Monday, February 28, 2011

Translation of the KNN report

As Robert posted over at the Marmot's Hole, on Thursday, February 24th, KNN did a report on the death of another English teacher on the same day the teacher jumped to his death in Busan. I just thought I'd translate it for comparison with the other articles:

The death of a native speaking instructor


On Sunday two Native speaking instructors died one after the other.

It seems they died from excessive drinking, and it's been pointed out that there is a problem with the hiring of native speaking instructors.

Jang Hyun-ju reports.

This is the Busan Donghae Nambu railway line.

At about 5:50 am 40 year old Canadian English instructor A was hit by a Saemaeul train and killed.

A was set to begin teaching teach classes at a university in Daegu when the new semester begins next month.

School official: "He was hired on September 1, 2009. Right now the classes are being put in place and by March 1 the class schedule will be completely organized."

Police said A usually drank a lot and that the accident occurred after laying down on the tracks while drunk.

On the 19th 32 year old native speaking instructor B died after jumping from a hallway on the 14th floor of an apartment building in Millak-dong in Busan.

Police reported that B killed himself while drinking.

Before this it was known that B was a severe alcoholic and caused a scene while drunk at Gimhae Airport.

It's been pointed out that loopholes in the foreign instructor recruiting process have been exposed through the deaths of native speaking teachers like these.

In 2008 mandatory criminal record checks were implemented for the recruitment of foreign instructors.

However, it's not possible to identify mental illness or drug addiction, and problems caused by native speaking teachers are still occurring.
Most of this article references these two articles about the teacher who jumped to his death, including the incorrect assertion that the visa regulations changed in 2008 (it was December 2007). Also, the sentence "Before this it was known that B was a severe alcoholic" most certainly refers to the Busan Ilbo articles, which I had to question as to whether the reporter actually interviewed people who knew him or not. Not mentioned in the written transcript above was the interview with Kim Jeong-suk, policy department head for the Busan branch of the National Association of Parents for True Education, who also appeared in the first Busan Ilbo article.

After the Quincy Black incident there were calls to determine the 'ethical standards' of potential foreign teachers - perhaps these can be added to the inevitable mental health and drug and alcohol addiction screening. Something worth investigating is what kind of screening Korean teachers go through. There would be nothing wrong with applying similar standards to foreign teachers, though you have to wonder what the point would be if it's just a questionnaire where you check a yes or no box, which is what's in place now for public schools.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

"One can only be aghast" that a suicidal drunk was teaching children

As I mentioned, the Busan Ilbo published an editorial yesterday, a day after publishing a tasteful article about how education is being crippled by native speaking instructors who break their contracts by killing themselves.
[Editorial] The victims of native speaking instructor 'luck of the draw recruiting' are only students

On the 19th an American English hagwon instructor took his own life while drunk. It's become known that the dead instructor had received treatment for alcoholism for some years. He also, while drunk and in Korea, behaved indecently in public and caused a disturbance in a public institution. One can only be aghast that such a person was working as a native speaking teacher.

Criminal acts and various scandals by native speaking teachers are nothing new. The various crimes that we know of up to now include assault, child molestation, sexual assault and, of course, taking and selling drugs, Their crime rate has also increased each year. In particular, of 95 foreigners caught for smuggling last year, 28 were native speaking instructors. Among these are also instructors who were deported from the US for gang activity and afterward were arrested for distributing drugs here.

Due to the demand for native speaking teachers, the number of teachers in elementary schools and hagwons increases every day. However, the verifying of qualifications and management and supervision of native speaking instructors are still riddled with loopholes. This is because it's not practical for schools or hagwons to verify qualifications themselves. While instructors do get interviewed by hagwons, it is extremely limited time-wise and indirect, and it's difficult to determine if they have a criminal background. According to a health center, the current employment health exam cannot also determine drug or alcohol addiction. It's become known that the dead instructor's criminal background was clean, and there were no problems on the health center employment health exam.

Every time native speaking instructor crime is exposed, amending relevant laws or strengthening the management and supervision of instructors are suggested, but there have been no improvements. Even with amendments to laws which make it mandatory for native speaking instructor to submit criminal background checks, medical reports including a drug exam and academic degrees, we are still at a loss. In the end, it is our students who suffer due to the haphazard hiring of native speaking instructors. The structural weaknesses of the management and supervision system which allows potential criminals such as fugitives and convicts work as instructors must be fixed at all costs.
Perhaps a better title for the post would have been "Dead foreign teacher returns to work as zombie, eats students' brains; more scrutiny needed during hiring process to prevent potential zombies from working as teachers."

It's interesting that the perpetual studying needed by Koreans to reach a 'native speaker level' of English (perpetual because it can never be reached) is mirrored by a perpetual need to 'improve' the foreign teacher recruitment system due to westerners' unique potential for criminality and moral laxity. I like the bit about the "various crimes that we know of" - there are always more to be uncovered, especially since there are hidden crimes.

It's not surprising that no mention was made of the 'deferment period' suggested yesterday that would allow time (presumably) for psychological evaluations of potential teachers; hagwon owners would fight it tooth and nail. But seeing as it was the policy department head for the Busan branch of the National Association of Parents for True Education who suggested it, it would seem the idea of subjecting foreign teachers to further scrutiny is an attractive one to some people.

It's also ironic that this story came to light at the same time Blackout Korea was discovered by Koreans (leading, unsurprisingly, to this anti-teacher blog, which is at least honest in its url about what it wants). Whatever one thinks of Blackout Korea, it does remind one that Korea is probably one of the last places you'd want to be if you were a recovering alcoholic, considering the availability of cheap alcohol which can be purchased at any time, something which may have played some part in the demise of the teacher.

As always, it's pretty shoddy 'journalism.' The crime rate is climbing; no statistics are needed to prove this, since we 'know' it must be. It's "difficult to determine if they have a criminal background" - especially when criminal record checks are not required for non-E-2 visa holders working in hagwons, but the number of articles dealing with foreign teachers with 'F-2' or 'F-4' in them can likely be counted on one hand. Criminals deported from the US are obviously not US citizens (and Ronald Rhee, the wanted murderer arrested last March, was a Korean citizen) and hence not subject to any foreign criminal record checks. Since the editorial brought Rhee up, here was the Donga Ilbo's depiction of him at that time:

Why hasn't the Busan Ilbo made a similar cartoon for this case? At any rate, the paper continues its tasteful reporting by telling us that the 'dead teacher,' who 'took his own life while drunk,' also "behaved indecently in public." That's their way of describing the fact that he took off most of his clothes in the hallway of the apartment building before leaping to his death. I wonder if a search through their archives will turn up an editorial telling people not to leave trash in parks and forests after Roh Moo-hyun threw himself off a mountain.

Back to Rhee and his ilk. There have been three wanted murderers caught working as foreign teachers in Korea. Each time they were caught, more talk of strengthening the E-2 visa was generated, with nary a mention that two of the three were Korean citizens and another was (likely) on an F-4 visa. The fact remains that neither the media nor authorities suggested doing anything or actually did anything that might actually prevent this in the future, which makes the 'we have to protect the children' mantra sound pretty empty, serving only as a cover for race-based fear-mongering.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Perhaps I was wrong to suspect ill intentions while reading the sensationalist headlines describing the suicide of the foreign teacher in Busan. Then again, perhaps not, considering this article brought to us yesterday by reporter Gwon Sang-guk at the Busan Ilbo:
[News Follow-up] Severe Alcoholic Openly Teaches Students
Unbelievable Native Speaking Teacher Employment System

At 6pm on the 19th native speaking teacher B (32) was found dead after jumping naked from the waist down from an apartment in Millak-dong in Busan.

Police said that according to the apartment watchman and other sources, B threw off his pants in the hallway on the 14th floor and then threw himself [out of the building]. CCTV also caught him alone in the elevator with a soju bottle.

Before this on the 14th at Gimhae Airport B wanted to go home without a ticket and caused a disturbance. At this time he was also drunk.

Why did the native speaking teacher jump to his death?

American B entered the country in December after receiving a visa to work as a native speaking teacher in Busan. At the apartment he jumped from, he was known to acquaintances who lived there. After receiving his pay at the hagwon on the 15th, he caused problems such as being absent without leave, and left the 'one room' he had lived at until then to stay in a motel. Police said he drank alcohol in the nearby Gwanganni area the day he died and are trying to determine precisely what led to his death.

The hagwon said B already had almost 2 years experience working as a native speaking teacher in Gyeonggi-do and a clean criminal record.

Through the health center it was found that a employment health exam had been completed. The hagwon said, "He was a big person and normally had an outgoing personality so we can't imagine him doing something like this."

But acquaintances in the native speaking teacher community knew B differently. In New York, where he lived for some years, he received treatment for severe alcoholism, and at the time he entered Korea he had not fully recovered. A severe alcoholic who caused a disturbance in a public facility and jumped to his death worked as a teacher and openly taught students in Korea.

Native speaking instructor recruiting is full of loopholes

Due to increased demand for native speaking instructors and economic difficulties in North America, the number of foreigners wanting to come to Korea has grown. Loopholes in the native speaking instructor employment process persist, however.

After frequent incidents, in 2008 there was a trend towards strengthening screening such as instituting criminal record checks, but checking for drug or alcohol addiction is a blind spot that remains neglected. Education is being crippled by native speaking instructors who are frequently absent, or who unilaterally break contracts.

Kim Jeong-suk, policy department head for the Busan branch of the National Association of Parents for True Education said, "At this time in the area of education there are many saying only that native speaking instructors are needed but there is little effort to make real teachers" and, "It's urgent a system be established in which there is a certain deferment period allowing for verification and administration instead of hiring them immediately after registration due to instructor supply and demand, which is said to be an issue."

A hagwon official explained that teachers must go through a phone or video interview, but with such a short and indirect interview the danger of potential incidents by them cannot be completely ruled out. As one hagwon official put it, "When hagwon owners gather, they all complain, "When recruiting native speaking teachers, it's the luck of the draw,"" and, "It's unreal that there are more than 12 kinds of academic and other background documents. Hagwons can take desperate measures like hiring gyopos or hiring directly without going through agencies, but there are no reliable alternatives."

Health authorities also said, "As employment health exams provided by health centers are limited to checking for contagious diseases like AIDS, TB or Hepatitis, it's not possible to determine drug or alcohol addiction."

Meanwhile, due to this incident, Busan's native speaking teacher community is not hiding its troubled mood. There's a worry that instructors who work diligently in hagwons might also be caught up in a witch hunt. On the 21st, ATEK released a statement to its members and the mood is easing. ATEK said, " whoever's fault this situation is, one can not help regret it" and "We want to help foreigners experiencing social adjustment or contractual difficulties at any time."
It's always nice to see articles that cover genuine concerns about foreigners in Korea but are written in such a mature, sensitive way so as to not cause any offense. Or it would be nice to see them, I mean. I'm also impressed by the health center that gave out information about one of its patients, and by the reporter whose English was good enough to interview the acquaintances of the deceased so as to help paint the deceased as a chronic alcoholic and have a jumping off point to criticize the foreign teacher recruitment system (a brave new topic!). Still, considering how messed up his 'quote' of the ATEK release is (compare here), I have some doubts about his English ability. I also like the bit about the foreign teacher community being worried about a backlash. No one has said a word about a backlash as far as I know, because, despite the record of the Korean press, I doubt anyone would have believed a newspaper would sink so low as to use the corpse of a suicide as a soapbox for more (and more!) xenophobia. How wonderful to be disappointed.

I'm starting to get this robot thing, though. I really am. Since it's clear that its expected for foreigners in Korea to have no failings whatsoever - ie. to not be human - robots make a lot of sense. Just think about English teacher robots: no AIDS, no 'crippling education' through absences, and they "won't complain about health insurance, sick leave and severance packages" - the benefits are endless. And why stop at English teachers? Why not make industrial robots that won't complain when they when they don't get paid or lose limbs in machines or when they go blind from being locked in tiny rooms with toxic substances? They'll be legal as well, so no more foreigners who have the nerve to fall to their deaths while running from immigration officers. And what about all these projected problems from wives imported from southeast Asia? I mean, sure, it'll push the Korean robotics industry to the limit to create a viable sexbot that can also cook Korean food correctly, but I'm sure the latter capability can be replaced with the ability to survive ten-story falls. Just imagining such a blissful future is sure to bring tears to the eyes of the editors at the Busan Ilbo. Or maybe those would be due to sandpaper-dildo sodomizing I'm wishing upon them. So hard to tell...

Oh... wait...

The Busan Ilbo has also graced us with an editorial about foreign teachers!

I'll save that for tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


These children look rather cheerful considering
they're at school during spring vacation.

According to the Joongang Ilbo, yet another type of robot teacher has been deployed at Howon Elementary school in Ansan Anyang, named 'Robosem,' an incorrect Romanization of '로보샘,' short, of course, for '로봇 선생님.' (By the way, how old is that contraction of 선생님? It seems pretty recent to me, but I may well be wrong.) At any rate, I hope getting rid of foreign teachers by taking their jobs is the only thing they're being designed for... and that the day they're deployed, fully armed, into Haebangchon never comes.

On the prowl

The Joongang Ilbo posted a few photos of a salk (wild cat) in Changwon with a duck. I've still never actually seen one before.

On the topic of animals, national assembly reps have provided statistics that prove wild boar incursions are on the increase:
Members of the National 119 Rescue Service were sent to capture or kill wild boars 103 times in 2006, but the number has gradually increased to reach 384 in 2010, according to Rep. Ahn Hyoung-hwan of the governing Grand National Party. [...]

Gyeonggi Province posted the most reports with 227, followed by South Gyeongsang Province with 175, North Gyeongsang Province with 148 and Seoul with 41.
I've posted on boars a few times before, and as a public service, I'll remind readers that an article five years ago
advised people not to run away or shout when they are faced with a boar on the street, adding that they should look straight into the boar’s eyes and promptly hide behind rocks or trees.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Reports on the suicide of a foreign teacher in Busan

As has been discussed online here and here, on Sunday morning Yonhap published the following report:
Foreign Hagwon Teacher Commits Suicide by Jumping Naked from the Waist Down

At 6pm on February 19th a security guard at an apartment in Millak-dong, Suyeong-gu, Busan informed police that he had discovered the body of American English hagwon teacher K (31), who had jumped from the 14th floor.

K removed his pants (and was naked from the waist down) and threw himself out a window of the apartment building, having covered his face with his shirt/top before jumping.

Police revealed that K had not been to work since receiving his monthly salary on the 15th, after having been handed over to someone connected with the hagwon the day before because he had been drinking and causing a scene at Gimhae Airport.

As there were empty soju bottles in his apartment and the place where he jumped, police are investigating the exact details and whether he might have waited until the soju was finished to jump.
There are 18 Korean-language articles about this online, and all but two mention in the title the fact that he was naked from the waist down, some adding words like 'shocking' or 'why?' to the title. Of the two that didn't mention that detail, one (by Newsis) was titled "Drunk Foreign English Teacher in his 30s Jumps from Apartment Building." Classy. Not to be outdone by Newsis, however, was the Seoul Sinmun, which published two reports. One in its Society section, and the other... well, here's the Naver search result:

외국인 학원강사, 하의 벗고 투신자살
서울신문 연예 2011.02.20 (일) 오후 1:42

Yes indeed... the entertainment section.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The influence of the Peace Corps on English teaching in Korea

In 1966 the first contingent of over 80 Peace Corps volunteers was sent to Korea to teach English in high schools across the country. On July 20, 1968, Stars and Stripes reflected on their achievements:
Paved Way for Other Volunteers
Hail Peace Corps Work in Korea

S&S Korea Bureau

SEOUL — The initial group of U.S. Peace Corps men, who cleared the way for other volunteers in Korea two years ago, is now leaving but an indelible mark on the nation's English education etched by their efforts remains.

About 70 are going back to America as their duty tours expire, while 14 have elected to stay on for an extra six months to a year, according to Loren Cox, acting director of South Korea's branch of the Peace Corps.

Peace Corps I — as officials designated the first group to distinguish them from five others that have followed — made its biggest impact by paving paths for future Peace Corps programs and emphasizing other areas where efforts could be made in Korea, Cox said.

"When they arrived here we put them mostly in Korean high schools teaching English," Cox said, "but then we found out they could be far more Valuable in middle schools (junior highs) where the groundwork for the English language is first laid."

Most Peace Corps I members — requested by the Korean Ministry of Education to teach English — went about subtly remolding English teaching in their schools by stressing methodology, English competancy among Korean teachers and the active nature of the language.

Charles Goldberg, of Philadelphia, set up an English language workshop along with 36 other Peace Corps volunteers in two central provinces to assist Korean teachers who, he said, have a tendency to portray English as a "mystic cryptogram" to their students.

Over-all, there are now about 250 Peace Corps members — one-third of them women — scattered throughout the nation, but Cox looks fondly upon the "pioneers" whom he accompanied here two years ago along with the director for Korea, Kevin O'Donnell.

"The first group came in here cold with only marginal training and did an incredibly successful job by our standards," Cox, a former Peace Corps worker in Nigeria, observed.

"Testimony to their success is the Korean Government's continuing request for more volunteers," Cox said. "Their requests simply outstrip our resources."

About 100 Peace Corps workers are now assisting the Bureau of Health and Social Affairs on projects ranging from sanitation and child care to TB and malaria control in small, remote villages hidden in the mountains of South Korea.

Early next year 100 more volunteers are coming to teach English in universities and teachers' colleges, according to Don Mosley, acting deputy director.

As the first group departs, varied reactions were expressed by individuals who had lived as Koreans live for two years.

"Some volunteers remained exuberant even as they left for home," Mosley said, "Others were extremely disappointed. But almost all agreed that it was a profound experience, one which will give them better depth and perspective in the future."

Goldberg, who has extended his work in Korea for another year, admitted he was depressed when communication and accomplishment seemed almost hopeless goals.

"But the job tests you, it makes you use your imagination and gives you a great sense of responsibility and a tremendous insight into another culture," Goldberg said.

Cox added: "The Korean Government and people are very exciting to work with. Their sense of development and potential is very real, yet they are quite willing to recognize their problems and to work with you to solve them."

Most of the Peace Corps I workers are going back to graduate schools in the states, many to study East Asian affairs.
I like the bit about the "mystic cryptogram." Photos taken by David Lassiter, a K-1 Peace Corps volunteer, can be found here - the source of the photo below:

By the early 1970s, the Peace Corps volunteers were not only working in middle schools and teaching Korean teachers, but were also co-teaching with a Korean teacher in the classroom. These aspects of the native speaking teacher system in public schools remain in place today. More about the Peace Corps in Korea can be found in this article about a book (well worth looking at) published two years ago of photos taken by Peace Corps volunteers, such as the one below:

Kathleen Stephens, a former Peace Corps Volunteer who worked as an English teacher in the 1970s and the current US ambassador to Korea, reflects on her experiences here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Newspaper accounts of the 1998 murder of a foreign teacher

Almost two years ago I posted some information I'd found online about the murder of a foreign teacher in Suncheon in 1998. I managed to find two references to his death in contemporary newspapers.

On page 6 of the September 26, 1998 edition of the Korea Herald, the following letter was published in the 'Letters to the Editor' section:
Hate Crime?
To the editor:
On Sept. 7, 1998, a Korean man walked into Sunchon Boys High School and asked if there was an American teacher employed there. Upon locating the American teacher, the man engaged him in a brief conversation, then proceeded to stab him in the back as he was walking away, going down the stairs from the second floor. The victim, Scott James Kennedy, 33, from North Dakota, died upon arrival at a hospital in Sunchon.

When interrogated, the attacker said that he murdered Scott because he didn't want Americans here teaching Korean children. It was also noted that he said foreigners should not be allowed to hold jobs here while many Koreans are unemployed. It should be noted that Scott's murderer had a history of mental instability and was institutionalized in the past.

Although Scott's murderer has a history of being mentally unbalanced, I believe that labeling him a "freak," "psycho" or "lunatic" would be an attempt to comfort and protect ourselves from the horrific crime.

Is this yet another repercussion of the economic crisis sweeping through Korea?

I do believe that most Koreans welcome foreigners here and encourage the teaching of their children by foreigners. If resentment is felt toward foreigners here, let us pray that it is not as deep rooted as it was in the case of Scott Kennedy's murder.

Elizabeth Gunther,
On September 12, 1998, the Grand Forks Herald published the following obituary on page 3:
Scott Kennedy, 33, Bismarck, formerly of Grand Forks, died Sept. 7, 1998, in Korea. Scott James Kennedy was born March 14, 1965, the son of James and Patricia Kennedy, in Crystal, N.D. He moved with his family to Bismarck in July 1966, where he attended and graduated from high school. He graduated from UND, with a degree in aviation administration. He worked in the airline industry until March of 1996. He moved to Sunch'on, South Korea, where he was teaching conversational English in Sunch'on High School.He is survived by his parents, Bismarck; sisters, Molly Kennedy, Bismarck, and Kim (Paul) Soderholm, Fargo; and a grandmother, Eileen Kennedy, Bismarck. Services: 3 p.m. Tuesday in Lutheran Church of the Cross, Bismarck.
As I mentioned previously, a search on KINDS turned up nothing about his death in Korean-language newspapers; nor were there news reports about it in the Korea Times or Korea Herald.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Foreign Language Teacher Shortage

The French foreign language teacher scandal of 1984

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

Part 1: Le Monde and what came before
Part 2: Korea is "Ali Baba's" Cave
Part 3: Seoul Should not be a Workplace for Parisians
Part 4: In private foreign language classes, there are a lot of ‘fraud teachers’
Part 5: Jibberish
Part 6: 'I Want to Strike it Rich in Seoul Too' - Continuous Job Inquiries by the French
Part 7: Foreigners Enjoy Better Life With Mother Tongues
Part 8: Foreigners and Foreign Languages
Part 9: Sickening Face

Part 10: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Part 11: The First Sanctions on Foreigners Working Illegally
Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited
Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers
Part 14: "Seoul Wind"
Part 15: Foreign Language Teacher Shortage
Part 16: Troublemaking vagabond foreigner story finally airs

Part 15:
Foreign Language Teacher Shortage

On October 9, 1984, less than three weeks after the new rules were announced for foreign teachers, the Kyunghyang Shinmun published an article titled "Foreign Language Teacher Shortage." As we will see, however, this was due to the bill passed in late 1983 which came into effect in July 1984. Thanks to David Carruth for completing the translation.

Foreign Language Teacher Shortage

“Hiring Drifters” Blocked
From July Qualifications Strengthened,
Company Employee Training at a Standstill
Contract invitations prohibitively expensive
"Flexible enforcement [needed] for securing exports and the 1988 Olympics"

Foreign language education at trading companies and businesses, various social organizations, and private foreign language hagwons is almost at a standstill or is in danger of being suspended

From July 1 the Ministry of Justice Immigration Office revised related regulations to prevent illegal employment of foreigners, and foreigners who work without permitted residency qualifications face up to three years in prison or a fine of 3,000,000 won, while those who employ such people face a fine of up to 1,000,000 won. Because of this, it is difficult to find foreign teachers.

In addition, the Immigration Office recently flexed its administrative muscles by sending a memorandum to individual businesses instructing them to only hire people with legal work contracts as teachers and even went so far as to issue fines. As a result, it is increasingly hard to find foreign teachers.

As a result, with the 88 Olympics ahead and the more than 5300 members of the Korea Trade Association and general trading companies wanting to expand trade, they are of the opinion there is a growing need for foreign languages at this time and that to halt foreign language education would be a great blow nationally, [and so they want] related authorities to relax teacher employment rules.

Currently only a small minority [of companies] such as the Samsung group sponsor teachers and have signed legal work contracts with foreigners. Most companies and organizations will not be able to follow the Ministry of Justice’s instructions.

In the case of the Daewoo group, which had been implementing a three-month foreign language education program for 30 employees at a time on company wide basis as well as offering English and Japanese instruction in its affiliates, they had previously hired 4-5 foreign instructors. Currently, however, they are at a loss after failing to hire even a single teacher. The Daewoo group had even drawn up plans to offer classes in additional languages but now they are back at the drawing board.

The situation of other leading groups and companies is almost the same.

One person connected with employee training at the Hyosung group said candidly, "Nearly all of the instructors who are currently teaching foreign languages at the various companies are not "vagabond foreigners" but rather people who have come to work either in business or religion/culture and teach in their spare time." He further noted that "following the instructions of the Ministry of Justice would be hugely expensive since it would necessitate going overseas and preparing a legal contract of employment before sponsoring an instructor."

Also, a trade association representative said, “Our country shouldn’t carry the stigma of being a “paradise for vagabond foreigners” but in circumstances where the need for foreign languages gets higher every day, the rules should at least be relaxed so as not to disrupt foreign language education for companies.”

Hagwons teaching foreign languages have also taken a considerable blow.

S Hagwon in Jongno previously employed 4 foreign teachers but now has only one American, and has been forced to drastically reduce the number of classes.

B Hagwon owner Go In-gyeong (39) said, “It’s true that there were some shoddy private hagwons that hired unqualified foreign teachers, but it’s hardly a desirable state of affairs for one hagwon after another to have to shut its doors because they aren’t able to sponsor foreign teachers. The Ministry of Justice should take measures to allow [teachers] to lecture after passing a selective screening to prepare for foreign trade and the Olympics.

Currently there are 220,000 foreigners in Korea, and the number of long-term sojourners staying for more than 3 months (excluding diplomats and the military) has reached 40,000 people, but only 320 foreigners have received work permits.
It shouldn't be surprising that there was a shortage of teachers once the new rules, with their fines and jail time as punishment, came into effect. In fact, there was also a shortage of teachers that followed the changes to the E-2 visa in 2007. What seems surprising is that more changes were implemented before the effects of the previous change could even be measured.

It seems, with only 320 out of 40,000 long term foreigners getting work permits, that the government wasn't as strict back then, but without a breakdown of the different visas (such as we saw here), it's hard to discern much from that last sentence. The statement "Nearly all of the instructors who are currently teaching foreign languages at the various companies are not "vagabond foreigners" but rather people who have come to work either in business or religion/culture and teach in their spare time" is interesting, as it helps to dispel the 'paradise for vagabond foreigners' stereotype the media had been cultivating. Note its absence in the Korea Times article from the following day, which doesn't add much, but which I'll post anyway.

With this the series of 'French teacher scandal' articles is almost complete. I recently managed to dig up another short article, which will be posted soon.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers

The French foreign language teacher scandal of 1984

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

Part 1: Le Monde and what came before
Part 2: Korea is "Ali Baba's" Cave
Part 3: Seoul Should not be a Workplace for Parisians
Part 4: In private foreign language classes, there are a lot of ‘fraud teachers’
Part 5: Jibberish
Part 6: 'I Want to Strike it Rich in Seoul Too' - Continuous Job Inquiries by the French
Part 7: Foreigners Enjoy Better Life With Mother Tongues
Part 8: Foreigners and Foreign Languages
Part 9: Sickening Face

Part 10: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Part 11: The First Sanctions on Foreigners Working Illegally
Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited
Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers
Part 14: "Seoul Wind"
Part 15: Foreign Language Teacher Shortage
Part 16: Troublemaking vagabond foreigner story finally airs

Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers

On September 22, the Korea Times published the following article. For more information about the bill, see part 13.

Some interesting figures there: Of "10,000 learning institutions across the nation," 202 institutes specialized in foreign languages, with 93 of those being in Seoul. It's uncertain what these terms mean, however, considering the Joongang Ilbo had earlier reported that
In Seoul there are around 70 foreign language official institutes, and over 500 private foreign language schools. This present situation of the foreign language craze and especially the rapidly-multiplying foreign language institutes is due to a change in the existing unlicensed school report system in 1980, which led to a sudden increase in the number of schools.
It's uncertain which statistics are correct, or what the difference is between an 'official institute' and a private one. As for this -
Foreigners eligible to teach at private institutes should have at least a junior college education even if they hold valid employment visas.
- the article fails to mention that a new visa had been put in place. I'm not sure what 'junior college education' means, but in 2001 I had coworkers who had 2 year college degrees with a TESOL certificate, which was valid until 2001 or 2002, when the rules changed.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Worrying about the negative influence of drugged foreign teachers

On the topic of foreign teachers and drugs, here's a letter from a reader posted at the Munhwa Ilbo's site on November 24, 2010 in the "public opinion garden"
Many Native speaking instructor drug crimes [lead to] worry about their bad influence on young students

Gang Myeong-sun, Seoul, Gangseo-gu

These days even households in difficult circumstances send their children to English hagwons. The main reason for sending them to an English hagwon, besides studying for the entrance examination, is because there is a native speaking teacher* at the hagwon. The chance to hear proper English pronunciation is the reason for the importance of English hagwons’ native speaking teachers. However, there have been many cases of native speaking teachers bringing on criticism because of drugs.

Not long ago, police data showed that 30% of foreigners caught for drug offenses were native speaking instructors. Methamphetamine and marijuana are cleverly brought from the US, smoked, and of course sold in entertainment districts. What our students are learning from these people is very worrying. With the sudden increase in drug smuggling by foreign instructors, the possibility that the hand of drugs might affect young students rises. Students are very well disposed towards foreigners, especially white hagwon instructors from the U.S. and Canada who use English. So, because they follow well and have a sense of closeness [with these teachers], circumstances can occur in which they learn about drugs from hagwon instructors who act without restraint.
* She uses the term 교사, or teacher, to describe what should be a 강사, or instructor in a hagwon.

I suppose, when the Donga Ilbo quotes immigration officials as saying things like "Incidents of some native speaking instructors taking drugs during lectures have been never ending," it's easy to understand how she might worry about the influence of foreign teachers upon impressionable students. Just for fun, here's another example of exaggeration from the Supreme Prosecutors office:

On pages 212-213 of the 2007 Supreme Prosecutors Office (SPO) report on Drug Control in Korea, under "Summary of drug trends in 2007," was written
The number of drug-related arrests was 10,649 in 2007, an increase of 38% from 7,709 in 2006, surpassing the 10,000 person mark for the first time in five years since 2002. This rise was mainly due to a surge of small scale internet trafficking for methamphetamine, and marijuana smuggling and abuse by foreign instructors in schools or language academies from English-speaking countries like the U.S. and Canada.
According the the SPO stats in Ben Wagner's NHRCK report, there were 24 teachers caught in 2007 for drug crimes - out of an increase of 2,940 arrests. Obviously, since foreign teachers made up a whole 0.82% of that increase, it was necessary to describe the increase as being "mainly due" to them.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

More information on the new E-2 drug testing regulations

The Korean media has finally picked up on the new drug testing regulations for E-2 visa holders. The Korea Times reported on it as well:
The government has introduced an up-to-date drug testing kit as part of moves to strengthen drug monitoring of foreign English teachers at schools and private institutes.

The Ministry of Justice said Monday that it revised regulations governing drug testing of foreign English teachers, which went into effect from Feb. 1. [...]

It is said that the TBPE test, employed in December 2007, has fallen short of discerning test-savvy drug users. [...]

Those who test positive will face police investigation and, if confirmed, will be deported and banned from landing on Korean soil for at least the next five years, according to immigration officials.

The employment of the new testing kit was the result from repeated calls from narcotic officers and experts who claim that the TBPE test is not capable of detecting the use of all kinds of sought-after drugs either at home or abroad.

“The new kit proved to correctly detect a wider range of drugs, including marijuana,” said Yoo Byung-gil, deputy director of visa and resident division at the Korea Immigration Service. In fact, TBPE test, based on urine, cannot effectively detect marijuana use, he said.

It also reacts to caffeine and some elements of cold medicine, allowing some test-savvy drug users to capitalize on the shortcomings to avoid being caught, the official said. The new test will be conducted at private and public hospitals proven to be capable of conducting drug tests by the immigration office, starting April 1. [...]

“So far, all medical clinics, including ill-prepared ones, have conducted the test, denting the credibility of the test results,” the official said. “But the new system will significantly improve credibility.”
One wonders if "test-savvy" means "knows to stop smoking a few weeks before the test." Also, the fact that the "TBPE test, based on urine, cannot effectively detect marijuana use" is why there was a separate marijuana test. As far as I can tell, the new tests would also involve urine testing (judging by various tests available in the US), though I suppose the higher cost of other testing methods might not be an issue since the government wouldn't be paying for the test.

Anti English Spectrum also reported on this, and were nice enough to provide the name of the actual government announcement. A Google search for "법무부고시 제2011 - 23호" turns up this page at the Korean Hospital Association, as well as this page at the Korea Law website, which begins:
Immigration Control Act Enforcement Regulation Article 76, Clause 2 Related Attachment 5-2, Announcement of drug testing provision and testing method for those eligible for conversation instruction (E-2), who should submit an employment physical examination when applying for alien registration, and of the requirement that the medical institution be designated by the Justice Minister.
Oddly enough, at that site the above introduction is followed by this note: "[Enforcement [begins] 2011.02.01] [Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Announcement 2011-23, enacted 2011.01.27]" The KHA site does not have an reference to this originating with MEST, but it would be quite interesting if it did, considering the disagreements the MoJ and Education offices have had in the past over HIV testing of foreign teachers.

This was also reported by Maeil Gyeongje, Newsis, YTN and the Donga Ilbo, which all used the title "Drug Testing of Native Speaking Teachers in Korea Strengthened." According to an immigration official quoted in the Donga Ilbo article, "Incidents of some native speaking instructors taking drugs during lectures have been never ending and this is to block this from happening in advance." While I'm sure there are a few idiots out there, I find it hard to believe, considering the prices illegal drugs fetch in Korea, that people would take them in order to get high at work. Is that really likely? Much as AES (and immigration) like to conflate 'foreign teachers went to a free HIV testing clinic' with 'foreign teachers have AIDS,' police (and immigration) like to conflate 'used drugs in their free time' with 'were high at work.' One of the more amusing examples of this was a Yonhap article from 2009 which tried to insinuate teachers who took ecstasy on the weekend might have still been high on Monday by following the word 'weekend' with '(Saturday, Sunday)' in order to suggest that they might have gone out on Sunday night (a prime clubbing night, of course - and as if Yonhap's readers don't realize what nights people go out on the weekend).

At any rate, much as the low crime rate of foreign teachers cannot be trusted due to "undisclosed crimes" "test-savvy" foreign teachers and ill-prepared medical centers are "denting the credibility of the test results," requiring "strengthen[ed] drug monitoring of foreign English teachers."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

The French foreign language teacher scandal of 1984

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.
Prelude 2: "Koreans have a weakness for Foreigners"
Prelude 3: 10,000 illegal sojourners or immigration cheaters... the days and nights of Itaewon

Part 1: Le Monde and what came before
Part 2: Korea is "Ali Baba's" Cave
Part 3: Seoul Should not be a Workplace for Parisians
Part 4: In private foreign language classes, there are a lot of ‘fraud teachers’
Part 5: Jibberish
Part 6: 'I Want to Strike it Rich in Seoul Too' - Continuous Job Inquiries by the French
Part 7Foreigners Enjoy Better Life With Mother Tongues
Part 8: Foreigners and Foreign Languages 
Part 9: Sickening Face
Part 10: Barking Up the Wrong Tree
Part 11: The First Sanctions on Foreigners Working Illegally
Part 12: All Private Lessons by Foreigners Prohibited
Part 13: Institutes Asked to Hire Eligible Foreign Teachers
Part 14: "Seoul Wind"
Part 15: Foreign Language Teacher Shortage
Part 16: Troublemaking vagabond foreigner story finally airs

Prelude 1: The 1983 Law "Limiting Aliens' Residence Period" and banning "unqualified" foreigners from working.

The following article was published by the Joongang Ilbo on November 11, 1983. Many thanks to David Carruth for translating this article.

Ban on Unqualified Foreigners Teaching at Institutes
On November 10th, the Ministry of Justice moved to prevent unqualified foreigners from teaching classes at foreign language academies inside Korea by making changes to the immigration regulations. The bill containing the new regulations was submitted at this session of the National Assembly and is scheduled to go into effect from July 1st of next year.

The bill makes it mandatory for anyone interested in hiring foreigners to work in Korea to select people with qualifications appropriate to the form of employment.

The purpose of the bill is to protect the jobs of Koreans by preventing foreigners from obtaining work as teachers at foreign language academies or employees at international firms. However, the changes would not apply to those coming to Korea for the purpose of engaging in missionary work or traveling.

In addition, the bill enables more efficient administration of the foreign population by limiting the number of times foreigners can extend their residence period in Korea to a maximum of two.

This bill, which came into effect in July 1984, does not seem very punitive, and says only that it is "mandatory for anyone interested in hiring foreigners to work in Korea to select people with qualifications appropriate to the form of employment." The report makes it clear that these rules were not limited to only foreign teachers working at language institutes. Here's how the Korea Times reported it on the same day (click to enlarge):

Interesting that foreign teachers were mentioned so prominently in the Joongang Ilbo article the same day, but were not mentioned at all in the Korea Times (a paper foreign teachers might actually be reading). It seems this law also led to the change from a 60 day stay without registering to the 90 day stay which is in place now. The next day, the Times published the following article:

Interesting to look at the breakdown of foreigners in the country at the time: Of 46,803 foreigners from 86 countries staying over 60 days, 27,975 were Chinese, 11,276 were American, and 2,479 were Japanese (though Americans led in the illegal overstayer department). The fact that 2,327 people were there for programs to train Koreans in skills and techniques and 1,282 for religious or public welfare activities also highlights how Korea was almost reaching the point of being 'developed' (hence there were still a number of people there for welfare or training purposes), while the 5,831 there on business point to its growing economy (as do the growing number of language teachers being able to make a living in Korea, as well as more illegal endeavors like smuggling).

These statistics give us some idea of what things were like in Korea prior to the 'Le Monde' scandal which occurred in August 1984 - a month and a half after the law described above came into effect. It would lead to new visa rules for foreign English teachers.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Canadian Embassy panel discussion on perceptions of foreign English teachers

On Sunday, February 20, the Canadian Embassy will host an event for foreign English teachers. I'll be speaking at the session dealing with perceptions of foreign English teachers in Korea, and presentations by several speakers whose names should be familiar will precede a discussion. More information follows below. As space is limited, anyone wanting to go should sign up soon, and keep in mind also that the conference is open to anyone, not just Canadians.

The Embassy of Canada is pleased to host two sessions to which we would like to invite members of the English teaching community in Korea. Please join us for a Sunday afternoon of informative presentations and informed discussion over coffee and sandwiches in our Embassy’s Schofield Hall.

Education in/au Canada
Canadian teachers in Korea are potential sources of information when approached by students seeking to learn more about studying options in Canada.This information session will present the Embassy's education marketing strategy around the Education in/au Canada brand, and how teachers can play a role in its success.

Presenter: Trade Commissioner on education, Embassy of Canada
Time: Doors open at 13:30
Presentation: 14:00 –14:50

English teachers in Korea -Perceptions and Challenges
The Embassy of Canada will host a panel discussion on perceptions of foreign English teachers in Korea. Our invited speakers will address issues such as the portrayal of foreign English teachers in the media, statistics on foreigner criminality, society and stereotypes, in addition to legislation which affects teachers in Korea. With the goal of promoting discussion, the Embassy invites all current and former teachers of English to join us and to actively participate in the discussion.

Time: 15:00-16:30
•Michael Hurt (Member of the Presidential Committee for Nation Branding, author of the blog Scribblings of the Metropolitician)
•Benjamin Wagner (Associate Professor, Kyung-hee University Faculty of Law)
•Matt Van Volkenburg (Author of the blog Gusts of Popular Feeling, English teacher)
•Robert Ouwehand (Former National Communications Director for ATEK, author of the blog Roboseyo)

If you would like to attend this event, please send an email to
Please include the following details:
E-mail Subject: Registration Feb 20 2011
E-mail address:
Current employment (name of institution):
I will attend : Session One / Session Two / or Both
Due to limited space, please be advised that only the first 75 RSVPs for each session will be admitted.
* Please note that there is no public parking space at the Embassy for visitors. There are commercial parking lots near the Embassy, and individuals will need to cover their own parking fee.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

"The main culprits in drug smuggling are native speaking teachers"

On January 30, Newsis published the following article:
Smuggling of New Kinds of Drugs ↑, Smuggling drugs by plane ↓

[Daejeon] Last year smuggling of new kinds of drugs increased, while smuggling by plane decreased.

On the 30th, the Korea Customs Service announced that last year 200 cases of smuggling were uncovered, totaling 14 kilograms of drugs worth 19.4 billion won.

The number of cases increased 33% over the year before, but the weight and monetary value of the drugs seized decreased by 67% and 68% respectively.

3.3 kg was seized due to smuggling by air travelers in 32 cases, a decrease from last year of 90% and 14% respectively. Sea travelers accounted for 2.4 kg seized in 13 cases, an increase of 15% and 44% respectively.

By type of drug, 6414 grams of methamphetamine was seized in 74 cases, 5451 grams of marijuana in 53 cases, 605 grams of JWH-018 in 31 cases, and 1481 grams of other drugs were seized in 42 other cases.

According to 'An Analysis of drug arrest trends in 2010,' released by the Korea Customs Service that day, the main characteristic of last year's drug smuggling trends was the large increase in arrests of smuggling new kinds of drugs, increasing from 11.1% of total cases in 2009 to 28.1% of cases last year.

The kinds of new drugs being smuggled are becoming more diverse, with 7 kinds in 2009 and 18 kinds in 2010.

The smuggling of new kinds of drugs was mainly by foreigners, and there were 95 foreigners arrested for drug smuggling [in general], an increase of 11.7% from the year before.

Among these, 28 were foreign native speaking teachers, or 29.4% of the total number of foreigners arrested.

In the past foreign native speaking teachers smuggled mostly marijuana, often through the mail, but recently there has been a great increase in cases of smuggling new kinds of drugs such as JWH-018 or Kratom.

Of those foreign native speaking teachers arrested, 18 were Americans, 5 were Canadians, 2 each were from New Zealand and England, and one was from Ireland.

Cases where international mail or courier were used increased 53% and 44% respectively but by weight dropped from 281g in 2009 to 70g last year, indicating an increasing trend towards smuggling drugs for personal use.

Meanwhile, various methods of concealment when smuggling for personal use were discovered such as in clothing (27 cases), envelopes, (23 cases), books, (13 cases), backpacks, (10 cases), CD-DVDs (10 cases), postcards (9 cases), business envelopes (7 cases), and plastic containers (7 cases), indicating that smuggling methods are becoming more clever.
From there it goes on to talk about how the customs service plans to block drug smuggling in the future. The story was reported in the Herald Gyeongje (twice), Money Today, Morning News, and the Kookmin Ilbo (three times). While the Kookmin Ilbo's title in the first two (online) articles focused on a (Korean) female university student who smuggled 400 ecstasy pills from the US, they decided to go with a slightly different title in their hard-copy edition: "The main culprits in drug smuggling are native speaking teachers... responsible for 30% of crimes by foreigners."

While foreign teachers are certainly overrepresented in the 'number of those busted' category, the question to ask might be what amount of drugs they are responsible for bringing in. As noted here (here specifically) foreign teachers usually sent "a few or tens of grams of cannabis [...] via mail or express consignments." On the other hand, last year went a bit beyond this, what with this guy bringing in 3,400 grams of hash from Hongkong in his rectum (over several trips) and this girl having a cake with 388 grams of pot (or was it a 388 gram cake with pot in it?) mailed to her.

At any rate, this announcement is well timed, considering that on January 26, the Donga Ilbo (via Brian in Jeollanam-do) announced that foreign teachers would face even stricter drug screening by the government:
The [justice] ministry will announce a revised law on immigration control that requires those suspected of drug use to undergo two tests before employment as English teachers on the E-2 visa. The law will take effect from Feb. 1.

Under the revised law, a would-be teacher should get tested for immunity with a drug diagnosis reagent authorized by the Korea Food and Drug Administration. If the test is positive, he or she must undergo another test using a mass spectrometer.

The ministry will test for methamphetamine, cocaine, opium and marijuana. If the second test is positive, issuance or extension of a visa will be denied.
A few things to note:

This was only reported in the above Donga Ilbo article. Other than the Korean translation provided by the Donga Ilbo, this hasn't been reported in the Korean-language media. Neither has AES reported on it. Which is a little odd.

It seems a little unclear at first, but after a few readings I think I understand it. The operative word seems to be that it "requires those suspected of drug use to undergo two tests [emphasis added]." Basically, "a would-be teacher should get tested" once with this new kind of test (if it is actually new), and then those who turn up something odd in the first test should get tested further. A bit of reading about testing in the US seems to suggest this is pretty normal protocol there, where a positive reaction should not be taken as the final result, but is just the prelude to further testing to confirm the presence of drugs.

Also, it seems to me that when laws are announced, they usually come into effect months later, not 5 days later. The same thing occurred with the new E-2 regulations earlier this year, with an article on July 9 announcing new regulations to begin 6 days later. Another odd thing was the fact that these new measures were announced 6 months after the most recent news report of a drug arrest of a foreign teacher. Not to say that there haven't been arrests since, but here are the arrests reported this year:

February 7 - An American teacher in Incheon is arrested for mailing himself 171 grams of pot cookies.
March 22 - the three Korean American gangsters (including one wanted for murder) were arrested along with 5 others booked for marijuana.
March 24 - A Korean American teacher in Ulsan was arrested for having a grow op, and two others were booked.
April 13 - four foreign teachers are arrested in Daegu for hash. On May 11 more details become known (one smuggled 3,400 grams of hash from Hongkong in his rectum) and up to four more are arrested.
April 14 - One American teacher is arrested in Seoul for smuggling ecstasy and pot (40 pills and 374g, respectively, in his Taiwanese girlfriend's underwear) , and nine other teachers are booked.
May 10 - Two foreign teachers including a Kiwi are busted in Seoul for importing 700g of JWH-018.
June 10 - An American in Jeju is busted for ordering 44 pot seeds. He later has to pay a fine.
June 16 - In Incheon, two university English teachers, including a Canadian are busted for importing Kratom, and 6 English teachers, including a Canadian, are busted for mailing themselves cookies and snacks made of pot.
June 21 - A female American English teacher in Jeju gets caught for having a 388 gram pot-cake mailed to herself. She later gets a suspended sentence.
July 20 - An American middle school English teacher in Busan is busted for importing some kind of new drug. He later gets a suspended sentence.

So that's a total of 34 - 38 arrests in 11 cases reported in the media. At any rate, while it's likely more arrests occurred, it seems a little odd that new measures have been announced after 6 months of no reported arrests and very light sentences in the three cases where the outcomes were reported.