By Kang Shin-who, Park Si-soo
A Civic group said that its actions to expel illegal English teachers will help upgrade the image of legal foreign educators.
The group, named ``Citizens' Association for Lawful English Education,'' has some 16,000 members on its Web site (cafe.naver.com/englishspectrum).
Pictures depicting foreign teachers holding a ``sexy costume party'' in 2005 were the key driver for the creation of the civic group.
``There are many illegal foreign teachers. We organized this group to help make our schools and hagwons free of these problematic teachers,'' said Lee Eun-ung, manager of the Internet cafe.
Most members of the group participate in online activities, and some also actively engage in off-line activities to help police find foreigners who engage in drug use. So far, they have played a role in nabbing more than 60 people in illegal drug-related cases.
``Sometimes we stay up at night tracking and watching foreign nationals. We have even found some foreign teachers that take drugs then teach students at hagwons the following day,'' Lee said. ``We will continue to help police deport these foreign teachers.''
The group members vary from university professors, physicians and teachers to office workers and even policemen.
It is now calling for the Korean immigration authorities to require visa applicants to submit to drug tests for marijuana.
``The Korean government suddenly removed medical checks for marijuana for E-2 visa applicants. We believe that leads to rises in illegal drug used by foreign teachers,'' Lee said.
``In the long run, we will convince the government to introduce regulations on deported foreigners to forfeit illegally earned money.''
Currently more than 27,000 foreign nationals are officially teaching English at schools and hagwons, according to the Korea Immigration Service. However, it is estimated that more than 50,000 foreigners including illegal residents are teaching English here.
The group also plans to work on improving the bad images of foreigners, tarnished by a few illegal foreign nationals.