Friday, December 11, 2009

Anti-English Spectrum

I figured that there were some parts of Korean society that felt put upon by the government mandated influx of foreigners in their country.  I also know that as a very recently industrialized nation they struggle with balancing their national pride (and traditional xenophobia) with moving forward into the world and maybe someday holding a place of power.  What I was unaware of, however, is that there is an organization of people committed to evicting foreigners, willing to slander and harm them in order to do so.

While I don't feel vulnerable, personally, to the Anti-English Spectrum, I am fascinated by it and proud of those foreigners who have felt called to action by this rising negative sentiment.  I'm also simultaneously intrigued and appalled by the sway this group has had over the government (especially when it comes to our E2 Visa requirements).  I can't find much information on the web (granted, I've just begun my research), so my knowledge is very limited.  But, a fellow teacher posted a podcast on his Facebook page today.  It's a CBC (Canadian) broadcast and it's about twenty-five minutes long, but if you're at all interested it's worth a listen.  I can't embed it, so click this link to hear it.

I also wasn't aware of the presence of an official organization of English teachers here in Korea.  The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK)  is actively confronting the Anti-English Spectrum.  This article talks a bit about it.

My day was a little chaotic because Julia, Gene and Terry were all there for most of the day.  Gene told me that the principles want him fired because our classes haven't changed since he was hired.  He is frustrated that they want things to be made perfect so quickly.  I am frustrated because I feel like my classes have improved immensely in my three months of teaching; but, it doesn't seem to make any real difference.  I told Gene that while Ian and I like Korea, we are frustrating by the business culture here and that we are tired of being treated like children.  So, Gene told Julia that he would have the meeting she planned with Ian after classes today.  So, she let him take Ian off her hands.  Gene told Ian that on Monday he wants us to present our lesson plans and then ask for comments in stead of listening to Julia repeat her ideas four times over.  He's hoping the meeting should last about one hour.  We'll see.  He intends the new format to give us some power in the relationship, but I'm not sure Julia will sit back and let us talk.  We'll see.  I'm grateful that Gene is looking out for our satisfaction.

Ian and I are going out with a few other teachers tonight.  There are a few new people in town and we are interested in meeting them.  Plus, we haven't seen the other Jecheon foreigners in a while.  It should be good fun.

Stay warm over there!  Good night!


  1. Very interesting. I read the article, and I am guessing the is a search engine in Korea? Did the woman who refused the HIV test have to leave? This group must not want Korea to progress at all and are afraid of change. I wonder if they are similar in mindset to the hate groups here (white supremacists ) What brought this to your attention? Anyway it sounds worth keeping yourself informed.

  2. ok, so I just listened to the pod cast, and my first reaction is to be concerned for you both. But then I put it in perspective and know that you both are savvy enough to know if you are being followed or anything like that . The death threats on this person is quite disturbing though. It answers my question above. They are a hate group most definitely.

    Not being used to being in a group discriminated against, you are not used to having to look over your shoulder for such things. I wonder if you have given that much thought, and how that makes you view things. if nothing else it helps me understand better some of what you both have been going through, To be in a foreign land and the target of a hate group is a sobering thought to say the least. You can't just go home at the end of the day and forget about it.

  3. We don't spend much time thinking about it. Our experiences with racism are more inconvenient and annoying than threatening. I just think it's really interesting that this group has enough pull to change hearts and minds on a government level. It was Albert, a fellow English teacher, who posted the podcast on his facebook yesterday. That's what drew my attention.

  4. Well, I'm sorry to read/hear about this but I'm not surprised. I see no difference between the situation there and the situation here with right-wingers wanting walls built along the Rio Grande, MinuteMen doing vigilante justice along both our borders, federal border patrols extended to something like 250 miles from the border resulting in roadblocks with random checks in places as obscure as Forks, racist/hate groups against minorities (whether immigrants or not), etc. Things aren't much better, if any, for immigrants (legal or otherwise) and guest workers here.

    Anyway, don't sweat it. Enjoy yourselves.