Monday, January 17, 2005

Nothing continues to happen, but there's still an awful lot of flaming going on on the boards. A reporter is getting in contact with me, I guess I get to answer some questions about the whole thing...
::UPDATE:: Ok, there's a little more to it than that. Basically what's happened is some miserable piece of...*foreigner* posted a long, disgusting how-to on the subject of seducing one's middle school students in Korea -- I'm guessing as a response to the *Korean* response of closing down English Spectrum. Setting aside for the moment a discussion of the kind of scum who'd write such a thing...well, call it the most successful troll in history. This idiot has whipped up a large portion of net-based Korea into a frenzy, and it's national news. Now, I know that most Koreans aren't painting all foreigners with the same brush, but it was initially surprising to me that so many Koreans would believe that this was a real how-to from a child molester. Disgusting as it was, it reads like something someone would write in order to be purposefully inflammatory...those engaging in real discussions of illegal activities tend to be a lot more subtle in their language.

However, in my mind that isn't the point. Do I think this was a message written by a real pedophile? No...a truly evil, warped person with serious racism issues, but I'd chalk it up to hate, probably. However...this sort of thing has really happened. I guarantee it. There's tons of illegal hiring (actually, English Spectrum had a ton of illegal job openings), tons of bribing of immigration officials, tons of unqualified teachers, tons of fake degrees, and tons of greed allowing any unwashed big-nose to tumble off the boat into a classroom. You'd think that before you gave some random moron a classroom full of children you'd at least run their name through a few sex offender lists. Oh, and I had this conversation with my partner today.

NSG: Uh, in Korea...
Partner: Yes?
NSG: Do they, um, teach Stranger Danger, anything like that?
Partner: What?
NSG: Like, you know, if a stranger tries to talk to you, run away, or if they try to touch you or do something you don't like, you're supposed to shout "NO!" and tell your parents, stuff like that...
Partner: No. They don't really do that in Korea...
NSG: (Cold shudder)

Now, I get frustrated here a lot. I rail against things that don't make sense, ignorance on the part of Koreans and foreigners alike, and the difficulty of locating V-8 juice. But I often forget that Korea has been widely open to foreigners since, basically, the Olympics in 1988. I sometimes feel like someone has dropped 2005, and everything that goes along with it, smack into the middle of 1950, and it's sort of like a mixture of Footloose and Armageddon. There have been serious advances in communication, technology, and the world in general since then, but there's also all the crap that goes with it, and I feel like nobody gave the Koreans the memo. You need to be CAREFUL these days. These are your *kids*, man!

If this whole incident inspires real change -- not just a temporary crackdown, but some serious changes in the way ESL teachers are screened and hired -- this whole mess will be worth it. If it inspires a couple of half-assed protests where the Koreans stand in the cold shouting "PUK-YU!" at passing foreigners, and then everything gets smoothed over with a few bribes and cover-ups, then I truly fear for the safety of the children I teach.


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