Monday, November 21, 2011

Uncontrollable 'yougle,' and other tales of drugs and crime

[Edit: I added the one other drug arrest of 2011 which occurred after this post went up, so this now covers all of the 2011 reports tying foreign teachers to drugs.]

On August 15, 2011, the Chosun Ilbo published this report:

Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)
The age of ordering through Google and learning about growing from Youtube

Earlier this year, police police learned that R, who had worked until last year as a native speaking English instructor at an elementary school in Seoul's Gwanak-gu, had smoked the new kind of drug 'JWH-018 (known as spice)' several times and launched an investigation.

Using the world's largest portal, 'Google,' R accessed a drug selling website to investigate how to import drugs into Korea. Using Google, one can access a drug selling site by entering a simple query, and by entering a name and address and paying with a credit card, one can easily get a hold of drugs.

Police in Seoul's Guro-gu learned that T, who worked at an elementary school as a native speaking instructor until last year, imported drugs through the same method, and are currently investigating. T's acquaintance, who tipped police off about him, said, "T 'ordered through Google' and showed me a bag of marijuana that had been delivered through international mail." R ordered drugs in a similar manner using a site found through Google. Both of them fled the country before the police investigation began to kick into gear.

The world's largest video site, 'Youtube,' has also been utilized as a drug route. Last month police arrested Mr. Seo (23), who had studied overseas, for growing and distributing marijuana after learning how to grow it by searching on Youtube. The video he watched was easily accessible from Korea by entering only a few drug-related words. Police revealed that Mr. Seo used Google to order marijuana seeds and have them sent to him.

As it easy to use Google and Youtube in this way with no particular restrictions to import drugs, among police officers on the front line of drug crackdowns it's being said "Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)."

Police understand the facts about how 'Yougle' is used to order drugs, but are struggling to find solutions and control methods. Most of the drug selling sites which appear in Google's search results are based overseas and there is no special member registration or need to enter a resident registration number.

According to the report "Analysis of trends in drug smuggling arrests for 2010" released by Customs in January, the number of arrests for drug smuggling via international mail increased 53% over 2009 with 67 cases, while use of courier increased 44% with 13 cases. Most were purchased over the internet. A Customs official said, "We use x-rays and sniffer dogs for customs inspections, but with tens of thousands of goods every day, it's difficult to check them all."
I only noticed this article after reading about it on Anti-English Spectrum. In fact, they've added it to their list of accomplishments (first result):
Made successful an article in the Chosun Ilbo related to native speaking instructors distributing and using new kinds of drugs
"Drugs are entering through Yougle (Youtube + Google)"
Notified the nation of native speaking instructors using youtube and google to spread new kinds of drugs
Reported 20 drug distributing sites to authorities
It's nice to see the Chosun Ilbo getting another stamp on its 'frequent article about AES' card. Once again this year we have a story of "former" foreign English teachers involved with drugs (or, in this case, foreigners "who had worked until last year" as teachers). I could only find one other case (from last year) mentioning a former teacher in connection with drugs. Including the two teachers mentioned above (who were allegedly investigated), there have been three or four 'former teachers' connected with drugs this year - out of a total of 11 foreign teachers in the news regarding drugs (9 who were arrested).

Compared to the 34-38 mentioned in the media last year as being arrested (up until late July, after which there weren't any arrests reported for nine months), it's quite a drop.

Here are other articles mentioning foreign teachers and drugs this year so far:

2011.01.30 Korean Customs service announces 2010 drug seizure stats. Of 200 arrests, 95 were foreigners, and among those, 28 were foreign native speaking teachers, "29.4% of the total number of foreigners arrested," (or 14% of the total). While over-represented in this category, foreign teachers weren't, as the the Kookmin Ilbo put it in the title of one article, "The main culprits in drug smuggling."

2011.02.07 Several media outlets report on new drug testing regulations for foreign teachers, which are meant to catch "test-savvy drug users" who "avoid being caught." According to an immigration official quoted in a Donga Ilbo article, "Incidents of some native speaking instructors taking drugs during lectures have been never ending and this is to block this from happening in advance."

2011.02.23 After reports on the suicide of a foreign teacher in Busan are followed by an article in the Busan Ilbo painting him as an alcoholic, the same paper publishes an editorial stating that "One can only be aghast" that a suicidal drunk was teaching children, going on to say "Criminal acts and various scandals by native speaking teachers are nothing new. The various crimes that we know of up to now include assault, child molestation, sexual assault and, of course, taking and selling drugs. " It also asserts that "the current employment health exam cannot also determine drug or alcohol addiction."

2011.04.12 Doctor's News reports on a hospital chosen to administer new drug tests which will "distinguish whether a foreign English teacher is a drug addict or alcoholic." The article complains about foreign instructors who do not have legal visas who have "caused incidents which have led to social criticism" and then says that in order to determine whether these illegal teachers are alcoholics or drug addicts, more stringent tests have been developed for the... legal teachers.

2011.04.22 A British hagwon English instructor in Incheon is busted for importing 6.5 grams of synthetic marijuana (JWH-250) and marijuana seeds and growing marijuana in his home. This is the first reported drug bust involving a foreign English teacher in nine months.

2011.05.03 The Gyeongin Ilbo reports that a new bill will make foreign teachers working for hagwons have to take drug checks and all teachers (including Koreans) will have to have criminal record checks, among several other provisions. The title of the article? "'Expel' drug addicted, molesting foreign instructors."

2011.05.04 Yonhap reports on a meth bust involving a South African drug mule and a Nigerian in Korea who worked variously as a factory worker, clothing seller, and illegal English teacher, and chooses the title "Former native speaking instructor caught smuggling philopon." A police official is quoted saying "This is the first time that a native speaking instructor has tried to smuggle a large amount of philipon, rather than marijuana," ignoring the fact that Nigerians are usually not included in the immigration defined "native speaker" category in Korea. YTN follows this up later in the day with a report titled "Native speaking teacher arrested for smuggling large amount of Philipon," which effectively erases the South African (the actual smuggler) from the story to focus on the Nigerian who "worked as a native speaking English instructor." This is similar to a series of stories Yonhap and YTN published in 2009.

2011.06.15 The Maeil Gyeongje reports that Incheon Police booked without detention Korean American English instructor for taking philopon at a motel he was staying at. It quotes police who say that "[i]t is estimated that there are a good many foreign instructors working in Korea who have not had their qualifications verified." "We are expanding an investigation against them for drugs and various crimes."

2011.07.13 Medical Today reported 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."
We'll see that section chief again.

2011.07.20 NoCut News reports in an article titled "From housewives to English instructors... Drug ring arrested for selling and using" that a Mr. Hong was caught after smuggling 2.2 billion won worth of meth into the country from China by using a freighter, and that "Among the 17 users who were caught were a former university instructor and native speaking instructor, a taxi driver and a housewife." It's not clear from the sentence if "former" includes the native speaking instructor or not.

2011.07.22 Yonhap report on drug busts in Busan, noting that American English hagwon teacher P (30) stood 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) were charged with smuggling 2.84 grams of ketamine through international mail in April or May and taking it ten times at clubs in Seoul and Busan. Busan MBC reported on September 11 that they were found guilty (though the substance changed to philopon/meth) and sentenced to 6-10 months suspended for 1-5 years.

2011.08.19 Asia Today published an article excerpted below:

[Republic of Korea, stoned] 3. The world's drug distribution hub, Korea
As native speaking instructors and foreign workers increase, there is an impact on the expansion of drugs [...]

As we greet the global era, foreign tourists and foreign workers increase, and due to an overheated English education boom, there is an increasing influx of foreign students and native speaking instructors who are having a large influence.[...]

As the number of foreigners living in Korea gradually increases, surpassing 1.26 million in 2010, the number and frequency of drug crimes by Chinese, Russian sailors, southeast Asian workers from places like Sri Lanka or Thailand and native speaking teachers from English speaking countries like the US or Canada is increasing, and drugs are expanding.

The United States, Canada, and Africa are the main countries from which marijuana is smuggled and it is mostly hagwon instructors from English-speaking countries who are responsible for much of the small-scale smuggling cases. [...]

The kinds of drugs that are smuggled include not only methamphetamine, but also various drugs such as ecstasy, YABA (a synthetic drug), kratom (a stimulant), benzyl-piperazine (a stimulant made from a pesticide raw material), JWH-018 (synthetic marijuana), and ketamine (a sedative), brought into Korea via various routes by international students/those who have studied overseas, foreign hagwon instructors, and ethnic Koreans from China.
It's nice to see Asia Today refraining from engaging in hyperbole ("The world's drug distribution hub, Korea" ??).

2011.08.23 Seoul Sinmun publishes an article titled "[Exclusive] Teens exposure to drugs, drug crimes increase, sex crimes also more serious," which includes a statement from the previously quoted section chief:
In regard to the increase in youth drug crime, Yun Heung-hui , Chief of Dongdaemun Police Station's violent crimes division, said "With the increase in the inflow of drugs via students who study abroad and foreign instructors, youths easily learn about drugs in the areas around Itaewon clubs." "These days things like hemp cookies and ecstasy pills are prevalent." Cases of young people inhaling butane gas or glue to get high have almost disappeared. Section chief Yun emphasized that, "It is necessary for school health education to actively make them aware of the dangers of drugs."
This same paragraph appears in an article published the next day titled "Our children exchange pencils...for drugs; Youth drug crimes increase by 4 times in 4 years," which includes this graphic:

(Drug crimes among youth aged 12-19)

(I suppose it's never too late to simply drug test every child in Korea.)

2011.09.11 Busan MBC, NoCut News and Yonhap report that the three Canadian gyopos whose arrest was announced in July (for Ketamine) were found guilty of importing and using philopon/meth and sentenced to 6-10 months suspended for 1-5 years. Yonhap provided the following photo:

It's just a file photo, however (one of two in the article), as one might guess from their clothes (not something one would wear being arrested in July!).

2011.09.16 KBS, in a news report titled "The new drug 'spice' spreads among young people... crackdown difficult" reports about a Korean dance teacher who was arrested for spice, who got it from someone in the US military. It also mentions the busts of US soldiers in Itaewon in July for selling spice, and then finishes with this statement:
Police, working with US military investigative agencies, are expanding their investigation into new kinds of drugs to target US soldiers and civilian workers as well as foreign instructors.
I guess now is not the time to mention that there have been only three cases reported in the media connecting foreign teachers with spice in the last two years.

2011.09.19 National assembly representative Park Young-a calls for stricter recruitment standards for foreign teachers after a teacher was rehired after failing a drug test - ignoring the fact that it was the lack of strict enforcement of existing standards (not the lack of standards) that was responsible for the teacher being rehired (due to a successful retest based on a claim that the first result was a false positive).

2011.10.02 A comparison between two Kukmin Ilbo articles that were published at the same time looking at 'unregistered' Korean and foreign hagwon instructors, in which the foreign teachers are portrayed as potential threats due to "never ending" "drugs and molestation." Job and Consulting is also used as a source (previously seen here: 1,2,3,4).

2011.11.07 Busan Ilbo reports that a Canadian teacher was arrested for taking a 'new kind' of drug - hashish. Yonhap then follows up a 'just the facts' article on this bust by reporting that Ulsan's reputation is hurt by fat, lazy, argumentative foreign teachers.

2011.12.04 Yonhap reports about an arrest with the headline "Native speaking instructor smuggles 'spice' which is 5 times more powerful than marijuana," and notes that the Australian who was arrested passed an earlier drug test.

2011.12.17 NoCut News reports on the previous reported arrest, refers to the "continuous crimes such as taking, distributing or importing drugs by foreign instructors like these," and argues that the newly amended Hagwon Law was not being followed. They state that "Foreign instructors should be hired after confirming a drug test but this has not been implemented," and that this is a threat to children which worries parents.

So out of a good many instances of foreign teachers being linked to drugs in the media this year, only a handful of cases involved actual arrests for drug possession or smuggling (9 arrested in 6 cases, if the Nigerian meth smuggler who taught English illegally is left out). I'm not sure what the relation is between reported cases and actual arrest statistics - it might be useful to review statistics going back to 2006 or so to find out. At any rate, if they are connected, then it looks like there may be a drop in the number of cases involving foreign teachers (so far) this year - which would certainly be a good thing. The odd thing, however, is that 5 of the 9 arrests were for meth, while three were for marijuana and one was for spice, which is certainly not how drug arrests for foreign teachers generally play out.


brent said...

The obvious problem though is the pre-crime obsession with foreign instructors. Yet they let people on tourist visas run free to do as they please.

They also are not going to let it go until every instructor is out of the public schools. The numbers speak enough for themselves that their obsession is the problem.

Anonymous said...

Using the world's largest portal, 'Google,' R accessed a drug selling website to investigate how to import drugs into Korea. Using Google, one can access a drug selling site by entering a simple query, and by entering a name and address and paying with a credit card, one can easily get a hold of drugs.

Bizarre, as if one couldn't use Korea's largest portal to do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

I wonder if the real issue behind the Youtube/Google connection is that both have refused to implement the government's foolish real-name policy and do not provide the government with the information (access) that they want.

Meanwhile, no one gets sued for slander for this sort of specious reporting.