By Park Si-soo
Native English teachers working at private language schools were arrested on charges of repeatedly consuming an illegal drug.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Sunday that it caught six native English teachers smoking marijuana. The foreigners in question have taught English at private language schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province. But police found they have taught students without an E-2 visa ― a type of visa required to teach English here.
Police also apprehended two drug suppliers ― a 40-year-old Ghanaian and a 31-year-old Korean going by the name of Lee. Another Korean running a private language institute was also arrested on charges of employing unqualified foreign teachers.
According to police, the foreigners, who purchased the drug from the Korean supplier, had smoked it more than 10 times at the supplier's house in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province.
The Korean, the son of a professor at a prominent university here, had bought 160 grams marijuana worth 2.4 million won from the Ghanaian from August 2007 till early April this year.
``Most of those arrested have used the drug in their home countries,'' said Kim Ki-sung, a police officer. ``They smoked the illegal drug three or four times a week and some of them made tools on their own to inhale the smoke easily.''
The officer pointed out this kind of crime is on the rise in the wake of the government's move to loosen regulations on E-2 visa issuance, resulting in a growing number of E-2 visa applicants.
According to the Justice Ministry, annual E-2 visa applicants were less than 10,000 in 2006 before topping 13,782 last year.
Last September, the government tightened visa regulations after a group of native English teachers were arrested on charges of smoking hemp, mandating E-2 visa applicants to submit police checks and undergo blood tests. But it suddenly withdrew the regulation on March 15, saying ``In some countries, smoking marijuana is not illegal. Thus, we see the restriction is unnecessary.''
Opining that the deregulation has largely attributed to an increase in drug-related crime, Kim said ``Visa screening needs to be intensified further.''