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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

Annual Aids and Drugs tests on their way

Here’s the news,

Foreigners are drug using Aids patients who have come to Korea to corrupt, dope and steal the women (or men). This isn’t the government speaking, it’s the board of education. Excuse me if I get angry for a minute.

The pendulum of public opinion has been swinging to the side of dislike towards foreign teachers. To give some background on this, 480 000 US, 63 000 British, 26 000 Canadian, 17 000 Australian troops fought in the Korean war. The generation of Koreans who grew up during the war respected these nations. I have met many an aged grandfather who congratulated me for being Canadian.

The generation that came after saw the Americans as symbols of the military authority. The Americans became the enemy. A deep pathological hatred grew over years of authoritarian misrule. Now some of these guys who were beaten and suffered horribly during those years are in positions of power, and they don’t look to kindly on America or Americans (and in a way, aren’t we all American here?).

In 1998 the Nelson Mandela of Korea, Kim Dae Jung was elected. During his rule, the ‘Sunshine’ policy towards the North started and the extreme left-wing took power in Seoul.

They jumped on the Armoured Car incident of 2002. This incident led to seething hatred of all things American. There were multiple acts of violence towards American GIs, and hundreds of candle light vigils (back before they became candle light protests).

Add to this the now infamous posting of a few guys on English Spectrum.  Basically, there were threads on how to sleep with Korean women, with some blurry photos of girls a guy had slept with. But, the story got into the mass media and BLAM the hatred transfers from GIs to English Teachers.

To continue on the ‘a few bad apples’ case of hatred towards teachers comes the lovely Christopher Paul Neil story. Chris, as I like to call him, was being hunted by Interpol. You know you are an alleged baddy when interpol is looking for you. Chris liked little kids in Thailand and Vietnam. Interpol put his photo up, and some of his friends in Suwon (or something) recognized him and tried to report him to the Korean police…who did nothing. So somebody called the Mounties (no kidding). The mounties swung into action and made a few phone calls, but 2 or 3 days passed before anybody here decided to do anything. Chris noticed all this and disappeared.

Chris is the guy that proves that one man can make a difference. Though he was never charged of a crime in Canada (his home and native land) the government used his case to push through the most recent visa laws. The laws that are unconstitutional and all that jazz.

Now, Mr.Kim and Mr. Park down at the education board are taking away a little bit more of your civil liberties. Now they are taking annual drugs and aids tests.

Argue all you want with me that I’m paranoid, that I’m a silly little white boy who’s never faced persecution or racism. That if I don’t like it I should just go home.

Well, I am going home. I have been attacked entirely because of race and I have faced racism many times here. I’m not crying a swansong, but I am saying “Watch Out”. They are watching. They want you to make a mistake, even a small one.

It’s easy to go extreme and start talking about yellow stars on your shoulder or white pointy hats and burning crosses. But each time this happens it gets a little bit worse. The Mad Cow furry of 2008 was scary to watch. A hundred thousand protesters, some dangerous, attempting to bring down a newly elected government because of a rumour…a completely fabricated rumour. Those of us that were here that year remember the blindness that so many people showed, following the media without question. Complaining that it was a US plot…

What if…what if something happened involving a foreign English teacher. Real or imagined…if children died? Where would we be then? Call me paranoid. But tell me I’m wrong.

I am not attacking Koreans. I’m not saying that you can’t trust your friends, or you lover. What I am saying is that the culture, the institutions of power don’t trust you. They need you, for now, but they don’t trust you. I love so much about Korea and Koreans, but I don’t love this.

Keep your noses clean, because all it takes is one person and everything could change again.