Friday, May 09, 2008

Korea Herald is trash. Don't even bring the weiguk teachers into something like this.

Sorry to fire this one off so hastily, but I'm right pissed.

2 reasons you should cancel your Korea Herald subscription and sign up to the International Herald Tribune instead:

1. Installment 34 in the "Korean Wave, Even Where it Doesn't Exist" series: "No Wave, just a Korean breeze in Poland". . . didn't show up on the KH Online until a few days after it was published, it seems, placing it behind the "special members only access" filter, so that I can't bring its text onto my blog and mock it (which I've decided will be an ongoing series here, until the hallyu self-congratulation-in-the-dark stops Today's self-aggrandizement: Mongolia!).

2. Taking any damn opportunity to toss in a swipe at Foreign English Teachers in Korea. The last paragraph of this article brings English Teachers into a story that has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with foreign English teachers. Adding wanton swipes at scapegoats and easy targets does not qualify as journalism. Propaganda, maybe. Offensive, definitely. Garbage, dear readers. Just garbage.

Go ahead and read it: reprinted here, because the KHOnline doesn't allow me to link to its articles. It's pretty short.

Quite a story, too -- the way the news is presented it sounds like all 21 were banned in one day: were they on a tour together, trolling the underage sex shops of Asia? Were they all wearing "Pedophile Sex Tour" nametags handed out by their tour company when they got caught by immigration? Were there obscene pictures painted on the side of their tour-bus?

Korea Herald's write-up (author not given) on American pervs getting blocked from entering Korea:

Korea bans entry of 21 American pedophiles

Korea Thursday banned the entry of over 20 Americans convicted of sex crimes against minors as part of global efforts to crack down on pedophiles, the Ministry of Justice was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

The unprecedented entry ban on foreign pedophiles came after the ministry received profiles of the 21 Americans from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it said.

"The information from the United States referred to those who have been convicted of assaulting or having sex with minors under 14 in the U.S. and have since traveled to Asia, particularly Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines and Korea," said Park Young-joon, a prosecutor in charge of immigration regulations at the ministry.

Under its immigration law, the Korean government can ban the entry of foreigners when they are deemed to be prone to violating social order and disrupting customs in the country.

The move comes as the Korean government has been relaxing visa rules for foreign English teachers to meet the growing demand for native English speakers. But the loosening of rules has prompted concerns that some foreign teachers may be unqualified or involved in illegal activities.

(my emphasis added)

I'm glad they were blocked and banned from entry. What a sordid lot.

But, were they applying to be English teachers? Because if not, by hauling English teachers into this article in the last paragraph, the Herald is taking a chance to stoke flames and race-bait, plying on anti-foreign sentiment and slinging some mud on English teachers, just because there's a lot of mud nearby to be slung.

Korea Times is guilty of this too. It seems like they're unable to write an article about Foreign English teachers in Korea without including the words "drug" "pedophile" "sex" "marijuana" or "unqualified".

When Cho SeungHui went on his killing spree at Virginia Tech, the last line of the article in the New York Times was not "Cho Seung-hui is from Korea; some Americans have noticed that Koreatowns are growing in nearly every American city." Just to foment suspicion of all Koreans, because of the actions of a few. There were no articles anywhere in the mainstream American media like this, after Korean Park Hanse got caught molesting American kids.

I'm getting really f***ing tired of this kind of piss-poor, racist, yellow journalism.

(PS: I'm typing this as my coworker is waiting on hold, phoning California to find out more information about the apostille he needs to have his criminal background check verified by Korean Immigration, due to TIGHTENING visa requirements for English teachers.)

Update: The Joongang Daily has made the link between these pedophiles and English teachers, too, but at least tried to connect it with the topic at hand. They did name-drop accused pedophile/former English teacher Christopher Paul Neil's name, but omitted the fact he was Canadian -- because that's inconvenient to their apparent purpose of stirring up fear and suspicion of American illegal teachers. They also made factual errors about the length of stay for Americans on a tourist visa (they say 90 days, it says 30 here).

Notable quotes from Joongang:
“U.S. citizens are eligible to stay in Korea for up to 90 days without a visa, and some work illegally as English teachers once they arrive as tourists,” Jin said.

“There was a case of a pedophile wanted by Interpol who had worked as an English teacher in Korea before being arrested in Thailand. Since parents are very concerned about such situations, we decided to ban the 21 Americans,” Jin said.
Jin was referring to last year’s arrest of Christopher Paul Neil by Thai authorities after an intensive manhunt. Last October, the 32-year-old suspect, named as Interpol’s most-wanted pedophile, was apprehended shortly after he fled Korea.

Neil was accused of sexually abusing more than a dozen boys in three countries, not including Korea, and putting pictures of the assaults on the Internet with his face blurred.

Although five of the blacklisted 21 had visited Korea as tourists, they had not worked as English teachers, according to Jin.

By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter []

Repeat: they had not worked as English teachers -- so why the connection, other than good, old-fashioned, xenophobic muckraking?

From the Korea Times, which did better than its rivals, brushing on the connection in a way that has some credibility, without bringing up names (Chris Neil) or situations (relaxing immigration laws, which is a half-truth at best) that qualify as scare-mongering:
"We have frequently detected the arrival of native English speakers on tourist visas who illegally teach at language institutes. Some of them have even molested Korean children,'' Park [Young-joon, a prosecutor] said. "It was not possible to sort out foreigners likely to commit sex crimes against children in Korea due to a lack of information. Thanks to the list, however, American sex offenders will be denied access to Korean kids,'' Park said.
1. "Some of them have molested Korean children"? Care to provide a reference for that? To my knowledge, no foreign English teacher has ever been convicted of that charge (and given the way the media here blows up over any transgression by a foreign English teacher, and the fact I have ears, and can read, I would have heard of it. 2. "Lack of information"? Isn't that what the criminal background check system is for?

(Update: for the sake of full disclosure: Matt, from popular gusts, provided a link to one incidence of foreign teacher sex-crimes on the comment board. However, given the behaviour of Korea's own teachers, and the sheer number of foreign teachers in Korea, it remains one-sided and unfair to slur all English teachers by drawing connections where there are none. See bottom for more.
Update again: Also, LiveWithPassion has given us a wealth of links on my comment board, but all the articles are in Korean, so I can't vouch for them, but they're there.)

Fact is, Korea, no matter how many safeguards you set up, a Christopher Neil is eventually going to sneak through them, just like a Cho Seunghui or a Park Hanse is going to sneak through America's safeguards. Yeah, screen the incoming people. Do your best. Set up the criminal background check: I don't even have a problem with that. I'll jump through the hoops because I want to be here. I like it here (except when I read tripe like this).

But don't make people afraid of things they don't need to fear, by making specious connections, by painting an entire population by the acts of a deviant few whose acts are just as disgusting (probably more) to all the honest, hard-working, moral English teachers in Korea, as they are to the concerned mothers and the old men who give me dirty looks on the subway, because to them, my white-skin means I must be an uncertified, illegally working, pot-smoking pedophile, too, like that guy s/he read about in the paper.

(Update 2: thanks, Brian, for the link)
(Update 3: thanks, also, ROK Drop, for the link.)
(See bottom for more link: this guy mentions, also in the context of foreign teachers being slurred, all the sexual abuse by Korean teachers on students: skip to the paragraph that begins "Stop the bullshit argument that the root of the problem is cultural and foreigners have no sexual mores.")
(Also: Gusts of Popular Opinion's "History of Scapegoating English Teachers")
(Also: Brian from Jeollanam-do "Boycott Korea?" Gathers other such similar information.)


Brian said...

^ Ha, I got that message too. I emailed back and said "yes" because I'm shameless and b/c it'd make my parents proud to see my name in print.

I admittedly haven't been following visa news too closely. Kinda bad since I'm re-signing and will have to jump through some hoops soon. However, yeah, I never got the talk about loosened visa restrictions. I mean, everything we've seen since CPNeil has shown us tougher measures. Granted, these measures pretty much change every week.

Somebody left a comment on one of my entries to the effect of "stop whining and start an anti-defamation league." I'm almost certain involvement in that would violate the terms of my visa, but it's not a bad idea to consider something like that, given the regularity with which the media defames foreigners around here. We pretty much have no other choice but to whine on blogs. Something to look into at least.

Roboseyo said...

We'd need to find F2 or F4 (married to Korean or half-Korean) weiguks to head up the anti-defamation league, because their visa status allows them a greater range of activities. They can work outside their signed contract, because their visa isn't sponsored exclusively by their employers. I'd totally sign on, though. Hell, I'd chair it if I had the free time, and the visa status. Learn Korean and start sending strongly worded letters around.

Things ARE a tiny bit less rigid than they looked in march, but that's only because they've had to adjust the rules when faced with the fact the kneejerk laws they started out with were impossibly rigid and unreasonable, and made it nigh-impossible for school directors to find new teachers.

Anonymous said...

A while ago there was a foreign teacher accused of molesting a student in Busan but it was a pretty transparently false case. I don't know how it turned it, unfortunately. And while that's the only case I've ever heard of a foreign teacher being accused, the Korean press is chock-a-block with tales of Korean teachers physically and sexually assaulting students.

Roboseyo said...

Hi Koreabeat. I remember reading about that on your site, and wondered how it turned out. I hope he's OK.

matt said...

There is a mention of a conviction here. I suppose that was before the English Spectrum incident made foreign teacher bashing a media sport here, though.

Roboseyo said...

Thanks for that link, Matt. It's good to have the whole picture: being one-sided on MY side would be a little hypocritical, as I accuse the Herald of being one-sided on THEIR side.

I sent a letter to the Herald, protesting their scaremongering. We'll see if they publish it, but at least they got it.

Roboseyo said...

Update: the "letter to the editor" e-mail address has spit my e-mail back three times now, from two different e-mail addresses.

LiveWithPassion said...

Hi Robeseyo,

You are an English teacher, and I respect that you are not one sided in the views you express.

Regarding your article above:

I mentioned once that I am a member of Korean Citizen group ( that fights against the admission to Korea of Low Quality/Low Life English teachers.

I also mentioned that expats think the Korean media projects them all in a negative way.

Well, I’ve been through all the newspaper articles and TV programs on low life/ low quality English teachers cases; child molesting, marihuana smoking, qualification forging etc. I can’t see anywhere where they said the majority of expats (English teachers) are like that. They only pointed out the ones that had caused problems. I do, however, see you point when some articles have linked foreign English teachers and pedophiles where there does not appear to be any good reason to do so. But there are also newspaper articles that introduce good foreigners.

Please visit to see some articles, describing both good and bad foreigners. (You need to become a member first to be able to read all the posts including TV Programs, newspaper articles.)
I have mentioned before that it is important to appreciate that because expat teachers are in the minority in Korea (and just about everyone talks about the pros and cons of learning English), they are “under the miscroscope” of Koreans. Any bad thing an expat does becomes big news.

I do understand, and am sorry that whenever that happens, a good teacher like you, as well as a foreigner/Korean couple who married because they truly loved each other, get abused and fingers pointed at them in the street. It’s unforgivable. But unfortunately we humans don’t seem to have evolved. This sort of sorry, mob-mentality behaviour happens everywhere in the world. Just think about it. When Vietnamese people escaped Vietnam risking their lives in leaky boats, Australia accepted refugees. Some Vietnamese (Vietnamese gangs) arriving in Australia went on to cause problems, and it was big news every day. Australia regarded Vietnamese gangs as a big social issue and a prominent University professor suggested that the Australian government should pay people $1000 and return them back to Vietnam. A small number of people caused a large number of people to suffer.

Every time there’s a suicide bomb incident, many Muslims get attacked and spat at in the street in Australia. Sadly, that the way some of we humans behave. Some of us keep our minds firmly closed. Some of us don’t want to know that there are all kinds of people in each group.

Still, Jewish university students get attacked in schools, security guards are required at any Jewish school or synagogue, and Jewish people get attacked in the street. Why? I think it could be attributing people who perpetrate such aggressive acts against innocent people with a lot of thoughtfulness they don’t actually have – but it could also be because of what they perceive Israeli soldiers are doing to Palestine people. It could be good old-fashioned, mindless anti-Semitism, fueled by goodness knows what.

I put forward the opinion that the behaviour of such minorities is not because the media generalizes them; it’s because the people choose to hate anyone who isn’t like themselves, anyone they have heard is bad, was bad or could be bad, or because they just prefer to keep a closed mind.

As much as you and other expats point out the dark side of Korea, so that Korea can improve, shouldn’t Korea point out the obvious problems some expats are creating? Should the media project only the positive side of the foreigners in Korea?

Since 2005, there have been many reported cases of problem foreign English Teachers. While this is a small proportion of the total number of English teachers, it’s a significant number of people in positions where they can do untold harm to Korean people, and especially children. Because it’s a small proportion of teachers, does that mean it shouldn’t be reported? Of course it doesn’t! Where they become aware of them, the Korea Citizens group lets the media know.

It’s not surprising that people are sensitive about foreign teachers. After all, they’re not working in businesses with adults, they’re teaching our children and our people. Don’t we have every right to do everything in our power to protect our children? We want to take steps to avoid problems, not just “wait and see what happens”. Not surprisingly, children who have been molested have psychological treatment for a very long time.

You might have seen on the news that a Korean women who was conned by a low life expats teacher tried to commit suicide. In another reported case, a Korean woman was being bashed in the street by an expat teacher. When people nearby tried to help, the English teacher called everyone nigger and monkey. Again, an expat teacher was reported to have threatened a Korean woman when she tried to break up with him, by saying he was HIV Positive and had deliberately had sex with her without condoms. Not surprisingly, the woman had a nervous breakdown. The fact is, these articles are true, and they project a terrible image of English teachers in Korea.

I am not going to go into details about the English Spectrum site that was closed down in Korea in 2005, and all the low life acts the members of English Spectrum did. You’ve already posted detailed information.

It is because the government showed no signs of doing anything about this problem that, since December 2004, the Citizens Group took an action to catch low life, low quality foreigners. They then approach the media to write articles on it, which has proven to be a positive way of getting action. It has resulted in the tightening of visa rules (though I’m afraid the rules have been relaxed since). How do they find these people? Visit the site and find out for yourself.

The photo about the alleged double life of the English teacher exposed. - yes it’s a pity and whoever posted it is either a child or childish person who probably did it thinking it is funny. Read the comments under the photo. These were concerned comments from netizens (probably parents) worrying about the person’s morality, but there were lots of comments (more) that how could this idiot do such a thing (the idiot being the person who posted the picture). Someone else’s privacy was being invaded. The teacher is a human being, possibly simply a hot blooded young man just having fun - so leave him alone. It’s not OK to post this sort of picture with no proof at all that the person has done anything wrong as a teacher.

It’s really odd every time Koreans mention a low life English teacher, every expat mentions, without fail, “what about dirty middle aged Korean men who frequent ddal-ddal-bang, room salons, barber shops, etc.?” What’s that got to do with low life English teachers? We are talking about teachers who teach school children.

Sure there are dirty Korean teachers as well and they get equally criticized and punished. Where did you get the idea they get light sentences, or that these cases don’t ever appear in the newspapers? That just isn’t so. Even though teachers aren’t held in the highest respect they used have in the past, teachers know they need to be ethical, moral and set a good example to the young people in their charge, because they are the ones who look after the future of Korea.

Just like offending teachers almost everywhere, Korean teachers get charged and vilified, once the society/ parents find out, and they spend time in jail, and live the rest of their life with fingers pointed a them.

Micheal Hurt, as a citizen reporter, writing in Oh My News, asked by why Korean newspapers only write about expats who post marihuana via mail, why Korean newspapers write about expats who forge their qualifications, why Korean Newspapers write about foreigners who date Korean women, etc.

And speaking of twisting….who says it’s a crime for foreigners to date Korean women? They were merely mentioning that some Korean women have an ill informed fantasy about foreigners all being gentlemen (like in the movies), or approach foreigners for a specific purpose – that is, to learn English. Sure they don’t mention the many foreigner/Korean couples who truly love each other. Sure there are rantings and ravings from Korean guys who curse Korean women dating foreigners. Perhaps they’ve been influenced by reading the insulting comment that some expats openly claim that Korean men’s penises are 3 inches, and that they (foreigners) can get Korean women, but Korean men can’t get western women. And there are certainly some Korean guys who criticize such relationships because they have experienced some very low life foreigners, and are truly worried and concerned for Korean women.

We all know how hard it is to break people’s prejudices. However, in some cases you can’t entirely blame people for being prejudiced. I can’t blame foreigners who bash Korea when they have only experienced negatives, and I can’t blame Koreans who bash foreigners when they equally have experienced negatives, for example as overseas students, migrants, as well as in Korea, their native country. I would be the first to admit that some members of the Korean Citizens Group who fight to expose low quality English teachers are very prejudiced people themselves. No matter what, these people have entrenched prejudices and will only dig for negative stuff. And of course they get exactly what they want.

Michael Hurt said that expats are ‘whipping boys’, who get bashed as a consequence of other big social issues in Korea. He says they never get a chance to have a voice themselves, and that Koreans talk about them but never talk to them.

Well, Michael Hurt is a citizen reporter for Oh My News, Scott Bugeson regularly writes on ChoSun Ilbo and I know there are other expats who regularly write for Korean newspapers. Those are pretty big voices. And here am I, doing my utmost to give a balanced point of view when I visit the Korean Citizens Group.

You only talk about the media projecting the foreigners in a negative light, but they DO actually write positive articles on foreigners when (if) they know those people. If you want, I will dig some articles out and post them here.

Every time Korea or a Korean person does something wrong, responsible Koreans feel bad and try to apologize on behalf of the moronic Koreans, but do any of you expats ever apologize on behalf of your people? Sure the way you think and the way Koreans think is probably different. When Koreans cause problems, the whole Korean community feels bad, and wants to apologise. I just want you to think about both sides of the issue within your own group. I am sure you visit Dave’s too; I know they don’t represent the majority of the expats, but consider what will Koreans think when they read the posts on there?

One common trait people have is that they only think in their own shoes and tend towards believing that everything they do is right and everything others do is unfair.

Because you asked about molesting cases involving English teachers, I will just give you links for these. If your Korean is not fluent, please get help from someone whose Korean is fluent.

Children molested by foreign English teachers:

Roboseyo said...

I found the correct address, and sent my letter to the Herald editor. It hasn't appeared yet.


Hi. I was wondering if you'd ever show up on my blog, after I took you on over at Met's place.

I agreed with just about everything you said here, for the first thousand words or so, except:

1. if the badly behaving Korean teacher gets covered on page 5 of the paper, why does the badly behaving expat get covered on page 1? If the Korean teacher hitting his student goes on page five, then the expat hitting his student should ALSO be on page five, and if the report on the Korean teacher doesn't cast doubt and suspicion on every member of the KTU, the expat crime's write-up should do the same.

2. I don't mean to be a jerk, but the straight truth is: if you truly want me, Mike Hurt, and other expats sympathise with you, you'd get better results by being more concise. Most internet attention spans fritz out after about 500 words. Your comment weighed in at just under 2000. Your comments will be read with more open minds, and get better results, if you keep it short and simple.

3. If you look around my blog, you can see that I sincerely DO love and respect Korea, and I try not to spend too many words ranting, whining and complaining, because that's not who I am in real life.

4. I've known a few of those lowlife expats myself, and you'll never hear me defend them.

Believe me when I tell you that the well-meaning, conscientious expats are more disgusted by the lowlife expats than anybody else, even than you and your spectrum society, because they make our lives really bloody difficult. While all they do for you is make you worry about children, for me, they make me feel unsafe walking home at night sometimes, when one of their lowlife exploits got on page one of the paper, and KBS just aired a biased "expose" of Hongdae, and the smell of soju is in the air, and the drunk old men nearby are muttering "chogi-e, yang-nom'idda".

5. Sure, everybody wants to protect the kids, me as much as you, but it's IMPOSSIBLE to keep weirdos out completely, without closing the borders completely (at which point the local weirdoes will make sure you aren't any farther ahead, anyway). It has been said in other places already: even the disgusting, lowlife pedophile Christopher Neil would have PASSED every requirement currently in place for obtaining an E2 visa. Bad elements slip through the cracks, NO MATTER what people do. Evil people are often very smart, and life sucks sometimes.

Those lowlifes of every race, should be dealt with as: deviants, not the norm. Associating those 21 perverts with English Teachers was completely out of line, because they had no connection with English Teachers whatsoever, and it was a cheap, dirty trick to associate them: as I wrote above:

--When Cho SeungHui went on his killing spree at Virginia Tech, the last line of the article in the New York Times was not "Cho Seung-hui is from Korea; some Americans have noticed that Koreatowns are growing in nearly every American city."--

The American media NEVER linked his act to the millions of law-abiding Korean-Americans immigrants or citizens IN ANY WAY. The Herald DID link English teachers with those byuntae in the Korea Herald, as far as I can tell, the only connection they have is being foreign, and a spade is a spade, and racism is racism.

6. Notice also that my post criticizes the Korea Herald and its journalists; not Korea at large. They did not do their duty to report the news objectively and fairly. I take the Herald to task for abusing its influence on people, because most people everywhere are inclined to trust what they read in the paper (or at least, papers ought to be written as if that were true). Yeah, a lot of Koreans read that article and said "meh. that's trash," but some DO take it on trust, and the media becomes responsible for setting a racist pattern into the thoughts of an otherwise well-meaning person.

I also gave credit where it was due: the Korea Times reported the story even-handedly, and I praised them for it. In the interest of balance, I INCLUDED the link Matt put in the comment board on my post, rather than deleting and dismissing information that was inconvenient to my point. I'll even include mention of your links in the post. Check and see.

7. This post was not about the picture you mention, cross-culture dating, or prejudice at large: I don't think I've ever written about that extensively, or over-critically, on my blog, and I've always tried to be fair and generous in my assessment of Koreans. I even try to keep my commenting on topics like that minimal and even-handed on other sites, like the Marmot's Hole. Popular gusts and Metropolitician are better sources for expat views on those topics: I don't comment on that stuff overmuch here, and I try to qualify my generalizations.

Thanks for stopping by. Thanks for the links, though I won't be digging into them if they're all in Korean: I have a novel to write, but I'm sure they say what you tell me they do. I'm sure that with an expat population of over a million now in Korea, sometimes some of them do bad things. (ROK Drop has some interesting statistics about the percentage/frequency per capita crime rate, comparing foreigners in Korea with the crime rate among nationals).

If you'd like to continue this dialogue, great! But look around the rest of my blog first, to decide if I really fit the profile of a Bitter, Knee-Jerk, K-Hating Blogger who deserves lengthy comments like the ones you left on Metropolitician's comment boards (you might discover you're kind of barking up the wrong tree).

And try to keep it focused and concise.

Take care.

Brian said...

I'll give liveswithpassion credit for at least putting together a decent argument. Much more informative and thoughtful than a lot of the one-liner garbage we see on other sites.

However, I must say that the Anti-English Spectrum cafe is nothing more than a hate site with a bunch of internet thugs. Not saying all the members are, but I myself wouldn't want to be associated with a group responsible for a spate of xenophobic violence and aggression so bad that the US Embassy issued a warning about it in 2005.

As you guys probably saw yesterday, there was a candy-coated write-up in the Korea Times about this group, a write-up that tried to paint it as one devoted to protecting English students and protecting the sanctity of English education. Definitely ignored the hateful motivations that spawned the group in the first place and which continue to keep it going. The article quoted a guy who said he stalks foreigners around town waiting for them to do something "bad."

At this point I really don't feel the need to write why anti-foreigner treatment in the media is unfair and biased. I did write a follow-up to the KT addressing some of the group's inherent biases and violent tendencies, but you know, the xenophobic biases of the media have been addressed SO MANY TIMES by expats . . . not many people are listening on the other end, though.

Roboseyo said...

the frustrating thing isn't that people aren't listening; it's that 1. the people listening aren't the ones that need to hear it, and 2. the ones who listen don't feel enough urgent need to speak out to the ones who DO need to hear it -- the Joshing Gnome discusses "amoral familism" -- the tendency in some cultures to stop fighting for things like social justice, or just plain right, once one's own group has their butts covered (for example, people's reluctance to get involved in Mike White's case - read more on his site; Metropolitician mentions somewhere on his site that the "first they came for the Jews, and I said nothing, because I was not a jew; then they came for the catholics. . . " argument has no effect of most Koreans, and he says you have to convince Koreans that something benefits their own group before they take action.)

In fact, I usually don't even bring topics like this into my class, because the people in my English class, by virtue of the mere fact they want to study English, puts them in the most global and open-minded segment of Korea's population, so I'm basically preaching to the choir when I bring a "look at this racist article!" sort of topic into a conversation class. (Plus, it poisons the teacher/student relationship to have me hewing about and moaning about korean culture.)

I do want to take this moment to retract part of "point four" in my response to Livewithpassion: in trying to express how racist English teacher scapegoating makes me fear for my personal safety, I also accidentally belittled the way unfair racist scapegoating makes the spectrum xenophobes and misinformed, credulous, fear-manipulated housewives worry about their children, and it was not my intention to make it seem like concern for one's children's safety over bad English teachers is trivial or unimportant, only misplaced.

And as you point out on your site re: mad cow disease, Brian: their kids are about fifty-thousand times more likely to get run down in a school zone by a reckless driver than to be abused by a native English teacher.

LiveWithPassion said...

Hi Roboseyo,

I agree that my posts are long, and could be boring to readers who prefer short, sharp newsbites. Anyway, this one is short. Only 468 words.

Perhaps too many of us have learnt to have the attention span of a gnat.

The reasons are :
1. It’s long because, since January 2008, I stuck to just reading the ESL sites, but not responding. It got to a point where I felt fed up to my neck, so lately I have been pouring out my thoughts, all in one go.

2. It could be boring to people who only want to listen/ see what they want to hear and see.

I’m sure you’re not saying “how dare the corrupted, barbaric, indifferent, insensitive Koreans criticize”. However I’ve gained the impression that some are saying exactly that.
All along, I have been trying to say that we’re all pretty much the same. Korea is not worse than America or Australia. Australia is not worse than Korea or America, etc. etc.

As I said earlier, it’s not right (and I really DO feel bad about it) that some articles have linked foreign English teachers and pedophiles where there does not appear to be any good reason to do so.

Can I mention one thing about Cho Seung Hee? Koreans were attacked everywhere after the event (and of course I don’t blame Americans for this). The Korean President officially apologized on behalf of all Koreans.

People, whatever their race, are treated unfairly the world over. Remember that during the 1992 LA riots, when many Koreans lost everything they owned, not one policeman defended them…. not one. I’ll send you links about this if you want them.

There’s a Korean saying that goes something like “the ocean is very deep but at least we know what’s in it. The human heart is tiny by comparison, but we have no idea what’s in it.” I can see that people like Chris Neil would gain a visa under the current rules. Can you blame us, however, for trying to get the government to focus the rules more precisely, even though, as you say, no matter how hard we try, we won’t entirely avoid admitting such people.

Brian read my comments on the Galbijim site, but still wrote in his blog that Coreana never apologized. Since he must have read my post that included Coreana’s apology, I can only say again that people only “get” what they want to get.

Mike White’s case – many expat people speak/write Korean perfectly. We cannot claim that Korean newspapers weren’t interested without a bit more evidence. Isn’t it possible everyone thinks the other person has already contacted the Korean Newspapers? Why automatically assume that they won’t publish, or that it’s a cover up? There could be a very simple explanation.

The Metropolitician, by the way, banned me (I tried to post on Friday evening 3 times and gave up). Why?
1. Perhaps because my post is too “boring”, or
2. Perhaps it’s because I am pushing his buttons by pointing out his true inner thoughts

LiveWithPassion said...


Do you really think Koreans are so moronic?

Surely you don’t believe that the Citizens Group people follow a foreigner and wait till he does something bad?

If it were so, I can absolutely see how this would feel, from the point of view of foreigners. But let me assure you, IT IS NOT HAPPENING.

For simply practical reasons it simply could not be. There are 50,000 English teachers (legally and illegally) in Korea, quite apart from other expats.

The only expats who are followed are the very few (both foreigners and Koreans) about whom the Citizens group has received information indicating that they are engaged in illegal activities.

The group DOES NOT indiscriminately follow expats. That would be stalking, and the approach of following only foreigners would be racism.

The Citizens Group is acting from desperation, and has no wish to harass visitors to Korea. The people who carry out the “detective” work are very few and are not paid for their work. They have full time jobs. Most of the Citizens Group today are ordinary people, just like me, who use the internet to discuss issues of importance to Korea.

I can see how you would feel the way you do about the café, as I have heard what it was like in 2005.

I am aware that the café attracted all kinds of people and there were many posts that were full of hatred. I know how hard it is to change a fixed idea, however please visit the site now.

You will see that the Citizens Group has ridded itself of such thugs and, as I said, is now comprised of ordinary concerned citizens. Balanced idea are presented. You will also find stories posted about good English teachers.

Please visit the site (if you care at all) and find out in detail. Anyone (Koreans/ expats) can become a member. Also, doggji posted something about citizens group on the Dave’s.

As I mentioned in the Metropolitician, I became a member to fiercely defend English teachers, offering balanced points of view.

LiveWithPassion said...

BTW, roboseyo!

I translated 'this guy mentions' into Korean and posted on

Roboseyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Roboseyo said...

I posted another version of this, but thought it was too harsh on a second reading. Here's another try.

re: 468 words: Thanks! I appreciate your consideration.

Your first comment wasn't boring because anybody has the attention span of a gnat. Keep things civil, please. My grandmother reads this blog.

However, it was wordy, rambling, and wandered off topic, referring to things I never said, here or ANYWHERE on my blog, and attitudes I don't hold.

If you're fed up to your neck with expat K-bloggers (understandable), I humbly suggest starting a blog of your own where you can rant, and then, after catharsis, post comments on other k-blogs.

By venting your frustration first, your comments on other K-blogs will be calmer, shorter, more focused, more carefully read, and will beget more productive thought and dialogue; as it is, your tendency to bring in topics not related to the post at hand obscures your valid points, and makes you come off as less rational than you probably mean to be.

I’m sure you’re not saying “how dare the corrupted, barbaric, indifferent, insensitive Koreans criticize”. However I’ve gained the impression that some are saying exactly that.

with all respect: If I'm not saying it, why are you holding me responsible for it on my comment board? go comment on the blogs of the ones who DO say it. they won't read it if you put it here: I'm too positive for their taste, so they never read Roboseyo.

re: Koreans attacked after the Cho Seunghui incident: show me the money (links).

Koreans feared reprisals, but whatever came were insignificant in number and severity (especially with the 2002 anti-american riots in Korea as a point of comparison) and from what I gather, most Westerners' reaction to Koreans' feeling responsible for Cho's act was a bemused, "Why are you apologizing? YOU didn't do it."

Yeah, the usual right-wing blowhards railed against immigrants, but they didn't hate on S. Korea specifically; the main impression of the coverage I came away with was Americans saying, "our infrastructure for helping immigrants adjust and integrate, as well as our safety nets to find the mentally ill, failed completely" -- there was very very little scapegoating of Koreans or blaming Korean culture (except in the Korean media), nor suspicion cast on Koreans specifically, except as part of the "immigrants" group.

stuff like this:
"Let's not look at Cho Seung-Hui as an Asian. Let's not make some political statement about race relations in America."

"Since Monday's shootings, however, there have been no signs of any reprisals against Koreans in the United States."

better characterizes what I read about the aftermath, but then, I'm not in the US. . . maybe I missed something.

I remember the LA Riots. . . don't know enough to comment much on it, but yeah. Koreatown really caught the short end of the stick that time. What does it have to do with the Korea Herald's bad journalism?

re: mike white: "Why automatically assume that they won’t publish, or that it’s a cover up?: I never assumed anything of the sort. Please read my post more carefully before assuming stuff like that: it damages your credibility.

My Mike White post had two points: 1. pray for this guy, and spread the word, and 2. let's support the mother, who looks for answers. I critiqued the Korean police for the extremes to which Stephannie White had to go, to stir up some actual investigation (similar to the Korean parents of the poor elevator-attack girl), when it ought to be their DUTY to try and find out the real story in a case like that. Police dragging their feet instead of doing their due diligence is a common story here in Korea, and both Koreans and expats in Korea are the poorer for it.

Mike White's mom HAS had coverage in several papers now. So did Bill Kapoun, however, it's disappointing that the Kapoun family was stiff-armed into abandoning the investigation (in order to have bill's body released for burial) before they had any answers, when the police should have kept the investigation going until there were some answers, not because Bill Kapoun's a foreigner, but because it's their job.

Bottom line:

I do my damnedest to be fair, even-handed, and even generous here, LiveWithPassion, because that's how I like to be treated. (remember? I'm a human: not just a username.)

I've even mentioned the links you posted in each of the relevant posts, if you noticed, and will continue to do so if you continue to post them, but if you don't give me credit at least for trying to be generous and fair-minded wherever I can, and stop assuming that my views are as ugly as the haters you seem to be reading elsewhere, well, then you have to ask yourself why it's so important for you to defend Korea against someone who isn't even attacking it.

If you want to talk about stuff, come on by. Iron sharpens iron. But this is not a platform for you to rant, this is my personal blog, so:

If you're looking to defend Korea from the ugly condemning expat, go lurk on the blogs of people who actually hate Korea, and who actually write about it unfairly. (or at least expats who have more readers: putting it here isn't much of a platform.) Your efforts are misapplied here.

If you're looking to vent your frustration at expat slights, start your own blog. Such comments will be deleted here, as they do not qualify as dialogue, and are appropriate for YOUR blog, not mine.

If you're looking to engage civilly and respectfully with a different point of view: welcome on the Roboseyo train!

P.S.: Metropolitician's site runs on typepad, which often blocks posts that include a lot of links. Try posting again without links and see if Met really banned you, or whether his spam filter is just set on high. I think he gets a lot of spam there.

LiveWithPassion said...


I am sorry if you got the impression that I was looking to vent my frustration. I thought I was just pouring out my thoughts to a person who possesses an understanding attitude. If I sounded ranting, please forgive me because that wasn’t my intension at all.

Roboseyo said...

No hard feelings, eh? It's fun hammering out ideas like this, and I can be understanding as the day is long (even about expat negativity, which puts a bee in my bonnet too). . . just so long as everything's done keeping in mind that dear old Oma (dutch word for grandmother) reads what you write, and learns about Koreans from the way you express yourself.

I'm actually currently stewing over an essay on the topic, "Why do expats complain about Korea" and its companion piece, "Why do Kimcheerleaders get so Prickly about Criticism of Korea" (might have to be two separate essays; I have a lot of thoughts on both), because it's an interesting dynamic that's puzzled me for the whole time I've been here. . . but one which comes off best when approached with a sense of humour.

Have a great day, and maybe I'll see you around. I'll even read your blog if you start one. . . I have a feeling it'd be interesting.

Unknown said...

I am with Bob on this one. For me the point of the post was not so much the issue of making English teachers look bad with an editor that approves it, but the way the writer blatantly tries to make false accusations. I don't like it when it happens to others and I like it even less when I am the target or the lies.

Having said that I would like to point out that while over here we are squabbling over comparatively small things, this is happening in other parts of the world: 20 000 Cape foreigners displaced. I was unable to find the article that said 50 people already died countrywide because of the violence.

At least we are not being set alight alive, in public, and somehow I doubt it will happen any time soon

Roboseyo said...

good point, Otto. a little scapegoating isn't much compared to bricks through our windows.

Anonymous said...

Roboseyo - as a US gyopo who feels like any other ex-pat in Korea, I've enjoyed (and for the most part, agreed with) most of your posts, especially on the overgrandizing of Hallyu. Generally don't post comments but felt need to point out small error so that future readers aren't misled. Joongang Daily's article is correct in that no visa is required for US citizens staying in Korea for less than 90 days (linked website contains incorrect info). A quick visit to an official Korean embassy/consulate website will verify this.

Anonymous said...

Sorry - hit "submit" button a little too fast. In short, above comment should have read that 1) US citizens can stay up to 30 days without a visa, 2) appropriate visa required if staying more than 90 days, and 3) ROK govt still haven't dealt with glaring loophole re: 31st to 89th day. So US folks tend to read visa requirement as applying to stays lasting 90+ days.

Unknown said...

the expat section of the korea herald is just as bad. matthew lamers, the editor, only allows article that stereotype koreans into silly caricatures. the herald is just a bad bad paper

N.Div said...

LivesWithPassion, I want to also point out that there was not a single reported incident of anti Korean violence after the v-tech shooting. There were a few anecdotal third hand reports of extremely minor incidents but nothing like the attacks on westerns in Korea in 2002. Also there may have been some muslims spit on in America but thats in a nation of 310 million people and after attacks that killed thousands, the DC sniper, ft.Hood... really not comperable to GIs running over two school girls. Sure Americans stereotype but America has a long history as a multicultural society and has learned from that experience, given that difference in experience and the learning we Americans have gone through its no surprise there was no real anti Korean backlash after v-tech.

By the way I have never been to Korea, I actually just ended up here out of curiosity googling as to why Koreans would apologize for v-tech... I mean to Americans its self evident that its not Koreas fault at all. But seeing how some Koreans held Americans all responsible for the GIs killing schoolgirls or all english teachers under suspicion it makes sense.

Anyway Koreans are a great people, even though I have never been there I still foster good feelings towards Korea as close friends of america