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PRESS RELEASE

For immediate release

Contact: Dann Gaymer, Communications Director


Mobile: 010-2335-4999, media@atek.or.kr
www.atek.or.kr/

ATEK: Crime Statistics Prove Foreign Teachers Are Being Misrepresented

(Seoul, South Korea)— The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK) is
making an official statement regarding the allegedly serious issue of crimes committed by
foreigner English teachers.

According to a Yonhap news story on September 24 Korean National Assembly member


Lee Gun-hyeon stated, "Native speaking English teacher crime [is] serious'"i. Lee Gun-
hyeon is a member of the National Assembly’s Council of Education, Science and
Technology.

Representative Lee also claimed the issue was escalating and that,"recent crimes by
foreign English teachers are causing the anxiety of students and parents to grow".

It was further claimed that the verification system for unqualified foreign teachers needs
to be strengthened and that criminal information should made public so students should
not be exposed to more crimes—more measures beyond the criminal record checks,
degree checks, and health checks for illegal drugs and HIV already required from E-2
(foreign language teacher) visa applicants.

Yet the very same statistics that Mr. Lee presented showed that over the past three years
the total number of crimes committed by E-2 visa holders stand at 274, with 114 arrests
in 2007, 99 in 2008, and 61 in the first eight months of 2009 .Given that in 2008 there
were 19,771 foreigner registered on E-2 visas clearly the statistics do not justify the claim
that teacher crime is at a serious level.

In relation to the discrepancy between Representative Lee's claim and his


statistics ATEK president Greg Dolezal stated,

"Here at ATEK we find this accusation very troubling. As we are an association


of foreign teachers in Korea any accusation against the foreign teacher
community is an attack against our members by default."

Dolezal also said,

"We want to know why our members and the teaching community as a whole
are being vilified when according to Lee Gun-hyeon's statistics the crime rate is
clearly not at a serious level"
The Statistics

On October 10, Park Si-soo reported for the Korea Times that the Korean Justice
Ministry had claimed that the number of crimes involving foreigners had risen sharply so
far this year.ii

According to the statistics submitted by the Ministry of Justice to the National Assembly,
the total number of crimes committed by foreign nationals reached a record high of
34,108 last year, while 22,465 crimes had been committed by foreigners for the first
seven months this year.

Yet while the number of crimes committed by foreign nationals in Korea may be rising,
this does not automatically denote that crimes amongst foreign English instructors are
also rising, who are for the most part E-2 visa holders. In relation to Representative Lee's
statement, he explicitly refers to crime being a serious issue among foreign English
teachers, as opposed to all foreign nationals on any kind of visa.

The statistics from the Korea Immigration Service for September 2008 show that out of
the 1175420 foreign nationals registered in Korea 19,771 foreigners were registered as
being on E-2 language teaching visas.

Logically when you compare the crime statistics of 19,771 with over a million you would
expect the crime rate to be higher amongst the E-2 visa demographic given that the data
pool is narrower. Yet in his article "Data says it all: E-2s are law abiding"iii, that was
published in the Korea Herald on October 6, Matt VanVolkenburg pointed out that this
was not the case.

In fact the percentage of arrests made shrunk when the statistics for E-2 visa holders were
isolated, all of which was drawn from Representative Lee's own data. VanVolkenburg
stated,

"These statistics say that 114 crimes were committed by foreign English teachers in 2007,
and 99 were committed in 2008. According to the Korea Immigration Service, in 2007
there were 17,721 teachers on E-2 visas working in Korea, and in 2008 there were 19,771
teachers. Therefore, in 2007, 114 out of 17,721 teachers were arrested -- a crime rate of
0.64 percent. In 2008, 99 out of 19,771 teachers were arrested -- a crime rate of 0.50
percent."

Therefore according to the figures presented by representative Lee the crime rate
for foreign English teachers was 0.50% in 2008, with the 99 arrests being a mere
fraction of the 34,108 arrests made throughout the whole foreign community. While
the crime rate for the foreign teaching community was only a tiny part of the crimes
committed by the whole foreign population of Korea, in turn they were responsible
for an even more miniscule fraction of the total crimes committed, by both
foreigners and Koreans. To put it in perspective in the case of 2007 the foreign
English teacher crime rate (0.64%) was more than five times less than the crime
rate among Koreans (3.5%) in 2007iv and half the rate of other foreigners.

Further to this, not only are the number of crimes amongst E-2 visa holders smaller, they
also appear to be decreasing. While the numbers of foreigners on E-2 visa rise each year
the crimes do not, as VanVolkenburg also stated in his Korean Herald article,

"Lee Gun-hyeon's figures show that 114 teachers were arrested for crimes in 2007, 99
were arrested in 2008, and 61 were arrested in the first eight months of 2009. If the trend
for 2009 continues for the rest of the year, not only would we see a drop in the crime rate
over three years, we would also see a drop in the absolute number of teachers being
arrested."

Given the data presented and the miniscule number of crimes committed by foreign
teachers Lee Gun-hyeon's claim of teacher crime being "serious" seems unfounded.

Teachers Misrepresented

Unfortunately this accusation comes against a back drop of foreign teachers all too
frequently being shown in poor light.

Earlier this year ATEK has filed a complaint with the Korean Press Ethics Commission
regarding the misrepresentation of foreign teachers in the Korean media, due to an
increase in the number and severity of negative articles about foreign English teachers
living in Korea.v

Certain media outlets have seemed more than happy to give a soap box to groups wishing
to discredit the foreign teaching community, such as Lee Eun-ung, organizer of the
Citizens' Association for Lawful English Education (otherwise known as Anti-English
Spectrum), a group dedicated to mounting 'surveillance' on foreign English teachers.

In an article printed in the Korea Times on September 16 Mr.Lee was quoted as saying,
"There are many foreign instructors who are leading disorderly lives involving sex and
drugs, although the foreign group is denying it." vi

No statistics or concrete examples were offered to substantiate this claim. The "foreign
group" referred to, ATEK, are denying the accusation that many foreign teachers are
involved with illegal or immoral activity because there is no evidence of this—as proved
by the crime statistics presented by national representative Lee Gun-hyeon.

A crime rate of 0.50% for every E-2 visa holder throughout the whole of 2008 does not
show teacher crime at a serious level and further it refutes the claim that "many" foreign
instructors are engaging in illegal conduct.

On behalf of our members, who are both foreign nationals and English teachers in South
Korea, these are questions we would like to ask:
• Why are these claims being made, in blatant contradiction of the official figures?
• Is this a case of somebody not reading a spread sheet properly or are foreign
English teachers being scapegoated, and if so, why?

Any correspondence regarding these questions or indeed this article can be directed at
media@atek.or.kr

Sources:
i
Korean: http://news.naver.com/main/read.nhn?mode=LSD&mid=sec&sid1=001&oid=001&aid=0002881530&
English:
http://populargusts.blogspot.com/2009/09/foreign-english-teacher-crime.html
ii
http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/10/117_52955.html
iii
http://www.koreaherald.co.kr/NEWKHSITE/data/html_dir/2009/10/06/200910060013.asp
iv
http://www.rjkoehler.com/2009/02/04/atek-interview-with-prof-benjamin-wagner/
http://populargusts.blogspot.com/2009/05/nhrck-report.html
v
http://atek.or.kr/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=218:2009-august-20-association-files-complaint-with-
press-ethics-commission&catid=41:top-headlines
vi
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2009/09/117_51952.html