Tuesday, 2 June 2009

F-Visas vs. E-Visas...This again? A Correction in the Korea Times.

OK.

So back in October of last year, a Korea Times writer named Kang Shin-who wrote an article about Visa status for foreigners in Korea.

Here's that article.


This was in October of 2008 -- long before the Wagner report was filed with the NHRCK. Among other things, he wrote:
South Korea’s visa policy has been accused of favoring ``gyopo’’ or ethnic Korean English teachers over other foreign nationals, with this favoritism creating loopholes in the system making it easier for those with criminal and drug records to go undetected. However, the government has indicated it has no immediate plan to change visa rules....

He said he has witnessed some English instructors who were once expelled from Korea return to the country with other visas such as an F-2 or F-4, taking advantage of this system.

Under the Korean visa rules, native English speakers seeking E-2 visa are obliged to submit police background checks. However, foreigners who are ethnic Koreans or married to Korean nationals are exempt from the requirements as they are eligible for F-4 and F-2 visas, respectively.

Most other foreign English teachers call it ``discriminative.’’
Where he went to find his "most other foreign English teachers" is never explained, but that was his idea, that was the main thesis of the article. You can read it. Let the record show: this was last October.

In February, when Ben Wagner filed his report, somebody in the Korea Times office probably shouted across the press room, "Hey! Anybody here care to write up this story about discrimination against E-2 visas?"

Whether Kang Shin-who thought, "Hey! I already wrote about that before; I'll totally do it again: it's like my strong point" and volunteered, or his editor thought, "Kang wrote about this before; I'll ask him to do it again," once again, Kang was the man covering the Wagner report.

He made a mistake. See, he had a deadline, so he took this idea from his article back in October, and used it again when he wrote up the Wagner report:
In response, many E-2 visa holders have complained that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas. They are urging the government to use the same restrictions on teachers holding E-1 (professorship), F-2 (spouse of a Korean) or F-4 (ethnic Korean) visas.
He even pulled a quote from Wagner out of its original context, and put it right after his own idea, to make it sound like Wagner supported his thesis.
``The visa rules for E-2 visa holders should be revised as they clearly discriminate on the basis of national origin,'' said Benjamin Wanger, a professor of Kyung Hee University. He filed the complaint with the human right agency.

ATEK made it clear that they don't oppose background checks per se.
Well, he's at it again. See, a group of Korean lawyers are filing a petition with the Constitutional Court protesting the discriminatory visa rules. (As for why they're discriminatory, go read up here.) Once again, Kang got tapped for the KT write-up, and once again, Kang has dropped his own total misunderstanding of the Wagner Report, based on a preconception of visa discrimination he'd formed the October before the Wagner Report was filed, into his write-up.
E-2 visa holders have contended that the government should apply the same visa screening rules to foreign English teachers holding other visas, urging the government to use the same restrictions on teachers holding E-1 (professorship), F-2 (spouse of a Korean) or F-4 (ethnic Korean) visas. They made it clear that they don't oppose background checks as a rule.
If you look at the texts side-by-side, I wouldn't be surprised if he simply cut-and-pasted his own article. They're almost word-for-word.

Now, everybody who has a lot invested in this: look at the three texts written by the same Korea Times writer. The guy got it wrong. Really wrong. His previous article contributed to a nasty, nasty rift in the expat community which has just finally started to be repaired on either side, and it would be a real shame if this guy's misunderstanding of Wagner's report caused a re-fracturing where we were so close to getting ourselves back on the same page (take Ben up on this offer, f-series friends! It'd be a really great gesture of solidarity in the face of what's threatening to pull us apart).

I just got off the phone with Ben, and Ben just got off the phone with Kang, and Kang finally gets it, that his sloppy journalism is causing huge misunderstandings and division in the expat community. Ben reports that Kang actually feels awful about it, and is in touch with his editor to get his flub corrected in the online edition. I'm going to write a letter to the editor asking for a retraction, even though I'd previously promised myself never to write to the Korea Times again, after that horrible, horrible two weeks of printing any old junk.

So hey everybody.
1. let's not crucify Kang: journalists writing under deadlines get sloppy, and he didn't realize the effect his carelessness was having on the community, and actually feels bad about it: Ben's been on the phone with him a few times tonight.

2. Let's not let this guy's gaffe screw up the positive movement toward a truce and a clearer understanding of each other that had been slowly coming around, thanks to gestures of openness and good faith on both sides.

On the bright side: Korean lawyers are coming to their own constitutional court, calling their own laws discriminatory, and calling out the use of prejudice in the process of lawmaking:
Chang Suh-yeon, an attorney with the Korean Public Interest Lawyers Group ``Gong-Gam,'' told The Korea Times Tuesday that her group will take the issue to the court this week or next.

``The visa law violated the Constitution that guarantees a basic right to freedom, equal treatment, the pursuit of happiness and the protection of privacy,'' Chang said.

``The visa law is based on vague prejudice and bias that foreign English teachers have disordered sex lives and use drugs,'' she added.
For anybody who's invested in living in Korea for a long time, and who has gotten tired of defending ourselves from unfounded, lazy stereotyping and scapegoating, an open public discussion about media scapegoating, led by Koreans talking to Koreans on our behalf, is about as good news as I can imagine.

I'm hitting publish now, and once I've written up the call for a formal retraction and sent it to The Korea Times, I'll publish it here, too. Screenshot of the offending article, with the paragraph under question highlighted (10:30pm).



(also covered at Brian in JND)

Update: Wow! That was a really fast correction. Here is a screenshot of the corrected article online (11:46pm), with a more accurate description of the nature of the complaint. The paragraph was removed, and the first sentence was also changed to more accurately reflect the content of Wagner's report, and the nature of the Korean lawyers' petition.

As the error has been corrected, a call for a retraction and a nasty letter to the editor is no longer necessary...so I won't write one. Thanks, Kang Shin-who, and The Korea Times editor, for doing what's necessary to get it right this time.

Once again, readers: let's make sure that if the expat community disagrees about stuff, it's only once we all have our facts straight.

Update: this article explains things the way I've heard Ben Wagner explain them.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

wtf!! a cut and paste job!!

Anonymous said...

The visa law is based on vague prejudice and bias that foreign English teachers have disordered sex lives and use drugsCan I get a tee-shirt of that? Or a blog post title??

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the guy got it wrong. There are three groups at work here. Prof Wagner, the Korean lawyers group, and ATEK's ECFA complaints(over 100 identical) which all contain this paragraph;

"While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."

I can see how the reporters comments don't jive with the version of the report that Prof Wagner released, but I don't see how the reporter's story conflicts with the ATEK complaints.

I'm of course open to someone pointing that out to me though.

TJ Wolfe

Jorge said...

Reducing the statement to its underlying logic, it says: You can't exclude groups A, B, or C from D's requirements, and there's no reason for D's requirements.

While another sentence starting with "Therefore..." coming next would admittedly make everything crystal clear, the statement as made isn't inconsistent with the complaint as was posted by you on Gusts of Popular Feeling. At least not by my reading.

Jason said...

TJ:

I believe that ATEK argued that everyone, regardless of nationality or ethnicity, who works with children should be subject to the same checks.

Kang got it wrong, and I'm happy to see that the article was promptly corrected.

Anonymous said...

Rob - great screen shot saves! Can you also highlight the first sentence to show the other change that was made?

Roboseyo said...

I can't change the screen shots, because they're screen shots: what you see is what you get, but the first sentence was changed from health checks to HIV tests.

Brian said...

Thanks for the link. I don't think it's wrong to call the reporter out for getting the story wrong, especially since this has happened a few times in a row. I'm glad that it's been fixed, though really it shouldn't have gone to press if the reporter didn't understand what he was writing. The write-up itself was pretty poorly put together, conflated the issues, and didn't give a clear statement as to what people were objecting to, either in this particular case or in general. Sure, civility beats out anger, especially to members of the media or other people who are still influential, but there comes a point when you have to ask if it's worth dealing with a paper that gets it wrong so often.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure the guy got it wrong. There are three groups at work here. Prof Wagner, the Korean lawyers group, and ATEK's ECFA complaints(over 100 identical) which all contain this paragraph;

"While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."

I can see how the reporters comments don't jive with the version of the report that Prof Wagner released, but I don't see how the reporter's story conflicts with the ATEK complaints.

I'm of course open to someone pointing that out to me though.

I'm still waiting for someone to please explain how the above quote from the ATEK complaints was not accurately depicted in the original report.

TJ Wolfe

Roboseyo said...

I agree about sending the Korea Times home from the party... at this point I even consider sending letters of protest to them a way of providing free content...but I'd have publicly called for a retraction if Kang hadn't been quick to fix things, not for the times, but for the community. I'll send my stuff to the Herald or the Joongnang Daily (I still think the IHT/Joongang Daily is the best English paper to be had delivered to your door in Korea).

Anonymous said...

TJ, everybody understands except you, which is why you're the only one moaning about it on three message boards.

Anonymous said...

be nice, Anonymous.

-Roboseyo, commenting from work.

Anonymous said...

TJ Wolfe again,

I'm far from whining about anything. Yes I've posted the same question on three message boards, and not one person including Matt, Rob, or Prof Wagner, or any of the posters on those sites can provide an answer.

I understand that the E visa F visa comparison is not in the version of the report that Prof Wagner released. That IS NOT THE ISSUE.

Please explain how the article was not an accurate representation of the 100 complaints sent to the NHRC.

The article said that the complaints to the NHRC cited disparity between E visa requirements and F visa requirements as discriminatory. Here again is the paragraph from the 100 complaints:

"While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."


Tell me, anyone, how this article was not accurate.

Mike said...

It is apparent that the source for that statement is not Wagner, and I must commend him on managing to get it changed - something ATEK often claimed was impossible.

What I am concerned about is where the statement originated. Was is something Kang heard from ATEK, or was it something ATEK "borrowed" from Kang when drafting their letter?

Whatever the story behind it, the statement is very similar to the one copy/pasted by 100+ teachers as part of ECFA. We have established that the statement did not appear in the Wagner report, so I think it is time we found out where it came from and how it managed to be copied/pasted into over 100 letters to the NHRCK.

For the past few months, ATEK have defended themselves by using (the then silent) Wagner as a shield. Now that Wagner has spoken, we know that our anger towards his was misplaced. The EvF situation has arrived because ATEK either (a) plagiarised Kang, or (b) decided for themselves that it should be about EvF's.

NOw the $64bn dollar question: Will ATEK admit further plagiarism, or will they opt to admit that they, of their own volition, decided to make this a complaint about E v F visas?

greg said...

~From ATEK Communications Director:

Thank you for the summary Roboseyo. It was a succinct and accurate depiction of the communication challenges each group is facing.

We are disappointed that Kang didn't consult ATEK before writing up a front page story, let alone getting a quote from us. However, he made every effort to correct the mistake, so we are forgiving of his mistake as long as it doesn't cause undo headaches in the blogosphere and elsewhere.

Perhaps this lends credibility to our earlier statements about being misquoted? I would think so.

Fact checking, like other journalistic protocols and standards, are there for a reason - we are seeing what makes a journalist truly professional.

Kang did the right thing by correcting later editions.

To clarify ATEK's postion:

We believe it is perfectly reasonable to conduct a criminal background check on anyone working with children. This is common practice in every first world country.

Protecting the children should be everyone's first priority.

However, we also believe that singling out one group of teachers as more dangerous than another is discriminatory and a form of profiling - which we oppose.

Also, HIV testing has a way of stigmatizing people and causing them to hide their symptoms or avoid testing. This only worsens the public health problem.

If you want to reach me, the best way is to write to: media@atek.or.kr

Anonymous said...

Fact 1: Mr. Kang was first contacted by Tom Rainey-Smith in March of 2008 five months before the October article cited by Rob.

Rainey-Smith's comments here:
http://www.koreasparkle.com/2009/05/the-atek-panel-pro-atek/#content

The article here:
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/03/117_20528.html

Fact two: ATEK included the comparison to the F visa series 100times via their cut and paste complaints. To quote the complaint:

"While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."

I found it interesting to read the March 2008 article again. Said Rainey-Smith, "We don’t only want to be a voice for foreign teachers. We want to be the voice of foreign teachers."

Don't shoot the messenger here people. Someone started this E vs. F fiasco and it wasn't Mr. Kang.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to sign off the last post.

TJ Wolfe

Robespierre said...

》I'm far from whining about anything.

Nobody accused you of whining; it was moaning.

>Yes I've posted the same question on three message boards,
>and not one person including Matt, Rob, or Prof Wagner, or any
>of the posters on those sites can provide an answer.

I think its more likely that you're not getting an answer because most people are focused on issues they find are more relevant/important.

"Who started it?" That's VERY six months ago. Today, we've got a teacher suing the government, and a human rights commission conference on the E-2 regs happening around the same time.

Get with the times, man!

Korean Rum Diary said...

I also read the recent article, and wrote to the reporter, demanding that he quit his job in shame. I'm so fucking sick of swinish Korean media outlets pouring hate on the foreign community.

Here is my own article about the report: Racism & Hypocrisy: The Korea Times and the Ministry of Justice

Mike said...

Greg: "We believe it is perfectly reasonable to conduct a criminal background check on anyone working with children. This is common practice in every first world country."

It is also a legal requirement in Korea, and is a reason that you need to be licensed to teach private classes to children but not to adults.

If hagwon bosses choose to ignore their obligations, this has nothing to do with E-2 visas, and has nothing to do with F-Visa holders. It is a problem with Korean employers disregarding the law.

ATEK have made this a problem for F-visa holders, by pointing the finger at them (as part of the ECFA letter, and in interviews). In reality, the finger should have been pointed at employers.

Misinformation is a real problem here. ATEK did not check the law in Korea, and simply assumed that it was different. The media has reported that as the truth, in turn making F-visa holders seem 'unsafe'.

Professor Wagner has offered to include some clarification as part of his report. Are ATEK willing to make corrections to the submissions made as part of the ECFA campaign? Can you contact the 100+ teachers you 'tracked' and ask them to do the same? If you are serious about repairing the damage done, you will.

Anonymous said...

TJ Wolfe here,

Greg said--"Perhaps this lends credibility to our earlier statements about being misquoted? I would think so."

I would think not.

In the March 2008 article Rainey-Smith said, "We don’t only want to be a voice for foreign teachers. We want to be the voice of foreign teachers."

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/

This original quote was not a misquote. Only later when the statement was repeated did ATEK say "We didn't say that, we we misrepresented."

This in no way lends "credibility" to ATEK, on the contrary it further shows its inconsistencies.

Greg you are coming into this a little late. I hope for your sake you fully understand who and what you are defending before you stake your reputation on it.

100 complaints were authored by ATEK. All 100 contained complaints about discrimination citing the inequities between E visa holders and Korean nationals as well as F visa holders.

This comparison should never have happened.

Does ATEK agree that it shouldn't have happened and if so what is ATEK prepared to do about it at this point?

Anonymous said...

TJ Wolfe again,

Mr. Kang's Feb article came from ATEK.

Compare the two for yourselves.

http://ateknews.wordpress.com/2009/02/04/foreign-teachers-complain-to-korean-human-rights-commission/

http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/nation_view.asp?newsIdx=38955&categoryCode=117

Throw the NHRC complaints written by ATEK in there for comparison as well:

""While most Korean citizen public school teachers undergo criminal background checks and academic qualification verification, Korean citizen private institute teachers often do not. Non-citizen teachers on F-2 and F-4 visas working in public or private schools also do not have criminal background checks or academic qualifications verified. There is no reasonable basis to exempt Korean citizen teachers, ethnic Korean non-citizen teachers (F-4 visa holders), or non-citizen teachers married to Koreans (F-2 visa holders) from any precautionary measures that have been applied to E2 visa holders. On the same token there is no reasonable basis to subject E2 visa holders to further precautionary measures than Korean citizen teachers, F-4 visa holders, or F-2 visa holders."

So did ATEK plagiarize Kang, or did Kang report what ATEK said?

I agree there is a very divisive element at work that has been pitting E and F visas against each other. I just don't think it's a Korean reporter with the Times.

pocariboy73 said...

I don't see why a correction had to be made. The paragraph in questions seems to be "word for word" as the "cut and paste" petitions that ATEK wanted E2's to send to the the NHRCK in February.

Why the correction?

pocariboy73 said...

Yet another question ATEK chooses to avoid.

AK said...

I'm on F-4 and I absolutely frickin' love it....no sponsors, basically I can do anything I want short of voting, but I don't even vote in the States anyways...whatever happens, people here on F-4 will never have to put up with any of the E-2 demands, fair or unfair as it may be...and that's great!

Anonymous said...

AK - you are right. Same is true of F-2s.

TJ's dirty little secret is he is a hagwon owner.

It's not about F-2 rights, its the fear of a foreigners group like ATEK that could be bad for his business.

Roboseyo said...

Let's not get personal here, OK?

Anonymous said...

TJ Wolfe here,

I can say that I've never made it a secret that I'm a hagwon owner. So your lame attempt at insult falls pretty flat.

I have also let people know that many hagwon owners think that what ATEK is doing will benefit them, therefore you are not seeing any opposition from them since the ECFA campaign.

I don't employ E visa workers so it really doesn't effect me.

I know others would love to have separate E visas for hagwons and public schools to further restrict their employment.

pocariboy73 said...

From todays Joongang Ilbo:

http://joongangdaily.joins.com/article/view.asp?aid=2905786todays

"In February, Benjamin Wagner, an associate professor at Kyung Hee University Law School, petitioned the National Human Rights Commission to widen the scope of medical tests for HIV and drug abuse to the entire foreign language community here to include holders of E-1 professor visas, F-2 visas for foreigners married to Koreans and F-4 visas for ethnic Koreans."

Another misrepresentation? If so, will there be a retraction coming?

Benjamin said...

Yes, the JoongAng Daily acknowledged its mistake. They never called for an interview. They didn't read the NHRCK report. They didn't read any statements I had made in the press. There will be a correction.

If they had done any research they would have learned the following:

“Testing Teachers for Drugs and AIDS,” Feb. 11, 2009, The Korea Times.

“As for HIV testing, everyone (citizen or non-citizen) should be encouraged to voluntarily receive HIV tests for their own protection and the protection of others. However, I reject compulsory HIV tests for foreigners and forced deportation for those found positive for the same reasons that Judge Yu Seung-Jeong rejected them in his November 2008 Seoul High Court decision canceling the deportation order of a foreigner who tested positive for HIV . . . it is more in Korea's interest to detect and treat HIV/AIDS than simply to deport.”

“Human rights advocates defend E-2 rules challenge,” June 4, 2009, Korea Herald

"This is not a demand for HIV checks on more foreigners," said Ben Wagner, an American lawyer who teaches International law at Kyung Hee University Law School who filed the NHRCK report. "It's absurd to even think that a human rights group would even suggest that."

“Prejudice or ineptitude? Let court decide,” June 5, 2009, Korea Herald.

"If you have a deportation policy, then immediately you have a strong disincentive for people to get tested and for those who have AIDS to get treatment.

"The biggest problem is stigma and discrimination."

You need to encourage voluntary testing by protecting their human rights."

“유엔 총장까지 나선 외국인 에이즈 검사 논란,” June 5, 2009, 중앙일보

외국인 강사의 에이즈 검사와 관련해 국가인권위원회에 진정을 냈던 경희대 법학과 벤저민 와그너 교수는 “일하러 한국에 온 외국인들에게 부당한 대우를 하면 국가 이미지가 나빠질 것” 이라고 말했다.

NHRCK Report

The E-2 visa compulsory HIV/AIDS tests and deportation policy knowingly fail to “protect children and young students” from HIV/AIDS, and may actually increase the threat of infection. .

The Korean government was therefore able to exploit the public’s ignorance by implementing in-country HIV tests for foreign English teachers that gave the public the illusion of protection, but, as will be explained, heightened the risk to the Korean public.

This report does not advocate compulsory HIV or drug for any teachers.

pocariboy73 said...

Hi Rob,

When do you expect to post Round 2 of the ATEK debate?

Looking forward to it!

Roboseyo said...

As soon as the third article comes in, Pocariboy. I'm looking forward to it, too.

Thanks for asking. I've been following the conversation at popular gusts and really like what's going on there right now.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Roboseyo said...

Keep the tone respectful, please, Anonymous. Try again, if you like, but I won't abide people speaking accusingly to other commenters on my page, whether I agree with them or not.

pocariboy73 said...

Hi Rob,

Me again. Perhaps the person you are waiting for with respect to the second round of ATEK debates is no longer participating.

Have you checked into that?

Take care...

Roboseyo said...

Thanks for the reminder, PB73. I'm on it.

Anonymous said...

This probably won't help the image of foreigners in Korea one iota.

http://yonguksaram.com/the-resignation-of-tony-hellmann.html