Extra! Korea

January 31, 2010

(Updated) Anti-English Spectrum’s leader admits to stalking “following” foreign teachers in the LA Times

Filed under: crime, expatriates, xenophobia — extrakorea @ 12:45 pm

The Los Angeles Times has an article about the group called Anti-English Spectrum, and its leader admits that he stalks foreign teachers. Well, he says it’s not “stalking” but “following.”

Sometimes, in his off hours, Yie Eun-woong does a bit of investigative work.

He uses the Internet and other means to track personal data and home addresses of foreign English teachers across South Korea.

Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits.

He wants to know whether they’re doing drugs or molesting children.

Yie, a slender 40-year-old who owns a temporary employment agency, says he is only attempting to weed out troublemakers who have no business teaching students in South Korea, or anywhere else.

The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.

Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.

Yie waves off the criticism. “It’s not stalking, it’s following,” he said. “There’s no law against that.”

Since its founding in 2005, critics say, Yie’s group has waged an invective-filled nationalistic campaign against the 20,000 foreign-born English teachers in South Korea.

On their website and through fliers, members have spread rumors of a foreign English teacher crime wave. They have alleged that some teachers are knowingly spreading AIDS, speculation that has been reported in the Korean press.

Teacher activists acknowledge that a few foreign English instructors are arrested each year in South Korea — cases mostly involving the use of marijuana — but they insist that the rate of such incidents is far lower than for the Korean population itself.

“Why are they following teachers? That’s a job for the police,” said Dann Gaymer, a spokesman for the Assn. for Teachers of English in Korea. “What this group is up to is something called vigilantism, and I don’t like the sound of that.”

The article goes on to mention the fact that Anti-English Spectrum has posted photos of teachers’ apartments online and the death threats made against the ATEK president. Like Kushibo and Brian in Jeollanam-do, I remain unconvinced that the death threat is undoubtedly from a Korean person as opposed to, say, an expatriate playing some kind of sick joke.

What’s most important, I think, is that now that this guy has publicly admitted to a famous, international newspaper that he stalks, er, I mean, follows, foreign teachers, it’s time to bring the hammer down on the guy.

Edit/Update:

Brian in Jeollanam-do now has a post in which he gives a lot of background information on Anti-English Spectrum, both from his blog and from other sources such as the blog Gusts Of Popular Feeling and law professor Benjamin Wagner.

In case you’re thinking that Mr. Yie actually cares about education, I would direct you to this comment by King Baeksu, a.k.a. author Scott Burgeson.

Browse the AES site and you will find at least two threads from 2007 in which Yie himself urged his cafe members to call up my former employer, Hongik Univesity, and demand that I be fired for the “crime” of publishing a critical, but nonetheless bestselling and well-reviewed, book about Korea — despite the fact that at the time I was a certified ESL instructor with some ten years’ experience in the field. He was even so thoughtful as to include the phone number of Hongik’s office of academic affairs. No mention of my actual teaching ability — or lack thereof — was mentioned in either thread, I might add.

An equivalent analogy would be neo-Nazis in the US trying to get a Korean-American university instructor fired for writing a critical book about the US.

Of course, this is no surprise to anyone familiar with Mr. Yie and his group. Aside from advocating the harassment of foreign teachers, he has never made any suggestion as to the improvement of English-language education, or education in general.

Like asadalthought, I liked this quote from the LA Times article:

Yie, who is single and has no children, volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior.

But he looks so cheerful, handsome, and kind.

Surely some Korean woman is eager to snatch up this prize of a man.

In the interest of fairness, I feel that I should point out this part of the article:

In 2005, by then living in Seoul, he joined the fledgling activist group after seeing an upsetting posting on a website: claims by foreign teachers that they had slept with Korean students.

Yie, who is single and has no children, volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior.

“People were angry; most of them were parents with kids,” he said. “We all got together online and traded information.”

Gaymer says he doubts that such a posting ever existed. Instead, he says, Koreans were angry about photos posted on a job website showing foreigners dancing with scantily clad Korean women.

“They were consenting adults at a party with foreign men,” he said. “They weren’t doing anything bad or illegal.”

They’re both right. Gaymer is correct in that people were enraged upon seeing pictures of Korean women dancing with foreign men at a party. Those women were stalked and harassed online, and called “whores” by people who in all likelihood went on to form Anti-English Spectrum. However, Yie is also correct. The website called English Spectrum (from which Yie’s group gets its name) had a discussion forum as well as column written by an unnamed foreigner called “Ask The Playboy.” The Playboy and other members did indeed discuss ways to seduce one’s adult students. Plans and strategies for sleeping with one’s students is unacceptable, indefensible behavior for so-called “teachers.” Other members of English Spectrum should have spoken up, or spoken up more strongly, but they didn’t, and now we are all suffering the consequences. I write this because I feel that we must counter lies with truth, not with distortions of our own. As they say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” We should take the high moral ground by owning up to what really happened. However, as they also say, “Let the punishment fit the crime.” Also, the innocent should not be punished along with the guilty. For Yie and his group to be sta… er, following innocent teachers because of the actions of a few who, in all likelihood, are no longer even in Korea, is beyond the pale.

Like Brian, I would also strongly discourage any kind of vengeful retaliation. If he or one of his cronies is, ahem, following you, then gather evidence (e.g. photos) and take it to the proper authorities. That’s their job, and don’t think, “I’m not a Korean, they won’t take me seriously.” Look at Bonojit Hussain.

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12 Comments »

  1. I’ll help you out with some links. I’ve said this type of thing in several places, but here’s a good link:

    Though I don’t think it’s a slam dunk case, if I had to bet money on it I’d say that this is the work of an Anglophone trying to stir up some sh¡t and/or discredit one or more organizations (especially AES and possibly ATEK, or ATEK’s rivals).

    And Brian made his doubts clear in this comment (among other places):

    I’ll reiterate that I don’t believe Greg DIDN’T get an email . . . I just questioned the source of it, whether it was actually a Korean, or another foreigner looking to stir up trouble.

    Greg of ATEK was convinced, and I don’t think he has retracted that:

    Stephanie is right when she says, “If it were a foreinger, I doubt AES would refrain from comment to the press about the incident.”

    Furthmore, the use of phrases like “get the hell” or “don’t make a fuss in there” or “we will gonna start to kill” is far too incorrect for even the most creative troll.

    This was written by a Korean. I’m sure of it.

    But Greg won’t release (publicly at least) the information in the email that would indicate from what geographic location it came from (and other things that would indicate Anglophone or not).

    Comment by kushibo — January 31, 2010 @ 9:04 pm

    • Thanks.

      And for some strange reason, your comments keep getting sent to my spam box, even though I mark them as “not spam” and then approve them every time.

      Comment by extrakorea — February 1, 2010 @ 1:09 am

  2. Imagine how Koreans would react if “white” or “black” people were doing this to Koreans in the US or another Western country.

    Imagine “white” Americans driving around with signs on their vehicles saying, “Korean students and immigrants, you are being watched!” or targeting a particular Korean and stalking them.

    I can’t wait to email this to everyone I know. One more thing to show non-Koreans about the bullshit foreigners and biracial Koreans have to put up with in Korea.

    And yeah, there’s racism in “my” country. The KKK and white supremacists (along with their ideas of racial purity) and anyone else who does this kind of crap is scum. I don’t “have to understand them” because they assholes.

    How many Koreans finish high school and become community leaders in “my” country compared to biracial Koreans in Korea?

    Any negative publicity Korea gets from this is well deserved and long in coming.

    Comment by JohnT — January 31, 2010 @ 11:56 pm

  3. Anybody know how to look up people by name / occupation? The guy looks normal enough during the daytime – just keep your eyes open if you see him following you…

    Comment by Chris in South Korea — February 1, 2010 @ 12:49 am

  4. […] the rest on your own. And while you’re at it, check out Extra! Korea and Kushibo, […]

    Pingback by Anti-English Spectrum Dude in LAT | The Marmot's Hole — February 1, 2010 @ 4:34 am

  5. Kushibo’s comments always end up in my spam box too. He’s been marked by spam filtering databases, particularly Akismet.

    Comment by ZenKimchi — February 1, 2010 @ 8:29 am

    • I believe this is because at various times detractors of mine have taken it upon themselves spam hundreds of blogs with my ID. The sh¡t people have pulled on me online and in the real world, makes Yie look like an amateur.

      Comment by kushibo — February 1, 2010 @ 9:05 pm

  6. Why do you suggest someone take pictures of a potential Korean criminal? The Seoul Bar Association once told someone I know that taking pictures or video of a Korean was not good. That was after a lawyer from that office watched video clips/evidence of a Korean committing a crime/breaking into a residence. The person I know told this lawyer that the Korean criminal took pictures, the lawyer said that’s okay!

    Be careful taking pictures ro video taping Koreans, it’s not good. But, it’s okay for Koreans to do the same of a non-Korean. For God sakes, is that what they teach law students in S. Korea?

    Comment by Pin-ish-ed — February 1, 2010 @ 9:07 am

  7. I predict Yie, Eun-woong won’t be able to live with himself any longer given his past mistakes. I think he’ll regret releasing his photo and won’t be able to live it down so he’ll do the “honorable” thing and off himself by jumping off a cliff, apartment building, strangulation, or overdose. Sad as it may be, the worse thing that would come from it all is waygookin teachers get blamed by the remaining AES members.

    Comment by Pin-ish-ed — February 2, 2010 @ 9:24 am

  8. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by KingSejong, World/National News . World/National News said: Anti-English Spectrum's Leader Admits to "Following" Foreign English Teachers http://www.teach-korea.net/xenophobia […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention (Updated) Anti-English Spectrum’s leader admits to stalking “following” foreign teachers in the LA Times « Extra! Korea -- Topsy.com — February 2, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  9. […] Anti-English Spectrum’s leader admits to stalking “following” foreign teachers in the Los Ange… […]

    Pingback by SeoulPodcast #87: The Life of Brian in Jeollanam-do | SeoulPodcast — February 12, 2010 @ 1:54 am

  10. As the first and only American transgender person that I know of working in South Korea as an English teacher, I feel compelled to speak about my own experiences as a person that has been victimized by similar abusive acts of bigotry to what Yie Eun-woong and the Anti-English Spectrum is engaged in. I have been working as a teacher in South Korea for about four and half years. I have come to Korea with much teaching experience and a graduate degree and education from, yes, one of the top three universities in America for my major. I am the longest serving and most senior level native English speaking teacher in the county of my employ. I have consistently received impeccable teacher evaluation each year I have been at my job.

    For the first three years of my job, I have truly had a fabulous working relationship with my co-workers and with the administrators of my program, and really loved my students and work. This all changed abruptly, immediately following the program being taken over by a new administrative staff, and them hiring a completely new group of co-teachers in my program. My former co-workers were all replaced with fundamentalist Christians who lived in the community near the school I worked in. One of which was the wife of a local conservative evangelical Christian minister of a very large church in the very small town I worked in. I went from hero to zero, overnight!

    At about this time, I began to notice shocking and frightening intrusions into my privacy, all occurring around the time, one of my co-teachers began telling me that I was angry at her, and that she was frightened of me!!!! Further, this co-teacher began to ask me usual personal questions about my private life and background that was not in the context of our relationship and that she had no official need to know. I remember her becoming angry with me because I could not give her the zip code to my former American address that I long forgot!!! Her then becoming angry, once again, because I renewed my visa at the Korean immigrations office that I have been going to for the last four years, instead of going to the immigrations office she wanted me to go to.

    The first thing that I noticed that was wrong was that things in my apartment were out of place, the frightened behavior of my little toy puddle puppy dog when I returned home from work, and that my personal papers and documents were searched and tampered with. Then, I noticed that many of my private documents regarding my personal history and background that qualified me for my teaching job in Korea were taken. I then noticed the memory disk of my digital camera that had some private and intimate photos of me was missing. I began to get many harassing phone calls, the rear tire on my motor bike was flattened nine times within a few months, the lock on the storage compartment of the motorbike was broken, my garbage was searched and picked throw, my e-mails accounts were hacked and tampered with, my e-mail address was used as an user name to post things on the Internet that would, at the very least, cause suspicion about me, my handbag was entered and its content was repeatedly tampered with and items were taken, my international phone card was stolen from my handbag while at work, my personal property at work was tampered with in such a way to deliberately remind me of these intrusions and to further frighten and harass me. On one occasion, as I entered my work place, and I discovered a clump of my light brown hair, hanging from the entrance light switch. I am the only westerner with light brown hair at my job. I began to notice the presence of the local police doing unusual and unlikely times and places. I was told by my local doctor that one of my co-teachers, and my supervisor came to his office with the local police demanding to see my medical files. I was stopped and questioned at the local train station about why I was there and where I was going. These things all began, from what I was told by a human rights investigator, after another native English speaking teacher in the small town I worked in outed me to my new Korean co-teachers.

    When I attempted to report these issues to my co-teachers, they became very angry and accused me of making them up and called me a lyre. On one occasion, one of my co-teachers, angrily demanded that I go to the police with her, not to report the harassment, but because I had made a false accusation. When I attempted, in a frightened and intimidated manner, to report what was happening to my supervisor, I was treated not as a victim, but as a whistle blower attempting to cause trouble. My superior’s response to my request for help was; “that someone needed to be fired”. There was absolutely no attempt by my co-teachers or superior to aid me in any way. There was just an unexplained angry, defensive and reactionary response. I remember on one occasion, going to work, and discovering that I was locked out. I have always had the keys to my work place. On this occasion, my co-worker had a cable type of bicycle lock tide around the
    handles of the entrance doors.

    These and many other things, all occurred in an environment of xenophobia, suspicion, passive aggression, and increasing anti social behavior towards me on the part of my co-teachers. When I sought help from outside Korean advocacy and human rights groups, I received little to no support, and this only inflamed the situation even further. I was told by the human rights organization that I contacted that they could not do anything because what was happening to me was a criminal, not a human rights issue!!!!

    My co-teacher’s behavior was no longer limited to passive aggression, but now it was, in your face, overt anger and hostility. Subsequently, this same co-teacher, threatened, for whatever reasons, (possibly believing that she had dug up some dirt on me) to report me to the Korean Immigration’s Office and the United States Embassy!!! Although, my work record has been exceptional and I have received very favorable teacher evaluations since I started this job, my job has been placed in great jeopardy and there is almost an absolute certainty that my employment contract for next year will not be renewed!!!

    Comment by John — April 4, 2011 @ 6:19 am


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