Thursday, September 06, 2007

Worse Than We Expected

Last night, 60 Minutes Korea as aired on KBS ran a story about American teachers living in Korea. The story profiled 125 schools that were searched and 6 American teachers who were arrested for being under the influence and addicted to marijuana. Five of the teachers were from the same school.

Apparently, they run this story every year about the same time and it really got our Korean management in a tizzy. They called a special staff meeting to tell us not to do drugs and that we shouldn't drink or make a scene 'until after the Korean Thanksgiving'.

Our manager started the staff meeting by saying "It is worse than we expected". I think Koreans blow it a little out of proportion. They must not be able to disseminate the information. One-hundred twenty-five schools checked with an average of five teachers each. Six teachers were found to be under the influence of the illegal drug. That is less than a one percent occurrence! Granted, they shouldn't be doing it. Yes, it is extremely illegal in Korea, but a one percent occurrence? That is a smaller percentage than betting against the Chicago White Sox to win the world series!

We were warned that they might search schools in Gimpo. Cool! I've never given a police mandated urine sample before. (Note to self: no poppy seed muffins for the next couple of weeks.)

Apparently the Korean attention span is only two weeks long. We were told that we shouldn't do anything to disparage the reputation of the school in the next two weeks but that after Thanksgiving (starting Sept. 24) people will have forgotten.

The problem comes from the fact that in addition to those six teachers using marijuana, they also forged their college diplomas which is how they got jobs here in the first place. In order to work as an ESL teacher in Korea you need to prove you have a college degree. (I actually had to send my college diploma.) Forgery constitutes illegal tenure and smoking pot doesn't help the rap sheet.

It was an interesting story. Some parents even called the school to check up on us. Koreans are more racist and prejudicial than anyone I've ever met. Because less than one percent of a representative population subscribes to illegal drug use, that must blanket the behavior of all foreigners. Honestly!?!

Two times in one week I've been discriminated against for being American. Are you prejudicial?


Liesl said...

Well that clinches it. I'm not teaching in Korea. My diploma is somewhere collecting dust in Montana Hall (or has long since been shredded), because I have never received the actual physical paper. Maybe since I'm about done paying for it I should request it.

Dad said...

When I was in Korea, Most of us were just satisfied with alcohol, but the drugies never drank, they just did the Marijuana. Many, many Koreans smoked dope (opium) on the streets. Times must be changing.

Anonymous said...

Prejudice is a pretty strong word. I think sometimes prejudice can be mistaken for the fear of the unknown. Interesting that since one percent of the foreign teachers are using drugs, the stereotype exists for all...funny how that works. But then these individuals forged their college diplomas...suddenly I am seeing a different stereotype surface.