Alternative Solution to Visa Rules
By David Thiessen
Over the past few weeks I have received a lot of feedback through various channels concerning my opposition to the new regulations. Some of it has been fair while others just resort to the usual unrealistic realm of thinking.
One of the aspects of this issue that was never addressed plays an important part in the ESL (English as a second language) industry here in Korea. It may be too late to discuss or mention this now but it needs to be said for the record.
I have been vocal in opposition to these new regulations, not because I oppose the Korean government and their right to police their own country but because these new rules do not solve the issue and only provide a false sense of security and something for the powers that should be to blame when it is discovered it didn't work.
My opposition also entails this ``copy the West'' mentality, which has been proven to be ineffective, as this is not the West and if people want jobs and life to be ``like back home'' then they should return there and find employment outside of the Eastern world.
It means that we do not force or demand that Western ways be implemented before a native English teacher begins employment.
The ability to adapt to the Eastern practices is vital for good business relationships but this is a vice versa application as Korean employers need to learn that foreigners are not Korean and it should not be assumed they can be treated in disrespectful manner.
Adjustments take time and patience needs to be a part of the equation on both sides of the industry. It should be done with a minimal of regulations as too many laws soon ruin the purpose of why this industry was created.
It is suggesting that people be adults and act according to the profession and position granted them and reminding them that they are in a different culture with different rules and what they could do ``back home'' is not always the smart thing to do here. (Again this applies to both sides of the issue).
That is just one point, the real issue I want to address with these few words is that the need for these new regulations are redundant at best for the simple reason of ``the contract.''
Native English teacher's lives are governed in part by the wording of the contract which lays out what is expected of them. Then when both parties sign at the end of the document, they are giving their word they will abide by the agreed articles of employment.
In these contracts, there has always been a clause that states the native English teacher needs to submit to a physical exam. It is simply worded and by the signatures, it is agreed to be done, no fuss, no mess and can be done simply. If the native teacher's health doesn't meet a governmental guideline then the appropriate action can be taken.
Then regarding criminal record checks, it must be stated that the absence of one does not guarantee that the employee is not a criminal nor does it guarantee they will not commit a crime. Nor does having a criminal record guarantee that the person is a criminal or that they will continue to break the law.
Again, in our contracts is a clause that bars native English teachers from engaging in criminal activity. If they do, then they lose their jobs, and are deported back to their home country. This alone is a big enough deterrent for the majority of foreigners, as such an act would cause them to lose face with their own family and friends.
Then to deal with the alcohol and drug use problem, our contracts already cover such misbehavior and provisions are made to remove such people, who abuse those areas of life, from the classroom and the school. Ultimately from the country as well as drug use is illegal thus the native teachers would have no grounds to remain in Korea.
Finally, it should be said that the new regulations are not fair to the employees of the Korean Consulates and Immigration services around the world. All they do is create more work for probably already overworked people and they create many logistical problems for foreigners as consulates are not located in convenient cities for most prospective teachers.
These new regulations actually create a redundancy that could easily be avoided if employers and the Korean government learned to enforce the articles in our contracts.
Seeing that we have these rules already in place or such contracts could be easily re-written to meet the security needs of this industry, it would be wiser to not implement rules, which would cause unnecessary expense of time and money, make it harder to bring teachers to this country and would make Korea look better as it sought the smart ways to deal with the problems they think are present.
We do not need more regulations, overreactions or paranoia involved in this industry, we do need level-headed thinking that won't provide false senses of security and which do not solve the issues.
The writer an English teacher in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. He can be reached at email@example.com.