Thursday, October 14, 2010

Safe and Stupid

Some Koreans, like some Americans, have the same blame the foreigner first attitude, so it is no surprise that when a foreigner does something stupid and criminal it gets lots of attention. There have been recent stories about Americans  who have molested kids, attacked old men, and video taped and distributed liaisons with Korean girls.  The haters have good material to hate us.  I have always been treated so well, so I think the haters are a minority.

If you normalize the statistics for age and sex between Koreans and foreigners, there is not a big difference in crime statistics. It seemed reasonable for the Korean government required us to get a document from our state saying we did not commit any crimes.  No big deal, it took about a week and it was done. 

Now they have decided to require that people get FBI background checks. The process entails:
  • get fingerprinted- how long this takes depends on your jurisdiction
  • send the documents to the FBI- 3 months for processing plus a week for mail (3 months...ridiculously long)
  • Send the documents to the US State Department to be certified- 3 weeks for certification, 1 week for mail
If everything goes perfectly, you must wait 4 plus months for this one stage in the process. 

Korea is competing with Japan and the rest of the world for native English teachers.  The JET Program in Japan is far better organized and has a better reputation the EPIK program (which I am in).  One advantage Korea has is the JET program is bureaucratic and takes forever to get through the highering process.  With this new requirement,  the EPIK program has lost a big advantage.  

Given that everyone already has to go through a background check at the state level, it seems unlikely that this FBI background check will have any real impact on crimes committed by foreigners.  What seems certain to me is there are going to be some people who go to another country because they do not want to wait for this process to be completed. 

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