Stigma Against Foreigners with HIV Remains In Korea?

Test of foreigners applying to become English teachers in South Korea may have ended, but a stigma may remain according to this article:

And while organizations like the Korean Federation for AIDS Prevention provides foreigners with HIV/AIDS resources and free, anonymous testing, HIV-positive foreigners are vulnerable to deportation out of the country, as potential “persons carrying an epidemic disease, narcotic addicts or other persons deemed likely to cause danger and harm to the public health” defined in Article 11 of the Immigration Control Act.

According to Michael Solis, a visiting researcher at the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the government had deported more than 500 foreigners who were HIV-positive as of 2007. Kwon said that in 2010, following UNAIDS criticism of South Korean travel restrictions, the government stopped banning and deporting foreign teachers with HIV. But for those who test positive, it remains difficult to afford treatment or be hired as teachers and educators, she added.

Stigma around foreigners and HIV/AIDS remains.  [Korea Expose]

You can read the rest at the link.

Foreign English Teachers Accuse Gyeongi-do School of Wage Skimming

It makes me wonder how many other Korean schools over the years have been conducting illegal wage skimming of foreign English teachers as well?:

Kyonggi Elementary School has been accused of skimming the wages of eight foreign teachers over several years with a contract clause that turned out to be illegal.

The wages that were taken from the native English teachers amounted to 45 million won ($40,240), with some losing more than 10 million won, according to labor attorney Jung Bong-soo, who represents the victims. They filed a collective complaint with the Seoul Regional Ministry of Employment and Labor in March, demanding reimbursement of their losses and replacing current contracts with “fair” ones.

The skimmed income ― 10 percent of their hourly wage ― was transferred to an independent Korean recruiter, who searched for and hired native English teachers on behalf of the private school in Seodaemun, northwestern Seoul.

The recruiter, surnamed Joo, is known to have introduced himself as a school adviser and is said to have drafted the contracts, including the controversial clause. The victims said they had signed their contracts not knowing the clause enforcing the monthly deduction was illegal. Under Korean employment law, giving recruiters a portion of a person’s first salary as an “introduction fee” is legal, but recruiters are not allowed to make regular deductions.  [Korea Times]

You can read more at at the link.

Expat English Teachers Steal Car and Get Arrested for DUI In Busan

It is too bad the ROK authorities did not hold these two idiots up and force them to go through the ROK justice system for their shenanigans:

Police booked two drunk expat elementary school teachers who stole a car, according to Busan Saha Police Station on Monday.

Police said the teachers, 26 and 24, stole the car near a residential area at around 2:35 a.m. on Feb. 22 after the owner had forgotten to take out the keys.

Their escapade lasted five minutes because police stopped them at a checkpoint and booked them for drunk driving and driving without a license.

The teachers left the country soon after the incident, avoiding prosecution.

“The teachers had just finished their contract and were set to go home,” a police official said. “Because there were no injuries or deaths, we could not issue an arrest warrant to stop them leaving.”  [Korea Times]

Should Korea Get Rid of the Mandatory HIV Test for Foreign English Teachers?

The issue of foreign English teachers being forced to take a HIV test before gaining employment in Korea has come up again:

One of my favorite cartoons from the English Spectrum-gate timeframe.

To teach English in Korea, Christina had to prove she was not HIV-positive.

The US citizen was reluctant, but complied with the rule, undergoing a blood test for HIV and submitting the results to local authorities in order to get a job at a public school.

When she found out that Korean and Korean-American teachers at the school were exempted from the test despite doing the same job, she was offended.

“It perpetuates perceptions of foreigners as dirty, dangerous and impure. I think it is discriminatory and xenophobic,” said Christina, who first came to Korea in 2010 and now teaches in Gwangju.

“It also perpetuates stereotypes about HIV and the people who have it,” she told The Korea Herald.

For nearly a decade, South Korea has made it mandatory for foreigners wishing to work here to undergo blood tests for HIV, rejecting those found to be HIV-positive.

This policy, introduced in 2007 after complaints from locals over “dangerous law-breaking foreigners,” including English teachers, may come to an end soon, as the government is considering a recent recommendation by the country’s human rights panel to do away with it.

“The Justice Ministry is collecting opinions from relevant ministries such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Welfare to decide whether to accept the recommendation,” it said in response to an inquiry by The Korea Herald.

A recommendation of the National Human Rights Commission of Korea is not legally binding, but the government must decide whether to accept it within 90 days. In this case, the deadline is Dec. 7.  [Korea Herald]

You can read much more at the link, but over at Gusts of Popular Feeling there is a good run down on the history of the HIV testing law.

For those who are not long time readers of the ROK Drop the passing of the mandatory HIV testing law had nothing to do with concerns about HIV or drugs.  It began in 2005 when English Spectrum-gate occurred.  Some foreign English teachers made derogatory comments about Korean women on the English Spectrum website that a Korean netizen noticed.  It soon exploded within the Korean Internet community who rallied to take down the webpage.  However, the taking down of English Spectrum did not stop the Korean netizen fury against what they believed to be unqualified foreign English teachers running around the country taking drugs and molesting Korean women. An Anti-English Spectrum group was formed that actually wanted to provoke incidents with foreigners in certain university areas in order to push them out.

The controversy led the Korean government to order a crackdown against foreign English teachers.  The crackdown got so bad I felt compelled to offer my advice to English teachers on how to blend in as a US GI.  The anti-English Spectrum group was eventually able to lobby to get laws passed in 2007 to make it harder to get an E2 visa which is how the HIV testing came about.  Since then the Korean government has faced accusations of discrimination, but have refused to revoke the HIV testing law.  It looks like within the next few weeks we will know if South Korea will continue to enforce this discriminatory law.

English Teachers Arrested On Drug Charges In Seoul

Another week and more English teachers arrested on drug charges and shockingly the drug dealer was a Nigerian and the crime happened in Itaewon:

Police booked six foreign English instructors on suspicion of using marijuana, officials said Friday, with some allegedly conducting class while under the influence of the drug, Yonhap News reported.

Among those charged were three teachers from Canada, two from the United States and one from New Zealand, all of whom teach English at private institutions or elementary schools in Seoul. Police also arrested a Nigerian man, whose name has been withheld, on suspicion of providing marijuana to the six suspects.

According to police, the drugs were supplied to the suspects by the Nigerian dealer and were imbibed in and around their residences in Itaewon, a neighborhood populated by bars and other late-night establishments. They added that some of the suspects smoked the banned substance before heading to class in the morning.

“The suspects are believed to have routinely used the drug from a young age,” a police official said. “We have to tighten visa controls for foreign teachers with medical and criminal records.”  [Korea Herald]

So how would tightening medical and criminal records do any good in preventing these guys from entering the country if they were never arrested in the first place?