To: Metropolitician Re: Yr Proposal . . . I do!!
Ah, Metropolitician! A passionate man with strong opinions, and I like that. I just read his proposal for a new ‘elite visa’ for long-time, well-behaved English teachers intended to increase demand for better teachers, improve the treatment of English teachers by school owners, and reward good teachers with more rights in order that they may ‘take a bigger part in Korean life’. Since my comment is longer than eighty percent of my blog posts, I figured I’d reprint my comment here, for my own reference and yours.
I find it highly unrealistic that anything will be made of this proposal for several reasons.
- First of all, all your proposed system does is make life easier for foreign English teachers living long-term in Korea. It fails to address the supposed threats that foreign teachers pose to Korean students and Korean society. What good is making life easier for English teachers who’ve been in Korea for three or more years without doing anything about shorter-term teachers, transients with no ties to Korea? This is like reacting to a tainted beef scandal by introducing a new super-premium Grade Double-A beef designation. It simply doesn’t address the problem at hand.
- Second, the whole proposal’s a crazy quilt of unrelated gripes that leaves a bad taste in one’s mouth. What Korean would want to read a constellation of complaints about topics as diverse as the Busan amateur theater bust, the guy from the Host getting deported, the way foreigners are treated like ‘walking dictionaries’, and the illegal black list. Few Koreans would have any idea what half of these incidents were about.
- Third, your focus on yourself and F-4 visa holders in general as a standard of comparison is confusing. First of all, your mother is Korean, which, like it or not, matters in Korea and will continue to do so. It remains to you to explain to Koreans why any foreigners should have the luxury of choosing to quit and work multiple jobs at will, because the benefit to students is not as intuitive as you may think it is.
- Finally, and most important, this proposal fails to make it clear why Koreans should care about the foreign teachers’ legal status. From their point of view, English teachers have a pretty good deal. They are in the country to teach English and they are paid handsomely for it. This proposal describes the following benefits for Koreans should they choose to follow it:
- Fewer foreigners will go back to their home countries with hagwon hell stories.
- More poetry, art, and exhibitions in the foreigner community.
- Foreigners taking a bigger part in Korean life.
This proposal fails to address:
- Perceived crime and drug use by foreigners.
- Unqualified teachers.
I would say that taken together, the strident tone, poorly reasoned premise, and ineffectualness of the proposal itself will probably turn off most of the people who read it.
Now if you could come up with a proposal for a visa reform which would provide tangible improvements for Korean English learners and Korean society as a whole while at the same time insuring better conditions for good teachers and weeding out the bad, then I would say you’re on the right track.