|Korean hagwons - seeking 10 or less|
But while criminals can't vote, occasionally they do raise interesting questions. The question in this case left a handful of Koreans wondering whether racism and xenophobia have gone too far in an international media age where potentially one phlegm-ridden spit in the streets of Daegu towards a racially-mixed couple can be heard around the world.
The inherent racism of foreigners has long been well understood in Korea. They come here demanding to teach English to people who the results show clearly don't want to learn, and then they take Korean women as some kind of trophies to parade around like prisoners of a social system that requires unwilling Korean women to be polite and accommodating in the face of these foreigners' colonialist fantasies.
But what if foreigners are also racist to each other in Korea? According to The Korea Herald, recently a recruiter told a black American who applied for a 'teaching' position that he did not "work miracles" and could not get work for "wogs", which is a highly derogatory term for non-whites used in the U.K. - a former colonial power which willingly exported both racism and cricket around the world, neither of which it has ever apologized for.
Korea remains one of the only countries Britain never colonized, due to its strong resistance and England's crushing defeat by Korean naval forces during the Battle of Dokdo on May 13th 1883, a diversion which infamously allowed their allied American colonial vessel the USS Monocacy to sneak into the undefended Jemulpo Harbor and fire its guns at Korea 21 times.
In a move that appears to demonstrate foreigners are slowly assimilating into Korean culture, the recruiter explained that "I had 82 non-whites email me, I lost it." before going on to invoke the Korean criminal defense of 'being intoxicated' at the time of the incident - words which must resonate with all Korean hagwon owners if not wider Korean society. The outburst also clearly highlights the problematic issue of beer labeling in Korea. Bottles typically do not warn users that even moderate consumption can provoke the most liberal multiculturalist into racist outbursts using words they didn't even know and which certainly never cross their minds when sober.
The reality is however that people in Korea understand that not only can you not learn English from anyone with skin darker than a Korean, but in fact the only people who speak English properly are white North American passport holders, not people with other skin colors or from other countries.
Generally, hagwons are advised to adopt the Von Luschan scale when assessing the qualifications of applicants, with those judged from one to ten on the scale clearly being the best English teachers, and those on 22 or more clearly not being able to teach anything at all. However, there is some flexibility and among the brown colors the so-called 'fawn factor' can also come into play, which is where the ranking of a famous foreigner with dark skin can be moved lower down the scale in honor of their public position, thus qualifying them to teach English in Korea after all. For example, if Will Smith ever announced he wanted to teach in Korea, there would clearly be no problem with that, or with Hines Ward, even though he is half-Korean and half-black.
Several years ago a South Korean delegation to the North was criticized over the South's apparent willingness to dilute the Korean bloodline with these foreigners. The South Korean delegation did however explain to their northern counterparts that this dilution was "but a drop of ink in the Han River", which both delegations agreed was the best place for foreigners. Last week, North Korea - which many believe practices Koreanism in its purest form, undiluted by foreign influences - separated its citizens into 51 groups for discrimination - one more than the number used in the U.S. state discrimination system - prompting Seoul to announce it was considering a similar plan.
But experts believe this shows Washington and the Canadian capital need to think carefully about implementing a formal plan of their own. If North American passport holders held different passport statuses based on the color of their skins, it would be much easier for companies and recruiters in Korea to specify exactly what type of passport holder they are looking for. The alternative is for the Korean government to issue different classes of visa based on skin color. To an extent it already does this, but the system is not formalized, and no doubt if it was, foreigners would accuse Korea of racism.
Fortunately for Korean society, foreign English teachers turned recruiters have proven themselves more than willing to enforce racially discriminatory practices ensuring that teaching jobs largely remain the preserve of their fellow white men, providing this country with a level of deniability in the face of international criticism which should be utilized more. Perhaps if racism occasionally exists in Korea, it is actually because of foreigners, not Koreans.
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