Will parents get jail time for foreign school chicanery?

Prosecutors in Incheon are or will be asking for prison time for 47 schools school parents indicted on charges of illegally entering their children into international schools using forged documents such as fake passports.

Many of the parents being investigated are from Korea’s elite, including the daughter-in-law of a jaebeol family and the niece-in-law of a prime minister.

Experts think prosecutors will have a hard time getting prison sentences, though, since many of the suspects are first-time offenders and it’s hard to prove intent.

Given the public anger generated by this incident regarding the rich’s antisocial and unethical behavior, however, some experts think it’s possible the parents will be punished sternly.

The court will reportedly sentence the suspects as a group once arguments have concluded.

  • dynamicallysparkling

    “it’s hard to prove intent”
    I’m sorry officer I didn’t mean to accidentally commit fraud and pay someone to forge these sensitive documents.  I was drunk.

  • gbnhj

    What – no apostille required?

  • Arghaeri

    1. As DynamicalSparkling intimates, just how difficult is it to prove intent.
    These forged documents accidentily appeared in my posession and were accidentily used to show my daughter is Columbian, us hardly a great defence.

    2. Lovely distancing sidestep with the “in-laws” being investigated.

    Daughter In-law of Chaebol fiddling for the choldten, but obviously the co-parent Son of Chaebol is not implicated at all.

  • will.i.aint

    some experts think it’s possible the parents will be punished sternly.

    To someone with billions of won in the bank . . . unless it’s jail time, it ain’t “stern” punishment.

  • 3gyupsal

    If these people are so rich, why not just send these kids to some prep school abroad? Cranbrook academy, Mitt Romneys old school, costs about the same per year as an international school.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    I suppose that some people like their kids and want them to live in their homes while they’re in they’re still children.  

  • Arghaeri

    Obviously Samgyupsal is not one of those….

  • Arghaeri

    Not to mention some want their children to get a good international education whilst making sure they remain under the influence of the minjok so they’ll stay Korean.

  • will.i.aint

     Many Korean parents do just that.  Obviously, some want the best of both worlds: Engish-language education ~ in Seoul.

  • imememememe

    That’s not hard to do. In LA.

  • gbnhj

    The article said experts believe that possession and attempted use of fake passports represent challenges to the Korean government in the determination of intent. My guess is that the Department of Immigration has a different take on that, when it comes to their use for entering or leaving the country.

    Why are students and/or their guardians not required to certify the authentication of foreign-government-produced documents in these cases?  I wonder what possible reason could explain the lack of control over this process currently exerted by the Korean government.

  • Bob Bobbs

    All Korean parents unqualified! Resist their continuous crimes! 

  • Sdfasfdsfaadafsdfsdf

    “Many of the parents being investigated are from Korea’s elite, including the daughter-in-law of a jaebeol family and the niece-in-law of a prime minister.”

    Gee, I feel robbed. Two of my close relatives have held comparable corporate and political positions in Canada, and yet I don’t have enough money to pay out bribes.  

  • 3gyupsal

    Obviously I’m not one of those what’s?   Obviously I’m not a rich person with money to send my kid to an international school?   You got me there.  I would like my kid to live at home while in school yes.  I don’t see why it is obvious that I am not one of those people.   However my point is, is that if you are determined to break the law in order pay a lot of money to go to some international school, you might have better luck just legally sending your kid to a school that will accept them.   I think that Korea should just legalize elite private schooling, or at least make an attempt to make the public schools good enough for foreign students to attend without foreign parents reacting in horror to what goes on in Korean public schools.   According to Arrirang Korea has a wonderful educational system that is second only to Finland, yet good luck in attracting foreign exchange students here.  The brain drain continues to leak westward, and the powers that be seem unconcerned.

  • theExpat

    No jail time for forging a foreign passport?  Perhaps the embassies of the countries affected should be notified.   Surely forging a passport from a developed country is a felony, somewhere.

  • Django

    No, they won’t get jail time.  That was the opinion of one Korean I asked and another said they SHOULDn’t because “it’s not that serious of a crime.”

    Me: How should they be punished?
    Korean: They should pay a fine.
    Me: But money doesn’t matter to them.
    Korean: They should pay a big fine.
    Me: But the “Korea’s elite, including the daughter-in-law of a jaebeol family and the niece-in-law of a prime minister” will just have their relatives pay the fine for them and won’t feel any pain whatsoever or learn a lesson then do it again ASAP, in fact they’re probably having new and better passports made for their “South African” children right now.
    Korean: Uhhhhh

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Well, they should be punished by having travel bans, for ever, to the countries whose passports they forged. If they have resident status in those countries, these should be revoked and they should be kicked out and prevented from ever entering those counties ever again.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/FO7ZA6MFX4FILLIT3IVKRBONTU Nathan

    A MILF married to a plastic surgeon once offered me $25K to marry her on paper, so her kid get a green card to go school in the states.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6KFMIOLXZTCWEEJ3GF3YIAZIJ4 mightymouse

    oh look. It’s those elites with their usual corrupt practice. BTW Roh Moo Hyun’s daughter just got busted.

  • ig5959292ee


  • http://blah.blah.blah itinerant physicist

    So did the parents get any jail time?

    Hahaha no of course they didn’t. Hardly likely that the Korean elites are going to start jailing themselves. But I suppose that they had to pretend that they might at the time, since the rabble apparently got quite pissed off.

    For the info of the clueless who were wondering why Korean parents want to send their kids to the local “international” schools rather than schools in foreign English speaking countries: It is because they can control the grades their kids get at the local fake international schools but can’t do so at schools in foreign countries.

    Imagine Mr. Chaebol sends his kid to Mitt Romney’s former school in USA and then demands that the kid’s C grades have to all be changed to A… Likely to happen?

    Hey Robert, I see that the previous discussion threads about the issues with the “international” schools in Korea on this blog have been effectively deleted now. How Orwellian!
    Just goes to show that the role of traditional newspapers still survives in this IT era…. Easy to effectively delete stuff from blogs, not quite as easy to burn all the print copies of a newspaper…

  • http://blah.blah.blah itinerant physicist

    Besides the fact that they can control their kids’ grades, the other main reason the Korean elites send their kids to the local fake international schools (glorified hagwons) instead of sending them to a prep school abroad, as 3gyupsal suggested, is that their kids have a practically nonexistent level of English proficiency and would crash and burn at the prep school.

    BTW this and my previous comment are based on first hand knowledge as a foreigner whose kid attended one of these fake international schools. The vast majority of the students at these schools are ethnically and culturally pure Korean, and their general level of English proficiency is a joke. The teaching is tailored to them, and the grading is designed to maximally benefit them (e.g. 99% of the grade depends on memorization, 1% for actually being able to formulate a coherent sentence in English). And if the kid still gets a `B’ or a `C’ despite these efforts, the parents can just go and get it changed to an `A’ at the school office…

    Getting to see the fake international school scene up close gives a pretty good insight into how deeply corrupt Korean society really is. Everything is set up to benefit the interests and wishes of the elites all of the time, using the State’s money and resources as their own. (E.g. the elites’ use of public land and money to build the Yongsan “international” school YIIS for their kids back in 2006 – one of many examples.)

    Hey Robert, how long before you delete this comment and my previous one, just like you deleted most of the comments (not only mine but by many others too) from previous discussion threads on the topic of the fake international schools here? Heaven forbid that a foreigner thinking of moving to Korea with kids in future might find these comments via an internet search and get to know the reality of the situation before it’s too late.

  • http://www.bcarr.com/ Brendon Carr

    Besides the fact that they can control their kids’ grades, the other main reason the Korean elites send their kids to the local fake international schools (glorified hagwons)…

    I am intrigued. Tell us more about how the elite control their kids’ grades. My kids’ grades could use a little extra to put them over the top.

  • http://blah.blah.blah itinerant physicist

    I expect the parents just “remind” the school that the ridiculously large tuition fee is not really for tuition… And if that is not enough, no doubt a brown envelope stuffed full of won will do the trick.

    My kid regularly told me stories of classmates parents going to the school office to get the kids grade changed. Apparently it was sorted out by the staff in the school office, without the teachers being consulted. She (my kid) also heard from teachers from time to time that a grade they gave had later been changed by the school so that the student could get a better final grade for the subject, etc.

    And this wasn’t specific to this particular school. My kid knew students from the other “foreign” schools and heard about this happening there as well.

    The teachers themselves (mostly Westerners) seemed to have integrity, but they were operating within a deeply corrupt environment, as is always the case for anything involving the elites in Korea.

    Amusing how you pretend to be surprised by this, Brendon. How many years have you been living in Korea now? Would it really be so harmful for your career there if you stopped pretending not to notice the pervasive corruption in anything that involves the elites?

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Can you document or otherwise substantiate your claims?

  • http://blah.blah.blah itinerant physicist

    Not sure which claims you have in mind or the level of documentation you would like…

    Regarding parents getting the school to change their kids grades, I base that on what my kid told me (it would be bizarre for her to make it up) as well as a few other things I saw and heard which I didn’t mention previously for the sake of brevity but will if you absolutely insist. Substantiation enough?

    As for the more general claim about the deep level of corruption in anything that has to do with the interests of the Korean elites, the documentation is done by giving examples and explaining why they are not special cases but reflect the general situation.

    A first small example: Did the parents in the “foreign school chicanery” case discussed in the OP get the threatened “stern punishment”? I think we would have heard about it if they did…

    A second, much more substantial example: Back in 2006 the Korean government used State money and State land in central Seoul to build, at great expense to the Korean taxpayer, a new “international” school. It was sold to the Korean public as a school for the foreign community which would help to maintain or enhance foreign investment. However, it turned out to be really a school for the kids of the local elites, i.e. another glorified hagwon, and it was clear from the way things were done that this was the Korean government’s real intention right from the beginning and that they had been lying to the public about this. As someone who was personally affected at the time, I have previously laid out the documentation for this in excruciating detail in discussion threads on this blog. I just noticed yesterday, after coming back for the first time in 2 years, that most of what I wrote back then (2006 – 2008, and again in 2012) has now been deleted. I guess someone found it inconvenient… Anyway, if you like, I will present the documentation for this in excruciating detail once more – just give me a day or so to find the time.

    Now we should consider if that example was a special case or reflective of a general corruptness in things that involve the interests of the Korean elites. Well, ask yourself what the consequences would be if something similar happened in USA, (western) Europe or some other noncorrupt part of the world. If the government was found to have built, at great public expense, something exclusively for the elites while lying to the public about its true nature and saying it was something completely different that would benefit the country as a whole, then there would be an outrage from the media and public once the truth became clear. The government leaders responsible would be forced to resign in disgrace; it could even bring down the government itself in some countries like the UK.

    But when it happens in Korea, what is the reaction? media outrage? Public demonstrations and demands for the government to resign? No, nothing, no reaction at all. It is just considered normal. The fact that something that would be considered outrageously corrupt in a Western country is considered as normal in Korea illustrates that corruption by the elites in looking after their interests not only exists there but is so commonplace that it is regarded as normal.

  • Anonymous_Joe

    Thank you for your response.

    First, I am all but certain that Robert didn’t intentionally delete your comments from several years ago. I, too, noticed that several comment threads went missing about a year ago when he switched to the Disqus commenting system. Older comments in older threads didn’t get converted. My guess is that Disqus’s import/conversion program was not compatible with WordPress’s older format, didn’t know what to do with the older comments, and just ignored them, which is SOP for those enmasse conversion programs. Perhaps it’s one more reason to hate Disqus, but, at least in this case, not Robert. Anyone who knows my posting history here knows that I’ve posted more to have pissed him off, and aside from those few that got entangled in his (generally permissive) automated filter, I don’t recall him ever censoring or deleting any of my comments.

    I remember your screen name, itinerant physicist (because I wish I had come up with one so clever), and vaguely the gist of your comments from some similar topics. I know someone who has a keen interest in you’re claiming, particularly if you can substantiate or name names.

  • http://blah.blah.blah itinerant physicist

    I know someone who has a keen interest in your claims, particularly if you can substantiate or name names.

    I’m guessing it must either be a reporter or a pissed off member of the Korean elites who hopes to find a way to kick my ass. :-)

    Well, I hope that whoever it is has a sense of proportion regarding the relative importance of my various claims. It has been depressing to see how reporters in Korea are happy enough to take on “small” stories, such as the one in the OP of this thread, or cases concerning shady behavior by individual operators of Korean international schools, but don’t have the balls to take on the much more significant cases involving corrupt behavior by the Korean government itself, such as the massive scandal of the Yongsan International School that I mentioned in my previous comment.

    Still not sure what substantiation is desired for which claims though… For the claim about the fake international schools changing kids grades when their parents demand it, I guess the best source would be the teachers who worked at the schools. My daughter graduated already back in 2008 but is still in facebook contact with a couple of her teachers from that time who have now moved on to other schools outside Korea. I expect they would be happy to dish the dirt if asked.

    As for the much more serious and significant claim of corrupt behavior by the Korean government in connection with the Yongsan International School, the substantiation in that case consists of being aware of certain facts and certain events that took place, putting them together and drawing the logical implications that flow from them. Not really any names to name in that case. Sure there was some organ of the Korean government (a Foundation – can’t remember the exact name) which had the specific responsibility for setting up the school. But holding it or its chairman responsible for what happened would be like holding the hand of a murderer responsible for the murder while exonerating his mind and the rest of his body.

    I think I will set up a website to provide all the details of this stuff. Probably that’s better than trying to disseminate it via blog comments. Hope to have it done in a week or so, then I will post the link here. As a first step, I’ve created an email account for anyone who wants to contact me directly about this stuff:

    yiss.corruption @gmail.com

    I am all but certain that Robert didn’t intentionally delete your comments from several years ago.

    I agree it doesn’t seem like his style to do something like that. But on the other hand, as blog owner he has the ultimate responsibility for it. Perhaps he delegated powers to others to “clean up” in old comment threads as they saw fit? In one of the comment threads – this one – the deletions happened in way that would be hard to explain as resulting from a computer program: A part in the middle of the thread, that contained my most substantive comments (as well as comments by others), has been deleted; some later comments (by others) survive, but then some even later comments (by myself and others) have been deleted again…

    I remember your screen name, itinerant physicist (because I wish I had come up with one so clever)

    Thanks, but the credit for that belongs to Sperwer (another commenter from back then) who referred to me as such in one of his comments. It was so apt that I had to start using it as my screen name.