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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

What’s All the Fuss About?

That Ulsan Broadcasting Corporation (UBC) came in to Benchwarmer’s Bar with a hidden camera and then broadcast an article that is not kind to foreigners.

And? That surprises you? Outrages you? Surely this is not the first time you’ve heard of such journalism about us in Korea. Nor will it be the last.

Through Facebook I had heard of the news clip and searched vainly for it on the UBC site. Then I realized I didn’t really need to see it. It proclaims what all the foreigner hit pieces do – and what my Facebook friends intimated – that we are all unqualified to teach, we engage in illegal teaching, we are women chasers and we all smoke dope. The Choson Ilbo, The Korea Times, and numerous others have written and/or made videos of the same thing. Go read The Marmot’s Hole and you can find even more links to foreigner-trashing articles.

In the grand scheme of all things Korean, it won’t change my life or lifestyle one iota. It’s just another indication of the level of xenophobia that runs fairly deep here. And, like all prejudices, they are overly generalized, sensationalized and most importantly – made for ratings!

Let’s break it down into each of the accusations:

  • Unqualified to Teach – We all have degrees. The days of picking up a bogus diploma while on vacation in Bangkok are long gone. The qualifications nearly all teaching institutions require is simply a four-year degree. Certainly some of us have real teaching experience in our home countries and some have even advanced degrees in teaching. But if the bar is set at only a four year degree then that is merely an indictment of Korea’s own  educational system and their zeal for learning English. Their “unqualified” remarks have no bearing on me because I am qualified by the standards set forth by the institution that hired me and the Korean Government’s own regulations.
  • Engage in Illegal Teaching – Unless there’s some evidence of that, that’s simply yellow journalism designed to incense their viewing population and increase their ratings. There’s no doubt it happens, but to make a broad brush statement that we all do it is just plain bias. Bring on the facts, boys!
  • We Seduce Korean Women – That lie says more about Korean women than about foreigners. Are Korean women meek, weak and unable to make up their own minds who they bed?  Were it not for us foreigners would all Korean women be chaste and pure? Of course not! They are willing parties in the machine called human interaction. Is it our fault that we find Korean women beautiful, lovely and kind and that they, too, find us attractive? I believe it is more the envy of some Asian men who don’t get the reciprocal behavior from western women that drives this oft repeated lie. I won’t deny dating Korean women. I even married one and am deeply in love with her. So sue me.
  • We All Smoke Dope – That’s another lie that has no basis in fact but is only a device to stir the collective Korean emotional pot. There’s no doubt that western countries have more of a drug culture than Korea. Thus it was more readily available and therefore many of us have experimented. But to make broad brush strokes that all foreigners do drugs is simply a prejudicial lie. Bring on the evidence of who’s doing or did what drugs and make an article about that, but don’t paint us all that way.  And until such evidence is brought forth, its just talk.

UBC can make all the inflammatory news clips they want.  So what? My school is not going to rescind my visa and kick me out of the country because of what UBC once said. It was only one year ago that MBC caused one of the biggest series of demonstrations with their lies about American beef.  This year, American beef is available in nearly every grocery store and there’s now even restaurants that advertise they serve it. So much for everyone dying if they consume it, although those lies were repeated far and wide.

My best advice to you, the foreigner, is keep your nose clean, ignore the media garbage they occassionally spew and most importantly, don’t answer lifestyle questions from Koreans you don’t know unless you’ve frisked them for a hidden camera first.

As always, I invite you share your own opinions and experiences via the comment section below.