Thursday, February 02, 2023

The native-speaking English instructor blacklist (2006)

On August 15, 2006, Yonhap published the following article:

Native-speaking English instructor ‘Blacklist’

Amid the growing demand for native-speaking English instructors, a 'blacklist' containing the full names of instructors who have disappeared or quit after causing 'problems' has been posted on the internet and is attracting attention.

According to the Korea Native-speaking Instructor Recruiting Association ( on August 15, the blacklist, which has been posted since February on the association's website, features 19 cases of causing problems such as showing insincere attitudes toward work or running away after committing criminal acts, along with the names of the teachers involved.

This blacklist, which was prepared based on the claims of hagwons or elementary school officials who hired the instructors, contains specific examples such as 'forgery of university graduation degrees', 'submission of fake documents', ‘quitting without notice after vacation', 'fleeing to their home country with a school laptop', and 'sexual harassment by often touching students' bodies.'

Choe Hyeok, president of the association, said in a greeting on the website, "We set up this homepage to share information about poor, low-quality, and illegal instructors." "There are many excellent native speakers of high quality, but as time passes there is a lot of damage to the field of education due to low-quality instructors with many problems," he said.

Since 2002, the number of E-2 visas required to get a job as a foreign language instructor in Korea has reached more than 20,000 every year.

Reporter Lim Hwa-seop

YTN also broadcast this report. As it states above, this blacklist had been public since February 2006. This blacklist may have been publicized (perhaps with Anti-English Spectrum's help) by BreakNews two days earlier (or perhaps it was two days later, since there are two dates posted). 

One lawyer's take on the blacklist was rather unequivocal:

The blacklist is quite unlawful. Not only is it a criminal defamation violation under the Criminal Code, but the Labor Standards Act forbids employers to share blacklists. These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.

I should also note that this would not be the last we heard of the instructor accused of  'sexual harassment by often touching students' bodies.' 

And, as we see here, Yonhap used the wrong statistics when discussing E-2 numbers (for whatever reason, the number of E-2 visa holders in the country was half that of the numbers Yonhap discussed (and which are brought up in more detail in the following article)).

On August 16, 2006, the Seoul Sinmun followed up on the Yonhap story by using the bare-bone contents of the blacklist to write this tour de force, complete with a cartoon: 

Troublesome native-speaking instructors cause headaches

Late, absent / gets money and does a runner / sexual harassment

Mr. A, a [Korean] English teacher at an elementary school in Gyeonggi-do, is having a hard time because of native-speaking instructor B (29). B is of course often late or absent from work, and he does not do even basic preparation for classes. However, finding a native-speaking instructor who entered the country legally is practically impossible. He has no choice but to endure this for the sake of the lesson.

● Stealing class equipment and running away

The tyranny of native-speaking English instructors is going too far. Claiming that they entered Korea with an E-2 (English Instructor) visa legally, all over they are acting self-indulgently and arrogantly.

C (29), from Canada, entered Korea on August 2 to work as an instructor at a summer vacation camp organized by an elementary school in Seoul, but disappeared almost immediately after his arrival. D (28, from Canada) signed a contract to teach for a year at an elementary school in Paju starting last August but only worked for 8 months and ran off with a laptop provided by the school for class use.

More serious problems, such as sexual harassment, have also emerged. At one private hagwon, many students complained that native-speaking instructor E (30, from Australia) was sexually harassing them. However, he so intelligently and technically carried out sexual harassment in a way that made it too ambiguous to report to the police, so he ended up being fired in June. Before that, in May, a native-speaking instructor at an English village in Gyeonggi-do was fired for sexually harassing an elementary school student.

● Native-speaking instructors are arrogant due to excessive demand

The number of E2 visas issued reached 20,682 in 2002, 22,345 in 2003, 23,134 in 2004, and 25,014 in 2005. More than 20,000 people come to Korea every year to teach English, but, absurdly, this falls short of the explosive growth in domestic demand. Due to the culture of focusing on skin color, the preference for white instructors regardless of skill or qualifications is also fueling a labor shortage. Even if someone is an excellent lecturer who graduated from a great university, the reality is that if they are not white, they won’t be treated according to their ability.

An official from a company specializing in recruiting foreign instructors pointed out, "Since foreign instructors share information actively, they know that they can get a job anywhere even if they quit their job." "Basically, from their standpoint, there is nothing to be sorry about [in quitting a job], especially for white instructors.”

● We must hurry to implement follow-up management standards and strikeout systems

The government has no proper measures. An official from the Immigration Office explained, "It is a law that cannot be specially managed just because they are foreign instructors." "There is no way to sanction them unless they commit a crime or leave their workplace without a convincing reason, just like other foreign workers." In fact, Mr. F (31), an instructor from Australia, breaks his contract every 3 to 6 months and changes his job, but there is no legal way to stop it. He has had a good career [at home] as a teacher, so it's enough to say, 'I can't work because of cultural differences.' 

As a result, in March the Korea Native-speaking Instructor Recruiting Association posted a blacklist of illegal, bad, and problematic instructors on the association's website ( However, less than 30% of job placements are achieved through recruiting companies, so they are not getting a great effect.

Choe Hyeok, president of the association, said, "Compared to the number of complaints related to foreign instructors, the staff in charge of this seems to be ridiculously insufficient." "As it is related to children's education, foreign instructors should be managed at the government level by creating a minimum follow-up standard and introducing a strikeout system," he said.

Reporter Na Gil-hoe 

While this "parade of bad foreign teachers" type of story is not new (the tabloid BreakNews was doing far worse stories at the time), it is an example of the type of story that would become common enough in the mainstream media moving ahead. Note also the error of describing the "native-speaking instructor at an English village in Gyeonggi-do" who was "fired for sexually harassing an elementary school student." That teacher, of course, was not hired as a native-speaker, but the reporter either couldn't be bothered to check this or didn't care since it was more grist for the mill. 

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