Wednesday, August 18, 2010

High Kick Indeed!

I've been struck by the 'solution' to problem foreign English teachers that has popped up in media in recent years - only to realize it goes back farther than just the past few years. It's worth remembering the summaries of the following episodes of MBC's Chief Investigator, such as the December 8, 1983 espisode "American Dream":
"Richard, a young American in his twenties, ends up staying in Korea working as a teacher at an English hagwon after entering the country on a tourist visa. Hwa-suk, who dreams of marrying a foreigner, learns English conversation from Richard and late one night on his way to her house he is murdered in an alley. Trying to pinpoint a suspect, the investigation team learns the fact that at the time of the murder Hwa-suk's ex-boyfriend Seok-gi was waiting for her at a nearby tea house."
On September 27, 1984, another episode was to be broadcast about illegal foreign teachers, but was canceled:
"Seoul Wind" was about the social problem that has recently come to light of the illegal employment of unqualified foreigners on temporary stays, and featured French youth ‘Pierre’, who is attacked in a dark alley at night after entering Korea on a tourist visa, conning his way into working as a French language teacher in a private school, and becoming part of a love triangle between a female university student who blindly follows him, and her boyfriend.
So, one show features the beating of a foreign teacher, the other the murder of an English teacher. There don't seem to be any happy endings. Note that 1983 episode was broadcast less than a month after a bill was passed 'banning' foreigners from working in hagwons (as translated in the second half of this post), much as the later (unaired) episode was to come out a week after the new laws banning foreigners from teaching private lessons were announced.

After the English Spectrum 'scandal' occurred 2005, a few shows about foreign teachers were broadcast. Most notorious is of course the February 2005 broadcast of the SBS 'news' program '그것이 알고싶다,' or, 'I want to know that,' the producers of which decided the best way to open a program about foreign English teachers would be to take the worst thing ever written by one on the internet and re-enact it:

I took a closer look at that episode here, and this is how the Chosun Ilbo reported on it at the time:
The report, entitled "Is Korea their Paradise? Report on the Real Conditions of Blond-haired, Blue-eyed Teachers," reveals that teachers at some language schools engage in sexual relations with middle and high school students and offer their students marijuana. It says some teachers use fake academic records to get jobs with local private language schools, universities and businesses. The show includes fresh explosive comments by foreign teachers like, "I think only 5 percent of foreign English teachers in Korea are qualified," "Korean women are the easiest women to get into bed," and "I think of Korea as a big cash machine."

Immediately after the broadcast, the bulletin board on the program's website was flooded with over 1,000 furious posts. "I was so infuriated after the broadcast that I couldn't sleep," one read. "I'm frightened to send my children to an English academy," read another.
Some comments didn't get translated above, such as "Let's attack foreigners living in Korea."

There's also a 2007 episode of Pandora's Box which communicated some valuable information to its viewers:

"Illegal foreign instructors are violating Korean women!!!"

A few months later, Christopher Paul Neil was found to have taught in Korea, and reports like this one by MBC were broadcast:

Some of the editorial responses were translated over at the Marmot's Hole, such as an October 18, 2007 Seoul Shinmun editorial :
[W]e really can’t help but worry whether Korea will become a “paradise for criminals from English speaking nations.”
This from a JoongAng Ilbo editorial:
The insecurity of school parents concerning native speaker teachers and instructors is growing by the day. This is because the teachers’ shameless crimes are growing. […] There must be even more crimes that have yet to be revealed. It’s time to hurry and formulate measures.
The justice ministry soon revealed that new measures were on the way (originally translated here):
No more illegal native speaking conversation teachers

- The verification of native speaking conversation teachers’ qualifications and management of their residence here will be strengthened to [...] eradicate illegal activity by native speaking conversation instructors, who have caused social problems such as unqualified teach[ing], taking drugs, and sex crimes. [...] To prevent illegal conversation teaching and illegal activity by conversation instructors such as drug use and molestation, a concerted crackdown on illegal conversation teaching will be continuously and systematically implemented, and foreigners who are caught will be deported. At the same time, steps will be taken to regulate the entry of foreign teachers into the country [...] in order to prevent native speaking conversation instructors who arouse public criticism through their drug taking, molestation, and alcoholism from living in Korea.

It is expected the unease of citizens caused by unqualified conversation instructors will be largely resolved by t
he Ministry of Justice's recent measures regarding conversation teachers. These measures will make it possible to block illegal conversation teachers who acquire visas using forged documents, drug users and those with criminal records from entering Korea and will stop unqualified conversation instructors who have entered the country without visas from teaching conversation illegally.
Problem solved, I guess. And no one needed to be attacked. Still, a few months later, in April 2008, the first episode of soft-porn late night TV show Sexy Mong Returns was given this description:
The first episode of “Sexy Mong Returns,” a four-part series to run every Wednesday and Thursday starting from April 23, is already drawing attention as its deals with an episode involving sexual assault by foreign English teachers, something that has been a social issue for some time.

I looked at this episode in more depth here. Message: It's okay to headbutt the foreign teacher (or at least the white guy speaking English) who's groping a Korean girl, even if she's his girlfriend.

I looked at the movie Bandhobi a few months ago, which is about the relationship between a Korean high school girl and a Bangladeshi migrant worker, and which also involves a leering English teacher who the high school girl essentially attacks. Here are the pertinent scenes:

Message: It's okay to squeeze the balls of the foreign teacher (or at least the white guy speaking English). One shudders to imagine the response if he had done the same thing to her.

When I wrote the post about Bandhobi, I thought of this post at AES, in which they suggest that you kick and send flying the foreign teacher who tries to molest you.

As it turns out, this wasn't a bad idea. The following scene (which practically writes itself!) is from High Kick 2 (지분뚫고 하이킥), a series which was written about in depth at the Joshing Gnome (here and here), and first linked to at the Marmot's Hole (the link is now dead).

Granted, he's not an English teacher, but again we see the white guy speaking English hitting on a Korean girl attacked in some way (and threatened with death). Oddly enough, the English teacher in Bandhobi was played by Jean-Sebastian Bressy, who is French, while the guy working at the bakery was played by Pierre Deporte, who also appeared in Tamra the Island, where he got to work with Seo Woo.

No wonder the guy wanted to kick him. It's rather odd, though, that we have French actors in the last two examples, and a TV episode from 1984 which appeared after weeks of negative articles about foreign teachers in which a shifty French guy teaching in Korea was attacked in an alley. Obviously, things have changed since 1984. Back then, the shows depicted white guys teaching (or speaking) English getting attacked in alleys; now they're depicted being attacked in public.

The collage of newspaper cartoons depicting foreign teachers I posted awhile ago didn't quite seem complete without the underlying message added in North Korean font:

Needs some work, but not bad for a first try, I thought. On the topic, this article about typefaces and fonts might be of interest.


Unknown said...

It looks like there's some more fuel for the fire too, from our favorite reporter:

It was also in some of the Korean newspapers, although I haven't seen it in either the Herald or the Joongang Daily.

Perhaps it's an Othello/Frankenstein situation wherein the 'monster' has simply taken on the identity that society has assigned him?

Darth Babaganoosh said...

So... after how many years and however many articles accusing us of doing all these terrible things, is this the first conviction?

(the other 6-7 examples I know of, the accusations never convicted anyone)

BTW, what EXACTLY is "sexual harassment" in this particular case? I don't trust Korean translations when it comes to words like this.

matt said...

There was one case from before 2002 which was mentioned when the IDs of people who had committed sex crimes against children were posted online (an American teacher who tried to rape one of his students). There weren't really any details though other than that brief mention - this is the first report with details of a conviction. There are 16 articles about it at Naver right now.

18 months..... He was let off pretty easily.

brent said...

If his information is available to be made public, why didn't they report his name and such?

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Because Kang is playing at being coy.

Anonymous said...

awesome prop poster. printing up flyers for distribution now. when do the t-shirts come out?

and (channeling "John") foreigner, you had better realize the 민족 are not only 순수한 혈통 but are also 순수한!

Unknown said...

korean girls love the western peen ;D

MrSwirlChristopher said...

Yeah, those nutjobs make us, normal English teachers, look bad. But they are everywhere. I have lost count of the amount of people I have met who just don't belong in Korea. The only thing that they do is to drink as much as soju they can, and then they often go to work hung over, in other words extend the life of student for as many as years possible in Korea. They take as little pride and show as little interest as there is to the job that they are here to do. I guess it naturally leads to all these incidents of breaking the laws and stirring up local people.