HT to Brian for this one.
So this politician wants to pass a bill based on the assertion:
"E-2 visa holders, once caught for taking drugs or sexually harassing children, were often found to be rehired at another school or hagwon,'' said Yeo Jun-sung, an aide for Rep. Choi. ``The proposed bills are to remove these loopholes from the current immigration law.''
That's funny. According to the government's own statistics, there hasn't been a single case of any foreigner getting caught molesting kids, and you KNOW had there been, the press would have had a field day, Olympiade, and one-month gaming holiday.
If he's going to propose a bill, I want to see evidence, not racist scaremongering. This sort of stuff hurts Korea, because it's not addressing a problem, only leads to measures that punish good, law-abiding teachers, and makes foreigners despise this place for equating foreigner with being a criminal.
On top of absolutely no statistical justification for any of these reputations as drug fiend, child molester, or bail jumper. This has got to stop.
I hereby announce the formation of a group/website that can at least call bullshit in public. I DO think that will help. Whenever you see a specious media report involving another scapegoated group in the Korean media, I'd like to see it translated, and I want to see its claims backed up with evidence, which a decent reporter should be able to provide, even if specific sources aren't named.
I want to see media analysis along the lines of great groups I've seen in the States such as "Media Matters," the show "On the Media," or the first show I ever saw on the subject, "Counterspin", which is sponsored by FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting).
The Korean media doesn't seem to be possessed of any effective self-critical tool or group, which defined its own sort of problem. But as far as foreigners are concerned, it's time to fight back directly, with a voice. I've made a simple little blog:
I don't have the time or energy to do this myself. I would need fellow bloggers who already do media reports to simply crosspost, if that's all they can do. For those of you who don't blog but wouldn't mind translating the occasional newspaper article into English for the sake of commentary, please also volunteer a bit of your time. And if you are bilingual and wouldn't mind a little phone duty to the newspaper or public figures, that would also be immensely helpful.
To join, sign up for a username and send an email to email@example.com and tell me who you are and what you can do. If you have a story, send a link and any contact info you can find along as well. If you did a little digging yourself before calling it in, that would be all the more helpful.
All this group wants to do is to make the truth clearer. I'm sick of being seen as some diseased, criminal deviant because this society wants to make the outsider the scapegoat for its ills. And you know what? It hurts this society by lowering the level of accepted discourse in the media, for vilifying a group of teachers that doesn't deserve it, and these people then go out into the world and say nothing good about Korea.
One of the reasons I was sent to Korea in the first place as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) in 1994 was to be an "ambassador" for my country and to make for better relations between nations. That's what the Fulbright exists for -- the assumption was to give young, bright Americans a taste of the outside world, and in Korea's case, to raise the profile of Korea amongst America's young elites who might go on to be lawyers, doctors, diplomats, or politicians. That's why Korea was, along with Taiwan, one of the few countries in the world to have a specific ETA program.
But the link between teaching in Korea (the ETA program was created as an extension of the Peace Corps and before the English hagwon industry exploded) and becoming its good or bad news ambassadors hasn't ended. When I was an ETA in 1994, both the American and Korean governments saw fit to fund 27 of us as grantees; now, there are almost 20,000 E-2 visa holders alone in Korea, who come experience Korea raw and unfiltered.
Does Korea think these people are any less likely to talk about Korea once they go home?
Does the Korean National Tourism Organization realize that blogs and message boards define the English-language discourse about Korea, far more than some lame campaigns or informational web sites no one really goes to?
Using the logic that goes behind funding the Fulbright ETA program, one should be worried about making its nearly 20,000 good teachers, who are the most intimate and ongoing points of contact between a lot of Koreans and non-Koreans, be made to feel like criminals and sociopaths. There IS NO problem with foreigners being a sexual threat to children, or abusing drugs, or any of the other things being said about us. Not in terms of a statistical trend requiring discriminatory laws or regulations.
So, it's time to speak back, against the source.
Join the fight by adding just a little bit of your translation talents, writing time, or ability to make a few phone calls.
I'll coordinate it if you guys pitch in. If you've always grumbled about it, now's the time you can do something concrete.