Let the Blanket Bashing Begin…Or Perhaps Not

dIn what may or may not be a sign of changed times, the drug bust of “Dozens of foreign English teachers” has not gone viral even though the intrigue and insinuations are heavy. On Wednesday evening, Yonhap broke the story, which was then carried by the The Korea Times (no not that one) and The Herald.

As usual with these cases, the details are spotty and rather confusing. Two things that stand out for now:

  • Reportedly the drug dealers used the following rationale for selling to foreigners/teachers:

“Shin and his group mostly dealt with foreigners, given that if they are (caught and) convicted of drug related charges, they could be punished and kicked out of their jobs,” the police said.

Well, that’s some policy.

  • And the Nigerian drug dealer also taught English to kindergarteners while high on his product; as the article reports (and the strange picture supposedly shows):

The police investigation showed that the arrested Nigerian drug dealer has taught English at a kindergarten in Yongin near Suwon while he was under the influence of marijuana.

Oh, there is one more thing that bears mentioning:

An American English teacher, who was among those arrested, shaved all his hair to evade a drug test, but he was tested positive in a urine examination, the police said.

He must have watched a lot of CSI or something.

All jocularity aside, perhaps this will not be the usual case of judging all English teachers as evil drug users living in Korea because they’ve been banished from their homes. One can only hope.

  • wangkon936

    Kids. Don’t do drugs, just say “no,” or whatevers.

  • redwhitedude

    Sounds like another case of some really rotten apples among the english teacher crowd. The reporting should reinforce the notion that drugs are the foreign thing. Shame.

  • Islamofuck

    I think Korea needs to relax about drugs, but then again I think that about every other country. Does Korea need drugs? Hard to say, they’re doing perfectly well without it. Are these teachers stupid? Well, have you met your average EFL teacher in Korea? A lot of them don’t need to be doing drugs in Korea to be locked up for stupidity. As for the Nigerian, well yeah, Africa has given us so much so it’s a surprise that an African would do wrong.

  • redwhitedude

    As I said there are some rotten apples in that crowd. Just like there are sex offenders among the teachers in US.

  • Aja Aja

    Excuse me? When did drugs become so fashionable?

  • jg29a

    Except for healthful wonder-drug soju, of course. Say, “yes, sir, please pour another.”

  • Tapp

    Long before The Beatles released their last album. Drugs have been in fashion since at least the late 60’s in western culture.

    Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I understand, pot was pretty popular in Korea until PGH’s father got pissed at her brother’s shenanigans and made it illegal. (He also outlawed rock and roll at this time.)

  • Phil Phakename

    Pot was outlawed in Korea mostly because of pressure from the US military, which got annoyed by all the Koreans selling ditch weed to the troops.

    And drugs have been in fashion for a long longer than the 1960s. Morphine and cocaine in the 19th century or tobacco in the 17th … whenever people find a way to have a good time, it will spread pretty quickly.

  • iwshim

    Funny how the drug busts only occur during
    the school summer/winter recess.

    99% of the time.

    Heaven forbid the police inconvenience a
    school.

  • SeoulGoodman

    The best kindergarten teacher I ever had probably smoked pot.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-tBhedcwBGY

  • SeoulGoodman

    Korea has no drugs? LOL
    Alcohol and tobacco are drugs, and they kill thousands of Koreans every year.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Huge difference with Canada, where cannabis can be legally prescribed and school boards are willing to help teachers who have been prescribed it so that they can medicate while at work in a manner which protects their privacy.

  • DC Musicfreak

    This comes as Beijing cops are going to popular expat bars and conducting summary piss tests of foreigners. China has an even stronger tendency than the ROK to focus on foreigners and blame widespread ills on outside forces.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    “They sold the hemp to English native teachers whom they met at a foreigner-only club located in Suwon…”

    Of course the Korean news doesn’t know the difference between hemp and pot, but I’m surprised anyone thinks “foreigner-only” clubs exist.

    No sympathy for any of these fools. I just hope the dealers really get the book thrown at them, despite their best intentions to get NETs punished and fired for being drug users. How can someone like pot soooo much that they will risk jail time, fines, and deportation just to pay over 50,000 won per gram (did some math) for pot? Christ.

  • redwhitedude

    The problem with Beijing is that its laws are arbitrarily applied, and they make up stuff along the way. At least Korea isn’t the legal blackhole that China has become. China takes this to whole new level of lows.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    Alcohol is most certainly a drug. A far more dangerous one than pot at that. How many people die from alcohol poisoning or alcohol related accidents in Korea every year? And Isn’t Jinro soju the most popular distilled alcoholic beverage (by volume) in the world? Sounds plenty fashionable to me.

    The “drug” label is arbitrarily applied to substances that aren’t mainstream. But if everyone is using it, then it’s a national pastime.

  • bballi bballi paradise

    Paying 50,000 won for a gram of pot is insane but I can see the allure of selling a gram for 50,000. I am obviously not advocating the selling of drugs, just seeing that the profit involved would be very tempting to some.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Is this Dave’s ESL Cafe?

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    The profits are generated from the prohibition. Stop the prohibition and profits will fall.

  • Sumo294

    Drug use in American began soon after the Civil War when many veterans developed a taste for morphine. Doctors began to use it when visiting patients and soon many women became drug addicts. Freud was an advocate for cocaine as a wonder drug that helped with focus and concentration. Rich people snorted and poor people got stoned–what really has changed in America except the criminal code?

  • redwhitedude

    It would suck if it became that.

  • redwhitedude

    Would drug addicts kick the habit if prohibition ended?

  • Cloudfive

    Exactly. In California pot is practically legal, it seems strange to me that it’s taken so seriously here. I think recreational usage is fine as long as one is not getting high on the job, especially if ones job involves heavy machinery or sensitive data. I do think regular use contributes to unhealthy eating because some of my regular pot smoking friends were obese.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    Too much pot smoking makes people sedentary and slow-witted too. I really wouldn’t care one way or the other if pot became legal (or less illegal) in Korea. I just take issue with the hypocrisy of criticizing pot while ignoring alcohol. Both of them are fine in moderation yet have negative effects when abused. It’s just that alcohol has been around longer in most societies.

  • RElgin

    You know, I always thought the foreign teacher crowd here got it bad but it seems that things are far worse in China. Read “Rick in China”s account of what he finds on the news there:

    http://www.chinasmack.com/2014/stories/foreigner-passes-out-on-shanghai-subway-causes-panic.html

    . . . My wife told me last night, that on Chinese news shows, they are saying that foreigners (overseas foreigners) are intentionally contaminating things with germs and selling them via taobao or various other outlets, trying to ship contaminants into China. They also had some news show about foreigners teaching English illegally and all the ‘scam’ prices due to the foreigners wanting so much ‘illegal’ money per hour, etc.

    All this is in Chinese only – not in English.

  • Sinister

    Pot isn’t physically addictive, it is certainly less psychologically addictive than tobacco or booze which are also much more physically dangerous to health. Apart from people with existing mental health conditions and the people who really overdo it and take far too much ganja it is fairly harmless. Doing too much gear is not a good idea as it can make people a bit lazy, but it certainly doesn’t cause serious damage and prohibition of it is stupid.

    To liken it to hard drugs like heroin, amphetamine or crack is intellectually dishonest and also ignorant. it is akin to Koreans worrying about ‘dirty Africans and ebola’ when they have their own coming epidemic of drug resistant tb.

  • JMR

    I have a friend who taught in Korea and is now in Shanghai and he says there’s much more suspicion of foreigners, which makes sense. Still, he says the glaring, staring and xenophobic sentiments feel very similar to Korea.

  • wangkon936

    Well, historically speaking China has gotten reamed by the White Man whereas the Koreans haven’t. So, historically speaking, I can see why the Chinese would still be a bit more suspicious.

    Nothing like a British instigated Opium War to open up China’s markets!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Opium_War

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    My English teacher friends, almost all of whom have now moved onto better jobs, have not too flattering opinions about other English teachers in Korea. They’ve stated that most teachers are from the bottom rung of US universities. Keep in mind that these are simply anecdotal accounts. If true, however, we shouldn’t be surprised of these types of news stories: the statistics gleaned from their opinions would seem to suggest that there are plenty of good foreign English teachers, but also a disproportionately large number of bad ones.

  • SeoulGoodman

    50000 won a gram of what looks like cannabis ruderalis to me (based on the pictures that the cops publish), that’s criminal.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Very few people become addicted to pot.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Exactly. The vast majority if kids who are in rehab for pot in the US are only there because a judge gave them a choice between that or prison.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Well, don’t forget that the CCP’s propaganda isn’t unlike that of North Korea. Remember the Cultural Revolution? It may have taken place decades ago, but it has had a lasting impact on how China views itself in the world.

  • redwhitedude

    But it would cheapen pot. Do you think they’ll stop seeking it out?

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.kr/ Horace Jeffery Hodges

    “[T]he Nigerian drug dealer . . . taught . . . while high on his product; as the article reports . . . and the strange picture supposedly shows.”

    Finally! Photographic proof that drugs actually do distort reality!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • wangkon936

    Soju is legal… 😀

    Also, as Ben Franklin once said, and I will paraphrase:

    BeerSoju is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, but then horribly hungover the next day.”

  • wangkon936

    It’s kinda like this:

    – USFK officers and non-commissioned vs.
    – Enlisted

    Is like:

    – Real English teachers and others who went to real colleges vs.
    – All the other “English” teachers.

  • http://kuiwon.wordpress.com/ Kuiwon

    Yep. “Racism” — as defined by white American expats — on the part of Koreans probably does not entirely account for the frequency of such reports in the Korean media, when reality suggests otherwise. Of course, there is a feedback loop: actual higher incidence of crimes among foreign English teachers will lead to the frequency of reporting in the media, which in turn feed anti-foreign English teacher sentiment.

  • bumfromkorea

    I’ve read somewhere that the cannabis indigenous to South Korea has a really low THC level and doesn’t really get you high. The story I read was that the poor workers making 삼베 used the leaf byproduct as a tobacco substitute when they couldn’t afford tobacco, and eagerly threw them away when they got their hands on tobacco – apparently the THC level is so low, none of the Koreans who regularly smoked it as tobacco substitute knew that pot gets you high when the government started to ban it.

  • bumfromkorea

    Which is strange, because hemp is a major part of the traditional Korean clothing material (i.e. “삼베”).

  • felddog13

    I, for one, refuse to bash blankets.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    I haven’t heard any claims of racism with these drug busts. Most English teachers have been bitching about how the offenders are hurting our collective reputation.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    Sounds about right. According to Wiki, quality hemp usually comes from tall plants with low THC, whereas quality pot comes from shorter plants with high THC.

  • bumfromkorea

    “According to Wiki”

    Uh huh. 😀

  • SeoulGoodman

    What’s wrong with affordable pot and are you as much a pain about people who consume other drugs, such as caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine?

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.kr/ Horace Jeffery Hodges

    I disagree. Just saying “No” isn’t enough.

    There’s no reason to be impolite. One should always say, “No, thank you.”

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • SeoulGoodman

    Ben Franklin farmed and most probably used hemp.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Well, my wife administers drug tests to Koreans on a regular basis for the police and yet you’d think only foreigners get arrested for drugs if one was to believe the Korean media.

  • SeoulGoodman

    The problem is easily solved: end prohibition. It’s not as if there aren’t far more dangerous drugs legally available in Korea.

  • SeoulGoodman

    What are medical cannabis patients supposed to do? Go on welfare?

  • redwhitedude

    No but the logic on dealing with drugs such as legalizing then people will stop, just doesn’t add up. It may work with pot which isn’t as bad as say crack, cocaine and so forth.

  • SeoulGoodman

    “Too much pot smoking makes people sedentary and slow-witted too.”

    Not it doesn’t. If you smoke pot and sit around all day long, your problem isn’t pot, it’s laziness. If you smoke pot and you’re slow-witted, you probably never were the sharpest knife in the drawer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9z-IgxrBIVw

  • SeoulGoodman

    Nope. Height has nothing to do with THC levels (in fact, there’s no THC in the plant. THC is produced through carboxylation).

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    That could work, but it’s unrealistic.

  • SeoulGoodman

    1) I don’t want people to stop using cannabis. That would be stupid.
    2) Crack is neither more addictive nor more dangerous than cocaine because it is cocaine. The media paints it as being worse, and so does the law, because many of its users are poor and black (or so the media would have you believe).

  • MikeinGyeonggi
  • SeoulGoodman

    “According to a small study…”

    Nice try.

  • SeoulGoodman

    All right, you tell me why you think it’s unrealistic while I compile a list of the countries where marijuana has been legalized, either for medical purposes and/or recreational purposes.

  • SeoulGoodman

    Well, depends on the situation. For instance, if you’re sitting in a circle, puff and pass (always on the left-hand side).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dFtLONl4cNc

  • Pingback: Foreign Nationals and US Military Members Implicated In Large Korean Drug Bust | ROK Drop()

  • redwhitedude

    I don’t smoke nor do I drink booze. Also are there any health benefits to pot or is it something that is a health hazard. Alcohol and nicotine are health hazard despite being legal there issue with alcoholics and chain smokers.

  • redwhitedude

    Are there any health benefits for consumption of cannabis? it would be unrealistic to eradicate the whole thing but I don’t think is healthy. I don’t really pay much attention to drug issues but the poor and black have other issues so they tend to be featured in the media. Who is likelier to commit a violent crime over getting enough money to get crack or cocaine.

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah an exercise of national hooliganism, trash the entire country. Nice job China. All because Mao wanted to upstage the other communists who had somewhat righted the country after that genocidal exercise of the Great Leap Forward courtesy of Mao.

    China victimized itself and blames everybody for it. China is like a kid that goes off on its own made up rule and “reinterprets” existing rules to its own benefit.

  • redwhitedude

    Sounds like China could have a race riot that is much worse than the LA riots and not realize it. Just look at the national amnesia being exercised on the Uighur issue in the west. A historical reminder as to why Turkic people were bitter rival to China some 1500 years ago.

  • SeoulGoodman

    The only health hazard that I know of is that it may trigger schizophrenia in people who have a genetic predisposition to develop the illness. It’s why doctors who prescribe cannabis are more cautious with patients who are under 24 years of age (the age at which the brain stops developing). As for benefits, we do know that it acts on the endocannabinoid system, which affects the body in a variety of ways. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endocannabinoid_system

  • Bob Bobbs

    Is that like “real” Koreans vs other “Koreans” who don’t actually live in Korea?

  • Bob Bobbs

    Dependency, defined in this study as “the extent to which a drug
    creates a propensity or urge to continue to use despite adverse
    consequences,” ranks crack cocaine highest, followed by tobacco, heroin
    and methamphetamines as the most dependence-forming substances. Alcohol
    is ranked tenth.http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/crack-cocaine-how-addictive-is-it-1.2432281

  • bumfromkorea

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=90PM4TLNgsg

    “Dangers” of rockin’ the ganj. 😀

  • bumfromkorea

    The Grave Dangers of smoking the marijuana.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0YtPi2QZSY

  • SeoulGoodman

    Not a chemist, eh?

  • Bob Bobbs

    Nutt sure is. I am not . I know they are from the same substance, but the mode of delivery is different. This has…implications that play themselves out on the streets of many North American cities on a nightly basis. Check out the British study and see if you still disagree.

  • SeoulGoodman

    You’re kidding, right? Cocaine is cocaine, no matter how it’s consumed.

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    What does that matter? Other countries are not South Korea.

    I’m aware that many countries have legalized it. I believe it should be legal – it is far less dangerous than alcohol. I am very happy that many US states have legalized it or are making steps toward decriminalization / legalization.

    But in South Korea, it is a very unrealistic notion. Just failing a drug test can land you in prison here. Selling it in small quantities can get you 20 years. Unless there is a radical change in social perception, it is very unrealistic that pot could be legalized in Korea anytime in the foreseeable future.

  • bigmamat

    Because everyone functions so well with an alcohol buzz or a hangover.

  • bigmamat

    One thing people need to realize. Not all recreational drug use leads to “addiction”, or perhaps we should say, all drug use does not lead to “dysfunction”. Only about 10% of population is clinically “addicted”. Right now in the US even though we talk about illegal drugs constantly the real scourge of our society when it comes to drugs is addiction to legal drugs.

  • bigmamat

    One reason we don’t know that much about the “benefits” of marijuana is because of it’s illegality. However, there have been noted benefits for use by people with glaucoma, nausea and loss of appetite. There are new studies that may lead to other benefits. One thing is certain there is no reason for governments to control the use of a drug to the degree that marijuana is without the proper use of science to determine it’s harm or usefulness. The US has allowed far more dangerous drugs to be introduced to the public without the same amount of oversight.

  • bigmamat

    It’ll also send you on a 24 hour trip to White Castle.

  • bigmamat

    Just google Colorado legalizes marijuana and see if legalizing it would curb usage….

  • redwhitedude

    I’m willing to reconsider medicinal purposes and defer to healthcare professionals. However if there is no reason other than for the heck of it or “recreational” that’s plain stupid. Doesn’t have to lead to addiction or have anything to with addiction.

  • redwhitedude

    Yeah, but you can study them from people who have been incarcerated over it. But I will defer to healthcare professionals if there is medicinal benefits.

  • redwhitedude

    I did and this is what I found.
    http://www.ksdk.com/story/news/health/2014/08/21/angela-brown-charged-medical-marijuana-son/14395537/

    I don’t think the reason for legalizing it was for recreational use, the big argument for was for people who needed medicinal marijuana. It is because of leaking towards recreational use that they are putting all the safe guards such as proper licensing, educating medical personnel and law enforcement.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Better question is: has prohibition made people “kick the habit”?

    The answer is no. Actually, rate of drug use and dependency now and before the Drug War began have NOT budged an inch. The rate is still in the very low single digit % range and neither the billions spent on enforcing the prohibition and imprisoning people for using a plant, have worked one iota.

    What does prohibition do? Just as with alcohol prohibition it forces drugs into the underworld where supply is controlled by criminal forces. One of the significant side-effects is the creation of a violent criminal side that then wreaks havoc on entire communities.

    What happened when alcohol was legalized in the US in the 1920s? Prices quickly dropped, and along with it the profit margins that fueled the black marketeers and the gangsters, because legit producers moved into the market to take advantage of the profits. With profits dropping, so did the reason for criminals to stay in the business.

    The other thing that changed was that alcohol became a taxed, regulated industry, where you were not likely to go blind drinking the booze.

    Drugs, like alcohol have a very inelastic price-demand elasticity. This means that raising prices has nearly nil effect on units sold. This means one thing: by clamping down on the supply, and with a constant demand, you have a significant rise in prices and hence in the profit margins that drive the criminal gangs. Companies operating legitimately are perfectly willing to accept much lower profit margins than drug cartels and hence now instead of tommy gun shooting gangsters running moonshine you have Anheuser-Busch producing a product that is legitimate, without any of the crime associated with the era of Prohibition on alcohol.

    What happens in a normal industry that enjoys high profits? Companies move in and compete for customers. What happens in the black market, specifically drugs? Cartels and gangs fight each other with guns.

    Again, I stress, your very expensive, very fascistic war on something that a very tiny minority use, has been a major failure both in achieving its objectives and also in empowering the State to clamp down on civil libverties. The militarization of the police, the rise of the Prison-industrial complex, civil forfeiture, the destruction of entire communities, have been some of the other consequences of it.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    And I found this:

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/jacobsullum/2014/07/10/how-is-marijuana-legalization-going-so-far-the-price-of-pot-peace-looks-like-a-bargain/

    “A study
    released yesterday by Colorado’s Marijuana Enforcement Division
    supports Hickenlooper’s impression that legalization has not had much of
    an effect on the prevalence of cannabis consumption. The authors, Miles
    Light and three other analysts at the Marijuana Policy
    Group, note that the percentages of Coloradans reporting past-month and
    past-year consumption of marijuana in the National Survey on Drug Use
    and Health
    (NSDUH) rose between 2002 and 2010, mirroring a national trend. But
    consumption fell a bit in Colorado after 2010 while continuing to rise
    in the rest of the country. That is striking because Colorado’s medical
    marijuana industry began to take off in the second half of 2009 after
    the legal standing of dispensaries became more secure.”

    “Another benefit of legalization that can be measured in money is law enforcement savings,
    which various sources put somewhere between $12 million and $60 million
    a year in Colorado. Those estimates do not include the human costs
    associated with treating people like criminals for growing, selling, and
    consuming an arbitrarily proscribed plant. Prior to legalization police
    in Colorado were arresting
    10,000 pot smokers a year. Today those criminals are customers of
    legitimate businesses, which are replacing the “corrupt system of
    gangsters” decried by Hickenlooper.”

    It is NOT the role of the State to “make people kick the habit.” If the State wishes to spend money on trying to drive down demand via public campaigns then it is welcome to do that. But attacking things from the supply side just invites waste and excesses. Colorado has shown that there havent been major spikes in pot use and that the community is saving a lot on law enforcement meaning that they are not manufacturing convicts and destroying lives.

  • SalarymaninSeoul
  • Sumo294

    You can fight the war on drugs but the government has to be willing to go all the way–Singapore is an example of how it is to be done. Portugal’s and Amsterdam’s soft approach is also clearly working. What you can’t do is America’s insane middle approach. Either really fight tooth and nail or legalize it.

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    Singapore is a tiny island which means two things:

    1. It is tiny. Why this is important is self-evident
    2. It is an island. Also, self evident: a port, an airport and one border crossing.

    The US is neither tiny not an island

    1. It is very large.
    2. NOT an island: two very long borders, many ports and many airports.

    Another way they differ is this: The US and Singapore have very different cultures. One is OK with being ruled by micromanaging dictators, the population of the other isn’t.

  • Ewnerd Nasalo

    I love it when an entire continent is judged from the actions of Nigeria, oh sorry, ONE Nigerian…Kinda funny too, cuz if you don’t deny the fossil record, basically all of humanity came from Africa.

    Feel free to ignore this however if your last bit wasn’t sarcasm. Poe’s law and all that you know…

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    I dont understand this logic. If drugs were legalized here, wouldn’t that mean there would be NO prison sentences for it? That just seems like simple logic to me.

    Why is South Korea a magical place where things are different? Why is pot and drug legalization proving to be less harmful in Portugal and Colorado, but would have the opposite effects in South Korea?

  • MikeinGyeonggi

    I think legalization would be great in Korea. I just don’t see it actually happening. It is incredibly unlikely given the way Koreans view pot.