Okay, I admit it…I spoke too soon.
A couple of days ago, I posted on the issue of a rapist convicted of raping and mutilating a child to the extent that she now has a permanent physical disability in additional to her horrific emotional scars.
I was generally positive and upbeat in the post because I felt that the public outcry over his lenient sentence (and attempt to make it even shorter with his appeal) because of his claim of being drunk at the time, signaled a shift in Korean’s perspectives on personal responsibility for sex crimes and the beginning of positive changes to the current application of the law.
Well I should have known foreigners would eventually be blamed for everything.
This is an article from yesterday’s ‘esteemed’ Korea Times. If you are a reader of this ‘venerable’ paper, you will know how much they just loooooove foreigners!
(The paper also enjoys printing the opinions of people we might consider ‘way right of centre’ when it comes to issues of non-ethnic Korean rights, including those of our very own government Ministries and lawmakers.)
I’m sorry to say that I believe much positive debate has now turned into red herring country with unreasonable and unfounded blame being shifted to foreigners.
From the title of the article to the tone of the piece, the emphasis seems to be placed on the ‘abundance’ of foreign pedophiles filing into Korea. On closer reading however, there are no examples of foreign teacher pedophiles given. The only example is the recent case of Cho Doo-soon who is…Korean…and not a teacher! I’m not trying to deny the fact that there are sexual predators here who are foreign. I believe sexual violence happens everywhere and is caused by people of all different ethnicities and backgrounds. However, if there are SO MANY…or even one particular case, why does the government, and the author of this article, not name them? Koreans try to avoid naming Koreans who have committed crimes in the news, but the media loves naming foreigners! If there are several cases of teachers abusing students, the public needs to know these numbers!
There have indeed been reports of ‘foreigners’ being convicted as sex crimes. However, ‘foreigners’ refers to everyone who is not a Korean citizen. Unlike in Canada, this means the vast majority of people who are not ethnic Koreans, are not citizens. E2 (English teaching visas which are limited to citizens of the UK/Ireland/US/Canada/NZ/Australia/South Africa), already have to submit drug test, HIV tests, and criminal records. The implication of this article is that it is the E2 visa holders who, despite the most stringent requirements of all of the visas, are still committing these sex crimes. However, there is a much larger group of foreigners – ethnic Koreans/non citizens (F4), migrant workers, international school teachers, spouses of Koreans, business owners, ‘entertainment’ visa holders (ie. prostitutes), workers at Korean companies, students, who do not have to submit these kinds of checks. For the record, I have had to take 4 HIV tests in less than 2 years…but I don’t know any other foreigners on different visas (or ANY Koreans!) who have had to take and submit these kinds of tests. ALL non citizens get lumped into this category of ‘foreigners,’ but we really are a widely diverse group of people!
In addition, the article careens wildly around through different crimes. In fact, half way through the article it turns to the subject of forged documents (code of fake university degrees), and immigration violations. How in the world is a forged university degree related to rape? It harkens back to another recent article where rape, drug, and traffic convictions were rolled into one to show how ‘foreigner crime’ was on the rise!! (Of course, the article didn’t seem to realize the number of foreigners has increased over time…and the crime rate among foreigners is actually MUCH lower than that of Koreans). Crime should be unacceptable and foreigners should be punished if they violate Korean laws. However, treating all crimes by foreigners the same…and using a fake university degree as a reason to suspect a person of rape is not only racist, but illogical.
Above all though, what I am most upset about with these charges and implications is that the focus should be not on the ethnicity of a perpetrator, but rather on the fact that there ARE sexual predators in society. Shifting the blame to an ‘other’ is racist, but it also places children, women, and yes…men! (sexual violence against men is a fact no matter how much we want to cover it up), at further risk. If parents believe that only foreign teachers are rapists, they will not demand closer inspection of Korean teachers and proper prosecution of teachers who abuse students or school administrators who look the other way when children rape children. If Korean children are taught only to be wary of the ‘bad foreign stranger,’ they will trust the Korean man who takes their hands and leads them to the public restroom. And finally, if only non-ethnic Korean violence on Korean is recognized as ‘true’ sexual violence, there will be (and are today) an enormous amount of hurting, broken people whose stories are not recognized and who will never receive the love, support, and help they so desperately need.
So yes, lock up or deport foreign rapists….but do so with the Koreans too. Criminal checks for foreigners (not just foreign teachers!!!)? For sure – but make sure that the Korean teachers working at private academies who see your kids more often than you do, church youth leaders who take kids on overnight retreats, and day care workers also submit VALID criminal records.
Korean kids need to be protected from ALL predators, not just the red herring fuzzy number foreigner kind.