Monday, December 17, 2007

Finally, a good reason to marry a Korean

If you want to, there are, in fact, millions of good reasons to marry a Korean.

The rest of this post is about the new E-2 regs. To be honest, I don't have much new to say; this is just a PSA for anyone who comes fresh to the blog and perhaps for my family to see what's going on. I offer some links at the bottom of the post.

These days, I am particularly happy that the woman of my dreams turned out to be Korean. Two days ago, the new visa regulations went into effect. These regs affect E-2 visa holders. Those married to a Korean have a different visa, the F-2. The logic appears to be that if my mother-in-law decided that I am a good enough person to marry her daughter, I must be a pretty good guy. In my case, of course, she was right.

E-2 visa holders, however, are likely to be drug-abusing, womanizing jerks with fake degrees and more care is needed to find the few who are actually clean and decent people. Well, that is the view of immigration officials (from the Korean Herald):
The new rule is the result of widespread uneasiness over the credibility of foreign English teachers; this came to a head in late October when Christopher Paul Neil, a Canadian English teacher who taught here for four years, was arrested in Thailand on child molestation charges. The recent spate of degree-forgery scandals involving high-profile Korean figures in various professions accelerated the calls to screen out unqualified teachers.

The point foreigners make is that Neil had no criminal record but did have a good degree that was actually in education. Under the new regs, he would have been welcomed into the country.

I am sure that some foreigners have used forged degrees. I am reminded of a friend who worked in Thailand. He was a straight arrow but his university doubted the qualifications of some of his co-workers and set up a second thesis defence for them. They were unable to properly defend their theses and were given the boot.

Still, these days degree forgery appears to be more of a Korean thing.

The new requirements do make sense. Proving that one's degree is genuine and that one does not have a criminal record are good things. The clearly spoken and explicit rationale are what makes this so annoying. One blogger looked at some numbers and found that foreigners are less likely to be criminals than Koreans.

There's one other things that makes it so annoying. No one is really clear on what the regulations are or how to implement them (again, from the Herald):
"I think it is a little short-sighted. Given all the work that will be required at bureaucratic levels, it would take months to get everybody to cooperate and to fulfill all the criteria in a timely manner. It could provoke a bureaucratic nightmare," said Cameron Wood, a professor at Chung-Ang University.

The ministry, however, said it launched an all-out effort at the very outset to publicize the implementation of these changes.

"On Nov. 19, we began distributing information on the changes through various organizations, including the Education Ministry, the Foreign Ministry, about 30 immigration offices across the nation, and the regional associations of private language schools. We also posted the guidelines on our website and other relevant government homepages," said a Justice Ministry official.

"On Dec. 10, we also invited consuls from embassies of the United States, Britain, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand to inform them of the new law. We also answered Canada's questions on E-2 visa rules in writing. We also trained our personnel who will take charge of the matter," he added.

On December 10, they spoke to consuls from various embassies about regulations that would take effect in five days. Yeah, that's good planning.

"I took several foreign instructors to the hospital affiliated with our school. Although it is one of the largest-scale hospitals in Seoul, hospital officials say they don't conduct such tests listed in the required medical report," a university official said.

In Korea, drug tests are usually conducted at police agencies; hospitals do not conduct such tests, since there has been no demand for them, hospital officials explained.

The ministry says they are aware of the problem.

"We contacted several hospitals to see if they conduct such tests. They said they don't without a sufficient demand for such tests. We found, after some research, that the Health Ministry-affiliated Seoul Medical Science Institute ( does the tests," said a ministry official.

"If you take the test at designated hospitals, they will ask the institute to analyze the test. This will take less than one week, and cost less than 10,000 won ($11). The result will be sent by mail. We have yet to obtain the list of hospitals that are linked to the institute. We will soon release them," he added.

Perhaps they publicized the changes but did not discuss them with their own infrastructure.

The EFL Geek has been covering this issue closely. He has so many posts on the subject that i suggest just checking his archives for December and November 2007.

The Metropolitician, in his usual biting way, describes how he feels.

I quoted the Korea Herald but they lock their archive after a week. The Big Hominid has the full text.

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