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Korea activists target foreign English teachers

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Korea activists target foreign English teachers

Postby momopi » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:30 am

latimes.com/news/nation-and-world/la-fg-korea-english31-2010jan31,0,4934857.story
latimes.com

Korea activists target foreign English teachers
A South Korea group uses the Internet and other means to track foreign teachers, in an effort to ferret out illegal or unsavory behavior. The teachers say they're victims of stalkers and rumors.

By John M. Glionna

5:56 PM PST, January 30, 2010

Reporting from Seoul

Sometimes, in his off hours, Yie Eun-woong does a bit of investigative work.

He uses the Internet and other means to track personal data and home addresses of foreign English teachers across South Korea.

Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits.

He wants to know whether they're doing drugs or molesting children.

Yie, a slender 40-year-old who owns a temporary employment agency, says he is only attempting to weed out troublemakers who have no business teaching students in South Korea, or anywhere else.

The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.

Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.

Yie waves off the criticism. "It's not stalking, it's following," he said. "There's no law against that."

Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie's group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.

On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press.

Teacher activists acknowledge that a few foreign English instructors are arrested each year in South Korea -- cases mostly involving the use of marijuana -- but they insist that the rate of such incidents is far lower than for the Korean population itself.

"Why are they following teachers? That's a job for the police," said Dann Gaymer, a spokesman for the Assn. for Teachers of English in Korea. "What this group is up to is something called vigilantism, and I don't like the sound of that."

In November, the president of the teachers group received anonymous e-mails threatening his life and accusing him of committing sex crimes.

"I have organized the KEK (Kill White in Korea)," one e-mail read in part. "We will start to kill and hit [foreigners] from this Christmas. Don't make a fuss. . . . Just get out."

Yie acknowledges that he has been questioned by investigators but denies any involvement in the threats of violence.

"To be honest," he said, "a lot of our group members believe the teachers made this all up."

The debate over foreign English teachers is symbolic of a social shift taking place in a nation that has long prided itself on its racial purity and singular culture, South Korean analysts say.

In less than a decade, the number of foreigners living in South Korea, with a population of nearly 49 million, has doubled to 1.2 million, many of them migrant workers from other Asian nations.

Also included are the foreign English teachers, most from the United States, drawn here by compensation packages that may include as much as $2,500 a month plus free rent and a round-trip ticket to teach a Korean population obsessed with learning from native speakers.

Yie's efforts have the support of some educators who say many foreign teachers lack the skills to run a classroom.

"This has nothing to do with race. It is all about teaching," said Kim Young-Lan, a sociology professor at Sookmyung Women's University in Seoul.

The government has tried to stem what it sees as a troubling number of racist incidents. A 31-year-old man was charged last year for a verbal outburst against an Indian man and a Korean woman traveling together on a city bus in Seoul.

But some teachers from abroad say that South Korean laws regarding their status remain discriminatory. Foreign English teachers must undergo HIV tests and criminal and academic checks that are not required of Koreans doing the same work, they say.

Yie says he has nothing against foreigners. Growing up near the city of Osan, he often rode with his taxi driver father and encountered foreigners who served at the U.S. military base there. "I learned to pick out the good guys from the bad guys," he says

In 2005, by then living in Seoul, he joined the fledgling activist group after seeing an upsetting posting on a website: claims by foreign teachers that they had slept with Korean students.

Yie, who is single and has no children, quickly volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior.

"People were angry; most of them were parents with kids," he said. "We all got together online and traded information."

Gaymer says he doubts that such a posting ever existed. Instead, he says, Koreans were angry about photos posted on a job website showing foreigners dancing with scantily clad Korean women.

"They were consenting adults at a party with foreign men," he said. "They weren't doing anything bad or illegal."

Yie's group, Gaymer says, has used the incident as a rallying call. "They're posting online pictures of teachers' apartments and whipping each other into a nationalist frenzy, creating a hysteria against all English teachers, troublemakers or not," he said.

Yie, who says his group is managed by half a dozen key figures and has 300 other members, created a system for parents and others to report bad teachers. The group says it has contributed to several arrests, including the recent bust of several foreign instructors for gambling and marijuana possession.

Yie says he strives to keep his activism on an even keel. Those advocating violence are shunned, he says. And he says he monitors his group's Internet community billboard for defamatory postings.

"I'm being called a racist who judges the entire group by the mistakes of the few," he said. "I'm trying to look at these teachers with an open mind."

john.glionna@latimes.com

Ju-min Park of The Times' Seoul Bureau contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
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Postby momopi » Sun Jan 31, 2010 5:44 am

Commenting on the article, I don't know anyone who went to teach in S. Korea, but know quite a few people who moved to Japan or Taiwan to teach English. Most are OK, but there are bad apples. One guy I knew who went to Japan was definately a pedophile. Fortunately, he kept his fantasies to the 2-D realm and not to the Jr. High school class he was lecturing.
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Postby Mr S » Sun Jan 31, 2010 7:13 am

I worked in South Korea for 6 months, it's ok money wise but not the easiest place to live as a foreigner. You have to be pretty determined to be a child pervert in that country. You would have an easier time just staying in your home country probably. Any pervert with a brain would go to SE Asia to do that stuff where you can probably still get away with it if you have th money to pay people off.

Koreans are just being paranoid over losing their culture or it being manipulated by all the foreigners there. There are a lot of weird teachers but you mostly only run into therm in the lower ranks. If you have real teaching credentials you can usually avoid the major weirdos. but many foreigners go to Asia because they are considered abnormal in their home countries but in Asia they can seem normal cause the locals don't understand what is considered abnormal in western countries.

I have heard a lot of weirdos are in China now cause the locals can't tell they have bizarre habits or whatever.
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Postby chanta76 » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:12 am

There is double standard for ESL teachers in Korea. I am full blooded Korean American male. In Korea they call me kyopos or overseas Korean living abroad.
I tried to apply for ESL teaching job in Korea but to Korean people they think that only white people speak English. So it is much harder if your black , brown or yellow. I mean don't get me wrong there are non-white ESL teachers but the preference in South Korea is white people as ESL teachers. So you can make argument that there is white privilege at work here.

I visited South Korea a number of times and this is what I gather from my encounter with expats living in Korea. Just like with any group there are good and bad..but there is a common element. South Korea is a drinking country. They drink pretty much everyday even right after work. I find that allot of the expat drink allot and maybe have drinking problem. Most of the expat or ESL teachers are white males and yes many of them have yellow fever in other words Asian fetish. There is an ounce of truth that some of these ESL teachers are just in Asia for a good all time and nothing more.

It can be worst but it's not.I mean look at Russia. They have neo-nazi skin heads beating up Asian looking people. So far from what I hear in South Korea or rest of Asia incidents of group of Asian men beating up random white guys does not happen. But incidents of white guys beating up Asian guys does happen in the West.
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Postby ladislav » Tue Feb 02, 2010 5:08 pm

Just because it can be worse, it does not make it any the less uncomfortable. I would stay away from Korea. You save what? $1000 a month there? Just go to Japan and Taiwan. Plus getting police reports and a sex offender clearance is a humiliating procedure- all to be able to save 1K a month? And in Japan no one cares about Japanese women dancing with foreigners. Or dating sites. And teachers slept with students? Were these of age? If so, it is an administrative matter, and in Japan if it is a private school and the students have graduated usually it would not cause any problems. If Korea is worse than a rabidly jingoistic Japan, maybe one should not even bother with it.

The white privilege extends to ESL teaching only. When it comes to dating, maybe it is better not to stand out.
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Postby Repatriate » Mon Feb 08, 2010 4:52 am

ESL teaching is all marketing anyways and I know quite a few foreigners who get by on doing this. People don't care if you're white or not if you're in a decent school but a lot of the shady fly by night organizations and schools like to maximize their face by using obviously western looking people. Ladislav is correct in saying that it's really only the ESL industry that does this sort of thing and it usually comes from the Asian owners/management who are trying to maximize profit without any regard to what is actually done in the classroom.

It's the same thing if someone wanted to hire a teacher of the Chinese language in America most schools would most likely look over the white candidates in majors like Chinese language in favor of an actual native Chinese speaker with the same academic degree. It'd be pretty hard to call them on it too.
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Postby FuzzX » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:09 pm

What an ass&ole... sounds like he has nothing better to do. I taught in Korea... and Japan, I would pick Korea hands down. The culture is really cool and the people are quite a bit nicer.. the food sux but I really enjoyed my short stay. I had to bug out when the government cracked down on teachers without degrees... they've since gotten rid of that rule and I'm thinking of heading back. :)
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Postby Winston » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:38 am

Not only that. But whenever I see hot Korean girls here, I sense the vibe from them that they do not like to talk to anyone they don't know. They have a homogenous and narrow vibe and look on their face.

I don't get how anyone can eat kim chi everyday though. And I also don't get why there are so many Koreans in Angeles who are not there for the bars. After all, Angeles has nothing good except the girls and bars.
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Postby Repatriate » Fri Mar 26, 2010 5:44 am

Winston wrote:I don't get how anyone can eat kim chi everyday though. And I also don't get why there are so many Koreans in Angeles who are not there for the bars. After all, Angeles has nothing good except the girls and bars.

Business. A lot of Koreans own factories in places like the Phillipines, China, and even Thailand. They probably have vacation homes there and live the moneyed expat lifestyles. I know a few Koreans who do precisely this in Thailand and they live it up.
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Postby Winston » Fri Mar 26, 2010 9:05 am

Repatriate wrote:
Winston wrote:I don't get how anyone can eat kim chi everyday though. And I also don't get why there are so many Koreans in Angeles who are not there for the bars. After all, Angeles has nothing good except the girls and bars.

Business. A lot of Koreans own factories in places like the Phillipines, China, and even Thailand. They probably have vacation homes there and live the moneyed expat lifestyles. I know a few Koreans who do precisely this in Thailand and they live it up.


But what about all the young innocent Korean students and the people who go to Korean church here? Why would they be in Angeles? Why would they tolerate such a dirty town when their own country is clean and more modern?
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Postby chanta76 » Fri Mar 26, 2010 1:36 pm

because in the philippines it's cheaper than in seoul. Plus some Koreans go to the Philippines to study English.

On a word about Korean girls....I dated and been with Korean girls. Some of them were really hot.

Overall most Korean girls prefer to be with Korean guys ( me being Korean -American helps) ..there are some Korean girls who want white or black guys..
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Postby momopi » Mon Mar 29, 2010 7:40 am

http://www.rjkoehler.com/2010/03/23/wan ... rs-busted/

Ko-Am Gang Members-Turned-English Teachers Busted

by Robert Koehler on March 23, 2010

in Korean Diaspora, Stupid Foreigner Tricks

Stop me if you’ve heard this before.

Police have busted a 26-year-old Korean-American Mr. Lee, who fled to Korea soon after allegedly murdering another Korean-American at an LA Koreatown cafe in July 2006.

Wanted by Interpol, Lee — a dual national who was active in a Korean gang in LA — changed his name and was working as an English teacher at a famous language hagwon in Gangnam.

Oh, it gets better — another 26-year-old Mr. Lee, who was deported from the US after being charged with attempted murder and drug violations — was arrested by police on charges of smuggling in mass quantities of crystal meth and pot.

He, too, was a former member of a Korean gang in LA, and was working as an English teacher when caught.

According to MBC, the pair used fake degrees gotten from the Internet to gain employment at famous hagwon in the Seoul area.

And who said gyopo didn’t cause many drug problems? Oh, that’s right — he did.

MBC also reported that nine unqualified English teachers were busted for habitually doing drugs, and police plan to expand their investigation of hagwon English teachers.

The Segye Ilbo has more if you care to read it, including this quote by a police official, “Language hagwon, getting on the English education boom bandwagon, have recently been indiscriminately hiring native speaking teachers. We must strengthen screening of educations and career histories when hiring English teachers.â€￾

UPDATE: More in the Dong-A Ilbo.
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