Many have expressed concern about possible negative effects of such a reporting system. The education office claims that the system will work effectively to stamp out any corruption by teachers and education officials.
"With the system, teachers may become subjects to be monitored by the education authorities and look like potential criminals, which will create very negative images of teachers among students, damage the authority of teachers and obviously dampen the morale of hard-working teachers," said Kang Dong-heun, a high-school English teacher in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province.
Kim Dong-seok, spokesman of the Korean Federation of Teachers' Associations, said that the system has the potential of yielding many innocent victims as there could be people who would seek to receive the rewards and file malicious and false reports.
"The committee in charge of deliberating on the reports does not have any investigation rights like prosecutors, so it is in actuality difficult to vouch for the authenticity of the reports," Kim said.
"I agree that the government and teachers ourselves should try our best to eradicate any corrupt practices, but the reporting system is like police putting potential criminals on a wanted list and giving rewards when they are caught. This will damage the mutual trust between teachers and students, which is a very critical quality in educating students."
Indeed, the negative portrayal of native speaker English teachers has the same effect.
Earlier this year we saw some figures about how common gift-giving is, though I'll just preface the numbers by saying we really oughtn't lump all these gifts together. There's a difference between giving a white envelope to buy a little more attention to your child, and giving a plate of food, case of juice, or a pair of socks as a token of thanks. From the Korea Times:
The Anti-corruption & Civil Rights Commission surveyed 1,660 parents whose children attend elementary and secondary schools across the country at the beginning of the month.
It showed 18.6 percent of respondents said they had offered money or gifts to teachers.
By region, Gangnam had the highest ratio at 36.4 percent, trailed by South Jeolla Province with 36.2 percent. Busan and Gwangju, came next, with 31.9 percent each.
South Gyeongsang Province had the lowest ratio at 9.5 percent, while Jeju Island and Ulsan recorded 10 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
By grade, parents whose children are first graders in middle school took the largest portion of the money-offering group with 26 percent. More than 25 percent of parents of senior elementary students offered money to teachers.
The LA Times had more in May.
In South Korea, the deeply rooted practice of parents offering under-the-table payoffs is known as chonji. Calling the practice an economic corruption of the classroom, authorities have announced 2009 as the year of the war against such bribes.
On a national day to honor teachers this Friday, they have devised an unusual plan: On Teacher's Day, many schools will be closed and parents will be sent letters asking them not to visit their children's classrooms for at least a month.
Investigators have also stopped teachers on the way home from school to check their vehicles for chonji-related gifts.
Such measures have touched off a debate in this education-obsessed nation about who are the real perpetrators: Are they greedy teachers with their hands out or overly aggressive parents who will stop at nothing to promote their children? Is it both?
In a recent government survey of 1,660 parents of school-age children, more than half of those polled cited parents' "selfishness" in putting their kids before all others as the main reason for the practice. Forty-eight percent considered chonji a bribe, as opposed to a harmless gift.
Accepting chonji is considered a crime in South Korea if prosecutors decide the amounts are large enough, but the law does not penalize the giver, authorities say.
"Across the country, one of five parents says they have given chonji to teachers, and one of three in big cities says so," said Kim Jong-yoon, who heads a bribery investigative team for the national Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission. "This culture must be fixed and improved."
In one case, inspectors posed as parents to follow school visitors carrying envelopes and shopping bags. Kim said such tactics have brought results. One $1.50 box of candy was found to contain hundreds of dollars.