Taking it too far
Not to go into much detail of my life I will just say that 15 years ago I lived in West Memphis, Ark., which is rated the second most dangerous city to live in America.
There murder, rape and other violent crimes are over four times higher than the national average. This is a place where 1 in every 11 people fall victim of some type of crime. The reason I was there was not of my own choosing since my parent company had sent me to work for an extended period of time as a nuclear health physicist in a decontamination facility located in the area.
In addition I was also asked to teach in a local church since the church’s regional board was having a hard time getting a full time pastor that was willing to bring his family into such an area.
So like most decent people that lived in the area I owned a hand gun for protection while driving or in my home ― which was not illegal in the state of Arkansas. Yet, when I decided to go home to Ohio to visit my family, laws changed. Many Koreans do not understand how the legal system works in America and how each state’s laws change depending on how they decide to handle different issues such as gun control or in other words the 2nd Amendment.
I was stopped by the Ohio state highway patrol, since I had forgotten to renew my license plates, and I informed the police officer of the gun and where it was located and by Ohio law any gun in a car must be out of reach meaning it had to be in the trunk of the car in a lock box. So I was arrested and placed in a holding cell, waiting to speak to the judge in the morning.
The judge dismissed the case and I was freed to go home without even having to pay a fine. This is where the story should have ended and in fact that part did. However, as most of our readers should know Korea is demanding that all foreign teachers must have criminal background checks by the FBI.
Like most I believed that the Korean government is only denying applications that had committed certain crimes such as involving drugs, rape, murder or other such charges ― so I informed recruiters of this incident and the fact that it was dismissed.
Knowing that it would clearly show up in any FBI background check I was upfront about it. Yet, this is the email I received from one of the recruiters:
It is our office policy not to introduce teachers who have a record because we get commission from the schools.
Sorry that I cannot help you, we had a similar case with this and after our office had a meeting we decided not to introduce them.
I am really sorry for this. Wish you good luck!
This is a group of people in Korea saying that I am guilty of a crime even though the courts in America let me go with only a warning to not make the same mistake again. For that is what it was – a mistake.
While this should hopefully not impair me from getting work in Korea in the near future since I have a Korean wife, I also have a daughter that I have to support and take care of. Plus, I am in the process of getting this cleared from my records.
Yet, the point of this article is that over the past few years the media and so many anti-foreigner groups have been demonizing the foreign community so much that any past indiscretion, no matter what it was or how long ago it occurred, is looked upon as a reason not to be hired or even considered for employment.
This type of discrimination is wrong and though it is important for Korea to protect its children, it should also protect the privacy and the rights of the teacher and prevent them from being labeled what they are not – criminals and pedophiles.
Background checks should be checked by immigration and a special agency within the Ministry of Education and if deemed acceptable this should be enough and it should end there.
The way it is going now, newspapers and other news outlets should be encouraged to report crimes committed by foreigners without sensitizing them and in a way that is balanced and without prejudice. Or at least not in such a way that spreads suspicion and hatred to the vast majority that have essentially done nothing wrong.
Likewise, the Korean government should start regulating and monitoring these anti-foreigner groups that demonize people that have come here to live and work. These Korean hate groups are no better than the Ku Klux Klan that spread hatred and violence. Immigrants and refugees are among the most vulnerable groups in America.
And just like the Klan are a black eye to America these anti-foreigner groups hurt Korea’s international image and give the impression that it is nothing more than a group of xenophobic elitists.
The writer is a teacher in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province. His email address is email@example.com.