Friday, May 29, 2009

Blogging my Reading of Benjamin Wagner's February NHRCK Complaint: the screen shots [see correction]

[Please note the correction: these are screen shots of keyword scans from the first report Prof. Wagner submitted to the NHRCK back in 2008, not the February report that is the source of so much controversy. I only realized this after I put up this post, and have apologized to Prof. Wagner for jumping the gun: misinformation has been the bane of this report's progress so far, and I apologize for contributing to that, if only for a day before I posted the corretion.]

[While this is not the report that Wagner submitted in February 2009, the one ATEK backed, the subject of the controversy, the absence of mention of F-2 and F-series visas in the embryonic form of what BECAME that report is worth noting, however, when considering the context of whatever the February report contains. I am reading that report now, and am in communication with Prof. Wagner about it. I will report on it as soon as I can.]

[Unfortunately for all those waiting with bated breath, I also have a job and a personal life, you I respectfully ask for your patience as I put together this information and prepare to present it to you. I am committed to this process, and to acting in good faith toward everyone involved in the process, those I agree with AND disagree with. Thanks in advance for your patience.]

[Update/Correction over]

I have in my hand, and on my hard drive, Benjamin Wagner's February complaint to the NHRCK. Over the course of the night, I'm going to be writing a cliff's notes version of the full complaint posted at Popular Gusts, but for now, I'd like to start with these screen shots of the first page of the [correction: report that preceded the] complaint. Please pay special attention to the search keywords in the top right corner. Click on any of these pictures to enlarge them.

Screen shot/ search one: "f-4" - not found
screen shot 2: "f series" - I put it in quotations, or every letter "f" in the entire report would be highlighted. "not found"

screen shot three: search for "f-2" "not found"
screen shot four: "f 2" - without the dash, in case it was stated "f 2 visa" instead of "f-2 visa"
three hits: all three from phrases about dates. "summer of 2008" "December of 2007" and "May of 2007"

Screen shot five: "f-visa" not found.
Screen shot six: "f-series" in quotations. Not found.
Any other combinations you'd like me to try? Put them in the comments and I will.


Mike said...

Can you try these:


Cheers Rob. If these terms do not show up as part of the Wagner report, and were included on the ATEK website (as part of the pre-typed letters to the NHCRK) the we all know where the problem lies.

Just to clarify: Is this the very same document you received in 2008?

pocariboy73 said...

Thanks Rob for taking the time and effort in doing this. I'm sure it's not easy. Hopefully, fingers crossed, once you're finished we can move OUR energies towards something more postive and productive for all foreigners living in Korea. Though, clearing up the matters of the past, and knowing what and who went wrong, is crucial in moving foward and establishing 'peaceful' relations again (for lack of beter words).

Thanks Rob.

Anonymous said...

T.J. here,
First and foremost again Rob, Thank you. After reading the report, I'm still confused where the emphasis on the F/E visa comparison came from. It appears to be much more prevalent in the way Prof answered a question in the interview with ATEK that was posted at the Marmot's Hole:

"I’ve seen those statistics and I think it’s wrong that although Korean crime rates are two and a half times that of foreigners, Korean hagwon teachers aren’t required by law to undergo criminal background checks.

I’m not so much focused on the criminal background checks or the academic degree verification process, because, generally speaking, Korean citizen public school teachers have similar requirements. But, as you mention, I haven’t been able to find a law requiring Korean private institute teachers to provide criminal background checks. I believe F-2 and F-4 visa holders can also avoid criminal background checks, in addition to the other E-2 requirements. When F-2s and F-4s are doing the same work as other non-citizens on E-2 visas, not holding them same requirements would also be discriminatory"

If Prof Wagner had continued to say, "However, that is not the focus of my report. I focused on the comparison between Korean nationals and foreigners." Or if ATEK had done less defending and spent more time listening to the concerns voiced, they would have been more effectual in explaining things and we would probably be having a very different conversation right now.

I think, really for me the last thing I would like to compare is the Wagner report and the sample complaints that ATEK provided to those that wanted to file a complaint to see how they did or didn't agree with what the Prof's report actually said.

Again thanks Rob.

Anonymous said...

I have no deep investment in whatever results may come from comparing the two reports, but I did want to take the time to thank you for all the work you've put into facilitating the current discussion, Rob. There are a bunch of other ways you could be spending your time so I'd like to offer my heartfelt appreciation on this, and for the (big!) part you've played in helping the teachers in quarantine.

Thank you!

kushibo said...

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought the official complaint of discrimination was on the basis of national origin, so it is not E2 versus F4/F2/F5, but E2 teachers versus ROK national teachers.

Since not all kyopo are eligible for F4 visas, and people of any citizenship can get F2 and F5 visas, a difference in visa regulations for E2 versus F visas would not constitute discrimination based on national origin.

It has to go to discrimination between the E2's (all foreign nationals by definition) and ROK nationals (all Korean nationals by definition).

But if ROK nationals are subject to HIV testing (they are, but as part of other health initiatives, not visa issuance, of course) and the police have their criminal backgrounds available (including arrests for illegal drug consumption), then the discrimination angle is much less potent.

Roboseyo said...

what happens to ROK citizens when they test HIV positive, Kushibo?

Mike said...


SK people who are living with AIDS/HIV undergo much worse treatment than deportation. I remember chatting with my wife about this right after E-2 visa regulations were introduced and she told me that many people in Korea would love to leave the country after being tested positive. This nicely worded explanation is not exactly reflective of the reality in this country...
From KoreaBeat:
"Though it has since been amended several times [most recently in February 2008 -- translator's note] the law still considers the patients to be contagious disease carriers and the “control and quarantine” paradigm has not been discarded."

Seriously... being tested and deported is not a terrible thing when you consider what "equal treatment" would entail.

Roboseyo said...

Thanks for that, Mike.

Everybody, please note the correction in the original post.

Anonymous said...

I think Kushibo brings up an important point with the HIV/AIDS testing.

I'd like to see a lot more non-citizens and citizens getting themselves tested. It's crucial actually. I strongly agree with Judge Yu's opinion in the Heo case (p.28-29):

"In the final analysis, encouraging the public to voluntarily receive HIV testing by protecting the human rights of people living with HIV/AIDS is the most effective
policy for preventing the spread of the disease. The current policy of
deportation, therefore, is not a sound method for protecting the public health."

Mike, I hear your concern on people living with HIV/AIDS in Korea. They need better treatment, I agree with you. But the way for them to get that is to bring down the stigma and discrimination surrounding the disease. And deporting foreigners for HIV status (even if they may be going back to better health care situations) won't accomplish that.

Voluntary, confidential testing procedures and facilities where people can get counseling. That's what is needed. Then, as you suggest, a foreigner could make the decision to go back home if better care could be had there.

But here's the thing, as we all know, the HIV/AIDS issue isn't a foreigner issue. Tragically, there are many Koreans out there with HIV/AIDS and unaware of their status. These folks need to get tested and treatment because as Judge Yu said, "the most dangerous thing for society is not persons who are infected with HIV and aware of their status, but persons who are infected with the disease and unaware of their status."

You guys are on the ground and in touch with public opinion. Do you sense a lot of aversion to the idea of an AIDS test, just as a precautionary measure, from Koreans?

Obviously people thinking "oh, that's just a foreigner thing" is discriminatory, but it's also really dangerous for Korea's public health.

I think one other issue that hasn't been raised yet which could be offered as a criticism to my views on foreigners and HIV testing is: just who is going to pay for HIV treatment for foreigners if they test positive?

I saw a brief, but good, discussion on this and the Heo case over here.Lastly, for those thinking about getting tested confidentially here, make sure you find the right place. Otherwise you don't know if your privacy is protected. Mike Solis has a good article here.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, what exactly are people thanking you for? Writing a Cliff Notes version of a 69 page report, or just posting the report? The report was posted up on Brian Deutsch's sites a few days ago and it has been extensively commented upon on a couple of sites. And why does a 69 page report need Cliff Notes? Cliff Notes usually run around 69 pages.

Finally, as I've mentioned on the Marmot's Hole, I really think you guys are deluding yourselves if you imagine anything is going to come of this report other than a sense of self satisfaction. You aren't living in America - no one is going to take this report seriously. You are living in a country where the general population has been convinced that your services are needed, however they remain unwanted. The only skill you bring to the table is the language you are born with - for that you are paid and average salary and the opportunity to live abroad and work a job which, frankly, just isn't that difficult. In return, you bitch and moan about racism - what exactly did you expect? You are living in one of the most homogeneous societies on the planet.
The report is ridiculous and this mutual appreciation society you have established for 'suffering' English teachers is laughable. You grew up white in a society where whites were the majority. If you want some respect, learn Korean if you haven't, and, in the mean time, learn from the experience of being the unwelcome minority.

John Galt

Mike said...

"You guys are on the ground and in touch with public opinion. Do you sense a lot of aversion to the idea of an AIDS test, just as a precautionary measure, from Koreans?"I probably know a lot more about this than most people do. My wife is quite well known in the gay community in Korea. I don't want to get into details on a public forum like this (nothing shocking, just a long story), but she is well informed, and more to the point, happy to discuss it.

Anyway... The situation reflects what is stated in report. HIV/AIDS are still very much considered foreigner/gay diseases here, and taking a voluntary test is the equivalent of 'coming out'.

Korean people don't want to get tested unless they have to, not only because they fear the social repercussions of testing positive, but they fear the repercussions of somebody finding out they were tested in the first place.

Anonymous said...

thanks for that info mike. its one thing to read about this in reports and quite another to know it from on the ground experience, as your wife does.

an aids test as the equivalent of "coming out"!? - my goodness.

makes me mad the gov isn't investing its energy in campaigns for voluntary/confidential testing and instead is spending all its energy on the "chase the foreigner around the tree" game.

kushibo said...

I wrote a fairly lengthy response to John Galt's comment here. tlfr (too long for Roboseyo's comments)

Anyway, I'm not so sure I agree with the claims about HIV testing and coming out, etc. They conflict somewhat with stuff I've heard directly from people in public health involved with HIV testing and treatment. Also, if most HIV-positives are heterosexual, I don't know if the "coming out" thing is accurate.

But what I have to do is wait until this summer when I'm in Korea and can talk with some of these folks face to face. I'm planning to explore in detail what types of regulations ROK national teachers face among three groups — (a) "regular" school teachers, (b) "irregular" school teachers, and (c) hagwon instructors — in terms of HIV testing, criminal background checks, etc. When I do, I will blog about it, especially focusing on how they are similar to or different from these E2 regulations. And if I've stated anything inaccurate so far, I will be sure to set the record straight.

Unknown said...

Kushibo, I think that's a great idea. If you can, see if you can figure out what body is mandating whatever checks are done. The reason why I ask is because I understand that there is no act passed by the National Assembly that requires health checks...they are required by the MEST, and the checks as required by the MEST don't have to include HIV tests, so where HIV testing is done, that is at the discretion of the individual boards of education in local jurisdictions. The reason I mention it is because there has been a trend already for people to say "I'm a public school teacher and I have to get an HIV test, therefore it is government mandated," when in fact that is an assumption and it may not be.

If I had to make a prediction on some of your findings, I'd say that most teachers don't know what's being done with their bloodwork. They just know they get the "all clear" on whatever was done with it, and that's good enough for them.

kushibo said...

Tony H wrote:
If I had to make a prediction on some of your findings, I'd say that most teachers don't know what's being done with their bloodwork.

I'd say there's a good chance you're right. At a conference I asked an HIV specialist working with the government if he (and his Japanese research partners) could be so confident that the number of HIV-positive was so relatively low.

He couldn't answer for the Japanese, but described how extensive HIV testing was for the general population. It's entirely possible that a lot of people don't know that that is one of the things being done with their blood work.

My understanding also is that men serving in the military are "encouraged" to donate blood, at which time it is standard procedure to check it for HIV (blood donation is a good way to find out for free if you're HIV-negative or not), so I believe there is extensive legitimate testing going on.

This meeting was about three years ago, long before the E2 regs came about, and I was only asking for my own professional curiosity, not as fact-finding for some future immigration controversy. I'll try to find more later, but it won't be until July or August.

kushibo said...

He couldn't answer for the Japanese, but described how extensive HIV testing was for the general population.


how extensive HIV testing was for the general population in Korea.

Mike said...


When I arrived to Korea, I was told that my PS needed a HIV/AIDS test, and so I got one. After I hd been in Korea some time, it was requested that I get one of the Gyeonggi-do PS tests that all the Korean teachers have to do every 2 years or so. This was before the E-2 Visa changes were announced.

When I went there, I went with my wife (though she was not my wife then), rather than a co-teacher. I knew I would get proper translations if I took her, whereas a co-teacher would most likely not bother to translate things for me.

As part of these tests I had a chest X-Ray, a dental check-up, and a urine and blood sample were both taken. I was checked for diabetes, hepatitis, TB, and HIV/AIDS. My missus could not translate most things on the fly (she never had to translate medical terminology before), so she wrote them down in Korean and we checked them later.

I never actually heard them say HIV, but I did hear A I D S (they tend to spell it here, rather than say AIDS).

Because it was Government testing time, the hospital had a special unit open for doing these tests on Saturdays. The tests were not limited to teachers, but were for all Government employees. You arrive at a designated hospital within the set dates, show them your letter, and they hand you a form so you can go around the different doctors.

I am not suggesting that you are wrong in your understanding about there being differences between the provinces, but this is my experience with Gyeonggi-do in October 2007 (testing had to be done in Sept/Oct).