another time in a hof I ordered nachos and they arrived dripping with mustard.

I think one of the best ways to explain the yuck factor involved in those examples to Korean friends is to whip out a packet or two of ketchup and suggest drizzling it over the kimchi.

Friday, July 16, 2010

More statistics on foreigners in Korea

Those wanting recent (from the last two years or so) immigration statistics should make their way here, as it is the place to find them (hat tip to David Carruth). This page features a file which presents us with this graphic, something I've wanted for a long time - reliable statistics on the number of foreigners in Korea over the years:

Here, are the numbers, with a few more added from other sources:

1980 - 40,519*
1990 - 100,000**
1995 - 269,000**
1997 - 386,972
1998 - 308,339
1999 - 381,116
2000 - 491,324
2001 - 566,835
2002 - 629,006
2003 - 678,687
2004 - 750,873
2005 - 747,476
2006 - 910,149
2007 - 1,066,273
2008 - 1,158,866
2009 - 1,168,477
2010 - 1,261,415
2011 - 1,395,077
2012 - 1,445,103

(*From here. It's said to be only residents (not tourists) and I would guess the figure includes USFK. Korea did not open diplomatic relations with China (from where half of Korea's foreign residents hail from today) until 1992.)
(**From here)

The second-most recent figure, from 2009, comes from here (download the zip file to get excel files - you may night to rename the file to ""). 2008 stats can be found here (scroll down and wait until the download button appears at bottom left).

While I was looking into this, I decided to dig up E-2 visa statistics as well:

2000 - 6,414
2002 - 10,864
2004 - 11,344
2005 - 12,439
2006 - 15,001
2007 - 17,721
2008 - 19,771
2009 - 22,642
2010.6 - 23,600

(from KIS stats, and from here, here, and here.)

I imagine by the end of 2010, the number of E-2 visa-holders will be near 24,000, meaning they will have increased by 12,000 - and doubled - in 5 years. It's interesting to look at the changes in the last year or so:

In the last year, the number of teachers from the U.S. increased by 2,400, rising from 9,381 to 11,762. Canadians, on the other hand, decreased from 5,017 to 4,815, or from 25.4% to 21.3%. Australia also saw a decrease, while the other countries saw slight increases. The other interesting thing to note is that while most countries have far more males teaching in Korea than females, the reverse is true about South Africa, which had 749 female teachers teaching in Korea at the end of 2009, compared to 529 male teachers.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

North Korea releases Cheonan poster

From the Chosun Ilbo:

North Korea has been distributing a propaganda poster apparently boasting about its sinking of the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan in March, Radio Free Asia reported Tuesday. The U.S.-funded radio station based the claim on a poster it obtained from a Chinese businessman just back from a trip to the North.

The poster shows a North Korean soldier's fist smashing the ship into two pieces, accompanied by a slogan saying, "We'll take it down with a single blow if it attacks!"
It's certainly striking, as most North Korean posters are. If reunification happens, one wonders what will happen to those posters. I can imagine a great many people in the south (and likely the north as well) would want nothing more than to burn them at the first opportunity.

On a somewhat-related note, I really wish there was a way to automatically generate text in the font seen on that poster.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The left hand doesn't know...

According to a Joongang Ilbo article titled "Work visas getting easier for teachers,"
The government will ease regulations to exempt foreign language instructors from having to submit documents and update their visas every time they change employers, the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday. Foreigners with E-2 teaching visas will also be allowed to stay longer than allowed at present, the office said.
I'm not sure if the Prime Minister's Office and the Justice Ministry are all that great at communicating. It's not all sunshine, lollipops and rainbows though:
However, the government decided to retain the current system obligating foreign language instructors to get an HIV test, citing a public survey in which the test was supported by 80.7 percent of ordinary citizens.
Well, the propaganda campaign is working, then.

I'm sure Anti-English Spectrum, who are responsible for the negative articles in the media equating foreign English teachers with AIDS, and the Chosun Ilbo family (Sports Chosun, Chosun Ilbo, [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], and Weekly Chosun), as well as other journalists happy to support them, must be thrilled. The article continues:
The measures were decided to help eliminate inconveniences experienced by foreigners while living in South Korea, the office said.

Under the measures expected to go into effect next year, foreigners can join domestic Internet sites by using their foreigner registration number or passport number, it said. [...] Other changes include making more space on government documents for foreigners with long names.
Well, that's nice. Or it will be. Once it happens. This sounds interesting:
[ATEK] will serve as official advisors to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency by providing policy and procedure recommendations as part of the newly established “Foreign Affairs Advisory Committee.”
Perhaps they'll help teach the police force more phrases for dealing with English speakers in Korea. And not for things like we see in the article, such as "I am here to protect you," but important stuff, like, "please give me a urine sample."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

More on the new E-2 regulations

It seems that our favorite Korea Times writer is back on the foreign English teacher beat[down], with yesterday's article about Choi Young-hee and today with an article with the sensationalist title "New drug test plan angers native English teachers," which reveals that "Foreign teachers are up in arms" over the new immigration regulations (which I mentioned yesterday).
The Korean government's move to add new drug tests for an English teaching or E-2 visa is drawing protests from foreign teachers. From this Thursday, those who want to obtain the visa should receive an additional "cannabinoids" drug tests, which detects marijuana, on top of a "TBPE," the Ministry of Justice said.
What this beginning does is set things up to look like teachers are opposed to being tested for marijuana, and that the focus of the new regulations (and the foreign English teacher reaction to them) is on these tests. If you look at the discussion at Dave's ESL cafe, the main concern has been about this, mentioned [sort of] much further down in the article:
In addition, the agency will require English-teacher hopefuls to prove the authenticity of their college degrees, as well as criminal background documents from their governments.
What the article doesn't bring up is that the criminal record checks to be required by immigration will now be federal criminal record checks (by the FBI in the US or the RCMP in Canada), which, while more far reaching (a local check can miss crimes committed in other states, for example), the fact that they take up to four months to receive is of concern. I did enjoy this quote regarding marijuana tests, however:
"Those who habitually use marijuana could stop the drug for a while in order to have negative results on the cannabinoids test. But it would be better than not doing the test," said Yoo Byung-kil, a KIS official. "We will designate more hospitals for the checks."
Well, thank you Mr. Yoo for pointing out that the tests are for symbolic purposes only. This is also interesting:
The immigration agency plans to remove the HIV-AIDS test following advice from international communities that it is discriminative against AIDS patients.
I wonder if that is based on a quote from immigration, or if it's just based on this article from last September in which KIS spokesman Ahn Kyu-seok said, referring to the petition with the Constitutional Court against HIV and drug tests,
"However, if the Constitutional Court rules that making foreign instructors submit documents on HIV tests is unconstitutional, we may have to scrap the requirement," Ahn added.
The lack of a direct quote from immigration makes me wonder how true it is that the "immigration agency plans to remove the HIV-AIDS test." There are also several quotes which reveal foreign English teachers to be "angry" and "up in arms":
"The level of media coverage given to alleged drug crimes and acts of violence by native speaker English teachers seems to be completely disproportionate. We are seldom given reliable statistics concerning actual convictions, and even when these are given, it is clear to see that these apply to a tiny minority of those working as English teachers in this country," said Mike Long of Daegu National University of Education.

"It is little wonder that native speaker English teachers claim there is a xenophobic agenda directed against them when the magnitude of the response of the Korean government, in terms of ever more draconian immigration requirements, simply does not match the actual numbers of cases."

Greg Dolezal, president of the Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK), said, "We also believe strongly that any legislation aimed at protecting children from abuse should be applied equally to all teachers, and should not discriminate based on nationality, race, or any other demographic. [...]

According to recent statistics, there were 23,600 E2 visa holders in Korea at the end of June 2010, Dolezal of ATEK said.

"From Jan 2007 to Aug 2009, 274 English-teaching E2 visa holders were convicted of crimes. This implies a crime rate equivalent to seven-tenths of a percent," he said. "We stand with Korean families, educators, and the law in hoping for impartial justice for all concerned in this situation. We hope, for all concerned, that a fair and thorough investigation follows. We have the utmost faith that even at a time of heightened public attention to sexual abuse cases, a judgment will be reached after an unemotional, logical review of the facts of the case."
I should have warned before posting those quotes that the anger in them might be contagious. As for "an unemotional, logical review of the facts of the case," I think it's pretty clear the quote was sent over email, because it would be hard to get through it with a straight face when speaking. One for reason for saying this is this section of the article:
Immigration officials said that a bill proposed by Rep. Choi Young-hee, would further help to reduce crimes by foreign English teachers, once it is passed at the National Assembly.

The bill seeks to obligate all native English teachers, whether they are ethnic Koreans or not, to present criminal and drug test results that were issued less than one month prior to them landing a teaching position.
Nothing chuckleworthy there, but read on. As I noted about the bills (introduced last June) here, Bill 5062 applies to private institutes, Bill 5064 applies to elementary and secondary schools, and Bill 5065 applies to kindergartens. All require “native English teachers” hired to teach English to “receive criminal record checks, medical records including a test for marijuana and [hard] drug tests, and academic credential verification.” Nothing is said there about checks being "issued less than one month prior."

Also, the term “native English teachers” (원어민교사), and not specifically E-2 visa holders is used in the bills. When an aide of Choi Young-hee talked to Ben Wagner last June, he said the bill applies only to E-2 visa holders, but now the Times is saying that the bills apply to "all native English teachers, whether they are ethnic Koreans or not." Choi's aide also told Wagner that the criminal background checks called for in the bills are national (as in, Korean) criminal checks. “The Aide said this is to prevent foreigners with criminal records from getting a job.”

Now, Choi has been consistent on the issue of protecting children from sex crimes. At the time the three bills for native-speaking English teachers were introduced last June, five bills aimed at Korean teachers were also introduced, and it was Choi who, in the wake of the Na-yeong incident, released these statistics about sex crimes by Korean school teachers (via Brian in Jeollanam-do):
A total of 124 sexual crimes involving elementary and secondary school teachers were reported to the education authorities between 2006 and 2009. Among them, 47 involved prostitution, 43 were sexual harassment and five were rape cases.

However, only eight teachers (6 percent) were given prison sentences, while 31 were not indicted and 28 received suspended sentences.
Her office also told Wagner that she considered the HIV tests to be discriminatory and did not include them in the bills (though that's not what the Korea Times reported). On the other hand, the reasoning behind the 3 bills related to foreign English teachers has no reliable statistics to back it up. As Ben Wagner described it last year,
I pressed for stats for the statements [in the bills' statement of purpose] "At the same time, however, the crime rate among native English teachers is getting higher,” and "Furthermore, there are native English speakers who have committed crimes in Korea and expelled from Korea for those crimes, yet these native English speakers are being rehired as English teacher in Korea a few years after their expulsion from the country."

Sadly, they don't have them. The aide mentioned some police reports of crimes they had received in regards to first statement, but just of crimes, not of an increase. For the second quote I was told they'd seen a newspaper story (no I'm not kidding). He didn't remember the title or where they saw it.
As well, when Choi did interviews to promote the bills last year, she announced that immigration had lost 22,000 teachers, but had used the wrong statistics, and never corrected her error. Instead of "an unemotional, logical review of the facts of the case," Choi's office used incorrect statistics, offered no evidence that "the crime rate among native English teachers is getting higher," and said something akin to 'I think I read it somewhere,' when asked for statistics regarding foreign teachers convicted of crimes being rehired - which are the main rationale (if you could call it that) behind the bills. Call me "angry," or "up in arms," but it's hard to get behind a bill like this when those who wrote it are unable to back up their reasons for it at all.

Also worth reading is Brian's post on all of this.

Monday, July 12, 2010

E-2 visa regulations to be strengthened further?

This is being discussed at Dave's ESL Cafe.

Original Post:

I won't have time to translate this for a few days, I imagine, but NoCut News is reporting as of July 15, the Justice Ministry will strengthen E-2 visa regulations (again), and that perhaps marijuana tests and strengthened criminal record checks are on the way (AES should be thrilled, having petitioned the Justice ministry for years to do pot tests). The article mentions the recent Daegu molestation case, recent drug busts, and the fact that a Korean American wanted for murder taught here. Problem is, how do changes to E-2 visa issuance apply to Korean citizens?
After Interpol located R in Korea, U.S. investigators asked the Korean government to extradite him. However, because R has dual citizenship, he had been able to change his name in a Korean court and couldn’t be traced.
This isn't much different than changing E-2 visa rules in response to the Christopher Paul Neil case, even though he wasn't on an E-2 visa. The article also mentions the stats that Lee Gun-hyeon released last September, but says they were released by the Education Ministry. Odd. This Korea Times article about Choi Young-hee pushing to pass her foreign English teacher bills says the stats came from the National Police Agency:
Referring to data from the National Policy Agency, Choi said the number of foreign English teachers, caught for theft, drug, violence and rape, reached 274 over the past three years.
They were arrested for other crimes as well, but its best just to mention the most sensational ones. Not sure if it's Choi or Kang Shin-who who's responsible for that. And why not compare the crime rates of Koreans and foreign English teachers these stats provide? Perhaps because pointing out the foreign English teacher crime rate is 5 times less than the Korean crime rate might not help make a case against them? Choi has been calling for her bills to be passed for some time. The things she's calling for in Kang's article, however, don't seem all that related to her bills (criminal record checks issued within one month of applying for a job, for example).

As for the upcoming changes, we'll just have to wait and see. It seems the No Cut News article is the only article about it so far.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Sex crimes against children put under a microscope by the media

CCTV shot of the suspect. (From here).

Police have made public an image taken from CCTV of a man suspected of raping a 7 year-old girl on June 26 in Dongdaemun. As the Joongang Ilbo describes it,
The suspect, who is assumed to be in his 30’s, allegedly found the girl playing in the street by herself in her neighborhood in Jangan, Seoul, at around 12:30 p.m. and approached her on his motorcycle saying, “Let’s go play at your house.” After raping the girl, the man took off on his motorcycle with roughly $200 worth of gold rings and 10,000 won in cash he found in the apartment. The girl was later found crying outside the apartment by a neighbor, who called her mother. The girl’s father was the first to arrive on the scene and called the police at 1:04 p.m.

Police at the Dongdaemun precinct said the girl was brought to a hospital an hour after they received the father’s call, but she did not require surgery. The victim was born in Vietnam. Her parents came to the country five years ago and have been residing and working in Korea since.
On June 30,
Dongdaemun police doubled the reward for useful information to 10 million won ($8,150) and printed out an additional 50,000 posters with the suspect’s composite sketch, based on a description by the young victim, to distribute nationwide after 16,000 were distributed in the Seoul area.
The fact that the national police agency was not made aware of the case, and that the national police commissioner learned of it through media reports has been examined as an example of disorganization among the NPA.

This is just one of many rape or molestation cases involving children which has been in the media lately. In early June, an 8 year old girl was snatched from a school near Yeongdeungpo Station and raped, resulting in an outcry which led to the passing of a bill allowing chemical castration last week.

On June 25, a Busan court handed down a death sentence to Kim Kil-tae, who raped and murdered Lee Yu-ri in February. Much more needs to be said about the Yeongdeungpo and Busan cases, but that will have to wait.

Last week,
A 60-year-old man accused of molesting two sisters, aged 9 and 10, for nearly a year has been acquitted by the Seoul Western District Court, which ruled that he was mentally unsound.[...] According to the girls, Noh fondled their chests and legs in a narrow alley on their way home from school, at least twice a month - over 30 times in total - starting in July 2009. Noh initially told the police after his arrest, “I could not help myself.”
On July 1, another rape occurred in Daegu:
Police in Daegu, about 300 kilometers southeast of Seoul, said Friday that a massive manhunt was underway for a man suspected of raping a 13-year-old girl at her home in broad daylight.

The suspect, believed to be in his late teens or early 20s, broke into the girl's house, where she was staying alone after school, Thursday afternoon and raped her, according to officials at Dalseo Police Station.
On Wednesday it became known that an American English teacher at a school in Daegu had been accused of molesting several male students, but fled the country before he could be arrested.

Another case that came to light at the same time took place in Gwangju, where a 50 year old elementary school teacher was suspended from work after 5 students came forward saying they had been molested by the teacher, with police seeking an arrest warrant for the man.

While it may seem like Korea has been beset by an incredible number of sex crimes against children over the past month, this editorial is revealing:
With this latest in the recent series of sexual assaults of young girls, we have pushed another innocent girl into an insurmountable ordeal by ignoring the ardent appeals of those who have been victimized before her.

According to statistics, 1,017 children under the age of 12 and 1,447 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 experienced sexual violence in the last year alone. [Emphasis added]
I found that comment about the "recent series" of sexual assaults interesting, especially considering the statistics in the next paragraph. Put simply, if 1,017 children and 1,447 teens (between 13 and 15) are victims of sex crimes every year, that adds up to 3 children and 4 teens between 13 and 15 being victimized every day (on average). There is not a "recent series" of such sexual crimes - this is always happening. It's just that the media has decided - as it does whenever a particular case angers people - to highlight these cases, which would usually either not be covered or covered by perhaps only one or two media outlets, and which are now linked together in articles in order to point to a great problem that exists. To be sure, there have been several laws passed since the murder of Lee Yu-ri in March (and the Yeongdeungpo case in June), and it's great that the issue has finally gotten enough attention to get things moving (see here for a brief history of the slow pace of change since 2006). I'm not entirely sure that the solutions being offered are always the best ideas, however, and public fury (and worry) whipped up by this media coverage may be putting pressure on politicians to act first and think later. I'll save a more in-depth look at this for a later post.

English teacher in Jeju fined for importing pot seeds

K, the American elementary school teacher in Jeju-do who was arrested for smuggling 44 marijuana seeds into the country (via international mail, ordered from a UK website) has been fined 5 million won.

According to Jeju-ui Sori and the Jeju Ilbo, K's lawyer argued that K had not been aware that possession of marijuana seeds was a crime in Korea, but considering that K had ordered the package using a different name and then hid the seeds in a flag affixed to his ceiling, which made it difficult for police to find them, the judge decided that K had indeed been aware of the illegality of his actions. In sentencing, the judge took into consideration the fact that K had no previous criminal record, and had reflected on his actions.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

The fraction faction

Here's another article by James Wade. I'm sure the political scene has changed a great deal since 1963, of course.

Foreign English teacher flees molestation charges


Korea Beat has translated an article about the case.

Original Post:

Via the Marmot's Hole, a 55 year old American teaching English at an Elementary school in Daegu was to be charged for molesting four male grade 6 students but, as Yonhap reports, he fled the country via Gimhae airport for Japan at 10:27, two and half hours before the Ministry of Justice requested a travel ban (or before said ban was to take effect). As noted at the Marmot's Hole (and reported by YTN),
Two boys in 6th grade say that the teacher locked the door during school time and took their clothes off and touched them. There have been previous incidents when other children came forward and told their home room teacher that he had put them on his lap and put his hands down their shorts, but the English teacher denied it.
The late response of both the school and the police is being criticized, especially because the school didn’t take the charges of sexual abuses seriously and tried to cover it up. That they tried to cover it up shouldn't be that shocking, especially considering what happened in Daegu two years ago.

This is the fifth case of a foreign English teacher molesting students in Korea that I've been able to find in the media. The other four cases (which actually involved police investigations (one of which was dropped)), taken from here, are as follows:

On October 12, 2007 the Maeil Gyeongje, Kookmin Ilbo, YTN, NoCut News Newsis, and Kyunghyang Shinmun and two other internet news outlets reported that a 24 year-old American English teacher had been booked but not detained for molesting a six year old student at the Seoul hagwon where he worked on September 19. He strongly denied it, but CCTV video was entered as evidence.

This January 17, 2008 NoCut News, Segye Ilbo and Yonhap and two other online news outlets reported that a 39 year-old teacher from New Zealand teaching at a hagwon in Haeundae in Busan had been arrested for regularly putting his hands down the pants of a seven year-old girl during class time. As per the Marmot, "According to police, the Kiwi, identified as “T,” moved the alleged victim’s chair to a corner of the classroom so he could molest her without the other children in the class knowing."

An April 25, 2008 Kyunghyang Shinmun article reported that on March 18 a 32 year-old Canadian teacher at 'S' hagwon in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon molested a 9 year old student in the classroom. He confessed after seeing CCTV footage and, saying he did it accidentally after drinking too much makkeolli, and appealed for mercy. As he was working on a tourist visa, his hagwon was fined 4 million won for hiring him.

The most reported case of molestation was when a Canadian teacher was investigated, and then arrested for molesting students at a district office-run foreign language program. On January 14 and 15, 2009, YTN, Maeil Gyeongje, Financial News,the Kookmin Ilbo and six other online news outlets reported on a 41 year-old Canadian teacher being investigated on allegations of molesting three 8 year old girls at a citizens' center in Seong-dong in Seoul the previous October. On February 12, Yonhap, YTN and NoCut News reported that a warrant had been issued for his arrest. This comment may be worth reading.

As it turns out, this is one rare case where the outcome is known. This KBS news report from early July titled "'Out of Control Foreigner English Teacher' Teaches Class while High and Commits Sexual Molestation" reveals that:
in Seoul a native speaking teacher working for a district office-run foreign language program was indicted for molesting a grade one elementary school student under his care in December but last week was cleared for lack of evidence.
The YTN article about this most recent case ended by connecting it to other recent rape cases which occurred at school (or where the victim was snatched from a school).