Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Update on bus incident

We're now at 81 articles (mentioning the fact he was an English instructor) about the bus incident (including one which describes him as a 'native speaking [public school] teacher' - but are facts really that important?). Considering there were 112 negative articles about foreign teachers published this year up until two days ago, it's a pretty unprecedented increase.

There have been at least 120 articles or broadcasts about this story, with there being several dozen about the initial discovery of the video and the netizen response, 60+ articles about him being booked (and his nationality and job), a dozen or more subsequent articles speculating about the ‘니가 effect.’ The number of stories/broadcasts about his side of the story, his admission of being wrong and wanting to apologize? Ten. Perhaps the media suddenly became tired of the story.

To put it in perspective, though, it's probably worth mentioning that there were almost as many (or at least dozens and dozens of) articles (such as this one) about some other foreigners yesterday - in particular the teens who appeared in a video showing their reactions to this Korean web comic.

And related to teachers is this opinion piece from a few weeks ago which makes some points similar to this piece.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Reports on the bus incident

I was thinking just yesterday when writing my last post that with only 112 negative articles about foreign English teachers this year (up to yesterday), things had improved a lot over last year, when there were over 280 380 negative articles by year's end. I actually thought to myself, "There would have to be some big event to push the numbers up to the level of, say 2008." Needless to say, it's arrived.

As has been mentioned by the Marmot, Roboseyo, Metropolitician, I'm No Picasso, and David Wills, (go there for all the details) this was taken the night of August 27 on a bus to Bundang. The video appeared on the internet the next day titled "A swearing and mocking black person on a bus in our country," and it was apparently My Daily that broke the story of the video and the anger of the netizens who watched it around 5:30 pm on the 28th with an article titled "Netizens angered by foreign man causing disturbance and swearing on a bus." Many articles followed, including this one, the title of which says "Netizens in one voice say its unbelievable," which seems to be contradicted by this article, which says that there is a division amongst netizens between "Anger vs refraining from rash judgement."

These reports continued until Newsis broke the news of his arrest, nationality, and job around 11 am on the 29th, followed shortly after by NoCut News, whose title said it all: "American English instructor booked for 'Bus elder assault.'" Report after report followed, with all the major newspapers, networks, and every dime a dozen internet 'news' site contributing, giving us - up to time of posting, 72 articles [the final total is 81] (!) (just mentioning the foreign instructor aspect) over the past day or so, which is certainly a record. As SBS revealed this morning, as of 5 pm yesterday, "Foreigner bus disturbance" was the most searched for term on a portal site:

Some articles, such as this one by the Donga Ilbo , begin like this:

LinkOn the evening of the 27th on a bus headed to Bundang, American
English instructor H, because he had been told to 'shut up,' threatened
a man in his 60s before finally choking and punching him. Youtube capture.
A black American English instructor assaulted an elderly Korean on a packed bus, and a video of this has spread through the internet and caused outrage among netizens.
Another Donga Ilbo article mentions that he entered the country in February, while the Joongang Ilbo published his full name, and KBS reported this morning - in a six minute report - that he is still working at the hagwon he teaches at in Bundang. On the one hand, the report quoted the Metropolitician's post, specifically this part:
I don't condone this young man's type of behavior, BUT I UNDERSTAND IT.

I've been tempted a million times to react just like this, to smack the shit out of some asshole who just called me a name, a "nigger," or told me to get out of "his" country. Who sneered at my girfriend, scolded her for dating me in front of me, or as were the cases for friends of mine who've had it worse, had their girlfriend/wife cursed at or even assaulted by just some drunk ajussi or grandpa.

But just when you think they might be trying to be even-handed, they say, "The problem of foreigners assaulting Koreans does not stop there," and bring up the assault on a Korean man in his 50s by a foreigner caught on video last October in Itaewon. Hey, as long as there's a clear pattern, right?

There were several articles later yesterday which speculated about the cause of the incident, such as the Kookmin Ilbo's "‘니가’를 ‘nigger(깜둥이)’로 알아듣고… 외국인 흑인강사 버스서 60대 남성 폭행." The police booked him without detention the other day with plans to bring him in today for further questioning, which led to several articles this afternoon starting with Yonhap. One of the articles is described at the Marmot's Hole, and says that when the foreigner was told to 'shut up' by the elderly man, he thought the man was disparaging black people (putting the 니가' fable to rest). He also said he was wrong and wants to apologize.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Recent articles about native speaking teachers

As it is time for a new semester to begin, the arrival of new foreign teachers to teach in schools around the country has led to several articles about them. Most of these are either neutral or vaguely positive, as many articles about foreign teachers are. In many cases, when talking about the procurement or placement rates of foreign teachers you could switch 'native speaking teacher' for 'touch screen monitors' and there wouldn't be an appreciable difference in the article.

On August 21, Yonhap looked at Fullbright native speaking teacher Sonia Kim, the first native speaking teacher to work at Hanvit School for the Blind in Seoul's Gangbuk-gu, who said she wanted to teach there to learn about her parent's culture and language from the students. The title of the Hanguk Ilbo's article on the topic focused more on her being from an 'ivy league' school (Brown).

On August 23 Newsis looked at several different sets of statistics which were released that day. One such statistic was the average number of students per (public school) native speaking teacher across the country, with Gwangju having the highest figure (one per 1362 students) figure, 2.7 times higher than the lowest, Chungcheongnam-do (one per 501 students), according to material submitted by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology to GNP Rep. Kim Seon-dong.

Those districts with the best ratios are as follows:

Chungcheongnam-do (501)
Gangwon-do (506)
Gyeongsangbuk-do (538)
Jeollanam-do (607)
Seoul (760)
Jeollabuk-do (964)
Gyeongsangnam-do (1089)

By type of school, elementary schools in Gwangju had 1180 students per teacher, while those in Jeju had 373 per teacher, followed by Chungcheongnam-do (397), Gyeongsangbuk-do (538), Gangwon-do (487), Jeollanam-do (520), Busan (527), Seoul (594), Jeollabuk-do (808), and Incheon (855).

For middle schools, Incheon (1041) and Gwangju (1026) had the highest figures, while Gangwon-do (377), Gyeongsangbuk-do (543) and Jeollanam-do (548) had the lowest.

For high schools, Chungcheonnam-do had the lowest (745) followed by Gyeongsangbuk-do (779), Gangwon-do (856), Jeollanam-do (965), Seoul (1175), and Jeollabuk-do (1303), with Ulsan (4722), Chungcheongbuk-do (4045) and Gwangju (3240) at the other end of the scale.

As for the placement rate for native speaking teachers in schools, Jeju leads with 100% placement, followed by Daegu (99.30%), Seoul (95.40%), Chungcheongnam-do (93.23%), Gyeongsangbuk-do (92.74%), Daejeon (90.31%), Gangwon (89.42%), Busan (87.36%), Gwangju (87.33%), Gyeonggi-do (86.96%), Jeollanam-do (80.75%), Ulsan (80.17%, Chungcheongbuk-do (78.27%), Incheon (72.97%, Jeollabuk-do (69.62%), and Gyeongsangnam-do (65.83%).

The placement rate of excellent native speaking teachers (based on experience and schooling) at the '1+ and 1 (pay) levels' was Gyeongsangnam-do at 41.6%, Gwangju at 40%, Jeollanam-do at 33.2%, Jeollabuk-do at 30.2%, Gangwon-do at 24.1%, Seoul at 17%, Chungcheongbuk-do at 16%, Daegu at 14.5%, and Gyeongsangbuk-do at 11.7%.

Rep. Kim said that "The native speaking English assistant teacher system was introduced into public education 17 years ago but their is a very large number of students per teacher." "The city and provincial education superintendents should ask the education ministry to actively recruit [more teachers]."

Maeil Sinmun provides some charts to illustrate the figures for placement rates and percentage of Level 1 and 1+ teachers, which also reveal that these statistics date from April of this year (click to enlarge):

Interesting that Gyeongsangnam-do has the lowest placement rate but the highest number (40%!) of level 1 or 1+ teachers). At any rate, I love the illustrations:

(Like you wouldn't hire Peter Pan if you could.)

(Insert your own caption.)

Regarding the percentage of level 1 or 1+ teachers, Daejeon City Journal complains about Daejeon being at the very bottom of this list (at 2 percent for 1+ level alone) and provides a partial chart with statistics, while more stats can be found in this Yonhap article talking about how low Ulsan's rating was (second from bottom) when combining both 1+ and 1 levels. It also quotes an Ulsan education official: "Because all native speaking English assistant teachers are qualified to teach students we don't think it's really necessary to have level 1 teachers." "There are many level 2 or 3 teachers teaching students in Ulsan, but there are no problems."

On August 23 CNB News reported that Daegu would hire an additional 118 native speaking teachers on the 26th which would result in a total of 504 teachers, giving them, it said, the 'highest placement rate among 7 cities.' Their ratio of students to teachers dropped from 1533 per teacher last year to 631 this year, indicating a massive hiring effort on the part of the Daegu office of education.

To go along with these articles depicting certain areas as the best or worst for placement of native speaking teachers, the Chosun Ilbo published an article August 25 extolling the virtues of Gangwon-do, which has the top student - native speaking teacher ratio for middle schools (and comes in second for elementary schools, third for high schools, and second overall.)
Training for 66 newly placed native speaking assistant teachers in Gangwon-do took place from the 18th to the 26th.

And when the welcoming ceremony for 53 new native speaking teachers was held by the Daejeon office of education on August 26, Daejeon announced that with these new teachers they now had a 100% placement rate.

One wonders how the Gyeonggi provincial council is feeling after seeing these articles, considering they cut the budget for around a thousand native speaking teachers in the province back in July, and the results of this decision were reported on last week in several papers, started first by Yonhap. (I'll post a lengthy look at those budget cuts soon.)

In other news, an August 24 broadcast news report by KTV news looks at the Talk program made up of overseas Korean students from English speaking countries or 'native speaking university students.'

Before being placed in regular schools the 322 teachers took part in an English camp for students who are educationally disadvantaged at a training center, which is where the news report is from. When their month long training is finished they'll work at elementary schools throughout the country for 5 months. The report is worth watching, and is mostly positive, looking at 'foreigners' who like K-pop and Korean Americans who want to reconnect with their homeland as reasons for wanting to take part in the program.

And on August 26, Newsis reported that a native speaker English video learning system is being implemented in Guri, Gyeonggi-do, which will allow students to learn from Filipino native speaking teachers. According to the city the system has been put in place to reduce the burden of private education costs. 400 students from elementary grade 3 through to middle school will take the 6 month course, which will feat 4 students studying with one teacher. They can take three 30 minute classes or two 45 minute classes per week between 3pm and 11pm, and the cost will be 40,000 won, which is half what it should normally cost.

A city official said, "The Philippines has a similar time zone to our country's, and there are many excellent English teachers that one can receive English education from for a reasonable cost, so we expect that this will reduce private education expenditures."

Friday, August 26, 2011

English education professor calls for government to manage foreign instructors

On August 19, the Hankook Ilbo published an opinion column by Gang Yong-gu, Professor of English Education at Gongju University, titled "The management of foreign instructors is the responsibility of the government."

To very briefly summarize his meandering piece, in it he notes that recently the national assembly and government expanded the administration and quality of education by passing an amendment to the hagwon law on June 28 that had been postponed for two years (the amendment includes regulations for fees and operating hours, among other things).

One problem he notes is that it's hard to know who is teaching at or operating the hagwons, and gives the example of the Korean American wanted for attempted murder who either taught or ran a hagwon for ten years in Gangnam. He conveniently forgets the identity theft that allowed the man to get away with his schemes for so long:
This hagwon instructor reminds us of the need for quality management of foreign instructors in particular. Above all, there is a surge of anxiety when one sometimes comes across reports of drug and sex crimes by foreign instructors.
One hopes such anxiety also exists when he comes across reports of sex crimes by any instructors or teachers. He then declares that the government's most basic responsibility is to ensure the safety and well being of its citizens and that the safety of children should not be left to the hagwon owner's association and local groups. He continues:
I especially want to give attention to the training foreign instructors are obliged to undergo in the national assembly's amendment to the hagwon law. Until now, pure (순수한) foreigners had to receive an E-2 visa to work as foreign language instructors in our country's hagwons. To get an E-2 visa one has to pass through in-depth verification such as criminal record checks, health confirmation, in-depth interviews, and after entering the country a blood test to determine whether drugs have been taken. However, in reality, of the approximately 25,000 foreign instructors working in our country's hagwons, slightly more than half, or about 15,000 have received an E-2 visa. The remaining 10,000 are illegal instructors. Even if training for foreign instructors is mandatory, this problem cannot be solved.
And of course he ends by talking about the need to take care with issues related to the safety of children.

I'll have to dig up this amendment to see what has been changed, and what this training will entail.

And, you know, he was so close there when he said that only 15,000 hagwon instructors have E-2 visas (not sure where he got the 25,000 figure from), but then dropped the ball when he said the remainder were illegal. One wonders why the uck the letter F is never used in discussions of visas for foreign instructors.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Unbiased dictionary entries

Here is the Naver Dictionary result for 강사 (instructor), followed by the example sentences on the first page:

teacher, instructor (대학의) lecturer

My driving instructor was able and experienced. (Source::능률교육)
제 운전 강사는 유능하고 경험이 많았어요.

The instructor asked me to stretch my arms and yawn. (Source:능률교육)
강사는 나보고 기지개를 켜고 하품을 하라고 했다.

Our schools in Berlin, Paris, Taipei and Bangkok have openings for Senior Instructors (M.A.and 3+ years exp.required) and Lecturers (B.A.and 2 years exp.required). (Source:YBM)
베를린, 파리, 타이페이, 방콕에 있는 학교에서 수석강사(석사 학위와 3년 이상 경험요)와 강사(학사 학위와 2년 경험요)를 필요로 합니다.

I'm a part-time lecturer at this college. (Source:두산 동아)
나는 이 대학에 시간 강사로 출강하고 있다

The instructors were on view of every single activity of the students. (Source:YBM)
강사들은 학생들의 모든 활동을 관찰했다.

Here are the results for 원어민강사, or native speaking teacher, and the total of 12 provided example sentences.

원어민 강사
a native-speaking instructor

The most number of unqualified native English teachers were found in Daegu. (Source: Times Core (타임스코어))
가장 많은 수의 미자격 원어민 강사는 대구에서 발견되었습니다.

According to recent government data, one third of native English teachers working in Korea were found to be unqualified. (Source: Times Core)
최근 정부의 자료에 따르면, 한국에서 일하는 원어민 강사의 1/3이 자격 미달인 것으로 밝혀졌습니다.

Last September, the government tightened visa regulations after a group of native English teachers were arrested on drug related charges. (Source: Times Core)
지난 9월, 정부는 한 원어민 강사 그룹이 마약 관련 혐의로 체포된 이후 비자 법을 강화했습니다.

The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency recently arrested six native English teachers for repeatedly consuming an illegal drug, marijuana. (Source: Times Core)
서울지방경찰정은 최근 상습적으로 금지 마약인 마리화나를 피운 것으로 6명의 원어민 강사들을 구속했습니다.

About 2,600 native speakers are currently working as elementary school and middle school teachers nationwide as of May, according to the Education Ministry. (Source: Times Core)
교육부에 따르면 5월 현재 약 2,600명의 원어민 강사가 전국적으로 초등학교와 중학교에서 일하고 있다.

Representative Lee Kyung-sook of the United New Democratic Party (UNDP) recently announced that as many as 326 foreign English instructors in Korea didn't have qualified certificates. (Source: Times Core)
대통합 민주신당의 이경숙 대변인은 최근 한국의 326명의 원어민 강사가 자격증을 가지고 있지 않다고 발표했습니다.

As complaints are building against incoming foreign teachers, there is a high possibility that an association for native English-speaking instructors may be created. (Source: Times Core)
들어오는 외국인 강사에 대한 불만이 증가하자, 원어민 영어 강사들의 협회가 만들어질 가능성이 높습니다.

The NIIED said the hiring of native English speaking teachers was essential in Korea’s bid to build a well-rounded education system. (Source: Times Core)
국제교육진흥원은 원어민 영어 강사를 고용하는 것은 균형 잡힌 교육시스템을 세우기 위한 한국의 노력에 필수적이라고 말했다.

According to Seo, native English speakers who have no teaching experience receive the same salaries as Koreans who have taught English for more than 10 years. (Source: Times Core)
서씨에 의하면, 교사 경험이 없는 원어민 영어 강사는 영어를 10년 이상 가르친 한국인들과 같은 월급을 받는다고 합니다.

"Because of the recently seen "English fever" phenomenon, the demand for native English speaking teachers has been rising enormously, but the government wasn't able to meet that demand,"said Kim Chang-eun, an official for the NIIED. (Source: Times Core)
"최근에 보여 진“영어 열기"현상 때문에 원어민 영어강사에 대한 요구가 엄청나게 증가해왔지만 정부는 그 요구를 충족시킬 수가 없었습니다."라고 NIED의 관계자인 김 창 은씨는 말했다.

"Native English speaking teachers will become the best resources we have, since they will make it possible for us to achieve the twin goals of promoting an enhanced English-learning curriculum and teaching the culture of other advanced nations,"he said. (Source: Times Core)
"원어민 영어 강사들은 우리가 가지고 있는 가장 훌륭한 자원이 될 것입니다. 왜냐하면 그들이 우리가 강화된 영어 학습과정을 촉진하고 다른 선진국들의 문화를 가르치는 두 가지 목표를 달성하는 것을 가능하게 할 것이기 때문입니다."라고 그는 말했다.

Middle and high school students will be given opportunities to take part in foreign language courses conducted by native speakers and be given instruction by qualified TOEIC and TOEFL lecturers (Source: Times Core)
또한 중, 고생들은 원어민에 의해 이루어지는 외국어 강좌를 들을 수 있으며 우수한 토익, 토플 강사의 강의도 들을 수 있게 된다.

Out of 158 example sentences for 'instructor,' 29 portrayed the instructors negatively. Of those 29 negative sentences, 15 were about foreign instructors.

When it comes to native speaking instructors, 7 out of 12 sentences are negative (unqualified, drugs, complaints, paid too much).

Quite the contrast.

The sentences for native speaking instructors were provided by Times Core, which is an English language learning news media service. An interview with the CEO is here (in Korean).

Monday, August 22, 2011

Line 1 under construction

On January 7, 1970, the Korea Times published the following article:

Two years later, on January 1, 1972, the Korea Herald published this photo of the subway construction.

Even back then things got built very quickly.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

From AIDS to Drugs, Native Speaking Teachers

On October 14, 2009, Newsis published the following report about foreign public school teachers:
From AIDS to Drugs, Native Speaking Teachers

It has come to light that deviant behavior by native speaking teachers, such as using narcotics or testing positive for AIDS (HIV), is becoming serious.

According to administrative affairs audit material submitted by the Gyeonggi Office of Education to the provincial education committee on the 14th, a total of ten native speaking teachers resigned partway through their contract for various kinds of unacceptable behavior or were kicked out during the hiring process after 2007.

By type, 6 had faked their academic backgrounds or graduated from unauthorized universities, 3 tested positive for AIDS, and one was charged with narcotic use.

Last October 1, during the hiring process, a female teacher at a middle school in Gapyeong was found to have caught HIV from her husband while in another country and was deported 9 days later.

Earlier this year, two native speakers at a middle school in Icheon and a middle school in Paju had their employment canceled when they tested positive for HIV during their health check.

On September 23, 2008, a teacher who had worked at an elementary school in Icheon for only six months was investigated for taking narcotics the previous March 25 and resigned.

When it came to light in October 2007 that a teacher at a high school in Ansan had faked his academic background, he was fired.
I hadn't realized testing positive for HIV was 'deviant' behavior. Nor, since it's matched with narcotic use, that it was illegal. At any rate, you have to love the title. I don't have exact figures, but considering there were 933 in June 2007, by 2008 there were certainly over 1000 teachers in Gyeonggi public schools, so for 10 to have caused 'problems' like being HIV positive, you're looking at less than 1%. Obviously, the thing to do when writing an article is to ignore the 99% not causing problems and zero in on the others.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A history of subway station names

Awhile ago the Joongang Daily published two articles looking at the history of place names in the Seoul area through Subway station names. They can be read here:
Part 1. Part 2.

Odd that they didn't include Mapo, AKA 'hemp port.'

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Gyeonggi-do to implement pilot program for native speaker 'telelectures'

On August 10, Yonhap published the following article:
'Telelectures by foreigners' introduced in 50 schools in Gyeonggi-do

From September until next February 50 elementary, middle and high schools in Gyeonggi-do will operate a pilot project in which native speakers living overseas will hold live 'telelectures.'

On the 10th the Gyeonggi office of education said, "To bridge the gap in English education we plan to have native speaker telelectures at 50 schools during second semester."

The telelectures will be held by native speakers living overseas in places like the US or Australia whose lecture will be linked in real time. Students will be able to talk to the native speaking instructors.

Schools will sign contracts with specialized companies for the video lectures.

Each school will make a request to the company for classes which need telelessons, and some schools will also have video lessons for their after school programs.

The provincial office of education will decide whether to continue and expand the use of telelectures after analyzing the results of the pilot program.

The provincial office of education expect that the telelectures will help bridge the English education gap for students in areas where it's difficult to hire native speaking teachers.
Nice to see Yonhap simply parroting a Gyeonggi provincial office of education (GPOE) press release. Had a minimum of research been done, it might have been noticed that three weeks ago budget cuts forced the GPOE to institute a hiring freeze on native speaking teachers in the province (from October to February - practically the same period this pilot program is taking place) and threatened the jobs of those who have not yet finished their contracts (though the GPOE denies this). It will be interesting to see if this is just a stopgap measure to deal with the cuts or if it will be implemented on a wider scale in the future.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

More about Korean American gangsters working as teachers

To update this post about a former Korean American gangster wanted for murder in the US who was found to have worked as an English teacher and was running a hagwon, at the Marmot's Hole Robert summarizes two articles: a Chosun Ilbo article about another Korean American gangster caught teaching in hagwons, and a Kookmin Ilbo article about parents groups calling for stricter government control of foreign teachers. As always, the term F-4 does not appear anywhere in the article, and failure to deal with this - to make sure everyone working as a 'native speaker' gets foreign criminal record checks - guarantees that these cases will continue to occur.

One new piece of information is that it appears that a bill revising the hagwon law similar to the one that was eventually passed in Gyeonggi-do (that I mentioned here - there will be a future post on its outcome) was passed in the national assembly in June. Though it calls for criminal record checks for all hagwon instructors (Korean and foreign), I'm not sure if it will mandate foreign criminal record checks or merely Korean criminal record checks (Choi Young-hee's bills call for Korean criminal record checks only). Hopefully it can be implemented in a way to ensure everyone's background gets checked. One problem, however, is that three of the four Korean Americans or Canadians wanted for murder/attempted murder were in fact Korean citizens (or in the latest case, appeared to be a citizen). Most likely they (secretly) had dual citizenship. So there would have to be checks for Korean citizens working as native speakers as well. Of course, since every time one of these cases happens there are calls to strengthen the E-2 visa, I'm doubtful we'll actually see any meaningful changes.

As I said in the last post on the topic, since the latest case involved someone who appeared to be a Korean citizen, I would have thought that it would be difficult to link it to the specter of the 'harm' causing western 'native speaking instructor.' But with the Segye Ilbo writing things like "Throughout the country, there are many unqualified, shameless instructors. The number of drug taking, alcoholic, or child molesting crimes committed cannot be counted," and the Kookmin Ilbo writing "foreign instructors have been involved in many cases of assault, molestation, and drugs" (where are these molestation statistics?), I've clearly been proven wrong.

Friday, August 12, 2011

A busy week for 'racial threat' recruiter ads

Bizplace, who have posted three advertisements posing as 'articles' for recruiters Job and Consulting (1, 2, 3) has been busy this week and has two new offerings portraying foreign teachers as menaces to society. On Tuesday, they posted an article talking about foreign public school teachers, and had to this to say:
However local offices of education cannot hire English instructors directly. Therefore, finding ways to employ native speakers is also important. If a recruiting process based on accurate information is not complied with, one can easily hire an 'unqualified' native speaker who is illegal or who has provided false information. One cannot rule out the possibility of a serious crime being committed at any time.
At any time! The Naver search results are reusing the same pictures of blue-eyed western women; perhaps I could suggest a new logo for Job and Consulting?*

As if the above article wasn't enough, the next day another 'article' appeared which was obviously taking advantage of the case of the Korean American hagwon owner wanted for attempted murder in the states who was arrested Monday. The article was titled "When recruiting native speaking instructors, an 'FBI Criminal Record' check is required."
These days native speaking instructor-related crime is in the news. The news is reporting about various incidents related to foreign instructors involving drugs, assault and sexual assault. Recently there were news reports that a native speaking instructor wanted for attempted murder in the US used a fake degree and someone else's identity to pose as the owner of an elite hagwon in Gangnam for a staggering 14 years.

Due to reckless hiring of native speaking instructors, the hiring and recruiting of reputable native speaking instructors is coming to the fore as an increasingly important issue and social problem.
And they go on to say that only through a company like Job and Recruiting can one be sure that a proper FBI check is done when applying for an E-2 visa - even though everyone applying for said visa requires a federal criminal record check.

Send your resume into them before August 15 and receive a free bio-hazard armband with your visa!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Article about racism in South Korea

I discovered The Diplomat after Roboseyo linked to an article there titled "Korea’s Multicultural Future?" by Faustino John Lim, who I've met through the Canadian Embassy. The article is well worth reading. At the same site is an article titled "South Korea’s Racism Debate":
An estimated 25,000 university graduates from the Anglosphere – the United States, Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland – currently call the country home. And they are also frequently among the most vocal critics of the racial discrimination that they say permeates South Korean society.
The article goes on to make clear that its foreign workers who experience racial discrimination the most, but doesn't notice that it's acceptable to portray westerners (especially G.I.s and English teachers) in negative, racialized ways in the media.

I thought this was interesting:

Dongseo University Prof. Brian Myers, whose book The Cleanest Race characterized North Korea as a state founded on racial supremacy, says the issue in the South needs to be viewed through two separate prisms: century-old nationalism and much older xenophobia.

‘Foreign traders were being restricted to certain parts of the peninsula well before the Korean people learned from the Japanese how to look at the world in racial categories,’ he says. ‘This makes it harder to figure out whether discrimination against foreigners in South Korea has more to do with xenophobia or nationalism.

I would lean more towards these attitudes coming from the education system and media (and it's been made clear the Ministry of Education wants to keep the danil minjok (pure race) mythology in place in schools to encourage a desire for reunification), but the point about restrictions against foreigners going back so far and the question of nationalism versus xenophobia as the cause of discrimination are both worth noting. To be sure, explorers in the nineteenth century found that, though the government did not want foreigners around and would punish those who would interact with foreigners, Koreans were often eager to talk to them (as long as no one was watching). Worth noting is that one exception was that the common people, for all their curiosity, would forcefully try to keep the foreign visitors (who were all men) from seeing or interacting with the women in the village. One might be tempted to see a connection between such actions then and the attitudes Korean men showed toward Korean women who interacted with US soldiers after liberation in 1945 and 1946, as well as media and government treatment of foreign teachers today (it's likely worth noting that a push to test all foreigners for AIDS came from anti-USFK activists in the late 1980s, who blamed US soldiers for spreading the disease to Korean women, the specter of which was used against foreign teachers in 2006).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wanted Korean American gangster ran a hagwon in Gangnam

As noted at the Marmot's Hole Monday, another Korean American wanted for (attempted) murder has been found to have worked as an English teacher in Korea, and in this case even ran an SAT hagwon. Here's what the Joongang Daily had to say about it:
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday that the man, surnamed Kim, was charged by Los Angeles police for shooting at two Mexican gang members in May 1997 with two others when Kim was 17. Kim and his accomplices belonged to Fliptown Mob (FTM), a major Korean-American gang in Los Angeles.

Kim fled to Korea that July and began living under someone else’s name starting in 1998. With the help of a relative in Korea, Kim was able to forge a passport and a driver’s license using a resident registration number belonging to an acquaintance, surnamed Lee, who had moved to the United States when he was young and no longer needed the number. Using his new identity, Kim traveled abroad 34 times until his arrest, police said.

In 2002, Kim began working as an English teacher in the Gangnam area until he set up his own hagwon in 2008 in ritzy Apgujeong with a partner, identified as Kang, 36. Kang and Kim had grown close from working as English teachers together in other institutions. [...]

Kim was found to have only a high school degree, police said, and forged his academic record to say that he had graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, or UCLA.[...]

The two also face charges for illegally hiring unregistered teachers who do not have proper certification. Police said Kim may be extradited to the United States.
As noted in this article, Kim used the resident number to get a resident card, then a driver's license, a passport, health insurance, and registration as a hagwon owner. Also, it's stated elsewhere that he went on 17 overseas trips (which would have involved 34 different flights), not 34 different trips.

This is now the fourth Korean American gangster wanted for murder or attempted murder who hid in Korea for years working as an English teacher. The most recent was a Korean Canadian wanted for a 2007 murder in Toronto who taught in Korea for years, who was arrested last October.

Before that, in March 2010, a Korean American wanted for murder in Los Angeles was found to have worked as an English teacher in Korea for years. This led to a number of articles and editorials critical of 'native speaking' teachers in general:

2010.03.25 Daejeon Ilbo: "The country where murderers and drug criminals teach English"

2010.03.25 Financial News calls for Choi Young-hee's bills to be passed

2010.03.30 Ilyo Seoul: "The Seriousness of Foreign Teachers’ Ugly Double Lives Cannot Be Measured"

2010.04.01 The Hanguk Gyeongje: "It Doesn’t Matter Even if English Teachers are Criminals?"

I noticed that the SBS article linked to at the Marmot's Hole had "학원원장 둔갑" in its title, suggesting that he 'turned into' a hagwon owner in the same way the fox with nine tails takes the shape of a human, which was illustrated in this Donga Ilbo cartoon last March.

This incident has also given us some new cartoons - always a cause for celebration! This one is from the Chosun Ilbo:

For a change it makes quite clear the person in question is Korean. One might worry for the safety of the suspect, however, since the threat of the American police officer deliberately or accidently gouging the suspect's eyeball out with his nose is ever present.

A bizarre editorial appeared in the Hankook Ilbo which started with the Rodney King beatings and ended with this:
Local police estimate that of the 30 or so Asian gangs in the L.A. area, 40% are Korean. As well, shootings and murders by teenagers are never ending. It's so bad that at one time there was an ad campaign in LA's Koreatown called 'Stop the Killing.' The incident in which the owner of a famous hagwon had been a gangster was shocking, but in fact there was a similar incident last year. Every year more than 100 Korean gangsters enter the country, and their running of narcotic distribution in Gangnam and things beyond that aren't really news. One would expect there is no little anxiety for parents who struggle to send their children to the US only for education.
The portraying of Korean gang members as threatening is certainly interesting. And a fair enough point was made about this happening last year, though no possible solutions are suggested (though considering that the solutions usually suggested are to strengthen E-2 visa issuance procedures, that might not be a bad thing). This simple cartoon accompanied the editorial.

There's not much of interest there - the knife in his back pocket is a pretty obvious addition. But as the teacher has no nose, he has also been pretty clearly depicted not to be a westerner.

In this case, the fact that a Korean American used the identity of a Korean citizen has made it pretty difficult to make a connection to E-2 visa holders (as has his status as a hagwon owner).

Mind you, the Segye Ilbo has shown that making a connection is merely difficult - not impossible.
[Editorial] Who is teaching our children?

There is a hole in the management of native speaking English teachers. Two days ago an SAT hagwon owner arrested by police, Mr. Kim (33), was found to have been a Korean American gang member who shot and wounded two Mexican gang members in Los Angeles in 1997. Pursued by the US police, he fled to Korea and used another person's resident number to establish a new identity. In 2002 he started working as an English instructor in a Gangnam language hagwon. A gangster wanted for attempted first degree murder taught English to children for ten years.

With only a high school education Mr. Kim claimed he graduated from a top US university and attracted students. He also employed many unqualified instructors. Mr. Kim's case is but the tip of the iceberg. Throughout the country, there are many unqualified, shameless instructors. The number of drug taking, alcoholic, or child molesting crimes committed cannot be counted.

The number of native speaking instructors taking advantage of the English craze is increasing, but their management and supervision by authorities is still moving at a snail's pace. The legal means to stop their crimes is riddled with holes. A system to prevent unfit instructors from ever setting foot here must be hurriedly implemented. Mr. Kim used a fake resident card and passport to go on 17 overseas trips. If there were no gaps in the law, Mr. Kim would not have been able to do so well for himself.

The reality of the private education market is that a supply of competent native speaking instructors is needed. Nevertheless, this anti-educational situation in which those teaching our children do not know how to teach should not be ignored. It's worth considering that native speaking instructors should have received the minimum amount of educational knowledge. As a first step towards globalization it's urgent to rectify this situation in places of English education.
"There is a hole in the management of native speaking English teachers." I don't know how many times I've seen that sentence at the beginning of articles. Perhaps it's taught at journalism school? It's also frightening to realize Mr. Kim's case is "the tip of the iceberg." It seems there are scores of wanted foreign criminals coming to Korea, stealing Korean people's identities and opening hagwons. I hope everyone manages to avoid the "many unqualified, shameless instructors" who can be found "throughout the country," committing countless "drug taking, alcoholic, or child molesting crimes." And the invocation of globalization in the last line makes no sense at all.

What a bunch of garbage.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Bucheon Richensia

I was on top of Gaehwasan a week or so ago on a clear day and, while overlooking Gimpo Airport, eastern Incheon, and Bucheon, could see two tall towers off in the distance in Bucheon, and remembered seeing the design for such a building years ago. As it turns out, the construction of the 66-floor Bucheon Richensia apartments is well under way, as can be seen at Skyscraper City.

This photo makes clear its location at the south of the We've the State apartments completed in 2007, while this one (taken from the 63 Building) shows them creeping up behind hills in the distance, similar to the view from Gaehwasan.

Needless to say, Bucheon has changed a great deal since I lived there ten years ago.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Native speakers seen as assets to Jeju

On March 28, 2011, the following opinion piece appeared in the Jeju Ilbo:
Native Speaking Teachers

This is the age of promotion. Everyone clings to promotion in the knowledge that regions, companies and one's own self is in fierce competition with others. If it's something that can be boasted of, anything can be found that people will sing the praises of.

In this case a word from a neighbour who knows one well is twice as effective as praising oneself.

Yesan Middle School, Chungcheongnam-do, 1975. During her first class, a tall blue-eyed female teacher neatly wrote as her name "Sim Eun-gyeong" in Hangeul on the blackboard. For the next year, she taught English conversation for two or three hours a day and made an effort to understand Korea and Korean culture.

In September 2008 Kathleen Stephens came to Korea as America's first female ambassador. 33 years after working as an English teacher in the Peace Corps, "Sim Eun-gyeong" returned as the American Ambassador.

Last November, a book detailing the story of Ambassador Stephens' time in Korea, "My Name is Sim Eung-gyeong" was published. At an autograph session on March 26, it could be seen that on the basis of her deep understanding she often plays a role as a communicator between Korea and the US.

Many native speaking teachers have passed through Jeju. Currently there are 166 teachers associated with the Jeju Education office alone. They are either graduates of 4 year university programs from one of seven English speaking countries such as the US, Canada or Australia, or are local residents who studied there from the first grade of middle school to the end of university.

Though the contract is for one year, the average stay is three years, and for those who live in Jeju for more than five years there isn't a corner of Jeju that they don't know.

It's been identified in a good many cases that for them Jeju is the next best place after Seoul to gain experience and qualifications for future jobs or continued schooling. It's estimated that there are 400 foreigners living in Jeju connected to foreign language study.

Competing to be considered one of the world's 7 greatest natural landscapes, according to the 'New Seven Wonders' homepage Jeju was ranked number one for three straight months. On the other hand, foreign internet voting turnout remained at the low ranking of 27th. This seems to show Jeju-do's international profile.

Right now the growth of foreign voter turnout is a pending issue, but idea of the 100 year long Jeju Free International City plan should, in the long run, be combined with effort to properly inform people about Jeju. After a certain period of time, native speaking teachers will return to their home countries. They are being seen in a new way as more than simply "foreigners who teach English," and as lifelong "ambassadors for Jeju." On Jeju-do, the buds of the "second Sim Eun-gyeongs" are blooming.
It's nice to see someone who views foreign English teachers as possible assets in promoting Korea. While it's hard to know what the exact figures are, I would guess that a great many foreign English teachers only stay in Korea for one year - or to put it another way, every year Korea probably 'exports' around 10,000 westerners who have taught English here. Considering the problems that exist in regard to contracts not being honoured and the number of shady hagwon owners out there (about which little is said in the media, though this article is an exception to the rule), not to mention such negative portrayals in the media and being the only group of foreigners (officially) subject to HIV tests, one has to wonder what kind of view of Korea they 'promote' once they return home. Considering the desire Koreans have to impress the west that can be seen in the media and in government announcements, this negative portrayal in the media, which various levels of government have based their introduction of 'strengthened' forms of screening, has long seemed rather short-sighted.

On the topic of Kathleen Stephens, an article about the announcement that she would become ambassador is translated here, while last week the Korea Times published an article about the effect Stephens had on one of the students she taught in 1975. Col. Lee Chul-won, now deputy chief of a border unit attached to the 3rd Army, and she were reunited recently, and he commented on his continuing of the legacy of the Peace Corps by teaching "English and Korean to children in East Timor on the sidelines of the Korean troops’ peace-keeping operation there."

Friday, August 05, 2011

Prevent counterfeiting

I didn't think counterfeiting was a big problem, but considering I saw these two posters on buses on the same day, I wonder if perhaps it is.

They both say that to safely use money, first confirm it is genuine, and never to use counterfeit bills. The second poster has more visible details (as if taking a photo of text inside a moving bus is an easy thing!) which say things like:

When receiving money, confirm whether or not it is counterfeit.
Confirm more than twice that it has the counterfeit preventative features.
Exchange money in a bright place.
Examine it. Shine a light on it. Tilt it.

So now you know...

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Daegu's 'Criminal Prevention' tips for foreign teachers

As I've mentioned before here, on July 9, 2010 YTN published this article:
Daegu office of education to strengthen native speaking teacher crime prevention education

In response to a YTN report about the native speaking teacher who habitually molested students at an elementary school, the Daegu office of education is calling for education to prevent a recurrence.

The Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education has implemented crime prevention education for about 30 people including mostly native speaking teachers hired by public and private schools who do their own recruitment.

Also, the native speaking teacher training course will involve an enhanced sex crime prevention program, and a policy where all elementary schools entrust their selection of native speaker teachers to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is being considered for the future.
This announcement by the Daegu Metropolitan Office of Education was in response to the fact that a foreign teacher accused of molestation at an elementary school in Daegu days earlier had been hired independently by his school, and not by EPIK. I was curious what the above sex crime prevention program (as well as this one) involved.

As it turns out, the guide for (Korean) teachers who manage foreign teachers published by the Daegu Office of Education in October last year can be downloaded by clicking on this link (pdf). There are quite a few interesting things to be found in it, but what follows stood out most of all. Other such publications from offices of education countrywide can be found here.

Sexual Harassment

: is intimidation or offensive behavior including sexual advances or sexual comments
that are not wanted or appropriate.
: includes a range of behavior from seemingly mild transgressions and annoyances to
actual sexual abuse or sexual assault.

Types of Sexual Harassment

: Physical Sexual Harassment
: Verbal Sexual Harassment
: Visual Sexual Harassment

Tips on how to avoid false accusation of sexual harassment

Limit Physical Contact with Students
Close proximity is part of Korean culture. But we ask that you try to limit the amount of physical contact with your students during school hours in order to avoid any accusations. This does not mean push away students who deserve a praising touch or to avoid any physical contact, just to be more conscious of when and how physical contact occurs.

Keep a third party handy
For most of us, being alone at school is not an option. We either have a co-teacher with us in class or are surrounded by teachers in the teacher's office. Thus, having a third party with us is usually not a problem. However there are times when it is unavoidable. If ever a third party is not present and the situation becomes risky, we suggest that you politely leave. Also, you can always act busy. If you tell students you are busy, most students will understand and leave you alone.

Don't be overly friendly to your students
This simply means avoid giving your students too much praise and having frequent contact with them. Spending time with your students is fine, such as playing basketball with them during lunch, but limit your time with them -- Finish the task or activity at hand, and go on your own way.

Avoid giving too many treats
Let's face it, children are adorable and you want to treat them well, and this usually entails giving treats, candy, toys, prizes, etc. However, we should avoid spoiling our students. Treats should only be bestowed once or twice a semester. Giving away too many treats may have adverse effects; students will follow and bug you for more; students will not respond in class unless treats are available students won't take you seriously, perceiving you as an entertainer instead of a teacher. Furthermore, if a student chokes on your candy, you don't want to be the one responsible. We suggest that even after this ordeal blows over avoid giving too many treats to your students.

Minimize contact with students after school hours

In Korea, the relationship between students and teachers are closer than that of western society. It is common to see teachers out with their students having dinner, playing sports, or casually talking. Even you yourself may have had an outing with your students. But in times when mere rumors can break reputations, refrain from having contact with your students outside of school. If students somehow have your number and are blowing up your phone with texts, don't respond. Rumors spread like wildfire; you don't want to add fuel to the fire.

Maintain the teacher-student relationship

This is perhaps the most effective method to maintaining a comfortable distance between you and your students while productively being able to do your job. There are many times when the boundaries of the student-teacher relationship are blurred, allowing students to see the teacher as a friend more than a teacher. When this happens, students will be more touchy and in closer proximity. In this scenario, it is likely that they will lose respect for you as a teacher. You need to always maintain a certain level of respect with the students at all times, no matter the difficulty. Here are some tips to help, but remember that this can be done in numerous other ways. First, have them call you Mr, Miss, Mrs, or teacher. Korean students are aware of the respect that comes from using honorific forms. What they call you by is important, so make sure both you and your students understand this. Also, don't be afraid to discipline. Many students see you as an entertainer who is incapable of getting mad enough to discipline. They only fear the Korean teacher but not you. As a teacher, it is your responsibility to know how to control and discipline your students. Ideally, your co-teacher should have this under control but as a teacher you also should have methods of discipline and class management. Remember, you are the teacher of these kids. By you showing your ability to gain control of the class, you are demonstrating and exerting your power as a teacher thereby maintaining the teacher-student relationship.

◎ As teachers, we are all responsible to report to the authorities when we witness a sexual harassment or notice suspicious behavior. When you perceive a sexual harassment, report to your co-teacher, vice principal, and principal immediately, strictly adhering to confidentiality. The authorities will take appropriate measures and medical and counseling assistance will be provided to the victim.
That last sentence is interesting, considering the incident which precipitated the guide saw the school authorities wait several days before contacting the police, to say nothing of how an elementary school in Daegu covered up this outrageous case, which eventually resulted in no charges being laid.

On the one hand, it's not like some of the advice there isn't good advice, and the title "Tips on how to avoid false accusation of sexual harassment" at least gives foreign teachers the benefit of the doubt.

The advice "Don't be overly friendly to your students [...] Finish the task or activity at hand, and go on your own way" is a little perplexing, however, considering that it was reported in a Korea Times article a year ago that an official at the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said,
“Education is considered a very intimate relationship. According to an unofficial survey by the Prime Minister’s Office, the majority of parents wanted solid evidence of their children’s teachers’ HIV status[.]”
This 'intimate relationship' is reiterated in the "Minimize contact with students after school hours" section, saying "In Korea, the relationship between students and teachers are closer than that of western society." I wondered about this, however: "But in times when mere rumors can break reputations, refrain from having contact with your students outside of school." When are these "times when mere rumors can break reputations"? Perhaps for foreign teachers, that's at any time?

At least, that's what I had to wonder last week after running into two of my grade five students, who had just finished a computer class down the hall. As we were chatting one of the girl's phones rang, and she answered saying to her friend, "It's my mom." After telling her mom that she was talking to me, and clarifying that I was "the native speaker," her next reply was, "No, I'm not alone."

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Richard Rutt on Jack London's Korea-related fiction

As noted at the Marmot's Hole, Richard Rutt, an Anglican priest and scholar-missionary who served in Korea from 1954-1974, has passed away. His life is remembered by Brother Anthony here.

I've come across pieces written by him several times while searching through old Korea Times articles, and thought I'd post one here. I've written about the exploits of the three foreign correspondents who made it into Korea at the beginning of the Russo-Japanese War before in the following posts:

Part 1: From Japan to Korea
Part 2: In Seoul and Chemulpo
Part 3: Along the coast of Korea
Part 4: R.L. Dunn article about Jack London in Korea

Jack London would go on to write several pieces of fiction influenced by his time in Korea, including the short story "A Nose For The King", written in 1904 and based on a story told to him by a Korean. There is also a chapter in his 1915 novel The Star Rover which is set in Korea. Below is a piece Richard Rutt wrote about this chapter in the October 19, 1970 edition of the Korea Times:

It's not difficult to get a sense of his knowledge about Korea, being able as he was to pinpoint which books London based his story on and to even point to specific instances of odd Romanization by Homer Hulbert as the origin of certain characters' names. London did in fact leave something behind from his experience in Korea - 100 or more pages of his war correspondence. Unfortunately, this wasn't easily available until 1970 - the same year Rutt wrote the above article - when the book Jack London Reports was published. Had he had access to those writings, I'm sure the influence of London's experiences in Korea would have been clearer (James Card looks at that influence briefly here). As it stands, Rutt's article is still the best I've read looking at specific Korean influences on the story.

The chapter of the Star Rover with the Korea-related story can be read here.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Umyeonsan landslide and Leaving the Earth

I'd seen this video of the Umyeonsan landslide at the Marmot's Hole, but hadn't seen this view of it happening from the street (from a car's black box).

Pretty terrifying. I hadn't realized the extent of the damage until seeing these photos linked at ROK Drop, which make clear that at least the first two floors of the apartment building at the bottom of the slope were decimated.

The victims plan a lawsuit against the local governments, claiming they knew of the risk but did nothing to alert people to it. 18 people were killed, including 3 in the apartments seen in the photos linked above. Other articles look at the aftermath of the flooding and the funeral of a conscript police officer who was swept away during rescue operations in Dongducheon. It's still mind-boggling how much rain we got.

Seeing the video above, with the cars that happened to be passing by at that moment being washed away, it's hard not to think about chance, and it reminded me of this excellent, excellent episode of the documentary series First Person by Errol Morris (director of The Fog of War) entitled "Leaving the Earth," about a pilot dealing with one of the worst situations a commercial airliner could ever experience. If you have an hour to spare, it's well worth the time.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Unqualified, early-quitting frauds

[Update: I forgot to post another cartoon - I added it below.]

I was looking for more negative articles specifically about native speaking school teachers to update those few listed at the end of this post and found dozens of them. Here's an MBC news broadcast from September 29, 2008:

"Many are unqualified"
Can anyone be brought [over to be a] native speaking teacher?

Students are facing great harm because more than half of English native speaking teachers do not have teaching qualifications and some are insincere in class.
In May, an English native speaking teacher working at a middle school in Seongbuk-gu disappeared without saying a word.

School official: "We didn't get a reason or any notice."
(For two months you couldn't have [proper] English classes?)

Also, last year at a middle school in Guro-gu, a native speaking teacher couple suddenly left and went to a foreign country.

Student: "(The native speaking teacher) didn't prepare for class and the [Korean] English teacher was angry. They fought over why no preparation was done and [the teacher] took off.

The total [number of such cases] for each city and provincial office of education during the first semester of last year alone was 195 native speaking teachers leaving their schools in the middle of the semester.

(Out of 195 who quit early, 63 quit to study or work elsewhere,
and 16 went AWOL)

16 teachers were absent without permission, and there were not a few cases of [teachers] leaving to go to private hagwons to find better working conditions.

All the affected schools can do is wait for another teacher to arrive.

School Official: "We can't visit every house and now in reality it's something that occurs, but what can we do?"
(Though harm is done, you have no choice but to accept it?)
"That's right."

Currently each city and provincial office of education uses recruiters to select and place native speaking teachers [in schools], but they work at only recruiting and do not properly manage and supervise them.

[After such] loosely [managed] entry into the country, there is also a problem with their qualifications.

Currently, if they are from an English speaking country and have graduated from a 4 year university, anyone can become a native speaking teacher.

The way things are, among native speaking teachers not even half have teaching qualifications and fraudulent teachers keep popping up one after the other.

47.4% are in possession of qualifications

Student: "During the (native speaking teacher's) lesson, the children were sworn at in English, 'Son of a bitch, you don't understand this.'"
(Was this during class?)

Elementary School teacher: "If some people teach lessons like that, I'd rather they didn't at all. There are also many cases in which they do not come to class in the morning.

In addition, differences between regions are deepening according to finances, and there are regional disparities in public education as well.

Up to last September, out of 10,971 schools across the country, native speaking teachers had been placed in 4,314 schools, but in the case of Jeollabuk-do, not even 10% of schools had one.

(39% of Seoul schools have NSETs compared to 9.9% in Jeollabuk-do)

Meanwhile, in Seoul's Gangnam-gu it's unbelievable [how many] teachers have been selected by the office of education, as it has been independently hiring teachers for four years. [...]

Amidst this the government is pushing a plan to give native speaking teacher qualifications to those have attended two years of university in a country that uses English like India or the Philippines.

Rep. An Min-seok, member of the National Assembly Education, Science and Technology committee: "A system to strengthen selection and standards is needed at the government level."

With no clear selection criteria or management system, fraud native speaking teachers are mass produced, and this is more of a concern than our goal of strengthening public English education.
As can be seen, many of the themes common now were already in place three years ago. Being 'unqualified' was nothing new, of course. This Kyunghyang Sinmun opinion article from 1997 (complete with the phrase "Korea is a paradise for unqualified English teachers") mentions that 1/3 of native speaking teachers in Elementary schools are unqualified, for example (it comes complete with a cartoon).

(NSA: Native Speaking Assistant?)

Describing one or two examples of 'terrible teachers' (without getting their side of the story) is also nothing new; the same goes for talking about 'fraudulent teachers' (something that goes back 25 years). But we also have the 'so many teachers break their contracts' theme mixed with the 'many quit to go teach in better paying hagwons.' This theme reached full development with Yonhap's mistaken (and widely republished) article titled "Half of native speaking English teachers are '6 month part-time workers'" from last September (see here). That same Yonhap article also claimed (in its subtitle) that regional polarization is increasing due to foreign teachers, something touched on briefly in the above report. These themes play out in many articles over the past few years, which I'll take a brief look at later. For now, here's one of the fruits of my research - a new cartoon!