180 | Journal of Korean LawVol. 11: 179
There are some 23,000 ethnic non-Koreans working as English teachersin the Republic of Korea (“ROK,” “South Korea,” or “Korea”).
Half ofthem are American and nearly a fifth are Canadian.
Many have lived inKorea for years and have established significant contacts; others havemarried Korean nationals and have families in the country. Yet despite, orrather because of, their close connections with the nation and its people, thegovernment has targeted these foreign teachers as threats to Korean societyand has instituted mandatory in-country HIV tests, as well as tests for illicitdrugs, that Korean citizen teachers are exempt from and even ethnicKorean non-citizen teachers are able to avoid.
This Article attempts toexplain why these discriminatory requirements were introduced and whythey have remained in place.The HIV and drug test requirements for foreign teachers were first
Monthly Bulletin of Statistics
, Foreign Policy Division, Korea Immigration Service,Ministry of Justice, Feb. 2012,
As of Feb. 2012, out of 23,545 E-2 visa holders, there were 12,163 Americans, 4,139Canadians, 2,623 British, 646 Irish, 1,673 South Africans, 571 New Zealanders and 455Australians teaching English on E-2 visas. 1,072 instructors from Asian speaking countriessuch as Japan and China were also teaching on the visa.3)
Foreign Teachers Say Visa-Rule Biased
, Oct. 5,2008,
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2008/10/117_32169.html (reporting on reactions to the Ministry of Justice’s decision to exclude foreign teacherswith Korean ethnicity from HIV/AIDS and drug test requirements as well as criminalbackground check requirements).
Lee Yeong-pung, ‘
Mayak gwallyeon’ eohagwonwoneomin gangsa gwalli gumeong [Loophole in the management of ‘drug related’ issues with languagehagwon native speaking instructors],
, March 15, 2012,
http://news.kbs.co.kr/society/2012/03/15/2450847.html (discussing ethnic Korean non-citizens’ ability toavoid drug tests). Korean-American Jason Lim, a frequent Korea Times contributor andformer recruiter of English teachers for Korea, presents a critical analysis of the differentialtreatment. Lim calls the rule “unjustifiable,” stating that it “discriminates based on ethnicorigin . . . [by] assum[ing] that a Korean-American English teacher is less of a threat to aKorean child than a white-American English teacher just because his or her parents happenedto be Korean.”
Jason Lim, Editorial, Illusion About Protection,
, Feb. 16,2009,
http://www.koreatimes.co.kr/ www/news/nation/2011/07/ 352_39640.html