Thursday, February 5, 2009

Still waiting for the Korea Times to check its facts . . . guess that makes sense as Korea also hasn't completely frozen over yet either

This morning I saw this "news" article, and I decided to send a little email--usually I ignore the middle school level of journalism that the KT prides itself on using.


There is an error in your article, Foreign Teachers Fight 'Discrimination'.

In your first sentence you say that ATEK is "An association for 20,000 foreign English teachers . . ."--this is NOT TRUE.

ATEK does NOT have 20 000 foreign teacher members.

If you did research on this topic, and checked your facts, you would know that ATEK has around 200 members. See this link for the FACT,

How many members do you have?

ATEK has not yet started its membership drive, but through word-of-mouth we have over 200 prospective members. That isn't near enough, and has come primarily through our exposure on the internet and in the media. Once we start our membership drive, we expect those numbers to increase dramatically.

Please write responsible news with verified facts. Do not combine two different facts: 1) ATEK is fighting discrimination 2) There are 20 000 foreign teachers in Korea

These two facts do NOT mean that the association has 20 000 members.

Again, please correct the error in your article.

Thank you,
Jason Ryan

I didn't even bother trying to write them an email pointing out the gross inaccuracy of this thought, "
indicating they will step up their crusade against proposed legislation requiring them to submit drug tests and criminal background checks." Again, the vast majority of foreign/expat English teachers don't have a problem with the medical tests and criminal background checks--the problem we have is with the process itself, and the fact that it's NOT US COMMITTING THE CRIMES!!!

The funny thing about all of this is that some foreign/expat teachers still believe this sort of scenario is possible,

I imagine in the above cartoon the devil would be saying, "Really? LOL!!! Say it again, you want “equal rights and treatment under the law”? Where exactly do you think you are?"

I think that some change is possible--but equality for 'seasonal migrant workers' aka foreign English teachers in Korea (if it ever happens) will be something that happens in about 25-50 years . . . there are more fundamental issues of equality that need to be addressed in Korean society and culture before our agenda can even come close to being fulfilled.

Before much of anything can change the most fundamental issue Korean society faces is achieving a living socio-cultural environment where the Rule of Law is in effect. It's that simple. We can change and educate people until the mad cows disappear--but without the legal system enforcing the rules on the books there are no consequences . . . 'nuff said.

I just tried to Google "How many foreign English teachers are in Korea?" in different variations and can't find the actual number for 2008--anybody know? Anyways . . . I'm hungry--time to stop wasting brain cells on this.



Tony Hellmann said...

Actually, we don't have any members. When the reporter called me, he asked me how many members we had, and I said "Zero. We haven't launched yet. We expect to launch in a couple weeks and then we'll have lots of members. But right now, we have none." He wasn't satisfied with my answer. So the paper reads "association for 20,000 teachers" instead of "association of 20,000 teachers." The first thing I did when I saw this was curse.

Jason said...

Hi Tony,

It's amazing how NO members translates into a "20 000" "crusade" and so on and so forth . . .

Before I came to Korea I had 'some faith' in news media--now I have none. And this is no longer limited to Korea . . . the economics of information and thought control have pretty much killed any integrity the news media ever had--if it had any to begin with.

I hope everyone at ATEK has escape and evade training in case the fit hits the shan when the Korean government begins losing face on an international scale if the UN suddenly has hard numbers to use about the issues expats face in Korea . . . and that's assuming that the information isn't 'doctored' . . .

I also wonder about the annonymity of filing complaints with the Korean human rights board . . . I truly do NOT believe it is confidential--confidentiality is not a word that can be used in the same context as foreign teacher . . .

Anyways, I may write more about what I think about all of this tomorrow . . .

Take care,

Mark Eaton said...

Jason, this is a great post....informative.

Stafford said...

As at November 2008 there were 19375 E2 visa holders in Korea. Add another couple of hundred for E1 and E7 holders and you get about 20000.

cf table 1 here:

Tony Hellmann said...

I'd argue the numbers of unidentified teachers are higher. According to Immigration, there were 1,683 E-1 visa holders in the country as of September 2008. There were 120,306 F-2-1s, 39,592 F-4s, and 16,406 F-5s. I don't know what percentage of F-series visa holders teach English, but if it is 5%, that's an addition 8,815 English teachers, for a grand total of 28,190 non-citizen English teachers. And that doesn't count the E-7s (many of whom don't teach, but some who do. There are almost 8,000 of them here.)

Jason said...

Hi Stafford,

Thanks for the numbers and link. I had read that info but wasn't sure if it was accurate . . .

Hi Tony,

I think the numbers are higher too.

Anyways, time to get back to blogging about my vacation . . .

Thanks for the comments,