All over Korea, similar reports are being made in hushed tones, of foreigners spotted meeting together suspiciously in subways, cafes and bars, and even on the Internet using websites that are protected by secret passwords - which Koreans aren't told. "Are they plotting against us?" is a question increasingly in citizens' minds, who are unnerved by what they have seen. Publicly, the government has brushed off the idea that a massive conspiracy may be building right under people's noses, but privately senior officials are said to be alarmed by clear growing evidence that something may be happening.
41 year-old 'Lee', who runs a Seoul recruitment company, said it was the growing number of anecdotal stories of these meetings he saw on the Internet, which prompted him to create a special web forum on Naver - where Korea's peace-loving citizens could share stories and try to make sense of what the foreigners were planning by tracking their movements. "When these visitors arrived in Korea, they promised better lives for people through the teaching of English, but last year Korea's TOEFL ranking dropped to 80th, from 71st in 2009. The more visitors arrive as part of this secret invasion, the worse things seem to become for Koreans. This must be part of their plan."
'Lee' also believes that the foreign visitors are quietly converting people, with reports in the online group that some Koreans who have spent time with the visitors appear to have been changed by the experience. He even claims there have been a string of disappearances at the hands of the foreigners - "We fear that a significant number of Korean women have been taken by them."
In further evidence that they may now be actively working towards the downfall of the country, some of the visitors even refer to themselves as 'expatriates', although 'Lee' says he doubts they were ever patriotic towards Korea. Members of his group have also reacted with alarm to the realization that many of the visitors do not appear to really like Korean food. "If they're not eating the food here, then what are they eating?" asked one alarmed poster.
Government sources privately agree that the TOEFL statistics show the enormous benefits promised by the visitors have failed to materialize. Yet, over the same period the number of them staying in Korea has grown exponentially, raising questions over their true purpose here. While publicly welcoming the visitors, attempts have been made to control them by issuing Alien Registration Cards with identity numbers which effectively prevent access to a number of domestic websites and services. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Manipulation and Insecurity has started trying to track what foreigners are saying on the Internet, but it is being hampered by the fact that all its eavesdropping software was written for use with Korean Microsoft Windows, while the visitors appear to be largely using their own technology, which may be called either 'Apple' or 'Android', although the Ministry isn't sure which. It remains hopeful, however, that it will eventually manage to crack this more advanced alien technology.
With more and more sightings of foreigners apparently conspiring in public places, the Ministry is secretly trying to investigate the meetings themselves, but it is having difficulty breaking the language code - and its use of older government agents, while thought to be less conspicuous, has not been successful. "I tried to get right up to them while they were talking at a subway station, but then they looked at me suspiciously" one elderly agent told us.
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