By Kang Shin-who
John Gardner (an alias) has illegally worked at a college and several private language academies in Korea over the past five years.
Although the Canadian didn't have a bachelor's degree, required for an E-2 or English-teaching visa here, he came and started work at Baekseok University in Cheonan on a tourist visa.
"The school staff said it was fine and they would be able to supply me with a visa through their connections," he told The Korea Times.
However, he didn't receive an E-2 visa or his salary for several months, before being dismissed.
"When I went to the university, they told me that if I kept coming back, they would call the police. This left me in a strange situation. I wasn't able to go to the police, and I wasn't able to push the issue legally, because of my illegal status," he said.
He left the university and continued to teach English illegally at private institutes and corporations in Seoul and nearby cities. Many foreigners who come here to teach English are in similar situations.
According to the Korea Immigration Office, Friday, the number of "illegal" foreign private tutors arrested rose to 226 last year, compared to 211 in 2008, 172 in 2007 and 143 in 2006.
Among those arrested in 2009, Americans made up the largest portion with 79, followed by 36 Canadians and 31 Filipinos.
Of those caught, 144 were illegally hired, while 45 violated employment regulations. Also, 93 were E-2 visa holders, while 68 came here on D-2 or student visas and the rest were on tourist visas.
Eleven illegal teachers were deported and 42 were ordered to leave the country, while 68 were reported to the police. However, the immigration authorities say that the statistics show only a small number of the total illegal language teachers.
"We crack down from time to time on illegal foreigner teachers on tips from citizens, but it is very difficult to search out the large number of foreigners involved in irregularities," an immigration office told The Korea Times.