Golf While You Drink

Noraebangs — karaoke rooms to the unitiated — have long been popular and many make extra profits illegally selling alcohol and sex along with the songs (or in the case of room salons, selling songs along with the alcohol and sex). But it seems that now the trend is for men to play video golf games rather than sing offkey Abba songs before getting their drink and poke on.

We are in a video golf restaurant in Seoul on the 6th.

In the room at the back of the hall the video golf is in full swing.

Other than having a video golf machine instead of a noraebang, this place looks like any other room salon.

The miniskirt-clad girls who work here watch the customers hit the ball and high-five them. “Oppa, nice shot!” They operate the machine, make the drinks on the table, down them with the customers and play golf, too. They wear name tags saying Manager on them, but in fact they’re just like the doumi girls in room salons.

A manager in her late 20s who introduces herself as a former caddy said, “we keep a membership system so when customers call ahead before coming to play we prepare enough doumi girls for the size of their group. If the partners agree they can go out and have a bottle of soju.” She means they can go to the second round.

Golf While You Drink

According to the industry, at the end of 2007 there 2,500 video golf rooms across the country. An industry representative said, “the number doubles every year. We expect there will be 3,000 this coming March.”

Video golf games have systems to evaluate your swing and measure the distance traveled by the ball. Recent machines produce three-dimensional simulations of world-famous golf courses. It costs 25,000 won per round per person, a tenth of what it would cost to play for real.

The number of players across the country is 200,000 on an average day, about five times the roughly 30,000 who play on real courses. 37-year old office worker Park said, “I gave it a try on a rainy day once but they were totally booked from people leaving the golf course behind.”

The machines cost 30 million won each. To set up a room with four machines will cost 200 million won, I was told. The good news is that in one month a business could bring in 50 million won.

Like pool halls, people can order jajangmyeon and other foods and eat them while betting and playing all night, and the number of people doing so is increasing. So now many golf places are staying open all night. And wine bars and other high-class establishments are putting in golf games, too.

39-year old office worker Baek said, “after a company dinner young people like to go to a golf bar rather than a noraebang especially since they can bet there.” Just as bars can set up pool tables and dartboards, it is not illegal to install golf games since they have restaurant licenses. But the problem is that some businesses offer doumi and operate like room salons.

There are not yet many golf rooms which resemble room salons. But as the market becomes saturated the trend is to become more like them. Park, who is making a sexy bar in Gangnam with a video golf machine, said, “I started in Ansan, Anyang, and Suwon but I heard that business in Seoul is good so I’m here to try it.”

But as there is no law governing them there is no way they can be arrested, because while it would be a problem for them to sell alcohol if registered as places for exercise, they are bars with extra equipment so police can do nothing. And since a large business with over 10 machines would have to register as a place for exercise, they register as noraebangs instead. Businesses registered as places for exercise are selling cans of beer, which is a problem. It shows that there must be policies enacted because there is a danger of an accident.

Lee Myung-bak’s English Education Policies

English education policy in South Korea is a seemingly-neverending source of contention. President-elect Lee Myung-bak’s presidential transition team (대통령직 인수위원회) has been making one proposal after another to reform the nation’s ESL classrooms, so with his inauguration being today, let’s take a look back at what’s been said about the possible directions the new government will go.

Back on Hangul Day, in November, the then-presidential candidate said it might be a good idea to teach Korean history and language classes in English and got himself roundly criticized as being “like the Japanese imperialists”. Since then, however, the ESL trends have gone in precisely that direction: after his election education boards across the country have moved for more English-only instruction. Seoul is experimenting with English-only math and science classes, English teachers in Gangwon-do are being told they must do more lecturing in English, and as president-elect Mr. Lee restated his desire to see more English-only classes — in fact, every single high school English class starting in 2010 — and last week saw Seoul National University come back to the man’s original proposal by bringing in American scholar Eugene Park to teach a Korean Studies course exclusively in English.

As president, of course, Roh Moo-hyun also stressed the importance of sound English educational policy but not to the same degree — and considering that his policies failed to achieve one of their most prominent goals, a reduction in spending on hagwons, they, well… failed. I don’t think that is entirely his fault, though — Korean parents seem to take any excuse to spend more money on hagwon English lessons whether the current government is seeing English as more or less important. With the new government poised to expand the importance of English education, hagwons are being swamped with new students just as they also cope with a shortage of foreign English teachers caused by more restrictive visa rules.

English Education Policies

So, of course, all of this is great news for English hagwons, and for the foreign teachers who work there.

After the announcement of the government’s decision to strengthen English education, the market for English lessons for children has gone up slightly. The new government’s roadmap of English immersion, tests of English ability, and early English education beginning in first and second grade is lowering the age of first English learning.

We are at a kids’s English hagwon in Hwanggeum-dong, Suseong-gu, Daegu. At this “English Kindergarten” 10 kids, ranging in age from 4 to 7, are in the middle of an English conversation about “winter life”. Their parents want them to have English immersion lessons taught entirely by a native speaker, heedless of the expensive fees which go from 500,000 to 800,000 won per month. Jeong, the owner of the school, says, “for a while there was a pause due to the stagnant economy but recently the importance of English is being emphasized and students are increasing again. With the trend towards English immersion parents think that age four to six is the best time to learn to speak a foreign language naturally.”

Attention is on the growth of hagwons in the Seoul area. With headquarters in Seoul, hagwons like P, M, S and so on have name recognition and since the second half of last year have set up 7 to 8 branches in southern Daegu and10 to 20 in Daejeon. These hagwons, proud of the high-quality educational services they offer through differentiated programs, offer lessons 10-20% more expensive than those of other Daegu-area language hagwons and parents are beating down their doors.

They were originally created as language hagwons and are now preparing “English kindergartens”. In southern Daegu recently there are a handful of new language hagwons with attached kindergartens. English lessons are exploding in department store culture centers. This spring semester department store English lessons are taking aim at parents with titles like, “Ballet Lessons in English” and “Musicals That Teach English”.

Park Jin-heung, director of the Daebaek Plaza Culture Center (대백프라자 문화센터), said, “the program is very popular for its special nature of using more games and fun activities than other language programs. We’re in an age where whatever you do English is needed.”

The kids education market is already saturated and the population of children is shrinking, so psychological pressure on parents is causing an uptick in the market for kids’ English lessons.

Jo Jun-hyung, chair of the Daegu Foreign Language Association (대구시 외국어교육협의회) said, “because the age of English education is being lowered and English is being more emphasized in school, parents are worried. But programs that just give you an ‘English experience’ are not going to give significant result towards mastery of English.”

But not everybody thinks all of this political emphasis on English is such a great thing. Poet Kim Heung-suk has harsh words for the new president’s thoughts, from the proposal that English speakers be exempted from military service to altering how English words are written in Korean.

During my lifetime English has been my livelihood but recently it is becoming wearisome. English is being politicized. When I look at the policies promulgated by the presidential transition team I feel distrustful of their announcements. The masterstroke of them all is the proposal that young men who speak English well can teach in public schools rather then serving their military duty. Society is becoming stratified by the measuring stick of English, with those on the wrong side of the English Divide having to take up arms in the military, which will give rise to discontent with their homeland.

When I look at the statement by transition team chair Lee Gyeong-suk, I’m left with the thought that there will someday be trauma and pain inflicted by English. A few days ago at a public hearing I wasn’t sure whether to feel hurt by hearing the example of “orange”. What is the meaning of saying, “if the orthography of English in Korean isn’t radically altered it will be hard to speak with the pronunciation of a native”?

The principle here is that English orthography can be changed for our convenience to avoid pronouncing English with a Korean accent, but is that going to make us sound like native speakers? Does chairman Lee think that writing “orange” not in English but as 아린지 or 오렌지 is really going to make for better pronunciation? People who speak English well live in London, Manila, Melbourne and other places too, and have different accents so what does chairman Lee think native-speaker pronunciation to be?

A friend living in a foreign country was once mortified when the foreigners there asked, “your country, why is it having a war over English?” We aren’t America or London or a colony of an English-speaking country, so my friend had no good answer when asked why we have to study English just in high school and then be able to communicate in it.”

People who think that if Korean citizens can speak English well it will help attract foreign tourists would do well to look at nearby Japan. Tourists coming to our country can’t get good information about it and there isn’t good information about things that tourists like — the problem isn’t our English ability.

If there are foreigners who want to learn our language but can’t because every Korean around them can speak English, of course there are also people whose responsibilities include communicating with foreigners and want to show off their English ability and don’t use interpretation. Diplomacy is war conducted through language so appearances are just as important as the content of what is said, but if you get the English disease your judgment is clouded.

The transition team says it wants to change the framework of English education and reduce the burden of private lesson costs by having all English classes taught in English from 2010, and will do so by making a “tremendous investment” in the training and education of English teachers. Korea is already a world leader, known from every English-speaking country from America to Africa as having the English disease, what a “tremendous investment”!

With the market for those private lessons increasing the way it has been, there is no way to change the framework of English education. It isn’t just English but we see the same thing in other subjects. Rather than making a worthless investment or dividing young people, they should bring teachers in from private lessons to the public schools.

From the presidential transition team to parents of schoolchildren, everyone should pay attention. There are many things in the world more important than English and schools have more to teach than English. First of all they teach how to speak our language, and who we are as a people, and English won’t be too late. Language is an ability, and no ability is useful unless used. I’m doubtful of the highly-paid transition team’s intention to mass-produce English ability. An ability that is already abundant.

The Joongang Ilbo also charges that Lee is reckessly promoting new policies without having considered them sufficiently, which sounds about right for a guy whose nickname is, after all, “bulldozer”.

Anti-English Spectrum Cafe Interviewed in Seoul Shinmun

The Seoul Shinmun recently interviewed Mr. Lee Eun-ung, a member of the Anti-English Spectrum Cafe that works for the deportation of English teachers who are either unqualified, do drugs, or have sex with Korean women. Link includes video with further portions of the interview, including an accusation that some foreign teachers commit sexual assault.

Hat tip to The Marmot’s Hole.

Anti-English Spectrum Cafe Interviewed in Seoul Shinmun“Carrying a gun into war is not the only way to love your country. Our goal is to ferret out illegal foreign English teachers to create an English educational environment that our children can trust and be safe in.”

39-year old Lee Eun-ung of Anti-English Spectrum, a group dedicated to the deportation of illegal foreign language teachers, began to explain his thoughts on the need to deport them, saying, “we must catch all of the illegal foreign teachers who come here by various illegal methods to teach foreign languages.” His thoughts fill his words. “I have decided to sacrifice.”

But it has not been easy for him to work his office job and this one, as he has for over four years. To track down the locations of foreign teachers using drugs he spent 150 days in bitterly cold weather, outworking the police, not going home. Many times he has asked schools to fire foreign teachers who make a hobby out of having sex at knifepoint, tracked down foreign lecturers who bring venereal disease, and warned security guards and hagwon authorities about kidnappers.

The group was founded in January of 2005 amidst great anger at an online community site for foreign lecturers staying in Korea. The site had been receiving societal criticism for having posted photographs of half-naked Korean women in a nightclub and members had written boastingly of having sexual relationships with middle school students and married women.

Angered citizens, prominent among them Mr. Lee, who investigated those postings by foreign lecturers and understand the truth of them, founded the movement to deport low-quality foreign lecturers. “What kind of foreign lecturer takes drugs?” “Who can do such a terrible thing?” they wrote, but unqualified foreign lecturers frequently live in a different place from that registered with the Immigration Office.

Because of this, even when they make a report to police it is difficult to catch illegal foreign lecturers. The members of Anti-English Spectrum follow them in disguise and make a report to police or other authorities once they have gathered enough information.

Mr. Lee said, “on one foreign website that encourages UK citizens to come teach English Japan is described as ‘dating heaven’.  It’s so awful that foreign lecturers think Korea and Japan are the same.” Mr. Lee gave this interview while showing pictures and videos given to the police.

▶What stages has the illegal foreign lecturers’ deportation movement gone through since it started?

-In 2005 photos and writings which degraded Korean women were posted on a community site for native English speakers teach English here. I confirmed that these native speakers had a corrupted perspective on Korea and carried on sexual relationships with minors and married women and realized that we could not entrust our children to such people and the movement was begun. We want a system to improve English education while stopping the harm that these native speakers do to Korea.

▶It must be difficult to be involved in the movement while also working your office job.

-I prepare some policy reports or pursue an illegal foreign lecturer, braving fire and water and working until past midnight. And after my office job I don’t sleep, I feel tired all over. Some of our members collapse from the exhaustion. There are some funny times, like when we report a foreign lecturer to the police for doing drugs at his workplace but the people there actually didn’t realize he was doing drugs. And some of our members have quit their jobs because of the time they spent on the movement.

▶It’s demanding of you to work these two jobs but you’ve been doing it for four years. What results have you seen from it?

-We are determined to do this as a sacrifice. Through our sacrifice we can prevent our children being taught English by unqualified lecturers and achieve the deportation of foreigners who commit crimes, and our willing sacrifice is our principled stand. We work harder than anyone knows and feel a keen sense of duty. People who join our movement are bound together by our willingness to sacrifice to change the English education environment for their children.

▶Don’t you worry that this movement could lead to nationalism or intolerance of foreigners?

-This is our most important boundary. Our first obligation is to avoid a one-sided view of all foreign lecturers as bad. We recognize the role of foreign lecturers in English education in our country. So on our website we introduce good foreign lecturers and avoid one-sidedness.

There are times when foreign lecturers come to use to ask for help. They tell us how they have been harmed by their hagwons. If we were so one-sided they wouldn’t come to us like that.

▶ In September Kathleen Stephens became the US ambassador to Korea. Didn’t she first gain affinity with Korea through being an English teacher?

We only present the problems created by foreign lecturers who violate the law. It is difficult to punish unqualified foreign lecturers because they live in places other than what they have registered with the Immigration Office. Most foreign lecturers who come to Korea are in their twenties, and there is no way to stop them from enjoying their youth. But we must expect them to conform our society’s laws and to behave as gentlemen.

▶What must be kept in mind in order to prevent the damage done by unqualified foreign lecturers?

-These days in the Gangbuk area of Seoul there are foreign lecturers who get paid in advance for private lessons and then never show up, and when parents report them to the Immigration Office or the Office of Education the authorities will immediately investigate. In the end those lecturers apologize and return the money. The truth is that no policy can prevent this kind of thing.

To prevent this kind of harm, parents must spread the word on internet sites that private tutoring is illegal. All private lessons are illegal for foreigners staying on an E-2 visa, and those with F-2 visas must report their lessons to the Office of Education.

In the last four years Anti-English Spectrum has achieved the deportation, arrest, or fining of over 80 foreign lecturers. The group has over 6,000 members, over 300 of whom are directly involved in activism. Most of them are office workers or parents in their thirties. It has begun a campaign to deport all illegal foreign lecturers from the over 4,000 schools in Seoul. Mr. Lee said, “when you look at the harm done by illegal foreign lecturers with forged degrees, you want to know when they will be gone.”

Anti-English Spectrum Cafe Wants You (To Go Away)

As most of you probably know, there is a portion of the online community in South Korea that loves nothing better than the chance to rant away — from behind the safety of their computer screen — against English teachers who sleep with Korean women or do drugs or are unqualified (but mostly, the ones who sleep with Korean women). For background, see The Marmot on English Spectrum-gate and Gusts of Popular Feeling on the history of scapegoating English teachers.

One of the leading internet forums for these keyboard warriors is Anti-English Spectrum. Let’s look at its statement of purpose:

Until the degradation of Korean women by English Spectrum is ended, we are the voice of the common citizens of the Republic of Korea.

Each and every one of us dreams of a better future and is busy working for it.

One day, our anger overflowed, as we felt unendurable humiliation through reading of the debasement of Korean women by the arrogant, infamous English Spectrum. We gathered here through our seething consciences, our “active consciences”, which could not stand this.

Anti-English Spectrum Cafe

A heart which could hear of this evil work and yet be able to endure it is a heart already shriveled up and died.

Bothered by this, and gathering our power together, our consciences would not allow us to overlook this tragic story as if we were looking across a river.

We are aware that loving your country does not only mean taking up arms and fighting in a war.

Against illegal, low-quality English instructors who prevent our land from learning English and against English Spectrum, who debased and degraded the image of Korean women to that of one country’s filthy national brand — this is our strong fight!

We know well what a long and difficult journey this will be for the country we love.

We gather here to do two things for that journey.

Anger at the arrogant English Spectrum, alive and well as ever despite criticism for its debasement of Korean women, and the expulsion of illegal, low-quality English instructors.

The small but powerful country, the Republic of Korea!

We are Anti-English Spectrum, fighting for justice for a land whose heart is not yet shriveled up.

Our work holds meaning for our country and our society. We do it together!

This is the citizens’ movement for the expulsion of illegal foreign language teachers.

Strong words. But let me tell you, I look every week for any story with a credible accusation of sexual assault against an ESL teacher, and there are none (having fun at a nightclub doesn’t count). Meanwhile, Mr. Choi, the owner of an English hagwon in Guri, is serving 18 months in prison for beating and raping a woman who accidentally stumbled into his room in a nightclub. I certainly hope that Anti-English Spectrum will be all over this real violation of a Korean woman by a member of the ESL industry – oh wait, what am I saying.

“Misuda” Panelists: “Foreign Charisma Men Suck”

Ouch. Hat tip to commenter “oh”. By the way, if you don’t get the headline, click over to Wikipedia.

Beautiful foreign women for various nations are pointing an accusatory finger at foreign men who easily get involved with Korean women.

On the 6th the beautiful women of KBS2’s “Chat With Beauties” spoke critically on the topic of “Indecent Foreigners Living in Korea.”

After choosing as the worst foreigners in Korea those foreigners who always speak English or their native language, never learning Korean, and easily meet Korean women they said, “most western men approach Korean women by saying they want to learn Korean.”

Foreign Charisma Men Suck

They also said there are many foreigners who live in Korea for many years but speak poor Korean. Among the criticisms a particularly strong one came from Japan-born Sayuri, who said, “when you go to a foreign country, learning that country’s language is proper etiquette.”

They also implicitly criticized the attitude of Korean women who get involved with “tall foreign men who speak English.”

Kenya-born Euphracia said, “in Korea it seems that if you’re tall and just speak English well, you’re treated as the king… My other Kenyan friends were so surprised when they went out with they Korean girlfriends.” Germany-born Vera said, “if a German guy is tall then everybody thinks he’s handsome in Korea… They come to Korea and start acting like Casanova.”

UK-born Eva said, “foreign men who were not popular in their home countries are treated like kings… It’s so strange that western men who of course have very plan features are always being followed by pretty girls.”

Eva added, “if a Korean friend of mine is thinking about having a western boyfriend I tell her to let me see him first. Once my Korean friend’s boyfriend from the UK turned out to have a girlfriend back in the UK.”

Also, there has been criticism over a secretly-operated internet website where foreign men talked among themselves in terms degrading to Korean women.

The site contained problematic contents such as posts about one-night experiences with Korean women, ways to be successful at seduction, and other content degrading Korean women.

Foreigner Rescues Kids From Abusive Daycare in Itaewon

Oh My News has discovered a daycare center in Itaewon that uses some highly questionable punishments — locking kids outside in the cold, naked. Oh My News was alerted by a foreigner who saw the abuse and took photos, so good on you for that, “K”.

This is currently one of the most-viewed stories on Naver. The major networks are going to air stories on it tonight.

Further Update: I don’t have time to work on them right now, but this link has the video of SBS’ report and this link is the Chosun Ilbo’s report of the situation so far with some netizen reaction.

Update: As commenter Race Traitor notes, Oh My News has reported that after their original article ran, the school called their office and admitted guilt. I’m appending their update to this post.


There is shock over the punishment a daycare center in Seoul doled out to one child — forced to disrobe and be locked outside.

As a result of photos sent to Oh My News and the resulting investigation, it has been confirmed that the “ㅂ daycare center” in Itaewon made the child, who appears to be about five years old, remove his clothes before putting him outside and shutting the door, leaving him there.

It is particularly shocking that the daycare center in question, run for low-income families by the local Yongsan-gu government, left the child alone outside on the second floor fire escape where there was a danger of him falling.

Oh My News separately received two photos, which show a small boy standing on the second floor fire escape almost naked, huddling in the extreme cold.

According to data from weather reports, on the 25th, the day of the naked punishments, the temperature in Seoul ranged from -1.8℃ to -9.6℃.

In an interview with Oh My News on the 28th, K, a foreigner who witnessed the punishments and took the photos, testified that from December 29th to January 25th she saw the punishment carried out twice.

She said, “at about 10 in the morning on December 28th someone opened the door and put a completely naked little boy onto the veranda. The boy did not cry but he kept screaming and screaming, as if terribly frightened.”

“Then on the 25th the same thing happened to a little girl. Her pants were around her ankles.”

According to her testimony, the children were left outside for about 10 to 15 minutes. She said, “I heard the child’s cries and took the pictures.”

OhMyNews went directly to the daycare to confirm these facts, finding that K’s photographs are, in fact, of the daycare’s second floor fire escape. In the three-story building there is a retirement home on the first floor, with the daycare occupying the top two floors.

But the daycare center fully denies the allegations. The Yongsan-gu Office, which regulates the center, announced, “the daycare center has operated since 1995. It was established to serve low-income families.” The center is currently serving 44 children from low-income families.

Mr. Park, the owner, angrily said, “the 25th was our sports day, so nothing like that happened. This is an untrue rumor which should not have been spoken. Who says we used naked punishments? Somebody is speaking nonsense.”

Another employee at the daycare denied the allegations. “How could such a punishment have been used on such a terribly cold day? This isn’t the 19th century, I would feel sick just to hear of such a thing.”

“I could sue you for slander,” the employee said. After reproaching the reporter, the employee raged, “old people have no work to do, don’t you know we’re running a day care? Doesn’t Oh My News have anything better to do?”

A source at the Yongsan-gu Office said, “there have been no complaints about that center since its appointment by the government. Action can be taken after an investigation but there must be proof of the allegations.”

“For criminal punishment there must be either a complaint from parents or a third-party accusation. The ward office will typically issue a warning but if there are arrests then it can be shut down. In our jurisdiction there have been times when a child was hit and the teacher fired, but there has never been a case of an establishment being closed due to child abuse.”

This is OMN’s update. It sounds to me as though the owner has bullied the most junior staff member into taking the responsibility. If so I hope she is getting paid well for torpedoing her career to cover her boss’ ass.

The daycare center at the center of allegations of “naked punishments in cold winter” has belatedly confessed.

Until now the center had denied the allegations, calling them “nonsense”, but on the 29th they called Oh My News and said, “it happened in the course of corporal punishment. But it was wrong, there is nothing we can say.”

A childcare worker at the school who applied the punishment also said, “I did it rashly and quickly. It is my fault and I feel very responsible for it.”

L, the teacher, has been working at the daycare center for the past year. In a telephone interview with Oh My News L said, “it was something I did because I thought that the children must be brought up quickly and I am clearly at fault. I did something that a teacher in a daycare center should never do.”

“The child turns six this year but hit and hurt a friend, and I didn’t consider that ok. The child made me angry and in an instant I just got so angry and shut him outside on the fire escape.”

“Normally she is a very good child, but she made me so frustrated and I just did it so quickly. I am so sorry.”

“I didn’t make her take her clothes off, she did that herself. How could I have put a little girl out into the cold in just her underpants? I didn’t do it for very long.”

L added, “the responsibility is mine and I will put in my resignation. Though I cannot work with kids again I hope that the school will not be closed.”

Furthermore the owner of the school, a Mr. Park, and two others visited OhMyNews’ office and admitted that the naked punishments had occurred.

They said, “even though it’s difficult to look after kids it was unacceptable, and it seems the emotions of the teacher in charge erupted out of control. I have a large responsibility since I did not properly manage the teacher. Because of this clear mistake, I have accepted the offer of resignation.”

A city official in charge of childhood education saw Oh My News’ report and called, saying, “we will investigate and hand down a severe punishment.” The Yongsan-gu Office announced, “when the investigation finishes every potential action will be enforced.”

Pothead English Teachers

NoCut News brings us this report of quite a few people — mainly ESL teachers — being arrested for smoking marijuana, which is a serious offense under Korean law. If the accusations are true these idiots deserve whatever the law would have in store for them, but as you’re probably not surprised this report is way off base. It pretty much accuses most or all ESL teachers of smoking marijuana daily and of preying upon the innocent women of Korea.

Reports from other news sources have not been taking a different tone. This one is a typical example and comes from tonight’s In Depth 60 Minutes report on the same topic.

Foreign English teachers have been arrested for smoking marijuana before lessons and habitually using drugs in seedy areas.

The number of foreign English teachers who regularly use drugs is increasing.

One is a Canadian, “S” (24), who entered Korea intending to teach English in September 2004. S worked at an elementary school before being hired by an English hagwon in Gangnam, being paid W3,000,000 per month for six hours of classes per day.

Police say that since 2006 S has been using that money to procure Ghanian marijuana from drug dealer “A” (34) and regularly smoked it afterward.

Pothead English Teachers

Police claim that S would even smoke marijuana into the early morning and then go to school and teach the students. Police explained that not only S but most of the foreign English teachers arrested taught English by day and smoked marijuana by night.

A source at the foreign affairs division of the Seoul Police Department said, “American and Canadian English teachers think Korea is a ‘land of opportunity.’”

They become hagwon teachers not only because there is no country which has much desire to learn English as Korea but because they believe they can make up to 1,000,000 won per month through illegal private lessons.

The source also said, “the majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them.”

Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a ‘land of opportunity’ but also as a ‘perverted heaven’.

The case of “R”, a 26-year old American who smoked marijuana with his Korean girlfriend, is a typical case.

R, while living with his girlfriend “H”, a worker in her 20s at a foreign bank, is accused of going to bars and clubs in Hongdae and Itaewon after classes and regularly smoking marijuana.

The police investigation concluded that they were all working in local universities, Gangnam, Seocho, Yangcheon, Bupyeong, or Gwangmyeong in regular hagwons and were all exposed as having committed the same crime.

The police emphasized that to prevent the entry of these kinds of foreign English teachers inquiries have already begun into criminal convictions for drug use.

Police also emphasized that, “they had satisfied the requirement to receive an E-2 foreign language visa of having a degree from a four-year institution and there was no problem with their degrees. In the cases of other English hagwons it appears there are no problems.”

The Seoul Police Department’s foreign affairs division has arrested six people for smoking marijuana, including S, and applied for arrest warrants for 16 others including H.

Update: A while ago SBS did a similar kind of broadcast and you can see some of the results in this post — SBS Looks at ESL Teachers. Also, please note that the translation has been corrected — the police said most of the these arrested teachers smoked pot at night, not most foreign teachers in general. I take responsibility for that error.


Jangan-dong Pimps: “We Hate Renters’ Associations”

For a few weeks police in Dongdaemun have been cracking down on prostitution in a neighborhood called Jangan-dong, and the pimps there are threatening to make public a list of cops who they say took bribes in the form of cash and sexual favors.

The Joongang Ilbo recently took a look at how the affair got started in July.

Last July, when police superintendant Lee Jong-gu moved to the Dongdaemun Police Department, the fathers and daughters committee in the S·H apartments in Jangan-dong requested an interview. A few days later, after Mr. Lee had moved into his new post with the women and teenagers division, a crackdown began against prostitution in Jangan-dong. On the 7th there were over 600 comments of support left on the message board of the Dongdaemun police’s website. A representative of the fathers and daughters committee at the H apartments said, “the people in this building wrote the comments to support the police in what they’re doing.”  The businesses are pushing back by saying they will “release the names of police who took sexual bribes,” but Mr. Lee said, “this is what the people want,” and the crackdown continues.

Renters' Associations

In July and August of last year the residents of the S apartments in Jangan-dong demonstrated outside the offices of local representative Hong Jun-pyo, a member of the Grand National Party. They demanded an end to prostitution. They said that, “it makes for a bad educational environment” and “violates our property rights by lowering home values”. Over 50 people attended the demonstrations, held two to three times a week. The demonstrations affected the 18th national elections. Representative Hong promised the destruction of prostitution in Jangan-dong. Democratic Party candidate Min Byeong-du made the same public promise.

“The power of apartment communities” has lent strength to the police effort. Some apartments in Jangan-dong have been doing so for the last five years. Starting with the 2,182 households of the H apartments in 2003 and continuing with the 1,786 households of the S apartments in 2005, today over 6,000 households in Jangan 2-dong and 3-dong have joined the call.

71-year old Mrs. Jang, resident of a nearby apartment building, purchased a 42-pyeong (138.8㎡) apartment six years ago. The building is near a row of prostitution businesses. But the value of her apartment is the same as it was six years ago. 60-year old Mr. Jeong, operator of a local brokerage business, said, “when people who want to buy an apartment see a lot of anma massage parlors on a big street, they just leave and don’t even look at the home.”

One resident of the H apartments pointed out, “with the Special Law on Prostitution passed in September 2004 the pimps pushed out of Cheongryangri 588 came to this neighborhood. It’s the balloon effect, you push it one side and it goes to another.”

Jeon Jeong-geun, head of citizen services in representative Hong’s office, said, “the citizens of Jangan-dong have been calling loudly for the elimination of local prostitution. Even though they live in the same neighborhood, they have systematically complained about the educational environment and home values.” One operator of an anma parlor in Jangan-dong sighed and said, “even though enforcement is not heavy in business districts like Yeongdeungpo and Gangnam, there’s nothing to say, this place has a different atmosphere made by the apartment organizations.”

Nice to see a community come together to make its neighborhood a more livable place.

Fan Death

Fan death” is one of those urban legends which refuses to die, like alligators in the New York City sewers or LSD pasted onto the backs of little kids’ stickers. Korea’s particular legend is that of fan death which, if you don’t know already, purports that one can die from sleeping in a sealed room with an electric fan turned on. The notion gets plenty of play every summer in the credulous media, backed up by plenty of medical experts who should really know better. KBS recently aired this investigative report, with results which may not surprise you. You can read the translated transcript below.

As summer comes to an end there are various reports coming out about people who died after going to sleep with an electric fan on.

But, are the fans really the reason for those deaths?

Medical reporter Shin Su-ah investigates.


“A silent death follows inevitably upon falling asleep with the fan on on a humid night.”

In the last three years there have about 20 such reports of fan death.

Many people believe that most of the deaths were due to hypothermia or suffocation.

<interview> Kim Jeong-hyeon (Uijeongbu Millrak-dong) : “It’s because of the wind generated by the fan. The air goes outside and has to come back inside but it can’t, so the person can suffocate…”

People say that the pressure difference created above your nose will make it difficult to breathe.

And many people are worried that fans will diminish the amount of air for breathing.

<interview> Song Min-seong (Namyangju) : “The amount of air is limited but machines stir it all up and so no matter how little oxygen there is it poses a danger.”

Here the fan causes temperatures to lower so that there is a risk of death by hypothermia.

We examined the reality of what effects an electric fan can have on the human body.

Three healthy men were put in separate rooms, first where nothing was moving, then later in rooms with fans and air conditioning turned on and their conditions were carefully monitored as they slept.

In the motionless rooms the sleeping mens’ internal oxygen levels were measured to be 90% and, perhaps due to the heat, were not able to get more than 83% deep, efficient sleep.

When they slept with fans turned on, the men had a 94% oxygen level, a gradual increase inside their bodies, and the rate of deep sleep was also higher at 85%.

With the air conditioners turned on the oxygen levels stayed steady at 94% while the rate of deep sleep was the best at 95%.

We concluded that fans do not suck out oxygen.

Though the closed doors and windows did obstruct the free flow of air the oxygen levels tested normal.

If in fact fans do move so quickly that the face is deprived of oxygen, then on windy days or in a moving car with open windows people ought to suffocate also.

We investigated the ways in which an electric fan could lower a person’ body temperature.

In the rooms with nothing moving and in the rooms with fans turned on, body temperatures stayed at 37 degrees while in rooms with air conditioning turned on it was slightly lower at 36.3 degrees.

As the body can always regulate its core temperature at 36.5 degrees it would be very difficult to drop the core temperature to less than the fatal temperature of 30 degrees.

<interview> Oh Beom-jin (Asan Hospital emergency care professor) : “If the surface of the skin is cooled by moving air the blood vessels respond by constricting, raising the temperature. But because the core temperature is always regulated to the particular level required by humans….”

He concluded that in these cases the cause of death was not the fans.

<interview> Lee Yun-seong (professor of medical law at Seoul National University) : “In most situations the person dies of some other cause and people just happen to come across a switched-on fan. The autopsy can’t find the real cause of death, and the fan seems like maybe it could be the reason so it’s mistaken as the real cause.”

Every time we turn one on to sleep in a small room — that awkward fan.

In a truly modern perspective, electric fans and air conditioning cannot be considered the instruments of death through lowered body temperature.

And now let’s check out what those irrepressible netizens have to say — I’d say they’re pretty well unconvinced.

김은숙: In my little room, I once closed the door and blew a nice breeze around with my fan but a few hours after I fell asleep my chest was pounding and I wasn’t able to breathe and I couldn’t even move my fingers. With only the power of my desperation I turned off the fan and I could finally take nice, deep breaths. I felt like I had pulled myself back from the gates of Hell itself. So I think this broadcast was completely irresponsible. Life is a precious thing. I hope they broadcast a report to correct this one.

이영희: For an exact test of whether it’s hypoacidity or suffocation we can see that there are three necessary conditions. First, a deep sleeper, sufferer of chronic fatigue, or a drunk; second, the fan’s wind hits only the face; and third, observation must continue for at least 3 hours of sleep. According to the news it was just a small fan…

최종묵: Ah, that’s good. I used to sleep well under my fan but I would feel really worried about it so this news put me at peace.

김택수: When I was about 20 years old I once drank too much and went into a small yeogwon room and fell asleep with the fan on. I’d heard every summer on tv about people who died from fan death, so I slept facing the wall and in the morning, I got up and my face was all puffy, kind of bloated. I’m really glad for those broadcasts which saved me from being directly exposed to the risk of fan death and now I always turn off the fan before I go to bed. This show was totally irresponsible. If only 1 person dies as a result they should spend 10,000 years in suffering.

Update: Two updates for you. First, some more netizen comments were left on the original story, offering their take on the first story above. They have, uh, very different perspectives.

안진오: You’ve really opened my eyes. ㅋㅋㅋ When are Koreans who believe in fan death like some third-world country going to get their heads right.

이재헌: That sounds like it was a real nightmare. -_-;

Next, check out this warning tucked into a brand-new fan purchased in Korea and scanned by a generous reader:


Fan Death

It says, “Do not use to generate a strong wind close to you in a sealed room. There is a high risk of death if used while sleeping.”

Further Update: Very tragic. We’ve had a report of death by air conditioning.

Yonhap: Unfit, Foulmouthed, Drunken English Teachers Running Rampant

Via a reader, Yonhap News has put out a parade of horribles regarding native-speaking English teachers.

“I heard the teacher sometimes uses words like ’shit’ and ’shut up’. When the teacher is in a bad mood he tosses out the book. I heard one day he had the children write ‘I don’t want to study’ 100 times. It’s just so bizarre.”

40-year old Ilsan housewife Ms. Kim, a mother of two, didn’t know what to do.

With native-speaker English teachers increasing in number doubts about their character remain. There are of course teachers who take a lackadaisical attitude to lessons or end them when they feel like it and others who have forged credentials.

According to the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology on the 11th, there were 2,456 native speaker English teachers in public schools nationwide at the end of September 2006, and that increased to 3,693 in 2007. Last year that increased by over 1,700 to reach 5,417 by the end of September.

Drunken English Teachers Running Rampant

The increase of 3,000 people in two years is part of the rapid expansion policy, but there continue to be cases of native-speaker teachers who have poor credentials or characters.

Yonhap News learned from parents and teachers of middle school D in Jangan-gu, Suwon, where a native-speaker teacher from the United Kingdom came to school drunk and caused a disturbance.

The drunken teacher began teaching sex education to the students in words they could not understand, saying “the reason I’m not married is I don’t want to have kids like you,” and “Dokdo is Japanese.”

An English teacher named Choi who works at a high school in Jeollanam-do said, “they don’t know the basic purpose of education. During lesson song times they just sing songs over and over, 10 or 20 times. I totally fail to see how you can learn English through pop songs.”

English teachers who have to conduct lessons with native-speaker teachers say the biggest problem with them is lack of attention to lesson planning.

One teacher who was worked with a native-speaker teacher for 18 months said, “because elementary school students must be made interested in English, lesson preparation is the most important thing. But native-speaker teachers will prepare just two lessons in a year. Even that is for demonstration lessons.”

One elementary school teacher in Seoul said, “last year a native-speaker teacher who was at school for the first time was gone for a month claiming illness. Then for two weeks the teacher worked, then quit saying it was hard. Finally we went a semester with no native-speaker teacher.”

The Ministry says such native-speaker teachers are a minority, but statistics say otherwise.

Ministry statistics show that from January to April of last year 54 native-speaker teachers quit without notice or resigned for reasons including inability to fit in, work, and illness. That was the number for four months, and is equivalent to 160 in a year. Last year there were over 5,000 native-speaker teachers, a number that indicates a serious problem.

There are also not a few native-speaker teachers who have been caught with insufficient or forged credentials.

A teacher at S high school in Yongin said, “when the teacher first came to school I asked what his major was and he said Social Counseling, and during a lesson said he graduated from Technical College. But in another lesson he said his major was Animal Science. I don’t understand.”

A teacher at an elementary school in Mokdong said, “I had doubts about the character of a native-speaker teacher at a nearby school and discovered his credentials were forged. In the end the foreigner did a midnight run.”

Experts say there is no way to postpone reforms to the system of recruiting native-speaker teachers.

They say that the system of hiring, managing, and insuring native-speaker English teachers must be expanded not quantitatively but qualitatively and established in an organized fashion.

Ju Hyeong-mi, researcher with the Korea Institude for Curriculum and Evaluation (한국교육과정평가원), said, “to hire high-quality native-speaker teachers, various reforms should be implemented, including strict credential requirements, continuing education sessions, and access to model lessons.”