As it would turn out, the 32-year-old Canadian suspected of molesting young boys in Southeast Asia taught in Korea for four and a half years, teaching in the Seoul and Gyeonggi-do area on and off since 2000. Since August, he’d been teaching at a foreign school in Gwangju, Gyeonggi-do. Before that, he taught at a high school somewhere in Gyeonggi-do.

A Gyeonggi-do Department of Education official said the suspect was remembered as a rather upright character who hardly ever drank, and his former coworkers are shocked by the news.

The suspect apparently fled to Thailand just two days after Intepol posted his face on their website. A police official said they’re still investigating whether the teacher molested any of his students in Korea, but they’ve yet to discover any such cases.

BTW, congratulations to Dave’s ESL Cafe for the media spotlight, although I’m not sure if this is what they wanted it for.

Oh, and I’m sure this will drive Western Confucian up the wall. As an ex-Catholic, though, I have to question the veracity of the report — how could the guy have been a priest-in-training when the Gyeonggi-do Education Department said he hardly drank?

OK, I’m definitely going to Hell for that one.

Anyway, the Seoul Shinmun, JoongAng Ilbo and Hanguk Ibo have run editorials deploring the porous state of Korea’s foreign teacher hiring system. The Seoul Shinmun was in particularly rare form — I especially liked this line:

Korea has been a “dupe” for a long time, allowing foreigners who speak English to get jobs easily and treating them well, but with this, we really can’t help but worry whether Korea will become a “paradise for criminals from English speaking nations.”

Dupes, they are. Dupes! The JoongAng expressed concern, too:

The insecurity of school parents concerning native speaker teachers and instructors is growing by the day. This is because the teachers’ shameless crimes are growing. Just a coupe of days ago, a Canadian wanted by Interpol for sexually molesting small children in Southeast Asia fled abroad after working as an English teacher in Korea as police moved in for the arrest. A while back, there were incidents of a teacher molesting children and a group of teachers smoking marijuana. There must be even more crimes that have yet to be revealed. It’s time to hurry and formulate measures.

Good luck with that. The papers’ rhetorical hyperbole aside, it’s true that teacher hiring practices are borderline criminal — it would seem to me that most people in the English education industry or who’ve spent time in said industry would admit as much. But a revamping of that system would require change at the bureaucratic level and increased cooperation between law enforcement agencies here in Korea and abroad. Change and cooperation requires effort, however, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. Or at least not before some poor kid gets molested or killed by a guy who should never have been here in the first place.