Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Foreign Teachers Move to Wrong Korea, Set up Socialist Group Anyway

Tiffany at a recent ILPS meeting
Growing up in her parents' 3-bedroom house in Upper New York State, Tiffany – 24-years old and an only child – said she became acutely aware of society’s unfairness – most of her friends’ parents had 4-bedroom houses. “I asked myself, isn’t there a better way?”

After graduating in Art History from college, Tiffany decided to move to a less fortunate country where she could teach ethnic people to speak English. She thought Korea would be an excellent choice, since she’d seen the way the small nation was continually persecuted by the Western hegemonic military-industrial complex, when clearly it was trying to do the best for its people by building a workers’ utopia - despite continual acts of sabotage perpetrated by the ideologically corrupt Western capitalist system.

“I almost didn’t come because the salary was very low, and I was concerned that my surplus value was being exploited” explains Tiffany, but she admitted that she wasn’t sure what the average Korean salary was. “Money and the accumulation of material goods is decadent” she adds, pausing to take a call from a comrade on her cellphone.

These days Tiffany is a very busy woman. Having initially joined the Association in Korea for English Teachers or AKET as it’s known, she quickly clashed with its leadership over its failure to adopt her proposed campaign of hagwon occupations and violent revolution. She still tried to implement the campaign, but was cautioned by the police for being drunk in a public place, a charge she denies. Gradually though, she met a small number of other teachers who rejected the ‘bourgeoisie' politics of mediation and negotiation, and helped co-found the Association in Corea for English Teachers (ACET). But that didn’t work out. A bar fight in Seoul between the senior leaderships of AKET and ACET, which led to several deportations, decimated the leadership of both organisations, and by this time Tiffany had come to see the remaining members of ACET as reactionary paper-tigers anyway.

Her new group, the Collectivized Response for English Teachers In Need (CRETIN), which she runs as elected General Secretary For Life on the basis of Democratic Centralism, in solidarity with a trusted comrade, now tries to re-invigorate the Revolution by issuing demands to the Government over the suspected purges of comrades in other unions who have become an embarrassment to the Party. As an active member of the World Socialist Movement she is shocked at how weak the Revolution has become “I even saw American soldiers here once” she says. Her group has since issued demands that the American military withdraw immediately from the country, and is awaiting a response.

CRETIN has moved quickly to ally itself with the anti-imperialist group TEA-KOR. TEA-KOR - Teacher's of English Abroad in Korea - is a member organization of the ILPS, the International League of Peoples' Struggles, which is allied with the Justice League of America and The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. In addition to furthering The Revolution, TEA-KOR - which shares the anger of, but is not yet officially part of the Tea Party Movement - is designed to "reduce abuse" and enable foreigners "to get to know other teachers in Korea" - goals which many say are contradictory.

Former AKET colleagues have suggested that Tiffany may have traveled to the wrong Korea based on an incomplete reading of the news and lack of understanding of the history of the country’s division, but she rejects this: “I majored in Art History and heard nothing about it”. This appears to support the results of a recent survey conducted by Korea’s Presidential Council on National Branding. At a recent meeting, the head of the council, Kim Jong-un, said “we found many foreigners were still confused in distinguishing the two Koreas”.

In addition to furthering The Revolution, a statement of goals on the CRETIN website includes 'the social integration of foreigners into Korea', describing the organization as inclusive regardless of ethnicity. The site, which is only available in English, allows interested English-speakers to sign up for membership, although the Korean Immigration Service reminds foreigners of the importance of registering any political affiliations with them, particularly for Socialist or Marxist groups.

Related Links
The International League of Peoples' Struggles
More airing of grievances by those who want to lead English teachers
South says to the world: We aren’t like the North
Too much coffee can induce aggression and paranoia

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