YTN reports that Seoul plans to gradually sack all native English speaking instructors teaching English at elementary, middle and high schools throughout the city by 2014.

A Seoul Metropolitan Council official said according to a poll, students and parents preferred Korean instructors fluent in English over native speakers, and that the council plans to slash Seoul Office of Education’s budget for personnel costs for native speakers.

In the next fiscal year, the city plans to reduce the 30 billion won budget for native speakers by 4.9 billion won; it appears 707 native speakers—57% of the 1,245 total—will leave their schools.

UPDATE: From Ye Olde Chosun’s English-language site:

“A native speaker earns on average W42 million a year, and we concluded that they are not effective enough to justify the cost,” a spokesman for the city office of education said. “A survey conducted for us showed that Korean teachers with outstanding English and teaching skills are more effective in the long term.”
Students from low-income families will likely bear the brunt of the policy. “Students from well-to-do families may find lessons from native English-speakers dull because they’ve been attending private tutoring institutes since they were young,” an education official said. “But those from poor families should be given the opportunity to learn English with native speakers at school.” He added it is “too early to reduce the number of native speakers as long as Korean teachers aren’t good enough to replace them.”

I think I’ve made my skepticism about English education in Korea pretty clear, but still, I’d be keen to learn about the politics that went into this budgetary decision.