Friday, March 02, 2012

'Defenseless' exposure

On February 20, Chungcheong Today also published an editorial (much like Yonhap) about the recent arrests of foreign instructors for selling pot.
For how long will we entrust English education to marijuana [smoking] instructors?

[Thinking we] can forget the marijuana problem with native speaking English instructors, it happens [again]. Regardless of their ability, by smoking marijuana and teaching, they have lost sight of the basics as educators. Every time this becomes an issue there are cries that the method of hiring native speaking English instructors should be reformed, but when has this happened? The fact that the English education of our children can't help but be entrusted to them is regrettable.

Police arrested five people including a native speaking English instructor for illegally distributing marijuana grown in Canada and Korea, and booked without detention 31 people including an American professor who teaches at a university in Seoul for buying marijuana. They've been charged with distributing 436 grams of marijuana in well known hagwons in the Cheonan area since last July. It was found that they bought marijuana from Canada or Korea and personally smoked it or distributed it in the area.

Among the arrested native speaking instructors was one who had regrettably already been punished for the same crime; one can see just how lax the instructor recruitment process is. Judging by their selling of smuggled marijuana on a large scale, they considered themselves to be drug dealers, not educators. It makes one angry to think of these unfit people openly getting up in front of our youth and educating them. Native speaking instructors mostly teach kindergarten, elementary, middle or high school students.

There is worry over whether even youth have been affected. One cannot rule out the possibility that native speaking instructors could spread marijuana or drugs to youth. With the English education craze, the demand for native speaking English instructors is increasing. And with this, under-qualified people are sometimes teaching. That private hagwons, which should be choosy about hiring native speaking English instructors, carelessly carry out verification procedures is also something to be concerned about. If that's not the case, how could this happen again? Moreover, the fact that youth who are vulnerable to temptation could become defenselessly exposed to drugs is deplorable.

No matter how good English education is, native speaking instructors who smoke and distribute drugs cannot be entrusted with our children. There is a need to strengthen verification of native speaking instructors when hiring them. At the moment, tests can only verify whether drugs have been used within the last two weeks. This is why habitual users cannot be filtered out. More scientific and precise drug testing methods should be introduced. It's appropriate that punishment for hagwons which illegally hire under-qualified people be greatly strengthened.
This editorial rehashes a lot of what was written in Yonhap's editorial, in particular the 'foreign teachers will spread drugs to our children' canard. If they were to say that teachers caught doing drugs demonstrate a lack of commitment to their job, or worried about the quality of their teaching due to drug use, these would at least be realistic concerns in comparison to the idea of people who've paid 70,000 won for a gram of weed sharing it with their students.

I enjoyed the phrase describing children as possibly being "defenselessly exposed to drugs (마약류에 무방비로 노출돼 있다)." '무방비 (defenseless)' has come up in the past more than once:

The Joongang Ilbo published two articles right before the 1988 Olympics describing certain worries about the foreign visitors to the Olympics:

September 8 1988:
Our country is indeed a zone defenseless before AIDS

September 10,1988:
The highs and lows of a festive atmosphere welcoming the Olympics -' defenseless' before AIDS

Hankyoreh, September 2, 1988:
The 'defenseless before AIDS' Olympics

As you might have guessed, those were all the titles of those articles. There were more than a few other articles which took used that word in reference to foreign visitors and AIDS at that time.

Later, on July 10, 1997, the Kukmin Ilbo reported that Rep. Kim Han-gil - who was truly ahead of his time - had said, "Elementary school students are defenseless before things like AIDS" in reference to untested foreign English teachers.

Connecting foreign teachers with AIDS would have to wait almost ten years until the Breaknews article "Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS," which re-opened this topic on September 18, 2006. In an interview with a member of the movement to expel illegal foreign teachers (almost certainly AES's leader), he stated that "[Korean] women are being defenselessly exposed to AIDS" by untested foreign English teachers.

In The Cleanest Race, B.R. Myers describes how North Korean propagandists adapted Japanese wartime propaganda to its own ends:
Where the colonial power had touted Japanese virtue as a protective talisman, the Koreans now believed that their virtue had made them as vulnerable as children to an evil world. What by international standards had been an enviably placid history was now remembered as a long litany of suffering and humiliation at foreign hands.
Oh, but he was talking about North Korea, wasn't he? I'll leave it to the reader to decide if the above description does not also apply to South Korea.


Roboseyo said...

Great post, Matt.

Anonymous said...

Yes, very nice post and I really enjoy the blog!


ZenKimchi said...

I wonder if alcoholic teachers pass on soju and beer to their elementary students.