Thursday, July 28, 2011

The "increasing deviation" of native speaking English assistant teachers

On March 18, 2010, Newsis published the following article:
Problems with lessons a side effect of native speaking English assistant teachers' increasing deviation

In order to increase familiarity with English and reduce private education fees for elementary, middle and high school students across the country, a native speaking English assistant teacher system has been put in place since 1995. However, it's been exposed that some native speaking teachers have deviated and gone off the rails, causing problems with lessons, among other things.

According to a statement by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology on the 18th, of the 7997 native speaking assistant teachers working in elementary, middle and high schools across the country last year, 291 failed to complete their one year contract.

As reasons for breaking their contract and leaving their teaching position, most common was continuing education or starting new jobs (114 people), while 76 people left for family reasons, 37 people couldn't adjust, 28 people were ill, and one was involved in a crime.

In particular, it's known that cases occurred in which some native speaking assistant teachers quit after 6 months and moved to a well paying hagwon or quit without notice.

The reason for this is that if native speaking assistant teachers quit within 6 months of beginning their employment, they have to pay back their airfare and entry allowance.

Native speaking assistant teachers who work in farming villages and rural areas are given an extra 100,000 won per month as well as, at the principal's discretion, an extra 5 days of holiday, but hoping to work in the city they are leaving the schools and children.

In fact, last year at an elementary school in Gyeonggi Province's Gapyeong county, Ms. J, a 25 year old native speaking assistant teacher from the United States, moved to an English hagwon in Seoul after 6 months.

In the case of T, a native speaking assistant teacher who started work at a middle school in Gapyeong county in 2006, he said, "There's no way I'm living in the country" and disappeared after a week, taking a laptop he had been given with him. After asking around the school was able to get the laptop back.

A Ministry of Education official said, "There are many cases in which some native speaking assistant teachers working out side Seoul are unable to adapt for for cultural reasons or due to living conditions and leave their jobs halfway through, and we are strengthening the training of those who are in charge of native speaking assistant teachers."

In order to hire a single native speaking assistant teacher, 1.3 million must be spent bringing them into the country, 600,000 to 1 million won on the recruiting fee, 300,000 won on the settlement allowance, and 400,000 won a month to provide housing, totaling 30-40 million won per year paid by the Ministry of Education and from each city or provincial office of education budget.

Last year the combined budgets of 16 city and provincial offices of education for native speaking assistant teachers was 176 billion won, while the Ministry of Education is supporting national elementary, middle and high schools across the country with 1.1 billion won.

However, despite the enormous budget spent on them, 3,666 (45.8%) - not even half of them - have a teaching certificate or have received a qualification for completing an English education course such as TESOL or TEFL.

Jang Eun-suk, the president of the National Association of Parents for True Education, said, "On the pretext of reducing private education, with no long term plan or proper verification system, as a temporary measure any Tom, Dick or Harry was brought over [to be] a native speaking assistant teacher, and in the end, with problems like poor skills and deviation, the harm falls upon the students."

Meanwhile, last year in Gyeonggi-do, two native speaking assistant teachers infected with AIDS and one native speaking assistant teacher who was investigated for drugs were made to leave the country.
A nice ending to a fair, even-handed article. Apparently being HIV positive is equivalent to committing a crime.

The reported statement by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology about 291 of 7997 native speaking assistant teachers breaking their contracts in 2009 was reported only in this article. According to those figures, 3.6% of teachers quit early. This contradicts the information provided by National Assembly Education, Science and Technology Committee members Kim Se-yeon and Park Young-a (GNP) six months later, in September 2010, which said that 425 out of 7,631 teachers broke their contracts in 2009 (and which they, or Yonhap, used to incorrectly state that "most of the native speaking English teachers teaching in Korea break their contracts after six months"). So there are two sets of figures there, and who knows which set is correct.

There's certainly some hard-hitting journalism above, using one whole vague example of a female teacher quitting early in 2009, as well as one tale of a laptop thief from four years earlier. Oh, and some foreign teachers have AIDS, too.

There's also the same old tired complaint that "not even half of them" have teaching or TESOL certificates, as if foreign teachers suddenly beam into staff rooms and say, "Take me to your principal" and politely, but firmly, tell the administration that they will be working at the school from now on. If they really wanted teachers with such certificates, they would make it a requirement for employment. Since they don't, it's obviously not that important to those making such decisions, which is strange, considering the amounts of money they complain about spending on these teachers. Apparently what is important to the decision makers (at least the ones in Ulsan, Seoul, and Gangnam) are repeat drug and HIV tests.

As for the National Association of Parents for True Education, a member of the Busan chapter was interviewed in the Busan Ilbo article "Severe Alcoholic Openly Teaches Students," which was published back in February. As with that article, the manta "We have to think about the children" is repeated.

While there have been countless articles about the evils of foreign English teachers in general (or hagwon instructors in particular), there haven't been quite as many about foreign English teachers working in public schools. Off the top of my head, in addition to the one above are these:

Yonhap (2009.06.11): Native Speakers of Questionable Quality Abound
New Daily (2010.09.15): Are native speaking teachers introduced to Korean culture through drinking parties?
Yonhap (2010.09.29): Half of native speaking English teachers are “6 month part-time workers”

If anyone can think of any other such articles, please let me know.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Photo source

In response to this post, Benjamin Wagner wrote:
Surely a company this intent on preventing "a serious crime being committed" by someone who had no qualifications or connection to teaching but just "looked the part" wouldn't try to pull the same con by surfing the web for racial traits they thought symbolized linguistic competence for their gullible customers.

1: A, B.
2: A, B.
3: A, B, C.
These were found, he told me, by using TinEye, which also turned up many uses of the photo of what I assumed was an orientation, including this one (with a nice caption).

The company might consider using this or this on their site instead.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Only through us can we guarantee you blue-eyed non-criminals

And for the third week in a row (after this entry and this entry) Bizplace posted a nice advertisement vaguely disguised as an 'article' yesterday (it's listed as 'news' under a Naver search):
"Filtering through a specialized company's proven system" [when] hiring native speaking English instructors

Currently the number of native speaking English specialist instructors working in Korea has surpassed 25,000. Due to the demand for English education the number of native speaking English instructors is gradually increasing. However there have been not a few cases of some qualification-deficient instructors causing crimes like bringing in drugs or sex scandals. [...]

If one does not comply with the recruitment process based on accurate information, one could hire someone who is illegal or 'unqualified,' who has submitted false information, as a native speaking English instructor. The possibility of a serious crime being committed at any time cannot be ruled out. Therefore, in order to prevent such mistakes, there is increasing demand for a verification system for hiring native speaking instructors. Nevertheless, the truth is that it's not easy to distinguish good from bad [instructors]. [...]

Han Chang-gyun, spokesperson for the native speaking instructor recruiting company Job and Consulting (, advised that if you go through an approved agency which complies with legal E-2 issuing procedures when it comes time to hire an native speaking instructor, you can prevent the harm that could happen after [hiring] a unqualified or illegal sojourner.
The ending is quite similar to last week's edition:
Han Chang-gyun, spokesperson for the native speaking instructor recruiting company Job and Consulting (, advised that if you go through an government approved agency which complies with legal E-2 issuing procedures when it comes time to hire an native speaking instructor, you can be safe from harm [caused by] illegal native speaking instructors.
Which is similar to the week before that:
Lee Tae-u, head of the native speaking instructor recruiting company Job and Consulting (, advised, "Currently it's estimated that there are 25,000 native speaking instructors staying in Korea, and if you go through an agency which complies with legal employment procedures when it comes time to choose an native speaking instructor, you can thoroughly prevent the harm caused by illegal native speaking instructors.
Harm, harm, and more harm. They're certainly consistent. But yesterday's piece pushing things a bit further by saying "The possibility of a serious crime being committed at any time cannot be ruled out." Which makes sense, of course, because they're westerners. If I was to say such a thing about Koreans I'd - justifiably - be called a racist and asshole, but apparently doing so here - against westerners - is just good business sense. In fact, the day the first advertisement went up, Job&Consulting posted on their site a thank you to hagwon owners and school principals for their support and wrote that, "Currently we have requests for interviews and there are intensive reports in various news and media."

Oh, and the term translated as 'unqualified' was not the usual '무자격,' but rather '자격미달.' Here are the example sentences for 자격미달 given by Naver's online dictionary (click to enlarge):

I've seen the last sentence elsewhere on Naver's dictionary with 무자격 외국인강사 (unqualified foreign teachers) instead of the 'unqualified teachers' seen above. Times core, which provided the sentences, seems to be responsible for many such example sentences, but I'll save a closer look at that for another time.

As for the pictures of western women that appeared next to the stories in the Naver search results, it turns out the source of these is the Job&Consulting site itself, where the following photos are cycled through:

Close-ups of the women (and diploma), and shots from a distance (or behind) of the men. The banner version of the photos of two of the women focuses on one particular attribute:

No focus on certain racial attributes there, right?

They're also nice enough to provide contact information on their site, apparently for those who want to send them resumes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Recent drug busts involving hagwon instructors

Yesterday Yonhap reported on drug busts in Busan:
Busan District Prosecutors' Office arrests a bunch of instructors and university students for taking drugs

A bunch of English hagwon and university instructors and university students have been caught by police in Busan and Seoul for taking narcotics or habitually smoking marijuana.

Busan District Prosecutors' Office violent crimes division (Chief prosecutor Yang Ho-san) announced on the 22nd that 8 people including American English hagwon teacher P (30) had been caught for violating the drug control law, with 4 being arrested and detained and 4 being booked without detention.

P is accused of smuggling 3.58 grams of marijuana from the US through international mail on February 5.

Also, three Korean Canadian English hagwon instructors including a Ms Park (22) have been charged with smuggling through international mail in April or May 2.84 grams of ketamine and taking it ten times at clubs in Seoul and Busan.

Mr. Park (33), a university instructor, has been charged with buying ecstacy and marijuana while traveling overseas from last October to this April, bringing it to Korea, and habitually using them.

In addition, three students enrolled at a university in Busan were arrested or booked without detention for smoking marijuana in March.
The pot or ecstasy busts will surprise no one, but I haven't heard of too many ketamine busts before.

About the arrests, the Busan Ilbo added this:
An official from the Busan District Prosecutors' Office said, "Cases in which suspects have learned about drugs while living overseas and have, with no particular awareness, brought drugs to Korea using methods such as international mail are increasing." "There have been no small number of cases in which university instructors and of course university students have learned about drugs like marijuana through language training and after returning to Korea have continued smuggling and smoking, which has revealed a need for a continuous crackdown."
Similar sentiments appeared in a July 13 Medical Today report about the availability of new kinds of drugs to children. One paragraph reads:
Section chief Yun Heung-hui explained that "The recent increase in new kinds of drugs has been greatly influenced by foreign instructors and young people who spent their childhood years studying abroad." "This is because sometimes they take the drugs they used abroad like yaba or ecstasy to Korea and spread it among their peers."
Here's the photo at the top of the article:

And here's the advertisement that's quite close to the above photo:

"1 on 1 native speaker video telephone English - M Study"

No mixed messages there.

In the July 20 YTN story of the US soldiers busted for selling spice in Itaewon (a similar article is translated here), it's mentioned that a former English instructor named Mr. Kim (29) had been arrested, but there is no mention of his nationality, so one would assume he's Korean.

On July 20, NoCut News reported in an article titled "From housewives to English instructors... Drug ring arrested for selling and using" that a Mr. Hong (52) was caught after smuggling 2.2 billion won worth of meth into the country from China by using a freighter. It was brought in between February and July and distributed to middlemen in the capital area and Busan who then distributed it to small time dealers throughout the country. 25 people were arrested and detained and 17 were booked without detention.

The article says that "Among the 17 users who were caught were a former university instructor and native speaking instructor, a taxi driver and a housewife, and their ages varied, ranging from those in their 30s to those in their 50s."

Police said that among the users caught was Mr. Kim (47) who drove customers around in his taxi while high and a farmer who ignored his family after taking the drugs. Police have issued warrants for ten others who fled overseas.

And this Marmot's Hole post summarizes a July 21 KBS article about Gyopos being busted for growing and selling marijuana. A Donga Ilbo article on the same topic reports that "they smoked the marijuana they harvested and of course sold it to foreign students or businessmen who had come to Korea, as well as hagwon instructors." The nationality of the hagwon instructors isn't mentioned. (I just realized Robert updated that with a summary of the article I translated at the top of this post. Oh well.)

Needless to say, it's been a busy week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

An update to 'The Achievements of Anti English Spectrum'

Below is an update to this post translating Anti English Spectrum's list of accomplishments, which can be found here in Korean (first result):

2009 September
In preparation for a National Assembly parliamentary audit, we received a request for cooperation with data from the members of the education committee. We submitted data such as a list if unfit instructors and problems with and alternatives to measures related to administering them. At the request of the auditing institution we submitted a list of unfit instructors.

[Who knows if this had anything to do with GNP Rep. Park Min-sik saying, "The flood of unqualified native speaking teachers is the Government’s responsibility," or GNP Rep. Lee Ju-yeong saying, "Of foreigners, native speaking teachers are especially potential child molesters" during the parliamentary audit that fall.]

Interviews with MBC radio "Kim Mi-hwa's Our World" and the TBS traffic broadcast "Seoul Plaza." [Due to] the serious problems with unfit foreign instructors and gaps in their management, we requested that the marijuana test be included again in the in the E-2 visa. [We were] interviewed about solutions and awakened the attention of citizens to our group's achievements.

2009.10 - 2010.02
We stood up to the native speaking instructors' distorted and biased article about the "Citizens for upright English education." We conducted media activities to correct the distortion. Native speaking teachers recognized that citizen institutions support our group.
Korea Herald: "One year later, ATEK struggles for recognition" [See also the first post here, titled "We declare victory in the struggle".]
MBC Son Seok-hui Attention focus (mini interview)
2010.02.05 Donga Ilbo: "Is the 'Movement to Expel Bad English Teachers' stalking?" [Korean, English]
We forced the deletion of the foreign instructors' one-sided article.

[No they didn't. They threatened to sue the paper, which removed the images taken from AES's website that were originally published, but the article they're referring to is still here.]

2010.03.22 - 24
CBS "Kim Hyunjung's News Show" interview, MBN Live Today interview
Let citizens know about measures against and examples of harm [caused by] the problem of native speaking instructors' molestation of children.
'[Should] foreigners [who commit] sex crimes be deported?' Interview on the subject of CCTV installation. Interviewed live on the topic of 'What is the cause of native speaking teachers being unfit teachers?'

[A transcript of the CBS interview is here. I'll get around to translating it someday.]

Gangster English instructor arrested for drugs and murder.
Cooperating with institutions for three months led to the arrest of a murdering, drug selling, degree-forging native speaking instructor. It led to 8 related English teachers being arrested.
We let citizens know about the problems of verifying native speaking instructors and national immigration policy. Public broadcasters YTN, SBS, KBS, and MBC all broadcast reports.

[Oddly enough they make no mention that Ronald Rhee, the teacher above wanted for murder in the US who was eventually extradited, had dual citizenship and was not subject to E-2 visa (or any visa) rules. Not deterred by this, several newspapers published (without direct AES influence) articles with titles like "The country where murderers and drug criminals teach English", "The Seriousness of Foreign Teachers’ Ugly Double Lives Cannot Be Measured", "It Doesn’t Matter Even if English Teachers are Criminals?", as well as an article calling for Choi Young-hee's bills to be passed.]

Immigration amendment (submitting fingerprints and photos) passes in the National Assembly. Since the beginning of 2005 we have [tried to] raise awareness of the issue of unfit native speaking instructors [with] arrest[ing?] national institutions and each part of society [in regard to] the seriousness of managing native speaking instructors and have constantly raised the question of fingerprinting. The ministry of justice legalized the submitting of fingerprints and photographs by foreigners and foreign instructors.

Interview on SBS radio show "Seo Du-won's SBS Viewpoint" about the dangers and child sex crimes of native speaking teachers and measures to prevent them. Stressed that E-2 visa be strengthened and a federal criminal record check included.

[A transcript of the interview is translated here.]

The ministry of justice announces that E-2 visa requirements have been strengthened, and the native speaking instructors' movement to abolish the AIDS test was blocked. We achieved through our effort the strengthening of the E-2 visa for citizens. [We] made possible the re-inclusion of the marijuana test, the requiring of federal criminal record checks, and the continuance of the AIDS test.

[They link to (but do not take credit for) this NoCut News article, which is translated at the bottom of this post, and which asserts that "deviant and criminal acts by foreign teachers have become common."]

"Are native speaking teachers introduced to Korean culture through drinking parties?" [Korean, English] Article about problems with the Gyeonggi Education Office's GEPIK native speaking instructor training program (drinking party) and examples of the problems and harm to Korean teachers caused by unfit native speaking assistant teachers.

Through an education broadcast we blocked the false propaganda of the native speaking instructor group. On the EBS morning special (English education lecture) program we blocked the native speaking instructor's political plot and blocked the goal of native speaking teachers to have access to student listeners. [More information about the program can be found here (first result)]

In the Seoul area native speaking instructors were arrested for smoking drugs. For 45 days we cooperated with institutions and brought about the arrest of a native speaking teacher working at an elementary school. The investigation is under way as police try to ascertain how many accomplices bought drugs from or smoked drugs with this instructor.

[This refers to this arrest in April, the first reported foreign teacher drug arrest in nine months. A May 21 post at their site has more details (first result).]

2011 April - July
The Gyeonggi Education Office bans instructors from bringing alcohol to native speaking instructor training. An article exposed the excessive drinking at the Gyeonggi Education Office's 2010 GEPIK native speaking instructor orientation and demanded the relevant institutions rectify this. The Gyeonggi Education Office prepared a guideline banning instructors from bringing alcohol from April 2011.

[More about this was mentioned here.]

2011, mid-July
Meeting with 1000 university students from four Seoul universities, making them aware of the truth about native speaking instructors and the harm to university students caused by the native speaking instructors' generous and undeserved benefits. Meetings with university students outside Seoul are scheduled.


Looking at their listed accomplishments, one could decide that certain policy decisions or arrests had nothing to do with them and that they are just padding their list by claiming victories that aren't theirs. It's certainly possible. However, I'm not sure what's more disturbing: The idea that a xenophobic group is successfully pushing its agenda in the media and among lawmakers, or that these lawmakers are pursuing a similar agenda without any prodding (or only based on media reports, some of which indisputably include AES).

One thing is for certain: The re-inclusion of the marijuana tests, the requiring of federal criminal record checks, and the continuance of HIV testing for E-2 visa holders are things AES has been calling for for some time, and they've gotten exactly what they wanted.

The question is, having succeeded in strengthening the E-2 visa, where do they go from here? It may be possible to discern the direction AES is beginning to head in, but I'll discuss that further when looking at their new mission statement.

One thing is for certain, though: they're going to be absolutely thrilled with this.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Visits to those who served in Korea

ROK Drop posted last week that singer Insooni had tracked down a soldier who had befriended her 40 years ago when he served in Korea in 1972-73. The Chosun Ilbo posted an article and video of their reunion yesterday, and a report here has two photos taken in 1973 of Ronald Lewis (left) and 14 year old Kim Insoon.

What a great photo. Five years later Insooni would be a member of the disco group Hee Sisters, who recorded from 1978 until the mid 1980s. As Mark Russell noted, an anthology of their music remixed by DJ Soulscape should be released this year, a sampling of which can be listened to in this video, which also has lots of photos:

Note that in most of the photos her hair is always short or covered, as mentioned in this article. There's also a live performance from 1979 on Youtube here.

Oh, and it was nice to see President Lee visiting the Korean War memorial and the home of an Ethiopian Korean War veteran in Addis Ababa the other day. The latter was perhaps a bit photo-op-y, but a nice gesture nonetheless.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another ad using the spectre of 'illegal foreign teachers' to drum up business

Bizplace has another article similar to last week's about the difficulties in finding reputable native speaking teachers, and again it shows a picture of a (different) white woman next to the Naver search result (but not in the article itself):

Titled 'Native speaking instructor should be hired through a government approved company [to be] "safe,"' the middle two paragraphs are similar to the last article's, so only the first and last paragraphs are shown below:
The importance of English conversation is increasing these days, but there are many cases where illegal native speaking instructors have been hired, and the hiring of a reputable native speaking instructor is becoming an increasingly difficult problem. […]

Han Chang-gyun, spokesperson for the native speaking instructor recruiting company Job and Consulting (, advised that if you go through an government approved agency which complies with legal E-2 issuing procedures when it comes time to hire an native speaking instructor, you can be safe from harm [caused by] illegal native speaking instructors.
The same recruiting company appears again in this article, so it seems to basically be an advertisement for them. Nice.

Oh well, here are some photos of native speaking teachers playing samulnori in Busan. One hopes a proper recruiter was used so that the Koreans around them will be safe from harm.

Monday, July 18, 2011

GEPIK drinking parties and sadaejuui

On September 15, 2010, New Daily published the following article:
Are native speaking teachers introduced to Korean culture through drinking parties?

Controversy as drinking parties thrown by native speaking teacher during orientation become known of by the Gyeonggi Education Office.

The education office straightens out incorrect policies as the discontent of Korean instructors who kowtow to native speaking teachers in school simmers

The GEPIK orientation the introduces Korean culture through drinking parties.

A crack in the management of the Gyeonggi Education Office's adaptation program for native speaking teachers has been exposed. From native speaking teachers taking part in the Gyeonggi Office of Education-run 'Gyeonggi English Program In Korea' (GEPIK)* who have found disappointment in their dream to become a 'teacher' in Korea, it has emerged that the orientation process has little to do with studying English, and that unscheduled drinking parties are thrown at each GEPIK orientation.

According to multiple claims by native speaking teachers, those participating in the Gyeonggi Office of Education's GEPIK orientation listened to lectures that had nothing special about them, and at the final party soju and makkeolli were drunk until dawn. A native speaking teacher who worked at D middle school in Yangju complained that "It was distressing that alcohol was drunk until 4 am."

The negative reaction to such GEPIK orientations can be seen on native speaking teachers' blogs and facebook accounts with comments like, "It was killing me" and "it reminded me of university."

However, before gathering material for this story the Gyeonggi Office of Education was not aware of the problems taking place during orientation. A Gyeonggi Office of Education official who manages the GEPIK program said, "This is news to me." "I didn't know until now that during orientation native speaking assistant teachers were drinking alcohol."

A Gyeonggi Office of Education official said confusedly, "The GEPIK orientation emphasizes helping recruited native speaking assistant teachers improve their teaching abilities and adapt well to Korean culture. A month after arriving in Korea a three day orientation takes place to improve their teaching methods and and aid with adaptation, and about a year after arriving intense teaching method training is carried out."

The official promised, "We will find out the truth. If this (drinking) is happening at the training center immediate corrective measures will be taken, and things will be thoroughly managed in order to avoid similar problems in the future."

Native speaking assistant teachers served as if lords of the schools.

However the problems associated with native speaking assistant teachers do not end there. Due to the insincere attitude of native speaking assistant teachers in Gyeonggi-do's schools, there is a flood of complaints from [Korean] English instructors [who work there].

These English instructors are teachers on part time contracts but must hold a teacher's certificate and must meet the civil service education qualification. Among these, people fluent in English are picked. Their main duty is to "assist and support native speaking assistant teachers." Their annual salary is around 24 - 26 million won. Recently due to unemployment, many people with TESOL qualifications or overseas study experience are working as English instructors in schools. On the other hand, native speaking assistant teachers who come from a country that uses English and have only graduated from a 4-year university can apply. If they have a teacher's certificate they can make more than 2.5 million won a month but usually make 2.2-2.5 million won.

On the surface, it would seem that the English instructors would be treated better, but in school they suffer because of serious problems with native speaking teachers' qualifications and discriminatory treatment by the schools. Miss Hwang (28), who works as an English instructor at an elementary school in Ansan, said that "I've been driven to the edge by the insincere attitude towards work that the native speaking English teacher has."

Miss Hwang said, "Nobody does anything," and showed writing posted at an online education community called '○○ school' which points out the problems of native speaking teachers. '○○ school' is a community where mostly young teachers gather. As argued in many postings, in the eyes of these young teachers, many of whom have experience studying overseas and excellent English skills, native speaking teachers have substandard English proficiency.

There have been many complaints that they treat the English instructors like handmaids, that they spell even easy words like 'spicy' wrong, that they just prepare a single A4 sheet for a one hour class and kill time, and that every class they just show a movie or put together a puzzle and only give writing homework. One instructor let loose his/her anger at how easily a Korean American, who managed to graduate from school in the US and gladly became a native speaking teacher, could earn money.

However, for the English instructors their biggest complaint above all else is the attitude of the regular school teachers who teach English and that of the principal and vice principal. Because they are 'contract teachers' the school teachers ignore the English instructors while acting kindly towards and fawning upon the native speaking teachers. The English instructors do more teaching, but school teachers only express gratitude towards the native speaking teachers. Some school teachers order the English instructors around while making every effort to approach and help the native speaking teachers in every way.

Many English instructors express their discontent with school teachers' attitudes saying things like, "I'm fed up!" and "I'm worn out by this sadaejuui (toadyism)." In addition, native speaking teachers nominally make 2.2-2.5 million won a month, but in many cases they are offered housing, so their salary is actually around 1 million won a month more than the English instructors, which is another source of discontent.

As the GEPIK orientation drinking problem and attitude of the schools which bow down to native speaking teachers become known, it has led the English education related online community to the opinion that “The low quality foreign teacher problem is not simply a problem with the foreign teacher’s mind. Our country’s growing disposition towards sadaejuui (toadyism) is also an important reason.”

*The Korean name for GEPIK is the 'The Gyeonggi-do program to invite native speaking English teachers.'
While, when it comes to negative reports on foreign English teachers, the perennial target of the press has been the foreign hagwon instructor, there have been articles aimed at foreign English teachers working in public schools before, such as this one. But that seems to only scratch the surface in comparison to the one above, which delves into attitudes towards teachers and describes it as a problem of sadaejuui (toadyism).

As for the drinking at GEPIK orientations, I hadn't realized they did not happen at the beginning when the teachers first arrived (or at least that's what some of the stories I read said), but instead months later when many already had the lay of the land and for whom a lot of the information was not particularly useful. This is different from SMOE, which had its orientation when teachers first arrived and has other workshops a few months later after normal class hours have finished (instead of busing hundreds of teachers to the middle of nowhere for three days in the middle of the school year). At the SMOE orientation I attended, there had been a ban on alcohol until the last night, when the person in charge told us we could drink that night if we chose (but "not too much"). The idea that the higher ups would have no idea what was going on strikes me as unlikely. I'll quote one description of an orientation below - many blog posts I've seen were written in a way as to make we wonder what the hell the writers are doing near a classroom (talking about it being "a waist of time," for example, and grammar mistakes which are clearly not typos). But I digress...

New Daily may be best known for this oh-so-slightly-biased article about foreigners in Itaewon inspired by a former member of Anti English Spectrum, which was written by Jeon Gyeong-ung - the same author as the above article.

Oddly enough, when I first summarized this article (at the bottom of this post) a few weeks after it was published, I wrote, 'As AES's Lee Eun-ung once put it, "Ah, the eternal subject - the low quality foreign English teacher."' As it turns out, it was the correct connection to make (though the mention of "저질 외국인 강사" should have given it away). A search for the article on Naver turns up this result:
The photo of the garbage can isn't in the article, but as it turns out, it had been posted a month earlier at Anti English Spectrum, where they commented on such boastful evidence of drinking until 4am and asking, "Is this training?":

In fact, this is mentioned on their list of achievements (which can be found here; the translation of it here needs to be updated, and will be soon):
Are native speaking teachers introduced to Korean culture through drinking parties?
Article about problems with the Gyeonggi Education Office's GEPIK native speaking instructor training program (drinking party) and examples of the problems and harm to Korean teachers caused by unfit native speaking assistant teachers. [...]
It should be pretty clear, between the exact same photo being used, the same author, and AES themselves taking credit for it, that they're responsible for the article. The following blog post about attending a GEPIK orientation after the New Daily article came out is not only well written, it also conveys some important information:
The Orientation schedule was actually quite long and demanding. They obviously didn't want us to have too much time to ourselves in case we got up to trouble (apparently in previous years GEPIK Orientation had been treated as a non stop drinking party by the English teachers so now we were paying the price with a midnight curfew, a no soju rule and with not being allowed off the training centre premises without a pass which no-one seemed able to get!) [...]

After the mass games we were finally free to drink and make merry, though we were under strict instructions that if we wanted to take photos we should not put them up on Facebook etc. and tag them as GEPIK Orientation as the anti-English contingent in Korea would seize on it as proof that we hadn't actually been doing training but had just spent the 3 days partying at the Korean tax payers expense. This despite the long hours we put in and the fact that most of the people on the training did treat it seriously and did work hard and attend all the required lectures. It seems that there is a small but vocal section of Korean society who don't want us here and think that English education is a waste of money. They're welcome to their opinions of course but I'm not sure that GEPIK should be kow-towing to them really.
One gets the impression GEPIK was aware of the source of the article. As for GEPIK not Kow-towing to Anti English Spectrum and the New Daily, AES posted this update to their list of achievements:
2011 April - July
The Gyeonggi Education Office bans instructors from bringing alcohol to native speaking instructor training. An article exposed the excessive drinking at the Gyeonggi Education Office's 2010 GEPIK native speaking instructor orientation and demanded the relevant institutions rectify this. The Gyeonggi Education Office prepared a guideline banning instructors from bringing alcohol from April 2011.
The banning of alcohol at GEPIK orientations was written about by Brian back in April. As for this sentence -
It seems that there is a small but vocal section of Korean society who don't want us here and think that English education is a waste of money.
- it actually, in many ways, predicted AES's updated mission statement, which I'll post tomorrow.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The SPO report on 2010 drug crimes in Korea

A few days ago a commenter provided a link to this Chosun Ilbo story:
Foreign Drug Crime in Korea on the Rise

The number of drug-related crimes involving foreigners has jumped more than seven-fold over the past four years.

According to a white paper published by the Supreme Prosecutors' Office on Sunday, a total of 9,732 people were arrested for drug-related crimes in Korea last year, and 858 or 8.8 percent were foreigners, up from 116 in 2006.

A prosecutor said the number of foreign drug criminals dropped after 2005 due to increased crackdowns on illegal immigrants but started to rise again since 2008 "as more foreigners came to the country to find jobs here."

Thais accounted for 48 percent of arrests, followed by Sri Lankans (14.5 percent), Americans (11.2 percent), Chinese (6.1 percent), and Russians (5.9 percent).
The white paper in question looks at all drug crimes in Korea (not just foreign ones) and is published by the Supreme Prosecutors' Office every year. The 300 page report can be downloaded in sections at these links (you don't need to install the software): Pages 1-34, 35-106, 107-232, 233-264, and 265-300.

I wondered if perhaps (perhaps!) the Chosun Ilbo was just focusing on foreign drug crimes because it was an English language article. The answer is no. Here are the titles of several articles about the report:

Financial News: Drug crimes, smuggling by foreigners increase

Asia Today: Drug crimes decrease but foreigners' take a greater share

Financial News(again!): Drug crimes by foreigners increase 9 fold over 4 years

Kookmin Ilbo: Domestic drug crimes decrease, drug crimes by foreigners increase

Seoul Sinmun: For International drug criminals, "Korea is a base for distribution."

Chosun Ilbo (Korean): Drug crimes by foreigners increase 7 fold over 4 years

Other articles, such as those by Yonhap, Money Today, Maeil Gyeongje, and Seoul Gyeongje mentioned the rise in foreign drug crimes in the article's text, but not in the title, while the Law Times did not mention foreigners at all. Here are the total drug arrest statistics (including Koreans and foreigners) for the last ten years:

Each bar is divided by drug types. Orange is cannabis, blue is mayak, or narcotics (opium, its derivatives, or cocaine), and green - making up the vast majority of the arrests - is everything else ('psychotropics,' such as meth, ecstasy, LSD or ketamine). Below is a breakdown of the categories:

What's interesting is that, as the Kookmin Ilbo's title ("Domestic drug crimes decrease, drug crimes by foreigners increase") puts it, the media reported that 2010 Korean drug arrests decreased in relation to 2009 arrests, but that over the last four years foreign drug crimes have risen (by ninefold, as was incorrectly written in the title of the Financial News' second article on the topic in twelve hours).

Both of these statements are true, but would it not make more sense to compare arrests over the same period of time? (Answer: Of course it would, but where's the xenophobia in that?) Drug arrests for both foreigners and Koreans decreased between 2009 and 2010 (something only NoCut News mentioned), while arrests increased for both groups between 2006 and 2010. While the increase in terms of percent was much greater for foreigners, in total number of arrests the increase among Koreans was about twice as much as that of foreigners.

In the section of the SPO white paper titled “Increase in drug crimes by foreigners” (page 33), it states the number of foreigners arrested for drug crimes over the past 10 years:

2001 - 70
2002 – 88
2003 - 86
2004 – 203 (136% increase)
2005 – 162 (20.2% decrease)
2006 – 116 (28.4% decrease, arrestees from 19 countries)
2007 – 298 (157.8% increase, arrestees from 28 countries)
2008 – 928 (211.4% increase, arrestees from 29 countries)
2009 – 890 (4.1% decrease, arrestees from 28 countries)
2010 – 858 (3.6% decrease, arrestees from 31 countries)

According to the white paper, until 1999 most foreign drug crimes were for marijuana, though from 2000 there has been an increasing trend towards the use of psychotropic drugs. In 2010 there was an increase in the smuggling and use of methamphetamine by Thais and Chinese, while with marijuana crimes there was an increase in cases due to Thai and Sri Lankan factory workers, native speaking foreign language instructors from English speaking countries like the U.S. and Canada, and Russian sailors.

By nationality, between 1997 and 2000 most foreign drug crimes were committed by Iranians and Filipinos, while from 2000 crimes by Americans began to see an increase, with Americans ranked first in 2002 by committing 31.8% of drug crimes. From 2003 to 2005, Iranians were ranked first (at 33.7%, 29.1% and 16% by year), but Americans regained the top spot in 2006 at 39.7%, only to be booted from first place in 2007 by the Chinese, who made up 21.1% of arrests. Since 2008, however, the efforts of the previous ‘winners’ have paled in comparison to those of the Thais, who have, over the past three years, come in first by making up 76.6%, 64.9% and 48.8% of drug crimes. (The media tends not to focus on arrests of Thais for drugs, however.)

In other drug-related news, Yonhap reports that in the first half of this year 116 people were arrested for drugs in Gangwon-do, a 63% increase over the 71 people caught during the same period last year. Asia Today reports that the amount of drugs seized by the Korea Customs Service in the first half of this year is 3.4 times higher than the amount seized during the same period last year, with 17.6 kg of drugs being seized in 92 cases, coming from places like Africa, Canada and Panama.

Meanwhile, in North Korea, the Kookmin Ilbo reports that according to sources via radio, in Onseong-gun in Hamgyeongbuk-do even elementary school aged children are becoming addicted to drugs due to opium being substituted for painkillers when they become sick, or because their parents are meth addicts and the children try it as well.

And in the news Wednesday, via Yonhap (and video at YTN), was the sordid tale of a low level gangster in Busan who got two 16 year old girls who worked as doumis at a noraebang hooked on meth. One is a first year high school student and the other a dropout. Starting in March, after three free doses they were addicted and he began charging them, and they paid 1.2 million won for 15 doses totaling 4 grams. While they were high, he and others had group sex with them, leading to a total of 8 men being arrested, including the owner of a motel.

And lastly, in a story that's not quite such a downer, on the 14th police arrested 9 people in Pyeongtaek for cultivating 1580 opium poppies in vegetable gardens (see the photo at the link) or vineyards. The opium poppies were grown with the aim of alleviating arthritis, as police said the grower believed the 'folk belief' that eating the poppies' leaves would help with back pain. The penalties for growing opium poppies are generally a warning for growing less than 50 plants, a suspended sentence for growing 50-100 plants, and a fine for growing more than 100 plants. Seven people, including 71 year old Mr. Lee, were let off with a warning, while two people including 56 year-old Mrs. Kim had their cases forwarded to the prosecutor.

Obviously the penalties for poppy growing are so slight because of the kind of people who grow it. According to the report, 38,554 opium poppy plants were seized last year - down from 113,422 in 2009. It's interesting to look at the arrests for the different drug categories by age. As you can see below, 567 people over the age of 60 were arrested last year for narcotics. I imagine these arrests were not for cocaine, but for growing opium poppies.

As can be seen easily in the graph, narcotics (in blue) are barely present in the age groups under fifty. Also interesting is that 59 people over the age of 60 were arrested for marijuana, while (it's stated elsewhere) 3244 marijuana plants were seized by police last year, down from 12,690 in 2009.( 2009 was an abnormally high year.) I was wondering how the elderly marijuana cultivators or smokers were treated by the police, and this article indicates that a 61 year old man and 3 others arrested for growing marijuana and opium plants in a greenhouse were charged with illegal cultivation, not contravention of the drug control law.

I'm sure I could spend hours delving into that report...

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Box frame demolition

KBS broadcast a clip a few days ago looking at the demolition of what Naver dictionary tells me is a box frame constructed apartment (which is defined here) in Incheon. According to KBS, the 15 story apartment building was the first box frame constructed apartment in the world to be demolished with explosives. As it doesn't have load bearing columns, it's much more difficult to place the explosives.

Apparently there is hope that Korea can export the technology. I was curious to see exactly where it was, as it mentioned it was near the Gyeongin Expressway. A quick search on Daum maps turned up a likely candidate - the Sanga Apartment, seen in the center below, which I confirmed through this article:

As it turns out, it was directly next to the expressway. The article at the above link mentioned the name of the redevelopment, which was the 루원시티. As its site makes clear, in English it's 'Lu1 City,' and it's pretty massive (though behind schedule):

Much of northwestern Incheon will be developed in the near future - most of the land was reclaimed from the sea, as comparisons with old maps make clear. More photos of the redevelopment (as well as of the resulting demolitions) can be seen here.

The video of the demolition reminds me of listening to the recording my friend made years ago in Canada while across the street from a 8-or-so story building during its demolition, in which you could hear each floor slamming into the next. Needless to say, it was an impressive sound, though one which ended pretty quickly. As the video linked to above notes, it took six seconds for the 15 story apartment to collapse.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Fluctuating E-2 numbers

As it was mentioned in the article I posted yesterday that "it's estimated that there are 25,000 native speaking instructors staying in Korea," I decided to look into that estimate. Below are statistics (from Immigration, which I first mentioned here) showing the total number of foreigners in Korea (which surpassed 1.3 million in March) as well as the total number of E-2 visa holders (of course, counting only E-2s does not give the total number of teachers, since F visa teachers aren't included). Note that the E-2 has now been split into three categories:

E-2-1: 일반회화강사 (General conversation instructor)
E-2-2: 학교보조교사 (School assistant teacher
E-2-91: FTA영어 (FTA English)

The E-2-91 was started last July (and currently totals 5 people), and the E-2-2 last August. It doesn't show the total number of public school teachers, only those who have received visas since last August. If you could get a hold of statistics for the total number of native speaking teachers in the public school system on a monthly basis, you would be able to get a better idea of just how many teachers are renewing their contracts. At any rate, the chart below shows some interesting trends.

Interesting that there's been a drop in the number of E-2 visa holders in the last year (June 2010 - May 2011), though, seeing as the 2009 end-of-year figure was 22,642, the 2010 end-of-year figure (23,317) does show an increase (of 675). Still that's tiny compared to the increases of 2000-3000 per year we've seen since 2005:

1999 - 5,009
2000 - 6,414
2001 - 8,388
2002 - 10,864
2003 - 11,344
2004 - 11,296
2005 - 12,439
2006 - 15,001
2007 - 17,721
2008 - 19,771
2009 - 22,642
2010 - 23,317

Or here's the increase in graph form:

Here's a comparison of female to male E-2 visa holders:

The percentage of female E-2 visa holders has increased from 33.4% in 1999 to 44.7% last year.

The decrease over the past 12 months in the number of teachers may be related to plans by regional education offices to reduce the budget for native speaking teachers in schools (matched by calls to "re-examine" their placement there). This may well be the peak in terms of numbers for foreign English teachers in Korea, as the bulk of the increase in numbers over the past five years has been due to the massive push by the public school system to put a native teacher in every school.

As has been announced on their homepage, Anti English Spectrum is now pushing to undo this and use only domestic teachers for the sake of their inability to get over photos of foreign teachers taken with Korean women which made them feel such "unendurable humiliation" that even now, six years later, they spend all of their free time trying to boot as many western men as possible out of the country by portraying them as child molesting, drug addicted sexual deviants the education budget and children's 'safety.' I'll probably have a translation of what they've been up to (and their new purpose statement) next week. Who knows what government agencies will court them and do their bidding this time? Only time will tell.

For those who are curious about the situation on the ground for E-2 visa holders in October 2007 (when AES scored their biggest victory by being invited to the immigration policy meeting where the Ministry of Justice officials decided to implement the HIV and drug tests AES had been calling for for the past year or two), the immigration site has a report (in Korean) here.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bizplace: "finding reputable native speaking teachers increasingly difficult"

Bizplace published an answer to a reader's question yesterday:
How does one recruit a reputable native speaking instructor?

With the strengthening of public English education and with conversation increasingly becoming more important than grammar, it's now true that the hiring of native speaking teachers by hagwons and schools has become a trend.

However, due to the problem of illegal native speaking teachers, finding reputable native speaking teachers is becoming increasingly difficult. If you want to hire reputable native speaking instructors, the best way is to do so through a recruiting company which complies with the Ministry of Justice's improved visa system.

Currently, the E-2 visa system has in-depth verification, which examines criminal records, health certificates, and includes consular interviews. Also, after entering the country, it is verified in a systematic and reliable way via a blood test whether drugs have been taken. Therefore, in order to hire a reputable native speaking instructor, it can be safest to hire one through a recruiting agency which has received permission from the government to be a legal, fee-charging employment service.

Lee Tae-u, head of the native speaking instructor recruiting company Job and Consulting (, advised, "Currently it's estimated that there are 25,000 native speaking instructors staying in Korea, and if you go through an agency which complies with legal employment procedures when it comes time to choose an native speaking instructor, you can thoroughly prevent the harm caused by illegal native speaking instructors.
So the "head of [a] native speaking instructor recruiting company" suggested using a recruiter (to "thoroughly prevent the harm caused by illegal native speaking instructors") - imagine that.

It's interesting that the discussion in this KBS piece about problematic language applied to foreigners certainly applies here. For example, what is an "illegal teacher?" Is it someone teaching on a tourist visa? Someone on an E-2 visa teaching privates? A teacher on an E-2 visa who has committed a crime? Someone on an F visa who teaches English who has committed a crime? It's a very vague term, one that is apparently useful for recruiters.

It's also fascinating that "finding reputable native speaking teachers is becoming increasingly difficult" despite the fact that immigration now has in place an "in-depth verification" system. If "the best way is to [go] through a recruiting company which complies with the Ministry of Justice's improved visa system," that suggests that there is a way to hire native speaking teachers which does not comply with Ministry of Justice regulations, which is simply not true - unless someone on an F visa is hired to work in a hagwon, in which case criminal record checks and drug and HIV tests are not required. Of course, as usual, that is not what is being talked about here - it's the E-2 visa, which, though it now features "in-depth verification" (as well as being the only visa officially subject to HIV tests), will certainly be the target of calls for "improvement" the next time the media focuses on a crime by an English teacher - whatever their visa might happen to be.


I forgot to mention that the listing for this article on Naver had a picture of a white woman next to it (which is absent in the actual article). Is the insinuation that a 'reputable' teacher should be female?

Monday, July 11, 2011

KBS: media coverage of foreigners cultivates prejudice against them

On June 18, KBS reported on news reports which cultivate bias against foreigners. Yes, you did just read 'KBS.' You can see video of the report at the link above.
'Coverage of foreigners' that cultivates prejudice

With 1,200,000 foreigners living in Korea, Korea is becoming a multicultural society.

However the practice of depicting foreigners negatively in the news continues to recur.

It's also been pointed out that the way foreign crime is portrayed also gives rise to prejudice.

Reporter Eun Jun-su collected materials looking at the problems with coverage of foreigners.

In March, the mother of the executive of a conservative organization was murdered.

Police pointed out as a key suspect a Korean Chinese.

The DNA matched the suspect of a robbery which had occurred earlier in an area where Korean Chinese are concentrated.

Also the Korean Chinese's MO was cited as decisive evidence.

Some media outlets wrote articles based on the contents of the police investigation that they had received.

[Transcript] Yonhap News (March 22): "According to police, on the 10th in Mia-dong, Seoul, the body of a Mrs. Han, whose head had been hit with a blunt object, was found in a store, and the DNA found there matched that of the Korean Chinese suspect in a robbery which took place Ansan in April 2010."

[Transcript] Chosun Ilbo (March 23): "As the areas where the crime(s) took place are areas where foreign workers like Korean Chinese are concentrated, like Ansan or Mia-dong in Seoul, and as the head was struck with a blunt object in a manner characteristic of violent crimes by Korean Chinese, police think the suspect is a Korean Chinese.

However, the suspect caught by police soon after was a Korean male in his 40s.

During the police investigation the man confessed his wrongdoing in the Mia-dong murder and of course the Ansan theft case.

[Transcript] Hanguk Ilbo (March 25): "Some media almost surpass the imagination of detective novels. Only seeing what we want to see and hearing what we want to hear, this incident has once again exposed a twisted part of our society."

Media reports like this focus in particular on violent crime by foreigners from developing countries in places like Asia or Africa.

So let us analyze whether an increase in crime has accompanied the sudden increase in foreigners from these places.

"Increase in foreign crime, brutality."

[Transcript] SBS, 8 O'clock News (May 27): "The increase in the number of foreigners living in Korea has also seen a sharp rise in foreign crime."

'Foreign crime at "gangster" level'

[Transcript] KBS News at 9 (May 16): "As the number of foreigners in Korea has surpassed 1.2 million people, the crimes committed by them have grown more serious."

However, contrary to media reports, experts say that the crime rate for foreigners living in Korea is not worrying.

In fact, in 2009 the crime rate for all foreigners in Korea was 2% - a crime rate that is half that of Koreans.

[Interview] Angela (Sri Lankan): "Though they're not out for us like that, when black people in particular are presented through the news in this way, it actually creates a difficult situation for us."

On the other hand, migrant women married to Koreans are portrayed as victims of violent crime.

In related articles there is a tendency to emphasize only sensational incidents.

On May 24, a Korean man in Cheongdo, Gyeongsangbuk-do stabbed his Vietnamese wife to death.

Some newspapers described the murder of the Vietnamese wife in detail.

[Transcript] Kyunghyang Shinmun (May 25, page 11): "This morning at 1:10 am in Cheongdo-gun, Cheongdo-eup, a Mr. Im violently stabbed his Vietnamese wife H to death in his house. The couple were married in April last year and they had a 19 day-old son, H having given birth on May 5.

[Transcript] Donga Ilbo (May 25, page A12): "After committing the crime, Mr. Im ran out and went on foot to the house of a neighbor whose lights were on and yelled I killed a person. Police were dispatched after receiving a report and arrested Mr. Im who was wandering in the vicinity."

However it's difficult to find in depth reports which go beyond simply conveying the incident and look for the root causes or solutions.

Experts say that there is bias in media which focuses on foreigners as the assailants or victims in such incidents.

[Interview] Song Jong-gil (Gyeonggi University professor): "Because of the popularity of foreign countries, because these people are different from us, because of such a view that they are not citizens of our country, reports on incidents related to crime become of great importance..."

In fact, media reports still repeat expressions which reinforce negative perceptions of foreigners.

The way in which foreign illegal sojourners frequently appear in media reports is representative.

[Transcript] Seoul Sinmun (May 2): "Sending [of workers to Korea] from countries [where] many illegal sojourners [come from] halted..."

[Transcript] Yonhap News (April 29): "One in four foreign workers stay illegally after visa expires."

However, it has been pointed out that the expression "illegal sojourner" can be misunderstood as a person who has committed violent crimes like robbery or assault .

For this reason the international community such as the UN advise using the neutral expression 'undocumented foreigner.'

[Interview] Kim Hae-seong (Global Love Sharing representative): "A Foreigner is an illegal sojourner. Then he commits a robbery. He committed a theft, this is how we think of it. So in English you say overstay, meaning someone has exceeded their stay, and undocumented to mean an unregistered sojourner. However the expression 'illegal' can cause a misunderstanding of foreigners as offenders.

There are still many reports which use skin color in a way which reflects prejudice.

In 2002 the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards revised the Korean industrial standard.

The paint and crayon color 'skin color' was changed to 'apricot color'

It was decided that because there are foreigners living in Korea with different skin colors, it could be discriminatory.

However, even now the term 'skin color' continues to appear.

[Transcript] Joongang Ilbo (April 19): "In the photo the blue skin was originally skin color, and the blond hair was originally purple."

[Transcript] Seoul Sinmun (April 29): "The right shoulder and part of the waist show skin color..."

There are not a few expressions reflecting a point of view centered on white people emphasizing a particular race or skin color.

[Transcript] Segye Ilbo (May 16): "The spectacular resurrection of the yellow bullet Liu Xiang..."

[Transcript] Munhwa Ilbo (June 15): "Black pearl Serena has returned."

It has been pointed out that the expression 'mercenary' which alludes to foreign athletes on Korean sports teams treats people as if they're objects to be bought and sold, but in Sports media the term will not go away.

[Transcript] MBC Sports News (March 26): "In the pro volleyball playoffs Samsung Insurance's mercenary Gavin showed superhuman strength."

[Transcript] KBS Sports News (February 7): "Now they've become accustomed to chopsticks and kimchi like Koreans, and are 4 united mercenaries."

Biased expressions like this have received criticism for cultivating a distorted image of foreigners.

[Interview] Song Jong-gil (Gyeonggi University professor): "Foreigners are shown in broadcasts or articles in a disparaging light, and the differences between us and foreigners as a group are shown, and this is seen by youth who accept it at face value. If youth grow, they become more open and international, but with an incorrect result contradictory values could come into conflict.

Surging ahead of our country in the midst of problems with foreigners is Europe.

Europe's media also approaches foreign criminals and victims, and also portrays them negatively.

However, though it has been pointed out that the media encourages conflict with foreigners, active effort is being made to establish a multicultural society.

In Germany public broadcasters report on the diverse cultures of foreigners to help citizens understand them, and in France the hiring of people of color has been strengthened so they can work as reporters or anchors.

Recently in Korea, some broadcasters and newspapers have increased the number of reports and programs designed to establish a multicultural society, but it is difficult to find media reports which calmly analyze the causes of, or suggest solutions to, conflict.

While media reports cultivate a negative bias towards foreigners, there is a need for self reflection as to whether this is an obstacle to establishing a multicultural society.

First of all, it's not, at the moment, a multicultural society that Korea is creating; it's a multi-ethnic society, wherein the foreigners living here are expected to be a part of Korean culture. One of the more amusing aspects of this is the way in which the media depicts foreigners doing 'Korean things' as a means of validating Korean culture.

(From here)

(From here)

(Posted here)

"[T]hey've become accustomed to chopsticks and kimchi like Koreans..."

Not that there's anything wrong with a multi-ethnic society, but you might want to call it what it is instead of pretending to be creating something that seems utterly opposed to Koreans' ideas about their society and culture, simply because it sounds like something an 'advanced country' would do. At the same time, one wonders how much migrant wives are encouraged to share their culture with their own children. But I digress.

It's interesting that the article begins looking at bias against foreigners by looking at Korean Chinese, especially since they're ethnically Korean and not a visible minority (though the line "the head was struck with a blunt object in a manner characteristic of violent crimes by Korean Chinese" is quite a doozy - tell us what you really think, Chosun Ilbo!). It then looks at migrant wives (as victims), who are married to Koreans and the mothers of half-Korean children. So an article about bias against foreigners begins with people who, in some ways, are the least foreign of all, being ethnic Korean or married to Koreans (much in the same way as the NHRCK was prompt in finding a Korean American teacher to be a victim of discrimination for receiving less pay, but dismissed claims of discrimination (in regard to drug and HIV testing) by non-Korean teachers).

Foreign workers from south or southeast Asia are not really looked at specifically, and are perhaps vaguely mentioned only in passing in the discussions of skin color and visa status. Western foreigners are mentioned in the discussion of the term 'mercenary,' but only after prefacing descriptions of a black woman is "black pearl" and a Chinese man as "Yellow bullet" by saying they "reflect a point of view centered on white people."

Yes, the media would never refer to someone as 'white' in pejorative way, now would they?

"From molestation to AIDS threats - Shocking perversion of some English teachers; Beware the 'Ugly White Teacher.'" [Sports Chosun: English Korean]
"White English Teacher Threatens Korean Woman with AIDS."[Chosun Ilbo: Korean English]
Or this 2005 editorial (which I'll post soon) which talks about "Koreans' unconditionally submissive attitude towards white people such as American English instructors."

Nothing to see here, move along.

And while it's nice to see that KBS included one of its own reports in its critique above, I'm sure it could have found more if it tried, such as, say, this one, titled "'Out of Control Foreign English Teacher' Teaches Class while High and Commits Sexual Molestation":

"Is that my child's native speaking teacher?"

To match the above KBS article, SBS broadcast a negative piece about US soldiers in Itaewon on the fourth of July, which I'm sure was just a coincidence - there couldn't possibly be someone bearing a grudge at SBS, could there?

On the one hand, it's nice to see that this kind of bias in the media is being looked at, and it's also nice to see statistics being used to debunk media stereotypes about foreign crime. On the other, it seems two foreign groups who have often been targets of negative press - soldiers and teachers - were not looked at at all, most likely because of their skin colour (often perceived as 'white') and status as citizens of 'advanced countries.'

I'll look more closely at this form of political correctness found in the Korean media later this week.