Monday, July 12, 2010

Crime in Korea: The E-2 Visa Conundrum

I was resisting posting about the increased E-2 visa regulations since the entire blogosphere seems to be writing about it. However, a comment made by Brent on Brian in Jeollanamdo restarted my interest in the subject. Essentially, he commented that as useful as it would be to have criminal background checks and drug tests done for all prospective teachers entering the country, that there will always be perpetrators who have no prior record committing offenses.

Gusts of Popular Feeling also made an interesting point, mainly that the reforms are being passed without any substantial statistics or facts backing up that foreigners are the ones mainly responsible for the crimes or that their crime rates are on the rise.
As well, when Choi did interviews to promote the bills last year, she announced that immigration had lost 22,000 teachers, but had used the wrong statistics, and never corrected her error. Instead of "an unemotional, logical review of the facts of the case," Choi's office used incorrect statistics, offered no evidence that "the crime rate among native English teachers is getting higher," and said something akin to 'I think I read it somewhere,' when asked for statistics regarding foreign teachers convicted of crimes being rehired - which are the main rationale (if you could call it that) behind the bills. Call me "angry," or "up in arms," but it's hard to get behind a bill like this when those who wrote it are unable to back up their reasons for it at all.
For me, I agree that ethnic Koreans who are currently exempt from the criminal background check laws should be included in them. People commit crimes across the ethnic scale. And yet, there will continuously be crimes from first time offenders, people who come from outside the schools and so forth.

Interestingly, the Korea Herald and the Joongang Daily has been focusing on the recent changes to make E-2 visa holder's life more convenient such as:
-The government will ease regulations to exempt foreign language instructors from having to submit documents and update their visas every time they change employers (...)
-Under the measures expected to go into effect next year, foreigners can join domestic Internet sites by using their foreigner registration number or passport number (...)
-The government will also change the current system requiring foreign suspects to provide prints of all 10 fingers every time they are investigated. Only their thumb prints will be collected from the second time, 
(Quotes from the JoongAng Daily, "Work Visas Getting Easier for Teachers")
 These are all useful things I suppose though only the internet one has ever effected me. It would be nice to be able to buy movie tickets online...

1 comment:

Kyle Crum said...

Well, honestly, the criteria that Korea has for an E2 visa is pretty poor at the moment. Yes, you need a criminal background check, but we only had to get a city-wide one, which means I could have murdered someone 20 miles away and Korea wouldn't know. Even the city was reluctant to give it to us because they figured it wouldn't be strong enough.

As far as drug tests go, I know someone who (according to him) did cocaine the day before his test and everything came out ok.

I'm sure the language the papers and politicians are using is wildly inappropriate in respect to foreigners, but I don't think there is much harm in filling in some of the loopholes.