Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Anti English Spectrum distributes pamphlets in Seoul part 2 [AKA the final post of the English Spectrum Incident series]

The 2005 English Spectrum Incident

Part 1: English Spectrum and 'Ask The Playboy'
Part 2: The Kimchiland where it’s easy to sleep with women and make money
Part 3: English Spectrum shuts down as Anti-English Spectrum is created
Part 4: How to hunt foreign women
Part 5: Did the foreigners who denigrated Korean women throw a secret party?
Part 6: The 'Ask The Playboy' sexy costume party
Part 7: Stir over ‘lewd party’ involving foreigners and Korean women
Part 8: The 2003 post that tarred foreign English teachers as child molesters
Part 9: Netizens shocked by foreign instructor site introducing how to harass Korean children
Part 10: 'Recruit a Yankee strike force!'
Part 11: The Daum signature campaign: 'Let's kick out low quality foreign instructors!' 
Part 12: Movement to expel foreign teachers who denigrated Korean women
Part 13: "Middle school girls will do anything"
Part 14: Netizens propose 'Yankee counter strike force'
Part 15: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 1
Part 16: Segye Ilbo interview with the women from the party, part 2
Part 17: Web messages draw Koreans’ wrath
Part 18: Thai female laborers and white English instructors
Part 19: KBS Morning Newstime: 'I can also suffer from the two faces of the internet'
Part 20: AES: Grandfather Dangun is wailing in his grave!
Part 21: 'Regret' over the scandal caused by confessions of foreign instructors
Part 22: "Korean men have no excuse"
Part 23: "Unfit foreign instructors should be a 'social issue'"
Part 24: Growing dispute over foreign English instructor qualifications
Part 25: 'Clamor' at foreigner English education site
Part 26: Foreign instructor: "I want to apologize"
Part 27: No putting brakes on 'Internet human rights violations'
Part 28: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 1
Part 29: "They branded us as whores, yanggongju and pimps," part 2
Part 30: Don't Imagine
Part 31: Anti-English Spectrum founder's statement
Part 32: 'Foreign instructor' takes third place
Part 33: Art From Outsider's Point of View
Part 34: U.S. Embassy warns Americans of threats near colleges
Part 35: Internet real name system debated
Part 36: Dirty Korean women who have brought shame to the country?
Part 37: Invasion of Privacy Degrades Korean Women Twice Over
Part 38: 60 unqualified native speaking instructors hired for English instruction
Part 39: The rising tide of unqualified foreign instructors
Part 40: Warrant for Canadian English instructor who molested hagwon owner
Part 41: MBC Sisa Magazine 2580: "Korea is a paradise"
Part 42: Foreign instructor: "In two years I slept with 20 Korean women."
Part 43: Viewers shocked by shameless acts of unqualified foreign instructors.
Part 44: Warrant for the arrest of a man in his 30s for breaking into home of foreign instructors
Part 45: [Cultural criticism] Hongdae club day lewd party incident 
Part 46: Unqualified English instructors seen as major problem here
Part 47: Investigation of the realities of 'foreign instructors' methods for luring Korean women'
Part 48: Broadcast announcement: 'For foreign instructors, is Korea a paradise for women?'
Part 49: To white English instructors, the Republic of Korea is a paradise
Part 50: "If they're white, it's okay?" Lots of English instructor frauds... 
Part 51: A new message from Anti English Spectrum
Part 52: 
SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 1
Part 53: SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 2 
Part 54: SBS, 'Is Korea their paradise? Blond hair blue eyes' part 3
Part 55: Viewers of 'Realities of unfit foreign instructors' outraged
Part 56: Foreign instructor: "Korea is a cash and women dispenser."
Part 57: Frustration with low-standard foreign instructors: "Korea's pride damaged"
Part 55: Viewers of 'Realities of unfit foreign instructors' outraged
Part 56: Foreign instructor: "Korea is a cash and women dispenser."
Part 57: Frustration with low-standard foreign instructors: "Korea's pride damaged"
Part 58: Netizen anger over 'foreign instructor' broadcast
Part 64: Anti English Spectrum distributes pamphlets in Seoul taking advantage of the SBS broadcast, part 2

More Anti English Spectrum members handed out leaflets again the weekend after the SBS report came out, on February 27, the same day member Gamjameori (dgy1204) posted these photos of the outing:

Making concrete plans.

Dividing up the leaflets before our earnest work.

Smoking a cigarette after hard work....

A description of their "campaigns to oust illegal native English teachers" in their list of achievements states that they "Conducted three separate campaigns in front of Hongdae, Myongdong, Shinchon and Seoul Girls Highschool). One wonders what effect these campaigns might have had. To put it another way, one wonders how many passersby even bothered to read the leaflets.

Regarding the leaflet, continuing from the previous post, it also highlights the argument made on "I Want To Know That" about the how Koreans view foreigners differently depending on their appearance and country of origin: "Think about the racial discrimination within ourselves. We look coldly upon migrant workers from Southeast Asia but are excessively lenient towards blue-eyed foreigners..." The solution, for them, is to not only encourage Koreans to look coldly upon "blue-eyed foreigners" as well, but to take matters into their own hands:
Right now our society has no system properly put in place to filter out low-quality native-speaking instructors! Ladies and gentlemen, you yourselves must be vigilant and expel them!!! If you see these people please report them to the immigration office or the nearest police station.
What's also interesting is how Anti English Spectrum's target changed. The leaflet defines low-quality native-speaking instructors as "Those coming to Korea without E-2 visas for the purpose of engaging in sexual pleasures and to create trouble [emphasis added]." It further defines E-2 visas as "A visa issued by the immigration office to those who have a four-year university degree or teaching credentials." Of course, by the time they had BreakNews publish what amounted to their manifesto on the need for HIV tests for foreign teachers in September 2006, their target for these tests became foreign teachers on E-2 visas, presumably because they realized the difficulty of testing those teaching illegally (such as on tourist visas), which makes clear that their concern was never with 'illegal' or 'low-quality native-speaking instructors' per se, but with the imposition of Korean sovereignty over, and stigmatization as AIDS threats of white, male foreign teachers in general.

The leaflet they distributed is also an early example of Anti English Spectrum rewriting its history. Though its initial members (thousands joined in the first few weeks of its existence) were netizens keen to vent their anger at both the foreign teachers and the women who dared to be seen frolicking with them in photos of the Hongdae English Spectrum parties, many of the early posts at the site (featuring titles like "Now's the chance to humiliate those crazy bitches") were later deleted. The reasons for netizen anger toward the teachers were changed into something rather different from their initial anger at (and feelings of humiliation due to) foreign teacher attitudes towards Korean women at English Spectrum's "Ask The Playboy" forum and anger at the betrayal of Korean women who would sleep with them:
At the end of last year photos of white people frolicking with Korean women at a bar in Itaewon were uploaded at an employment site for foreign language English instructors, causing controversy when netizens criticized this and put forward the view that [the photos] invaded privacy.
First of all, every member of the group very knew well the photos were not taken in Itaewon; I imagine Itaewon conformed better to what they imagined were the prejudices of the leaflets' potential readers and more heavily implied, without outright stating it, that there was sex involved. More importantly, the assertion that "netizens... put forward the view that [the photos] invaded privacy" makes them seem like concerned citizens - concerned about the women's privacy - rather than angry, offended netizens who themselves used the photos as both a means - and yet another excuse - to lash out at young women who increasingly seemed to be forgetting their place (something that would come to a head months later during the 'dog poop girl incident'). Over time Anti English Spectrum would change their image from netizens angry about a sexy costume party, to nationalists trying to expel dangerous outsiders, to citizens concerned about the safety of children, as the changes in the header on their site reveal:

February 7, 2005 
"Anti English Spectrum"

 July 24, 2006
"The citizens movement to expel illegal foreign language instructors." ("Our fatherland, protected by the blood of our ancestors. What we must protect now is [our] descendants' education." Note Yi Sun-shin, Kim Jwa-jin, Dangun, and other nationalist heroes.)

October 16, 2008
The final website banner of "Citizens' group for upright English education (The citizens movement to expel illegal foreign language instructors)."

Over the next year and a half the group would be busy, according to their list of achievements:
2005.01 to present
Submitted countless [hundreds of] petitions to the MOJ, Immigration, Supreme Prosecutor’s Office and Education Ministry [resulting in]:
- strengthened E-2 visa related documents at Immigration
- active and full-blown crackdown operations on illegal English teachers by related organizations
- southern district prosecutor’s office deported 69 fake academic credential teachers in Oct. 2005

2005.01 to present
Extensive efforts in trying to get press on the problems and disorder regarding native English teachers. Scores of articles were published/broadcast! (MBC, SBS, Kookmin Ilbo, Dailian, Hankook Ilbo, Breaknews, The Korea Economic Daily, The Women’s News, etc…)

2005 - 2005.12
Conducted campaigns to prohibit illegal native speakers to teach and appear on TV.

Visited Information and Communications Ministry, Ethics Committee to request that the native English teacher job search site English xxxx be punished for posting obscenities.

2005.01 to present
Successfully reported and closed down native English teacher sites and sites with posts that degrade women in Korean society.

2005.01 to present
Collected information and exposed illegal native English teachers and reported them to related institutes (cannot disclose).

Visited the National Assembly (assemblyman Lee Joo-ho, etc) to request a bill to strengthen checks on native English teacher management policies / plans.

2006 to present
Efforts made to build opposing public opinion against the lowering of standards regarding qualifications for native English speakers by certain people involved in the English education market. Received confirmation from Education Ministry and Offices of Education that qualification standards will be strengthened.

Participated in National Assembly public hearing (held by assemblyman Lee Joo-ho) regarding English education and delivered our Internet cafe’s position on the matter - emphasized that budgets concentrated on foreign assistant teachers should be used to support Korean English teachers and English students.

Cooperated and participated in TV broadcast programs regarding problems with low quality, unqualified native English teachers.[On August 25 and September 1, in the wake of the arrest of John Mark Karr and the realization he had taught in Korea.]
SBS 'Seven Days': "Unverified foreign English teachers, a danger to children" [Link]
KBS 'Center of the World': "Are native speaking English teachers really trustworthy?" [Link]
KBS2 'VJ Special Forces': "The war against foreign crime" [Link]
If it is true they contributed to those broadcasts, then it would seem they had, by this point, become the go-to 'experts' on foreign teacher misbehavior for two of the main Korean television networks. Still, they weren't getting the publicity for their activities and goals they desired; this would change in July 2006, when 'Inside Story' (in its tabloid newspaper edition) or BreakNews (in its online incarnation) began to publish a series of articles from Anti English Spectrum's point of view about the debased nature of low quality foreign teachers and the threat they posed to upright Korean society:

07.24 “Low-quality foreign teachers absorbed in money, women, drugs.” [Link]
08.07 "Low quality English teachers: 'Korean women are a source of money and sex partners'" [Link]
08.16 "Women give English teachers 'full service like a king'"[Link]
08.21 "Affairs with High School Students, Spreading Nude Photos on the Internet" [Link]
09.12 "Foreign teachers demand mothers in substitution for tutoring fees." [Link]
09.18 "Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS" [Links: English Korean]

In the pamphlet that Anti English Spectrum members distributed in February 2005, they mentioned scandalous actions by foreign teachers that had not been reported in the media but were available at their site, such as a foreign teacher who got a student pregnant and threatened legal action against someone who wanted to report him, and teachers who "seduced students' mothers." As can be seen in the second-last article above, BreakNews was not at all above reporting these stories. I'd love to do a short series translating these but they're rather long so that might take some time (though perhaps not as long as this series!). I have, however, translated a number of news reports linked to Anti English Spectrum's campaign to connect foreign teachers with AIDS between the summer of 2006 and the imposition of HIV testing for E-2 visa holders in late 2007, and will try to get those posted in the near(ish) future.

With the media furor over the SBS broadcast of 'I Want To Know That' dying out by the end of February 2005, the media stopped, for the moment, reporting on the English Spectrum incident (though references to it (or to foreign teachers "secret parties") would appear even seven years later as if it had happened yesterday (see here and here)). As seen above, however, Anti English Spectrum, which formed due to the incident, kept fighting its fight to keep Western men from having sex with Korean women protect Korean children from unqualified foreign teachers, eventually gaining a major success in 2007 when they were invited to an immigration policy meeting which decided on the HIV and drug tests for E-2 visa holders for which they had been lobbying during the past year or more.

When I started this series over five years ago, I wouldn't have imagined it would take this long to finish, but I also didn't realize how varied the the news articles surrounding the English Spectrum Incident were, or how interesting the conversation regarding the incident was compared to my expectations. Hopefully my readers have found it interesting as well. Several people helped me along the way: Young Mi Park helped with translation in many of the 2012 posts, while the translations of the 'I Want To Know That' episode couldn't have been done without Ami Shin. Thanks as well to Matthew Smith for reminding me to continue the series in 2013. And thanks to readers who have stuck with me despite the intermittent posting.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Fringe Christian anti-gay group opposes ending HIV tests for E-2s

In the wake of the Ministry of Justice announcing that it would no longer require HIV tests for foreign instructors, (reported in the Korean language media as being due to "controversy over discrimination"), a Christian group known as Anti-Homosexuality Christian Citizens' Solidarity has released a statement condemning the Ministry for endangering the nation and reverse discrimination. As the Korea Times put it
The Christian group condemns homosexuality and believes that Christians must unite against homosexuality. It supports Christian anti-homosexual movement organizations, recruits and trains "young patriotic" vanguard troops and seeks strategic countermeasures to stop homosexuality, according to its website.
That website is http://www.antihomo.net, in case you were wondering. That such an anti-gay group would be concerned with AIDS is not surprising considering the link made between homosexuality and AIDS in the literature of the Christian groups who have picketed Pride celebrations for the past few years. One might get the idea from the Times coverage that this group speaks for a large group of people, but that would be mistaken. The message from its representative Pastor Ju Yo-sep - the same Pastor Ju Yo-sep who left a ranting comment on the Yonhap piece - appears only in the Gidok Ilbo [Christian Daily], and has not been referred to in any other articles (other than the Korea Times), as far as I can tell. Here is the article he wrote for the Gidok Ilbo on July 10:
[AHCCS Statement] The Ministry of Justice must immediately retract its halting of mandatory AIDS tests for foreign conversation instructors.

Pastor Ju Yo-sep of Anti-Homosexuality Christian Citizens' Solidarity.

At present, the Justice Department has a disordered atmosphere with the appointed minister candidate having voluntarily resigned and the confirmation hearing for the new minister candidate yet to take place. In such a [state], the Ministry of Justice announced on July 8 a dangerous policy that runs counter to the protection of citizens’ health and the national interests of the Republic of Korea, that it had abolished the AIDS tests which had been mandatory up until now for native-speaking conversation instructors, in accordance with the demands of the UN Committee on the Eradication of Racial Discrimination and the recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission. The majority of citizens who hear this news are astonished. How can this crucial issue be decided by some public officials without public consent?

This is clearly a socialist idea, a serious issue that infringes upon people's right to health and right to know, and should be withdrawn and [the AIDS test should be] reverted back to because it is an erroneous decision arising from a distorted sense of discrimination that causes reverse discrimination. It is shocking and unbelievable that the Ministry of Justice, a central administrative agency that oversees prosecutors, the penal [system], human rights protection, immigration control, and other judicial affairs, has made such an anti-human rights and anti-citizen decision that infringes on the human rights of the majority in order to protect the human rights of a small minority. Why should the majority of citizens suffer from reverse discrimination at the hands of the state?

AIDS is a legally[defined] infectious disease caused by infection with HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus), and is classified with the third group of infectious diseases in article 2 (1) of the “Prevention and Management of Infectious Diseases Act” which includes malaria, tuberculosis, Vibrio Vulnificus Septicemia, influenza, and syphilis. However, it is doubtful whether a dangerous infected person with something like AIDS can be kept secret on that basis. This cannot but be questioned as a decision made through an obviously wrong political judgment.

As well, the anxiety and suspicion of many parents and students regarding foreign conversation teachers can be amplified. This will not only affect parents and students, but will even have an adverse effect on the majority of foreign conversation instructors who have nothing to do with AIDS. Up until now, parents and students believed the government, and when it said foreign conversation instructors had passed the AIDS test, they trusted this, but from now on, because [this] method of verifying foreign instructors is gone, it can lead to group distrust and disadvantage [among] parents and students. A democratic government should not give up the obligation it ought to fulfill, causing the distrust of the majority of the people and strained relations with foreign conversation instructors, as well as wasting energy on unnecessary suspicion.

As a result of problems with foreign conversation instructors such as drugs appearing many times in the media, public opinion worsened and so immigration enforcement measures made it so medical certificates (for syphilis*, drugs, AIDS) were to be included for the E-2 visa, but I cannot understand why the AIDS provision alone was excluded. On the same basis, if a syphilis carrier or drug addict raises an objection that they are discriminated against and request that [the test] be removed, how should that be dealt with? AIDS, like syphilis and drugs, spreads in secret easily, and is a dangerous disease that can directly affect the people, so it is necessary to explain in detail why AIDS alone is treated as a special case, and if it is unreasonable, it should naturally be withdrawn.

In some media [reports], the health rights of the Korean people were threatened, and even though there was great concern about the spread of AIDS, embarrassment was felt about the mandatory AIDS test for foreign conversation instructors, and they forecast problems with labor survival and from the purebloodism and violation of reciprocity which go against globalization, and articles agreeing with this were published, but what nation’s media is so deplorable and shocking? I would like to ask again what kind of benefits would come to the Republic of Korea if we really abolish the mandatory AIDS test for foreign instructors. It is just dumbfounding how much it was decided to ruin and corrupt Korea. At present, I don’t know if a lot of the national budget is paid to cover the cost of treatment for AIDS patients, or if it cannot be interpreted as a complaint of an idealist who deliberately looks away.

Which country officials are the officials of the Justice Department? Now, with the position of the Minister of Justice vacant and a candidate yet to go through a confirmation hearing, we should ask why the Ministry of Justice decided on such an important policy in a hurry and sternly find out who is responsible. At this time the nation’s citizens have realized just how indifferent the Ministry of Justice, along with the National Human Rights Commission, is to the protection of the health of its own citizens and how it has neglected and encouraged AIDS infection. The Ministry of Justice should see this as an opportunity to become aware of this and make the utmost effort [to rectify it].

As the treatment costs for AIDS patients are covered in full by the government, it is paid out from the astronomical national budget, but who will be responsible for the cost of medical care and nursing care if a Korean is infected through sexual contact with a foreign AIDS conversation instructor?** Why is the Ministry of Justice abandoning its duty and irresponsibly making an exemption of the mandatory test? In this way, how can the Ministry of Justice fortify and protect the citizens’ human rights, protect citizens’ right to health, and protect the safety of many students and hagwon attendees?

We hope the Ministry of Justice will come to its senses and immediately retract its abandoning of the mandatory AIDS test for foreign conversation instructors and bear in mind that this path is the only way to recover damaged public trust.
There's so much wrong here it's hard to know where to start. Suffice it to say that the idea that HIV spreads easily is wrong, and the idea that parents should be suspicious of foreign teachers because their children might catch it from the teachers helps to contribute to fear and ignorance surrounding HIV/AIDS in Korea (not to mention contributing to suspicion of foreigners; as always such articles have a prescriptive quality to them). What confuses me is that Christians who seem to take offense at North Koreans being abused by their government (ie human rights abuses) also take offense at the concept of rights being applied to their own country (rights, I should add, that Christians, among others, fought for during the democracy movement). This obviously reeks of "rights for me (or my pet causes) but not for thee," and probably has more to do with the feeling of it being imposed from without (again, see some of their writing here). Of course, such ideas have not been imposed from outside - they need only read something like "When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt." (Leviticus 19:33-34)***

In the end, I'm less concerned about this odd postscript to the doing away of the E-2 HIV testing regime in the form of the rantings of homophobic Christians as it applies to foreign teachers than I am about how such intolerance contributes to the hardship faced by Koreans living with HIV/AIDS and the Korean LGBT community.

* It's odd how syphilis got included in all of this. It was not included in the original health checks that began in 2007, but was mandated in the 2011 MoJ notice on E-2 health checks and appeared on future checks (at least the ones I took). Reading Yonhap's article or the ranting above makes it sound like it was part of the original testing regime, but it wasn't, and was added with little fanfare in 2011.

** I decided to render "foreign AIDS conversation instructor" as it was written: 외국인 에이즈회화강사. He's either not the best of writers or is deliberately writing in a smear-y way that makes the Anti-English Spectrum folks look measured in comparison (and the fact that nothing about the doing away with of the HIV tests has appeared on AES's site shows just how dead that site is).

***The Biblical quote is from Gil-Soo Han's Nouveau-riche Nationalism and Multiculturalism in Korea (New York: Routledge, 2016).

Monday, July 10, 2017

Yonhap: Controversy over discrimination prompts Korea to stop E-2 HIV tests

[Update, July 12]

Here's an article about the end of HIV testing which borrows from the article Benjamin Wagner and I wrote, though it comes up with the opposite conclusion.

The Korea Times also published the English version of the Yonhap article below.

[Original post]

The Korean language press has also reported on the end of HIV/AIDS tests for E-2 visa holders (as can be seen here). Most articles are based on the following article Yonhap published on July 8:
'Discrimination Controversy' - Foreign instructor AIDS test abolished… UN recommendation accepted

Tests for drugs like methamphetamine, cocaine, marijuana to remain the same as before

The mandatory AIDS testing system for foreign language conversation instructors working in Korea has been abolished.

Foreign conversation instructors urged the abolition of the mandatory AIDS test which they said was a discriminatory system that is not internationally recognized as universal and, after controversy, the government has accepted this demand.

The Ministry of Justice disclosed on July 8 that that from now on foreign instructors who have been issued a conversation instruction (E-2) visa can work without receiving an AIDS test.

Previously, in order to work in private institutes and elementary, middle and high schools, foreign conversation instructors were required to be issued an E-2 visa and to submit the results of AIDS and drug tests issued by a medical institution in Korea.

According to a new Ministry of Justice Notice which took effect on July 3, foreign instructors are now required to take a test for drugs including methamphetamine and cocaine and for the sexually transmitted disease syphilis, but not an AIDS test.

A New Zealander who had worked as an English instructor at a Korean elementary school in Korea petitioned the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination [CERD] in 2012 and with that the mandatory AIDS test for foreign conversation instructors became a full-fledged controversy.

In May 2015 the CERD said that demanding an AIDS test as a condition of employment for English instructors violated human rights and urged the Korean government to compensate the woman for mental and material damages.

Last September the National Human Rights Commission also recommended to the government to stop the practice of carrying out mandatory AIDS testing for native speaking conversation instructors on E-2 visas.
Yonhap also published this video:

And no, the test for employment purposes was not a little pinprick on the finger.

It's nice that Yonhap was so quick to assure readers that the drug tests will remain so that they won't worry too much. As we can see, there was nothing wrong with the tests, it's just that foreign teachers made made it into a controversy at the UN and the government responded to their demands. One can't help but smile at the assertion that the "full-fledged controversy" over the tests started in 2012 considering the fact that no Korean media outlets reported on CERD accepting the case that year (despite the fact that a PR company issued a press release). And nothing was said of the Human Rights Commission rejected the first petition, or the Commercial Arbitration Board rejecting her petition, or the fact that the ROK took the better part of a year to respond to the petition (a bit over the 90 days required). Nor does it mention the teacher in question never received any compensation. None of this is surprising, of course.

Judging by his comment on the Yonhap article, it would seem Yonhap reader "패스터주pastor JosephJoo" was not very happy with the decision:
How much do they intend to try to spoil and corrupt this country?

Although the seat of the Minister of Justice is currently vacant, how can the Ministry of Justice officials have such little consideration for the protection of the nation’s life and health and exempt foreign instructors from AIDS tests?

Just what country’s officials are the Ministry of Justice’s employees, and was this something they decided on while in their right minds?
Considering the reputation of pastors when it comes to committing sex crimes in Korea, that comment is a bit rich. Other comments also call for fingerprinting foreigners and the necessity of the HIV tests. It would seem Anti English Spectrum were quite successful and pushing the "foreign English teacher as AIDS threat" narrative, but considering its association with US soldiers, and Americans in general dating back to the 1980s, they didn't have to try that hard.

Saturday, July 08, 2017

Justice Ministry announces it has ended HIV tests for English teachers

The Korea Herald reported yesterday that South Korea has done away with mandatory HIV tests for English teachers:
A controversial requirement for HIV testing of foreign language teachers has been scrapped, government officials confirmed to The Korea Herald on Thursday, almost 10 years after it was introduced.

Testing for HIV and drugs began in 2007 in response to pressure from citizens groups angered partly by a website on which teachers bragged about debauchery and the news that pedophile Christopher Paul Neil had taught in Korea.
For more (much more!) on the website and the netizen and media response it engendered, see here; for more on how the "citizens' group" Anti English Spectrum pushed to get the HIV tests in particular made into policy, see here. [I have a more thorough update to that post that I'll start posting soon.]
The Justice Ministry confirmed that a revision to visa regulations on July 3 removes the requirement for HIV testing when renewing or issuing E-2 visas. [...]

Choi Won-seok, director of human rights affairs at the Foreign Ministry, said that the change involved a number of related government bodies, including the Education Ministry, so that HIV testing would also not be required as a part of contracts with state education authorities.

He said the change was made in response to concerns raised from various sectors, including the UN and the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.
He is referring to how in May of 2015 the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination ruled that Korea should drop its HIV testing requirements for foreign English teachers, and in September 2016 the National Human Rights Commission of Korea "recommended the government stop its mandatory HIV testing of foreign English teachers." It took some time for the government to respond to either of these, but it appears it finally has.

If we remember, in December 2010 the Korean government officially did away with all HIV testing restrictions on foreigners - except for E-2 visa holders. About a month later the Ministry of Justice posted an Immigration Control Law enforcement regulation titled "Notice of the Requirements of Medical Institutions Administering Drug Tests and Other Tests to be Submitted for Alien Registration," which can be found here. The Ministry of Justice released an amended version of this notice on July 3 which was exactly the same as the old one but which removed "HIV" from things to be tested for (the same drug testing system remains in place). It also announced that the old notice has been abolished as of July 3. (The new notice can be found by going here and searching for "법무부고시제2017-116호"; then go to page 69 of the resulting pdf.)

Perhaps one reason for finally abolishing the HIV restrictions is that the new Foreign Minister, Kang Kyung-hwa, was formerly UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights. As noted in this article, she once said, "While travel restrictions are a question of State sovereignty, it must be pointed out that States also have obligations under international law within which sovereign rights may be exercised[. ...] In particular, under basic norms of non-discrimination, States must provide compelling reasons for any differentiation in treatment, including in restricting travel for people living with HIV. We know that there are no such compelling reasons."

Another reason might be that a South Korean representative, Professor Chung Chin-sung, has just been elected to serve as the Korean expert on the Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD); having to admit your own country was ignoring a CERD decision could make for awkward moments at the water cooler.

Of course, when it comes to the 2015 CERD decision, the ROK is still ignoring at least one of the Committee's recommendations:
The Committee recommends that the State party grant the petitioner adequate compensation for the moral and material damages caused by the above-mentioned violations of the Convention, including compensation for the lost wages during the one year she was prevented from working.
This certainly has not happened.

It should also be kept in mind that though the ROK had promised to remove HIV testing regulations in 2010, it kept the E-2 tests in place and lied to UNAIDS, which resulted in Korea being portrayed as an HIV-test-free nation in UNAIDS literature. And there have been hints that though HIV testing for migrant workers (E-9 visa-holders) had been officially lifted in 2010, these tests were still continuing. The 2017 EPIK contract for public school English teachers states that HIV tests are necessary. Granted, it has only been a few days, and the Korea Herald article stated that "the change involved a number of related government bodies, including the Education Ministry," but it would be worth keeping an eye out to make sure the contracts change. The contracts can be found here (where you can enjoy the "cleavagey white female stock model" who was photoshopped into the banner image).

Needless to say, as someone who made some contributions to the effort to get the HIV tests repealed, I'm pleased to see this finally, after almost a decade, come to pass. But it might be a good idea to make sure that they have actually been repealed in practice, and not just in a pro forma manner, before celebrating too much.

[Thanks to Ben Wagner for many of the above links - and, obviously, for putting in the effort to get us to this point.]