Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Prejudice in Korea

So, for those of you reading this back home (which I think it is only those from back home are reading this...) there are a lot of complaints from foreigners about prejudice in Korea, especially against English teachers. Mostly in the form of visa regulations for the E-2 (English teaching visa). Last year they added a criminal background check, drug testing and HIV testing. This upset A LOT of people and they are still complaining about it today. Most call it an invasion of privacy. I have heard some legit complaints from a couple of my former co-workers, namely that when they brought in their medical test results, the envelope was unsealed and therefore anyone in the office was free to look at it. But for the most part, I don't see what the big deal is.

Criminal Background Checks: You have to do this for just about any job in the U.S. I did it for my job as a daily reporter. Whatever.

Drug Testing: Again, I think a lot of jobs in the U.S. require this. Most of these people in Korea are working with kids. While people argue that weed is harmless, the fact remains that it's a drug and it's illegal. Especially if you're in a foreign country. Parents in any country are paranoid about drug users, get over it.

HIV Testing: This I don't really have an opinion. I don't think people who have AIDS or HIV are bad people or they are going to "infect" everyone so it is a bit ridiculous that they are going to base an entire judgment of character on one medical problem. But, then again, I don't have HIV so naturally I have no problem taking this test.

I do agree that they should probably make these regulations for the F-4 and F-2 visa holders who are planning to teach children. It is a bit unfair that just because someone has Korean ancestry they are automatically exempt. Especially when I've heard some F-4 visa holders brag about it.

But I will argue that if you look at the U.S.'s regulations for foreign workers, the visas are much harder to get. I've had students who are high level executives for Microsoft and had to go through background checks, medical checks, etc. just to get a visa to work at Microsoft in the U.S. Hell, I've got a perfectly normal, educated, non-druggie, productive-to-society friend who was recently kicked out of the U.S. and told that the best way he could get a work visa was to marry an American.

So I don't really think that Americans have the right to complain about visa regulations when our own country has the same if not stronger regulations. They cry out for equality. Why not try making equality in our own country first before running off to a foreign country and demanding that they treat us the same or better? How do you think the immigrants from Latin America feel?

I've been in Korea for a year and a half and not once have I faced any sort of prejudice because I'm American, white or an English teacher. I got my E-2 visa without problems. And I got my E-7 visa without any problems. I did have some issues with my Korean company but that was because of cultural miscommunication. They just didn't know any better, and I didn't know any better, a problem easily fixed if we take the time to research and try to understand. (Probably won't happen, but whatever. It's not like I, the ever powerful American, will completely re-educate Korean culture or Korean business culture that's been around for thousands of years. Doesn't make it right, but does make it hard to undo. Trying never hurts though, just don't complain when you fail because it's an uphill battle the whole way.)

If foreigners are sick of the media attention, then maybe they should refrain from doing things that give you that attention, like oh...refraining from doing/selling drugs while in a foreign country? Or going to work with children when drunk or high? Stuff like that doesn't fly in the U.S. so why the hell would they think it flies in Korea? It's commonsense, people...

Sorry, I guess I kind of got on a soapbox there. I guess I don't really understand what all the fuss is. But then again, I've always been a law-abiding citizen (excluding some speeding tickets) so I've got nothing to worry about. Ugh...it gives me a headache, but it seems like the majority of people here disagree and tend to attack those with similar opinions to mine...Oi vey, just go back to the U.S. if you hate it here so much...

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