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English teacher blacklist!

english_teachers.jpg

YTN reports that the Korea Foreign Teacher Recruiting Association has released a blacklist of 19 foreign teachers. Most of the teachers made the list for allegedly running away in the middle of their contracts, although a couple are on there for alleged theft, improprieties with female students and other infractions.

The list was compiled by the association, which is composed of recruiting agencies that introduce foreign teachers to schools. It says the list was based on claims made by hagwon and elementary school officials between February and today.

The association also explained that English teachers share information about schools prior to coming to Korea, but Korean schools lacked information on potentially problematic teachers. Accordingly, the homepage was born.

In the Seoul Sinmun, an employee with a foreign teacher employment service complained that foreign teachers are always sharing information with one another, so they can quit and find employment elsewhere. He noted that teachers, and white teachers in particular, are in a great position.
The association also stressed that the government needed to take steps to manage foreign teachers.

Marmot’s Note: One wonders how long this is going to last before it runs into legal problems. I mean, I know teachers run their own blacklists of hagwons, so what’s fair is fair, but my understanding is that in Korea, printing names like that could be problematic even if the accusations are true. The other thing is that the list is being composed by hagwon recruiters based on claims made by hagwon owners, two groups not known for their business ethics.

* Image shamelessly ripped off from the Seoul Sinmun. Too classic to pass up.

UPDATE: English piece from the Korea Times. At the end:

However, experts warned that revealing private information could cause legal problems. “Regardless of their faults, the listed teachers are entitled to sue those who revealed their private information for libel,” said Kim Young-hong, an expert in human rights on information.

Having run Google searches on all the names (a search of one dude accused of forging documents revealed a rather interesting interview), it appears one particularly badly reviewed teacher might currently be teaching at a Korean university, so he might want to find a lawyer and discuss his options.

UPDATE 2: In our comments section, a real live lawyer says:

The blacklist is quite unlawful. Not only is it a criminal defamation violation under the Criminal Code, but the Labor Standards Act forbids employers to share blacklists. These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.

There you have it.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://dramman.blogspot.com Dram_man

    Yeah I read that “legal catch” too in the Korea Times, generaly you cannot release such public information. However I would love to see the look on the clerks face if one of these 19 tries to file suit. The laughter that poor guy has to stifle would be horrendous!

  • Sonagi

    Most of the teachers made the list for allegedly running away in the middle of their contracts,…

    Wonder why.

    foreign teachers are always sharing information with one another, so they can quit and find employment elsewhere.

    Oh, yeah, of course. It’s because foreign English teachers are greedy, not because of any other reason, like non-payment of salary, unpaid overtime or other breach of contract, or physical threats or abuse.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Here is the profile of my fellow Australian.

    작성자 : 회원
    국적 : 호주
    성별 : 남자
    이름 : A——–
    여권번호 :
    생년월일 : 년 월 일
    사진 :
    설명 : A——–
    30살
    Australia

    학생몸에 손을 많이 되는 사람입니다.
    성추행범 정도의 수준이니 절대 채용하지 마시기 바랍니다.
    학생과 학부모의 강력한 항의로 해고하였습니다

    Hoohoo.

    (NOTE: Name erased by the Marmot)

  • Brendon Carr

    The blacklist is quite unlawful. Not only is it a criminal defamation violation under the Criminal Code, but the Labor Standards Act forbids employers to share blacklists. These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Sorry about that, Robert. I cut and paste and the name was included without me thinking.

    Brendon, who would they go to?

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    No problem, Matt. I’ve gotten in trouble for that in the past, and I try to learn from my mistakes.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    Unless the law has changed since 2000, the part about the teacher being able to easily change to better schools is a huge crock of poo. I had to get a release letter from a place that went bankrupt and failed to pay me for 1 and a half months’ work. Giving ESL instructors the ability to change jobs would be one major step in breaking the slave-like mentality the owners believe they have on you.

    The industry is a cesspool. Korea needs to do what Taiwan did in the mid-1990s: shut the whole thing down and build from scratch – especially the laws and oversight.

  • bluejives

    Maybe all the English teachers should get together and organize a nationwide strike. With all the stuff about abuses that I hear, I frankly surprised that the expats havent organized. There’s all kinds of protests in Korea these days, right? When in Rome, do what the Romans do. I understand Hanjin shipping containers make excellent barricades against riot police.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    “Maybe all the English teachers should get together and organize a nationwide strike. With all the stuff about abuses that I hear, I frankly surprised that the expats havent organized. There’s all kinds of protests in Korea these days, right? When in Rome, do what the Romans do. I understand Hanjin shipping containers make excellent barricades against riot police.”

    Bluejives, are you joking? Only people that settle down tend to form unions. There is no benefit for short-termers to become activists.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    The ESLers are also a self-loathing group – particularly those who stayed longer and moved on to better things….but pretty much all as a group love to detest the rest….

  • cm

    “These teachers ought to complain to the prosecution.”

    Yeah,but how many dimes do you want to bet that these teachers will not complain to the prosecution, but instead go to web sites and complain there about dirty Koreans with their corruptness?

    ” There is no benefit for short-termers to become activists.”

    Exactly the reason and the mentality why the things will stay the way that is, in Korea. I would guess that strong protests by Caucasions would be taken much more seriously by the K-government, (rather then from some 3-D workers from SE Asia, or Koreans themselves) given the fact that Koreans put a premium on international image in the developed world.

    My point, if you’re not going to bother fight for the fair share of the pie because you think it’s just a waste of time, then I don’t think there’d be any change. I personally think organized ESL teacher unions to stick up for their rights, to combat public stereotypes, and to educate the public of the problems teachers face in ROK, is a step forward in the right direction. Most Koreans have no clue what kind of working conditions or problems there are for foreign teachers. And that’s a shame.

  • Zonath

    Unless the law has changed since 2000, the part about the teacher being able to easily change to better schools is a huge crock of poo. I had to get a release letter from a place that went bankrupt and failed to pay me for 1 and a half months’ work. Giving ESL instructors the ability to change jobs would be one major step in breaking the slave-like mentality the owners believe they have on you.

    As far as I know, you do still need to get a release letter in order for your new employer to be able to get your visa changed over. But considering that most employment contracts have fairly reasonable notice periods for teachers who want to quit (I know, 1 month might seem like a long time if you’re stuck at a really bad school) and considering that employers are legally obligated to give you a release letter once they’ve accepted your resignation or they fire you, it’s not actually all that different from changing jobs back home. On the other hand, if the hagwon (or university) boss is really intent on being an asshole about things, and refusing to hand over a release letter once you’ve quit, your options can get pretty limited if you’re not willing to take some legal action on your own behalf.

    Yeah,but how many dimes do you want to bet that these teachers will not complain to the prosecution, but instead go to web sites and complain there about dirty Koreans with their corruptness?

    Sad, but probably true. Considering how accessible the Ministry of Labor is to labor complaints (because, you know, that’s part of their job), you don’t necessarily even have to go to the prosecution if you feel that there’s fishy business afoot. I just think a lot of people get intimidated by the whole situation of having to go through a government process in a foreign country where they (most likely) don’t know the language. And unfortunately, I don’t believe employers in Korea are required to give information about who employees can call if they have a complaint (like employers are in much of the States). So chalk it up to basic ignorance, timidness, and an unwillingness to use resources at hand (like the Internet and English-speaking Korean friends) in order to make the situation better.

  • Sonagi

    Giving ESL instructors the ability to change jobs would be one major step in breaking the slave-like mentality the owners believe they have on you.

    In many countries, including the United States, work visas are sponsored by the employer, and the employee cannot switch jobs mid-contract. key difference between Korea and the US and Canada is that foreign nationals in the US or Canada on special work visas are often able to acquire green cards and become free agents.

  • http://www.koreasojourner.blog-city.com/ usinkorea

    “it’s not actually all that different from changing jobs back home.”

    That was far from my experience between 1996 and 2000.

    If you wanted a release letter, you often had to work hard at it – usually getting any potential new employer to cut a deal with your current owner to get the letter – since they often had to fly people in anyway if they went with a completely new recruit. But, in no way would I describe the opportunities to change jobs in Korea as approaching the situation back home (in the US), and from what I read on the internet, Japan was a much better place to work in this regards as well: they had altered the law so it was easier for workers to get new sponsors as well as to take the institutes to the local labor board if contracts were broken.

    I actually think those few people I met who were illegals had gotten the right idea. One of them I met mid-way through my time in Korea said he always asked people who had been there over a year why in heck they stayed within the system the way it was. I personally never liked the idea of making myself an illegal migrant worker no matter how much I thought the system sucked, but I also believe I was pretty much an idiot for it too…. The guys who I knew who were illegal seemed to have figured the system out and how to deal with it fair enough: in any institute gigs they worked, they usually got paid up front, and if they started getting dicked around, they could relocate at will.

  • Zonath

    If you wanted a release letter, you often had to work hard at it – usually getting any potential new employer to cut a deal with your current owner to get the letter – since they often had to fly people in anyway if they went with a completely new recruit.

    Some of that stuff was still happening by the time I left last year. Sadly, there aren’t a whole lot of employers who would be willing to go through the headache of waiting while the prospective employee gets his or her release letter sorted out. But again, even this sort of thing can depend as much (if not more) on how the employee handles things as how willing the boss is to sign a release letter. A few of my friends went through several jobs during their time in SK (and rarely finished their contracted term before moving on) without having much of a problem with release letters. Of course, it also helped that (after the first job) none of them were on their employer’s dime as far as getting in and out of the country went — it seemed to lead to a bit less of a sense of entitlement (or at least a need to mitigate losses) on the part of the employers.

  • dogbertt

    Why is it that bluehives and nulji constantly conflate “expat” and “English teacher”?

  • michael

    Not an English teacher, but isn’t this at the root of the problem:
    “Foreign instructors in Korea occasionally have contract disputes with their employers. Many have observed that in the Korean context, a contract appears to simply be a rough working agreement, subject to change depending on the circumstances. Many Koreans do not view deviations from a contract as a breach of contract, and few Koreans would consider taking an employer to court over a contract dispute.” From the U.S. Embassy website

    Don’t they give teachers a visa in Japan that lets them move from job to job without release letters? Maybe they should do the same here.

  • jyce

    Why is it that bluehives and nulji constantly conflate “expat” and “English teacher”?

    Probably for the same reason you conflate “Negroes” and criminals.

  • dogbertt

    Conflating “kyopo” with “online stalker” and “inferiority complex masked by arrogance” would be closer to the mark.

  • http://www.imbermedia.net/ Darin

    “Don’t they give teachers a visa in Japan that lets them move from job to job without release letters? Maybe they should do the same here.”

    Yea, employment visa’s in Japan are not limited to one employer. You need an employer to apply for the visa, but once you receive it it’s your visa, not your boss’s.

    But back to the original article:

    allegedly running away in the middle of their contracts, although a couple are on there for alleged theft, improprieties with female students and other infractions.

    So there will be a list of Koreans who have broken contracts being published tomorrow right? And all suspects in theft as well? How about a list of Korean teachers that get married to their students, or have relations with their students?

    What’s that, no report of the sorts coming? Well that’s a shame. Probably would take up the whole newspaper anyways, not because Korean teachers are inherently worse then foreign teachers, nor or foreign teachers inherently worse then Korean teachers, there are just many more Koreans in Korea, so it seems weird to focus on acts done by a very small minority racial group.

  • Haisan

    It used to be that changing provinces meant one was pretty much free and clear with immigration, as one region’s office did not communicate much with another region’s. I assume computers have closed that loophole.

    Hagwon owners really should not bitch that much about teacher’s flying the coop. According to most contracts with recruiters, if a teacher bolts in the first three months of his contract, the recruiter must find another teacher for free. If he bolts 3-6 months into the contract, the recruiter must find someone else for half price. And by 11 months, the hagwon owner is usually delighted to lose a teacher (to avoid going into the bonus).

    Also, in my experience, the Ministry of Labor has been great at enforcing standards. One call from the Ministry and it is amazing how quickly everyone gets into line.

    The bigger problem I see (much as USAinKorea said) is that no one really wants to get in line. The system is a cesspoop (going from the idiot parents to the corrupt hagwon owners to the teachers using/getting used by the system). Rather than shutting it down, however, I think the solution is to fix the piss-poor system Korean companies use to hire employees. Better hiring practices would mean a lesser obsession with the top universities, which would lead to a more sane approach to preparing for university (and therefore better and/or fewer hagwon).

  • http://sungnyemun.org/wordpress/ dda

    it’s not actually all that different from changing jobs back home.

    Dunno about your back home, but it’s indeed very different from *my* backhome, where the resident card is [except for visa students] a work permit, period.

    Besides, during the request process for a visa at my last employer in Korea, I was asked why I was changing jobs so often [I've held 4 jobs in 11 years, one teaching in a Uni, the rest working for companies, so go figure], and they were difficult about the issuance. The lawyer back then said that they had the impression that I “jumping from job to job every time a better offer appeared”, and that was something they didn’t want to hear about. D’uh.

  • jyce

    Hey dog, you said it not me. Let’s not be a sore loser.

  • http://www.occidentalism.org shakuhachi

    Jyce, are you an Engrishi teacher? You are, right?

  • dogbertt

    Hey dog, you said it not me. Let’s not be a sore loser.

    This from someone who has learned all he knows about the U.S. from cable TV.

  • jyce

    I’m sur e this must be more of that powerful logical ability you’re always boasting about; though more coherent people might see that one doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the other.

    If you’re going to preach to others about what to do, it might actually be helpful to practice what you preach. I simply found an example posted by yourself to a public forum where the standards you hold for others grossly contradict the ones you hold for yourself. You simply got beat fair and square on your own words, and no amount of incoherent bitching is going to make a difference.

    Cheers!

  • kimchipig

    They heyday of ESL in Korea is long, long over and has been since 1996 or so. China is the place to be now. That said….

    To solve most of the problems in the ESL industry in Korea all the government would have to do is issue a 5 year ESL working visa where the teacher is free to move anywhere he/she wants. This is exactly the way the system works in Japan.

    Of course, the Japanese get around it by hiring 20 year old dorks who have not the slighest idea of what Japanese visa or labour law is……

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  • dinkus maximus

    Everything is rightly in its wrong place in Korea. And I do mean everything. So, of course the ESL industry is as it is. We all get what we deserve from it in the end. Websites such as englishspectrum kind of symbolize things. I’m moving to Japan.

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