My name is Amy [removed]. I am a[n] [removed] English teacher in the public school system in Yeosu. I am emailing you to inform you of a situation that has happened in the last few weeks. My boyfriend is an African-American and has been applying for the last few months to join me in Yeosu in the public school system. A few weeks ago, my recruiter came down to Yeosu from Seoul to negotiate with the Yeosu Board of Education to have my boyfriend hired. Apparently, negotiation was necessary because the new head of the Board decided she does not want to hire blacks or asian English teachers. My recruiter told me she bluntly said she wants only caucasian teachers.
I received the email as well, but in the absence of any proof I decided to not print it at the time. It's intereesting, though, to read the comments from others purporting to be in Yeosu, alleging the same thing. Here are a few:
In my two years living and teaching in Yeosu, I heard countless stories of foreign teachers being mistreated, and this by far is the most disturbing and impossible to understand. The Yeosu Board of Education needs to wake up and realize that diversity within the foreign teacher community is an asset to their students as well as to the overall community.
. . .
My name is Tess. I'm also from Yeosu. This is not the only case of racial descrimination in Yeosu public schools. I know of two other African American teachers in Yeosu who are facing challenges because of race and an Asian American who couldn't get a job here at all. Apparently, skin color and teaching ability are directly connected in some way, with no regard for education, ability, or even proof of both in the form of a resume.
. . .
I am an African American female teacher in Yeosu since August 2009. I applied for this job with two male friends. Two of us got jobs and one of us did not. During the application process, we were told to get our photos retaken because we looked "too dark" not sure if this was racial but we obliged. I could not get accepted to the school until I sent in a picture with a smile and makeup on, hmmm... My other friend was told not to wear his gold chain in the picture as well. It was a very simple chain with a cross at the bottom but I guess it looked bad in the picture??
Anyway, we were working very closely with our recruiter trying to get our friend a position. Other people kept getting jobs ahead of him and at first we didn't understand. Then after speaking with a few people I learned the same information Amy is speaking about.
And from Amy, the woman who sent the original email:
Yeosu is a very nice city and has already established a multi-cultural and multi-racial community of foreign English teachers and there has not been any problems. I'd also like to say that Yeosu is holding an International Expo in 2012 and this doesn't seem to coincide with their hopes of becoming an internationally known welcoming city.