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.


brent said...

One of my Kyopo friends was wanted in the US. He went back quietly rather than waiting to be deported. He taught here like ten years.

Robert Koehler said...

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.

Actually, I think they're referring to him making a scene at the airport. But it's hard to tell, really.

ZenKimchi said...

Like this?

She's Chinese, so that kills my ironic statement a little.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Yes, a teacher who has no history of problems in Korea (that we know of) all of a sudden goes on a 3-4 bender, possibly due to some recent emotional trigger, and ends up killing himself.

Only in Korea are the real victims in all this the fucking students.


Mi Ke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Darth Babaganoosh said...

that should be "3-4 day bender"

matt said...

Just realized I didn't link to the original article in this post - I fixed that.

What was he wanted for?

I assumed that since the sentence "국내에서도 만취 상태로 공공연하게 추태를 부리고, 공공기관에서 난동을 부리기까지 했다" had "publicly behaved indecently" and "caused a disturbance in a public institution" separated by a comma that they referred to two separate incidents, and the only 'indecent' thing I could think of was being half naked before he jumped. It could be overdescribing the airport incident, I suppose.

Her voice is like a dentist's drill. Makes me realize that there's probably cctv footage of him at the airport. Thankfully the police aren't releasing that kind of thing.

Darth Babaganoosh:
The real victims are the journalists who are little prepared to deal with writing about suicide.

ZenKimchi said...

Again, when I worked at a local TV station in the U.S., it was station policy to never report suicides unless they involved someone with a public profile.

Anonymous said...

Few know about NSDDKES (nes-dee-cus) a secret society of native speakers dedicated to the destruction of the Korean education system by any means necessary.

These 'nesdekesians' have been engaged in sabotaging the education system for several years now and have even pledged to use themselves as "flesh bullets" in order to achieve their objective.

This may be just the beginning of the horror these fanatics plan to unleash upon the nation. One can only pray they will be stopped in time.

Anonymous said...

R. Koehler,
I think you're lost! Go think about a post on how the English teacher is wrong in this matter and is worse than the thousands of Koreans who do the same each year(10+ each day and more than any other OECD country) in South Korea but isn't ridiculed in S. Korean headlines.

Anonymous said...

Your sarcasm has been at a very high level as of late, which means to me that nothing is getting better in S. Korea. There is NO way a Korean journalist would even understand your points, they may actually agree with what you say, ha, haaa. To even hope for a global S. Korean miracle is completely out of the realm within the next...Ummm 1_ _ _ years at least.
I think they're on a record breaking negative English teacher story etc... pace in 2011?

matt said...


I'm fairly certain Robert was commenting on the translation. I'm positive, in fact.

Robert Koehler said...

Matt --- I must be having an off day, because I've taken a look at jjj_alltheway's comments a couple of times, and still can't figure out what he's talking about.

matt said...

I don't think you're the only person having an off day.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

Maybe he is yet another degenerate foreign English teacher with substance abuse problems (the third this week!).

It certainly looks like he was drunk when he wrote it.

Anonymous said...

Since you are unable to understand me let me spell it out for you...

You are rarely(if ever?) on the side of "degenerate" E-2 teachers, so I was simply surprised you would comment where someone does stand up on behalf them. Are you pretending to care by attempting to correct Matt? Your attempt at correcting Matt has zilch to do with the main point and when was the last time you commented on this blog anyway?

Let me point out another thing R. Koehler, even though you started a thread on your blog about the dead english teachers, you've added very little to the point. Instead you think the "pillow as a rail" is somehow important. How the hell is that relevant other than commenting/searching far and wide to response to one unimportant comment that only diverts the attention from the main obvious point. Clearly, you don't want to see the main point. Just face it, you have no problem with the Busan media headlines on dead english teachers.

Darth: I suggest you join the S. Korean journalist society with the "degenerate" claim. And, I see you as a simple jump on Robert Koehler's bandwagon. You posted more than once after me and only until R.Koehler said what he did, did you follow up.

Peace to those that died and their friends and families.

Robert Koehler said...

All I can say, jjj_alltheway, is that I hope and pray you're not an English teacher.

Anonymous said...


I respectfully disagree with your take on R. Koehler. On his blog, he's gone out of his way to give voice to opinions that he doesn't necessarily agree with.

Case in point, he posted a very long interview on the English teacher issue I did with ATEK back in Feb. 2009 (with tables and footnotes, which must have taken a lot of effort) at a time when the topic was quite unpopular. Moreover, he told readers that while he didn't necessarily agree with the content that it was "quite interesting, and both the interview and the footnotes are well worth reading."

Can you ask for more than that?

Reasonable people differ in their opinions, and those who go out of their way to give voice to opinions they don't necessarily agree with are deserving of respect rather than scorn - in my opinion at least.

Darth Babaganoosh said...

You posted more than once after me and only until R.Koehler said what he did, did you follow up.

Yes, because I wait by my computer all day long, day after day, waiting until Marmot posts, so I can follow his lead. I think you need another layer of tinfoil for your hat. The signals seem to be getting through.

And just FYI, the whole "degenerate" comment was FUCKING SARCASM (but I still maintain you were drunk when you wrote them). Anyone who has seen my posts on these suicides couldn't possibly take that comment seriously.

Anonymous said...

B Wagner,
Koehler "gives voice" by providing a bit of space on his blog for others to comment regardless of his negative feelings towards teachers. I see that as your main point, all the while he tries to demean me on this website simply because of who I might be without giving reason or offering his opinion on Matt's main issue.

I've asked him whether he's ever spoken positively about teachers -- "if ever?" He simply avoids my question and Matt's main point.

Come on Koehler, you suggested I'm not qualified so how is that? If I remember correctly your not very handsome so how were you ever qualified?

matt said...



Robert linked to this post, and then when certain commenters at his blog said that (foreigners) sleeping on railway tracks was 'degenerate,' he pointed out that Koreans used to do the same. And seeing as his Korean is far better than mine, I appreciate comments about the translation. He's done fine by me.

You, on the other hand, have been writing incoherent comments and now... name calling? You're not really helping whatever case it is you're trying to make.

Bintz said...

We will find out the posers of BlackOutKorea all in real world.

(of course, some of them were already founded.)

Binko said...


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