Sunday, August 27, 2006

The final cut

Well Gi Korea has touched on another Korea COMPLAINT WITH TEACHERS. Sad to say this is just too funny and when you read THE PHANTOM MENACE Post it will really blow your mind. Now being a Korea teacher and EX-gi, I can see both sides to this. Please read and enjoy and see what you are not going to believe.

I have been reading with amusement the current English teacher "scandal" in the Korean media reported at§ion=section3 and then translated by Robert here

The article mentioned in Mr. Carr’s Bravo Foxtrot has been posted at Yes, it’s a gem. And yes, of course I’ll translate it. Just not right now.

UPDATE 2: Just a couple of thoughts on this issue:

I think both Koreans and foreigners can agree that the English language education system in Korea is seriously broken. Yes, there are more than a few foreigners teaching in Korea who have no business being in a classroom. Yes, many a hagwon will hire any warm body as long as he or she is white. But the teachers are only part of the problem. The real problem is the people who hire them, and what I find most amusing is reading hagwon owners and recruiting agents bitch in the media about all the losses they’ve suffered because of bad English teachers. Why amusing? Because a) hagwon owners (and recruiters) own the dubious distinction of being one of the few groups in Korean society who are even shadier than foreign English teachers, and b) they’re only reaping the fruits of the system they built and run.

Ultimately, the real root of the problem is the overemphasis on learning English. Hey, learning English is good. Learning Farsi is probably good, too—it sounds nicer, albeit it’s less practical economically speaking. Having said that, companies and universities overemphasize English in their hiring, admission and promotion practices, and this leads to an overdemand for English education (resulting in abuses), unnecessary stress for ordinary office workers and students, and wasted resources that could be used more productively.

If you’re going to run a story on the “realities of foreign English teachers,” you might want to actually talk to a foreign English teacher. They are, after all, a concerned party. Even KBS took the time to get a quote from a Kiwi teacher today. And who knows, they might have something to say about the issue.

UPDATE 1: Here is the translation. Enjoy:

Affairs with High School Students, Spreading Nude Photos on the Internet

There is a growing stir from the issue of the “low-quality foreign English teacher blacklist,” reported in an exclusive in Issue 432 of Inside Story.

Broadcasters, “Y” news agency and major dailies ran stories on the “native English speaker blacklist” on Aug. 15 based on our report. In particular, with the U.S. media raising issue with the quality of native English speaking teachers in Korea and [other parts of] Asia and this paper running its report, there have been a string of reports on the realities of low-quality native speaking English teachers.

Prior to our report on the blacklist, we ran an in-depth report on the shocking debauchery of some low-quality foreign English teachers subtitled, “Low-quality foreign teachers absorbed in women, drugs.” This got a huge response.

Since the paper ran two exclusive investigative reports into the realities of low-quality foreign teachers, netizens have been flooding our Internet edition, “,” with comments and tips.

Meanwhile, we’ve gotten a shocking tip from Mr. Kim, who tipped this paper off to the “native speaking teacher blacklist.” The new tip from Mr. Kim includes:

—People being sued or personally threatened after they’ve lodged complaints against unqualified English teachers;

—Foreign teachers going around with high school girls;

—A famous English teacher openly posting pictures of nude Korean women on his homepage;

—English teachers who appear on TV illegally tutoring or asking outrageous prices.

Since we reported on the blacklist, composed based on acts of degree forgery, sexual assault, theft and other misdeeds by foreign English teachers, we’ve gotten a string of trips about native speaking English teachers from former and current English teachers and students. This is evidence that the problem isn’t limited to just a small minority of foreign teachers.

Posting naked women photos on his homepage

Of all the examples we’ve seen so far, the decadent behavior of American Mr. A, a well-known teacher at a famous foreign language hagwon, is the most shocking.

Mr. A is a native speaking instructor who is supposedly doing well, who in addition to his good looks is the main teacher at his hagwon. But on his personal homepage, Mr. A has shockingly posted nude photos of the Korean women with whom he has slept and is sharing them with other native speaking instructors.

When we visited the homepage address, provided us by tipster Mr. Kim, nude photos of Korean women—their faces visable—were openly posted. The photo were taken on a bed and sofa, while in the background, your attention is drawn to various articles that appear to be personal items.

In this place, presumed to be Mr. A’s home, it appears he naturally took nude photographs of Korean women wearing not even a stitch.

Kim explained, however, that there is room to debate whether the women were Mr. A’s students or paid models.

Mr. A, whose homepage contains an astonishing number of nude photos, is still working as an instructor at the well-known foreign language academy.

The Kim family, who run a restaurant in a neighborhood with many hagwons, tipped this paper to the following scenes they’ve witnessed in a Gyeonggi-do hagwon area:

—A foreigner and a Korean high school student in their restaurant. At first they thought they were teacher and student, but they caught them kissing in the bathroom;

—The girl paid for the food;

—In the car, the student and the foreigner shamelessly engaged in embarrassing acts of affection;

—You can witness many such scenes near the train station and throughout the hagwon area.

The Kim family pleaded to our paper, “If you have the power to help our youth study properly, please help.”

Partiality for high school girls

In an email tip to this reporter, Mr. Bae, who works as a hagwon English teacher, strongly criticized a) some teachers who joke around during their conversation classes; b) foreign teachers who think students should be grateful for their time even when they [the students] buy them meals, unlike Korean teachers who buy meals for their students; c) the attitudes of foreign teachers, who emphasize only time and bonuses.

Bae said, “Korean departments of education should try to cultivate Korean [English] teachers rather than insisting on native speakers only.”

He added, “With white loafers who can’t get jobs back home working as English teachers, we must sound the alarm again some instructors who joke around, waste time and act arrogantly.” He stressed, “More than anything else, what needs to change is the attitude of students who insist on learning from native speaker instructors only.”

Mr. Jeong, who recruits teachers for English hagwons, said, “When we place an advertisement for native English speaking instructors, there are numerous occasions when many of the native speaker applicants are unqualified. In particular, I was surprised to hear that among some of the foreign job seekers registered at, it’s the rage to engage in illegal tutoring.” He scolded the government for lacking measures to deal with low-quality native speaker instructors, saying, “We are virtually ridden by illegal native speaker instructors, but it seems the government has formulated no measures at all. In this situation, native speaker instructors must really look down upon the government and Korean people.”

He also said some of the people who appear on TV are openly working as English teachers. “I inquired about private tutoring and was introduced to a female actress who frequently appeared on a certain TV program. I turned her down, however, when she asked for 70,000 won an hour.

It’s absurd that someone would ask for several times more money just because they’re riding their fame from appearing on TV. This is clearly illegal, and we must awaken to how the broadcast companies and these individuals are being managed.”

Accuse me, and I’ll file charges

The inappropriate behavior of some foreign teachers has reached a dangerous level, but the reality is that there’s really no place to file complaints about the unethical behavior of low-quality English teachers. In fact, there are increasing instances of tipsters having their identity exposed or receiving threats.

Mr. Ahn, a tipster who complained of this, told of his experience when he protested the behavior of one foreign teacher whose behavior he could no longer tolerate. The teacher, who teaches in an English hagwon for young children, did not even graduate from college. In class, he swears at students to “shut the fuck up,” and when they play “the question game” (if you answer the question, you win), he lets students win by asking the other side, “Do you want to sleep with me?”

Ahn said, “I asked the teacher why the students were cursing in his class, and he said that since it was English class, it didn’t matter if they swore in English.” At this point he understood this wasn’t a person qualified to teach children.

According to Ahn, one of the teacher’s parents is Korean, so even though he’s an American citizen, he has an F-4 visa (permanent residency issued to North Americans of Korean descent), and using this, he conveniently acts Korean or American depending on the situation. Unable to graduate college, he drifted around without work and is now teaching kindergarten and elementary school students English at a hagwon in Gyeonggi-do.

Furious that the teacher was using swear words with the students, Ahn strongly protested to the hagwon, but outrageously, the hagwon arranged a meeting between him and the teacher, who in turn threatened to report Ahn to the police.

Ahn was dumbfounded. “If you protest to hagwon about an unqualified teacher, I naturally thought the school would take measures to get the teacher to wake up or fire him, but I never expected that a complaint could be lodged against me with the police.”

Mr. Lee, who experienced a similar instance, said he received several threatening text messages from the teacher. Feeling threatened, Lee asked the police and immigration bureau for help, but at the immigration office, he was told that all the teacher needed to do is say he didn’t do it. The police, meanwhile, told him they visited the hagwon and said he [Mr. Lee] had placed a tip, exposing his identity as the tipster.

The hagwon is standing with the problematic teacher. Lee bitterly complained, “I made a just complaint in my own country, but nobody will help, and an unqualified foreign teacher, from a position of superiority, is turning on me like a thief on a master.”

Meanwhile, most of the netizens who read this paper’s exclusive report on the “native speaker teacher blacklist” agreed that low-quality foreign teachers should be expelled from the country.

The following are netizen comments posted at “,” our Internet edition.

A netizen going by the name “Min So-hee” said, “I decided to learn English, but after watching the behavior of the foreign male teachers at the hagwon, I felt serious doubts, and now I have fundamental questions about why I must learn English.” She said, “Learning English is fine, but I hope this article become an opportunity to inform countless women like me that it’s not good to get close to English teachers.”

Another netizen wrote, “Frankly, for me it’s easy. This is just the tip of the iceberg. This is an important problem that is entangled with Western fundamentalism, in which low-quality English teachers and other whites treat other races as inferior races, as well as other issues. After this article, I think there will be a lot of tips and information. There is still too much that needs to be put into article form.”

Another netizen drew attention with an essay exposing the realities of foreign English teachers.

Pointing out the problems of Korea’s English-learning craze and calling for improved screening of foreign teachers, he wrote:

There are 30,000 foreign teachers residing in Korea thanks to Korea’s English-learning craze, and for someone like me, who has thought the one issue we must overcome is that of the legal qualifications and unethical character of foreign teachers, it was very nice to see an article showing the realities of these low-quality English teachers.

Just because you speak English as a native language doesn’t mean you can be a teacher, and by the same token, if there’s a problem in the character of a teacher, there must be severe discipline for that person. In Korea, there are good foreign teachers combining legal credentials and proper character, low-quality teachers who are both unqualified and unethical, and low-quality teachers who are legal but unethical. With the current system, it’s hard to sort them out.

But this is something we must do. The fact is that anyone who has experienced English education has experienced low-quality teachers, and even if they’ve never experienced one directly, they’ve heard around them instances of harm. I’ve heard stories of people suffering from classes taught by bad teachers, and beyond the educational damage, there are everyday cases of female victims keeping silent about their experiences because they are of a personal and sexual nature.

So that more instances of harm caused by low-quality teachers do not occur, I think we must acknowledge the problems of the current situation and discuss the many views as to how to solve them.

Another netizen wrote, “In five years of teaching, I saw many kind of native speaker teachers. While working with them, there were many times when I had to quit because I felt dirty and ashamed due to their feelings of superiority and insincere class preparation, and native speakers lacking even morals are given full-service like a king, receiving money for their plane ticket, free apartments, cable, Internet and furniture. Now with even women satisfying them in bed, would native speakers return to their own countries to work in Walmart again?”

I say with amusement because it was all that long ago when US soldiers were looked down upon by the ex-pat English teacher crowd as giving them a bad image in Korea and aloe and be hold the tables have turned and the ex-pat English teacher crowd is giving us US soldiers a bad image. Especially with the latest "scandal" coming on the heels of last year's Spectrum-gate. I can remember a few years back during my first tour in Korea a Canadian English teacher I met, yes in Itaewon, asked me why US soldiers were so misbehaved in Korea giving everyone else a bad name. I of course had to explain to this person that if you put a bunch of horny 18-21 year olds in a over sexed environment like Korea combined with unlimited amounts of alcohol, plus being away from home for the first time, what do think is going to happen? Boot camp doesn't create asexual people who don't want to drink. It doesn't matter where you are from young people are more obnoxious and get in trouble, it doesn't matter if you are a GI, a English teacher, or a Korean for that fact.

Ex-pats in a bar focus on the same obnoxious 18-21 year olds in the bars they frequent every weekend and not the majority of soldiers minding their own business in local bars or back on post calling their families in the US they haven't seen in months and other people minding their own business in their room playing Playstation for example. USFK currently has about 28,000 soldiers in it so of course there are going to be a few bad apples that cause problems and when problems do occur the Korean media sensationalizes it and it wasn't to long ago that many ex-pats bought into the bad GI crap as well when in fact young GI's were acting very similar to young ex-pats; it was just back then nobody cared about ex-pats, now people do.

I don't know how many English teachers are in Korea but I'm sure there are thousands and of course within those thousands there are going to be a few bad apples that slip through the cracks. Should all English teachers be painted with the same brush because of the few bad apples? Of course not. Probably the best response I have read from this current "scandal" is from the Metropolitician that is a MUST READ(see today blog it will be added to it) if you are remotely interested in this topic. The Metropolitician I believe correctly believes that the real problem is with the Korean educational system that makes it easier for bad apple English teachers to enter the country, however it is easier to blame the foreigners instead of looking at the systematic problems within the country including sexual abuse of students by Korean teachers as well.

Believe it or not I actually have some English teaching experience. I taught English once every two weeks for nearly a year to elementary students near my camp. The school relied on US soldiers to teach accent and conversational skills to the students because they had no hired foreign English teachers at the school. Having US GI's come in allowed the school to save the money of hiring a foreign English teacher and it gave us a chance to hang out with the kids and interact with the community. I really enjoyed my time helping out there, but something I found interesting was the fact that the Korean teacher in charge of the English language instruction at the school with a university degree in English could hardly speak it. I was pretty much dependent on my KATUSA to translate what she wanted to tell me. In fact one of the 10 year old students had lived in America for a few years and spoke better English than her. She could read and write just fine, but talking and listening to English she had very minimal skills. If university educated teachers in Korea cannot speak English is it any wonder why the country is dependent on the same foreign English teachers that are now the subject of such ridiculous scorn by the Korean media?

With all the hoopla over the current English teacher "scandal" these ex-pats can at least take solace in the fact they don't have to worry about having curfews, off limits policies, lock down on post, no drinking, and other restrictions put on them whenever an incident happens, like what USFK does. So it could be worse if that makes anyone feel beter. But on the other hand USFK has proven that these restrictions work because behavior of US soldiers has improved greatly compared to as little as five years ago.

It is amazing to me that even after a year since Spectrum-gate the anti-foreigner focus is still on English teachers. I thought for sure it would shift back to US GI's or 3D workers or some other ethnic group. Anyway in the spirit of international cooperation, I still offer my friendly advice from last year of how to blend in as a GI for any English teacher out there on the run from the English teacher Gestapo. I said last year that I thought this all would blow over and it has yet to blow over so what do I know, but it is still amusing.

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