Friday, December 23, 2022

Using their own articles, Anti English Spectrum petitions for E-2 visa changes

The Rise and Fall of E-2-visa HIV testing in South Korea, 1988 - 2017

Part 1: The 1988 Olympics and Korean fears of AIDS
Part 2: HIV testing for foreigners in the aftermath of the 1988 Olympics (unfinished)
Part 3: Anti-English Spectrum begins to link foreign English teachers to AIDS Part 5: Using their own articles, Anti English Spectrum petitions for E-2 visa changes

On September 18, a post appeared at the Anti-English Spectrum site heralding their success in publicizing the narrative that foreign English teachers were AIDS threats, titled "Breaknews (AIDS Foreign teacher) wide distribution!!!"

"Today it's come! Till now [the idea that English teacher are AIDS infected] hadn't risen from the internet! The report's in terminals, convenience stores, subways!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

It should be noted that, much as they had used posts found on an HIV counselling website written by women who were worried about HIV infection from sexual encounters with foreign teachers to promote such fears, this picture, which appeared at the top of the article, is of President George W. Bush's former U.S. Global AIDS coordinator Randall L. Tobias being publicly tested for HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia in an effort to fight AIDS stigma. In the article, however, the photo was used to create the exact opposite effect.

In many ways, this was nothing new. BreakNews had already published five articles about foreign English teachers that summer; the first article focused on Anti-English Spectrum, while the rest quoted a 'Mr. Kim' or 'Mr. K' - a member of the 'movement to counter low quality foreign teachers' - as an informant. 'Mr. Kim' was described as being 37 years old - the same age as Lee Eun-ung - and in the second BreakNews article, he could be seen in a pixelated photo.

On October 29, 2006, that BreakNews article was reposted at Anti-English Spectrum (above), and in the comments, members thanked 'Mr. Kim'. 'M2' - Lee Eun-ung, the manager and public face of the site - coyly wrote "I'm curious about Mr. Kim;..." Regular poster 'jasminhyang' later wrote in a comment "the first letter of Mr. Kim's nickname is 'm'." In a Breaknews article published two days later, Mr. K also made comments, and was described as "Low quality native speaking instructor expulsion site manager Mr. K," suggesting once again this was a pseudonym for Lee Eun-ung.

The September 18, 2006 BreakNews article, "Tracking [down] blacklisted foreign teachers suspected of having AIDS," ended with an interview with 'Mr. K' titled "Protection of human rights first, behind the protection of citizens; Enhance the E-2 visa, to reduce risk of HIV infection." In it, 'Mr. K' stated the following:
It is a fact that we are now exposed to more open sexual cultures and more dangerous situations, and [Korean] women who have met with foreigners are crying out over their anxieties regarding AIDS. It is inevitable that the levels of danger will increase when we consider the teachers who have entered on tourist visas, or illegally sojourning foreigner teachers that related authorities are not even capable of keeping track of.

[In response to those who would call his perspective "exclusivist/xenophobic"] This is not an exclusivist/xenophobic view; this is a matter of the survival of Korean women. They [foreigners] have entered Korea and are enjoying personal rights, but if Korean women are being exposed to the threat of AIDS, isn’t it right for the government to at least put some effort into blocking the source of the problem through [enhancing] the E-2 visa requirements?
Armed with this article and the interview with Lee, Lee and other members of AES set out to convince relevant government agencies that foreign teachers with HIV were a potential problem, one that could be solved by imposing HIV tests upon E-2 visa holders, and they cited the news article Lee had contributed to as proof that there was a problem. 

The next day, September 19, a petition to the Ministry of Justice asking for health checks for E-2 visa holders was posted at Anti English Spectrum. Nine days later, a petition to the Ministry of Justice asking for mandatory HIV tests and criminal record checks for foreign English teachers on E-2 visas was posted: 

This is the complaint I filed with the Ministry of Justice today.
Gaon (rightnation)

Application Date: 2006.09.28 

Please strengthen E-2 qualification requirements to make known the criminal record and health status of foreign English instructors!

A September 18, 2006 Break News story titled "80% of those using the HIV test center for foreigners are native speaking instructors,” revealed that even Koreans suffer serious harm due to the sexual behavior of some foreign instructors.

To quote the newspaper article, the center explains that a significant number of foreigners visiting the AIDS Counseling and Examination Center for Foreigners (hereafter referred to as the Center) located in Seoul are white-collar, and a frequent posts by worried Korean women at an AIDS Counseling Center online bulletin board reveal that they are wondering if they have caught AIDS after having sex with foreigners, adding to the seriousness.

In this situation, it was confirmed that the occupation of a large number of foreigners residing in Korea is English instruction, and many of those English instructors enjoy sexual relations with not just one, but several Korean women. In light of these direct appeals by Korean women, it can be concluded that women are being defenselessly exposed to AIDS.

Also, on September 16, a suspect in the 1996 murder of Little Miss Colorado John Bennett Ramsey was arrested after 10 years, and the suspect in this mysterious case was an American named John Mark Carr, who lived in Thailand. Even though the John Mark Carr in question was a teacher who was shockingly dismissed in 2001 for possession of child pornography,, he worked as a native English teacher for children in Korea in 2002. (“Saengbangsong Seven Days,” Episode 159, aired 2006-08-25).

Indeed, looking at these two cases, it seems that the current laws of the Republic of Korea are too lenient and lax regarding foreign English instructors.

Unfortunately, however, there is no way to legally regulate these foreign instructors under the current laws. When applying for an E-2 visa, to be eligible foreigners from Western countries need only to show they have graduated from a 4-year university, even if they haven’t submitted a criminal record check or a health record that can confirm their health status.

It is also regrettable that some insist only on the human rights of foreign instructors while caring little for protecting their own citizens.

I appeal to the Immigration Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade: When issuing an E-2 visa to foreign instructors, please make it mandatory to submit a health check and criminal record check so that their health status and whether or not they have committed a crime can be known. It is only natural that teachers who teach our children and students should at least reveal that they are not criminals and have no health problems.
It should be noted that the SBS 'Seven Days' report "Unverified foreign English teachers are a danger to children" is a report that Anti English Spectrum also claims credit for.

AES members would continue to post several petitions sent to the Ministry of Justice asking for health tests for either HIV, STDs or drugs, as well as criminal record checks, until the end of the year. Other petitions would be sent in June 2007 which made reference to the episode of "Pandora's Box" (known for its shrill caption, "Illegal foreign instructors are violating Korean women!!!")  that they contributed to.

In just a month and a half, Lee twisted the meaning of two brief references to English teachers voluntarily getting tested for HIV in order to connect the 'problem of native speaking English teachers' to AIDS, found frightened women and spread internet rumours in the form of a horror story to try to give this claim more substance, got a lengthy story presenting this view published in online (BreakNews) and newspaper (Inside Story) media, and then cited the articles or news stories they contributed to in petitions to the Ministry of Justice. Less than a year later, they would find far more popular newspapers willing to publicize their cause.

No comments: