Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Arrest of Korean citizen native speaking instructor exposes loopholes in criminal record check system

At least one 'native speaking teacher' was arrested for smuggling and taking meth last week. Newsis, which published an article that likely has the most information, reports:
Arrests for taking and transporting meth include native speaking English instructor

[The Daejeon regional police drug investigation unit held a briefing on April second about 11 people including a native speaking English instructor from Gyeonggi-do arrested for taking and smuggling methamphetamine.]

Police caught a group of offenders, including a native speaking English instructor who taught middle and high school students, for the illegal smuggling, selling and taking of methamphetamine.

On April 2 the Daejeon regional police drug investigation unit arrested five people including native speaking English instructor Mr. Choi (39) for bringing methamphetamine from overseas and selling and taking it, in contravention of the drug control law, and booked without detention six people including Mr. Kim (50) who only took the drug.

According to police, Mr. Choi is suspected of meeting a Thai tour guide in the vicinity of Incheon Airport on January 14 at 8:00 in the morning and buying a gram of meth from him for 400,000 won and both taking it and reselling it.

The police investigation found that because Mr. Choi knew that tour guides have simplified customs procedures, he wanted to exploit this and coaxed A, who he had known for some time, into bringing Thai-made meth into the country.

In particular, Mr. Choi immigrated to the United States as a child and became a permanent resident (his nationality is South Korean), but in 2005, he was deported for domestic violence and after that came to our country and taught students as a native speaking instructor in the Bundang and Suji areas of Gyeonggi-do for several years.

Police also disclosed that in 2006 he was sentenced to and served two years in prison for involvement in the crime of manufacturing drugs.

When Choi was arrested at dawn on February 26 he was high on methamphetamine and he said that the hallucinogenic effects of one dose of methamphetamine lasts about five days.

Police explained that Choi taught at three hagwons and 7 private lessons, and they cannot rule out the possibility that he taught middle and high school students while high.

(Police show off confiscated disposable syringes.)

The criminal background check hagwon that must be undergone by instructors teaching young people only confirms whether or not there are sex crimes, and Choi, with his drug-related criminal activity, was not filtered out.
We've seen cases like this before where Korean nationals deported from the US come back to Korea and teach English, and are described as 'native speaking instructors.' Of course, it's often seen that Korean Americans can have a hard time being considered native speakers, unless of course they commit crimes, in which their 'native speaking instructor' status will be included in headlines.

While the title of the KBS report about this is fairly tame ('Hagwon native speaking instructor turned out to be a drug criminal'), News Y's report is suitably sensational: 'Native speaking hagwon instructor with criminal record for drugs teaches class while high.' One has to appreciate how we go from the assertion that police "cannot rule out the possibility that he taught middle and high school students while high" to the headline above. Local media tend to highlight the identity of the teacher:

Daejeon Ilbo: 'Native speaking instructor habitually takes meth'

Daejeon City Journal: 'Native speaking instructor who teaches students [there's another kind?] takes meth'

Mind you, Chungcheong Today's article wins the most points in this regard, both with its title - 'Drug-taking native speaking instructor spouts nonsense ("shalla shalla") at the lectern' - and its opening sentence:
There is shock after it was disclosed that a native speaking instructor who was released after serving time in prison for being involved in drug production recently taught young students while high on methamphetamine.
Anyway, the overseas criminal record check requirements called for in the 2011 revision of the Hagwon Law apply only to 'foreign instructors', who are defined as "non-citizens of the Republic of Korea who [...] are responsible for instruction in a hagwon." There clearly is a loophole here for Koreans who have lived abroad and are considered 'native speakers.' The public school system, as far as I know, requires overseas criminal record checks from even Korean nationals, but clearly the Hagwon Law does not call for that, despite there being several cases where this kind of thing has happened. Of course, the problem is that even local drug arrests didn't seem to matter for a Korean national teaching in a hagwon, and, unsurprisingly, there are calls to change this.

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