Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anti-English Spectrum head to LA Times: "It's not stalking, it's following,"

I saw this on Extra! Korea a second ago, and wanted to pass along the profile the Los Angeles Times did today on Anti-English Spectrum and its leader, Yie Eun-woong. An excerpt from John M. Glionna's piece:
Sometimes, in his off hours, Yie Eun-woong does a bit of investigative work.

He uses the Internet and other means to track personal data and home addresses of foreign English teachers across South Korea.

Then he follows them, often for weeks at a time, staking out their apartments, taking notes on their contacts and habits.

He wants to know whether they're doing drugs or molesting children.

Yie, a slender 40-year-old who owns a temporary employment agency, says he is only attempting to weed out troublemakers who have no business teaching students in South Korea, or anywhere else.

The volunteer manager of a controversial group known as the Anti-English Spectrum, Yie investigates complaints by South Korean parents, often teaming up with authorities, and turns over information from his efforts for possible prosecution.

Outraged teachers groups call Yie an instigator and a stalker.

Yie waves off the criticism. "It's not stalking, it's following," he said. "There's no law against that."

The Times was good enough to include a photo of Yie, so we can pick the stalker follower out of a crowd:

The Anti-English Spectrum, an online cafe which on January 15th announced it was calling itself "Citizens of Right English Education" in English, received some attention in the western media late last year, most notably on CBC's "The Current."

Anti-English Spectrum's new English name. I like the old one, though. The message is viewable by members of the cafe, but you can find AES posts via Naver searches, such as for "우리모임의 영문이름."

Most of what we know about the group and its activities, though, comes from the excellent work of the blog Gusts of Popular Feeling and law professor Benjamin Wagner. For the sake of ease and brevity, I'll direct you to some background reading from Gusts of Popular Feeling collected in an earlier post:
* "The achievements of Anti-English Spectrum"
* "How to make foreign English teachers an AIDS threat in 5 easy steps"
* "The 'undisclosed crimes' of potential child molesting foreign English teachers"
* "Puff piece about Anti-English Spectrum"

I provided my own summary in September. If you haven't already, give Wagner's "Discrimination Against Non-Citizens in the Republic of Korea in the Context of the E-2 Foreign Language Teaching Visa" a read, a 69-page report prepared for the National Human Rights Commission of Korea last year.

Nhrck Report 2 Nhrck Report 2 popular gusts

Here's another piece from Gusts of Popular Feeling providing supplemental information to the piece he wrote in the Korea Herald in November. Both that article and Adam Walsh's "Blurring line between hate, free speech," which ran in the Herald on the same day, would be good places to start for any overseas journalist looking for some background.


Korean Rum Diary said...

Thanks for the photo. I look forward to seeing this little punk.

ZenKimchi said...

Dang, your fast! I was looking at something else on my Google Reader when "Extra Korea" flashed with a freshly posted article. I saw it and immediately started a simple "Hey, lookie here" post. In that short time, you've put up a mega-linked pamphlet!

Roboseyo said...

It's because brian has a special computer that reads this thoughts like a dictation program, Joe. The program was designed for Stephen Hawking, but Brian stole it.

Justin Kraus said...

Although stalking is clearly stupid and this guy obviously needs a better hobby, as long as he keeps his distance why should any responsible English teacher really care about his activities? I've always thought most privacy concerns are overstated.

King Baeksu said...

" long as he keeps his distance why should any responsible English teacher really care about his activities?"

Browse the AES site and you will find at least two threads from 2007 in which Yie himself urged his cafe members to call up my former employer, Hongik Univesity, and demand that I be fired for the "crime" of publishing a critical, but nonetheless bestselling and well-reviewed, book about Korea -- despite the fact that at the time I was a certified ESL instructor with some ten years' experience in the field. He was even so thoughtful as to include the phone number of Hongik's office of academic affairs. No mention of my actual teaching ability -- or lack thereof -- was mentioned in either thread, I might add.

An equivalent analogy would be neo-Nazis in the US trying to get a Korean-American university instructor fired for writing a critical book about the US.

The difference is that such a scenario would probably make the news in the US ("freedom of speech" and all that jazz), and certainly become an "issue" in the Korean news media, whereas when a local hate group tries to get a non-Korean instructor here fired basically because he's white, then it's business as usual and no one here seems to care or find it "newsworthy."

But in answer to the above question, I for one care about Yie's activities, and think he is a sad, pathetic and potentially dangerous embarrassment to his nation.

asadalthought said...

Favourite quote: "Yie, who is single and has no children, volunteered to help organize an effort to rein in such behavior."

This Is Me Posting said...

Yie acknowledges that he has been questioned by investigators but denies any involvement in the threats of violence.

"To be honest," he said, "a lot of our group members believe the teachers made this all up."

What a fucker.

Someone should follow him to his place and post his address on the internet. Let's see how he likes it. After all, there's no law against that in Korea, is there?

Chris in South Korea said...

@TIMP: I like that idea - anyone wanna follow him?

@Justin Kraus: You live in a country where the benefit of the doubt is not extended to you. Just because you actually are spotless doesn't mean some piece of dirt can't be twisted or faked to make you look bad. Don't think you can't become a target.

Hmm, on preview, he looks fairly.. er... normal... Anybody know how to look up Korean addresses / phones / etc.?

politicalmo said...

Thanks for posting this. I'll know who to suspect if I catch some guy stalking me when I move to Korea! This guy sounds like he seriously needs to get a life, he clearly has issues.

1994 said...

Arms crossed, hollow face with no expression, creeping near your apartment. Late 30s virgin who cries himself to sleep cause he cant get a date/laid and sees English teachers with Korean girls and gets so mad and twisted that this is his hobby? Am I the only one who wouldnt let this guy follow me into a small alleyway and beat the shit out of him?

The Expat said...

I totally agree that we should turn this around on him. I posted his picture on the ESL Teachers Facebook site.

As Chris said, how can we find his info?

brent said...

I don't think too many of us have a problem with the government if they want to do something about the people teaching ESL here on tourist visas, but this isn't what this is about. He would never try to follow around Korean hagwon teachers cause they would ruin him. Expats are an easy and visible target where they would not be so suspecting of people following them. Who knows, they might be selling drugs to them and then having a partner take pictures when they walk away (I mean like wildlife shows where the prey is already tied down for the lion or something). This should be an embarrassment to Koreans that their migrant workers are being stalked.

Of course, if the ESLers would stay off the drugs while in country it would help. If these stalkers can't find anything, they will hopefully give up. Every time they catch someone, it just feeds them a bone to do more. -_-
It's just BS when AES want us to police ourselves when there is so much turnover in the industry.
Last, the schools, hagwons and universities should be putting extra information in the back of their contracts about making clear about different laws in Korea (not just drugs but also about blood money and how there is no self-defence law). A little more information might help prevent some incidents/ illegal activity.

brent said...

Yie says he has nothing against foreigners. Growing up near the city of Osan, he often rode with his taxi driver father and encountered foreigners who served at the U.S. military base there. "I learned to pick out the good guys from the bad guys," he says.

Interesting how this guy first cut his teeth on this thing. I wonder how much of this was from his father? I wonder how he views Korean women then (if he thinks they are just like prostitutes for white men or something whack- hence perhaps not being married then)? Anyone care to stare into the abyss and figure this guy out?

Roboseyo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

I don't condone violence or retribution. You know that if foreigners started doing to him what he does to us, the authorities would take notice. Hell, if people got the impression that this site was making and encouraging threats against him, the authorities would take notice (even if they don't care when Anti-English Spectrum does it).

But I am enjoying this guy having the tables turned. Thousands of English teachers recognize his face, and are on the look-out. Excellent work by John Glionna here for not only getting the story, but getting the photograph out there as well.

Matthew Smith said...

Thanks for covering this!

1994 said...

Brian, weren't you the guy who lost his job at the magazine because the Korean husband of a Philpeano started a smear campaign against you? Was that Roboseyo? These people need a serious beating to get them back in line.

Justin Kraus said...

@King Baeksu. Although you quoted the revelant part of my post you don't seem to have understood it. In your case he obviously did not "keep his distance" therefore , as is implyed by my "if," you should have assumed that I do not think his calling your workplace is appropriate. Such activities, of course, should be condemned in the strongest terms.
@Chris, I am not naive as to my position in Korea however I don't find it constructive to paint myself as a victim, get offended when nothing has actually happened to me, and then (as many on this post seem to think is a good idea) begin to act in the same despicable manner towards Mr. Yie as he has been acting towards some English teachers.

Rise above folks, rise above.

King Baeksu said...

Justin Kraus: "Such activities, of course, should be condemned in the strongest terms."

Well, which is it?: It's either everyone for themselves as you seem to argue in your first comment, or one recognizes that one is a member of a community that warrants mutual solidarity and support.

Groups like AES will always have the upper hand in the face of a generally atomized and frequently selfish so-called "expat community" here.

Justin Kraus said...

@ King Baeksu- Im not sure how you pull from my first comment that I believe "its everyone for themselves" whatever that means. But I take it that you think there is some inconsistency between by 1st and 2nd comments.

Frankly I don't see it.

My first comment states that Mr. Yei's actions, at the very least are "stupid," and implies ("so long as" means "if") that IF he is NOT keeping his distance, then he IS doing something that people SHOULD "really care" about, or as I say (very consistently) in my 2nd comment, that people should "condemn."
Solidarity is one thing, it is lamentable what happened to you and you should of course "fight back" against such inappropriate behaviour, you even have my support if that means anything to you. But I hope you will agree with me that organizing a witch-hunt for Mr. Yei is not the right way to engage in that fight.

bart said...

Anyone recognize where that picture was taken?

lifer11 said...

This picture was taken 100m north of Kangnam station exit number 6. The cameraman is facing south towards the station. Exit 6 is on the east side of Kangnamdaero.

At this point it is important to get his picture out there. I assume he will hang out in bars in all the foreigner hang out spots- Woodstock in Kangnam is top of my look out list.

If spotted I DO NOT condone violence. In addition name calling will only make him leave. I suggest getting pictures of him in his own compromising situations perhaps? There are ways of showing he is another sad lonlely gelous ajoshi. Use your imagination, be smart don't do anything that will hurt our reputation as foreigners.

King Baeksu said...

"Anyone recognize where that picture was taken?"

Deep in some smelly well.

lifer11 said...

Correction exit 6 is on the WEST side of Kangnamdaero

Justin Kraus said...


So you suggest drawing up "look-out lists" and taking pictures of this guy "in compromising situations" in order to depict him as a "sad lonlely gelous ajoshi."

Sounds pretty much like what he is trying to do to "us." And your worried about "hurting our reputation"? Too late, you just did. Does no one else see the tragic irony of the direction in which this thread is going?

lifer11 said...


"So you suggest drawing up "look-out lists" and taking pictures of this guy "in compromising situations" in order to depict him as a "sad lonlely gelous ajoshi.""

Yes that is exactly right.

fattycat said...

"Brian, weren't you the guy who lost his job at the magazine because the Korean husband of a Philpeano started a smear campaign against you? Was that Roboseyo? These people need a serious beating to get them back in line."

He didnt loose his job. He wrote for the magazine as a volunteer and continued to do this even after the fact. And the wife of the man was not a Filipina nor does the nationality of the wife matter as there is no proof she had anything to do with it.

Stuart said...

"So you suggest drawing up "look-out lists" and taking pictures of this guy "in compromising situations" in order to depict him as a "sad lonlely gelous ajoshi."

That would also require a lot of time, something only a sad lonely jealous nut job could probably find.

I've got many more important things to do than deal with the likes of these pathetic little ****ers. The sooner I get an MA the sooner I can leave.

Of course if the opportunity arises to confront these jackasses then I wouldn't let it slip by.

Only a couple of months ago there was a Korean guy hanging around outside my apartment. When he saw me come out he followed me down the street and asked me if I had any drugs.

I gave that SOB a piece of my mind.

Marko said...

What does the Korean law have to say about printing T-shirts with his face on them? There could be a bubble with "I'm watching you, punk!" or something like that. Haha!

Brian said...

I don't advocate violence or retribution.

But t-shirts is an idea I can get behind. Good thinking, Marko.

Mike Bohemoth said...

Violent retribution is too pedestrian. Get some dirt on the fucker...follow him around until he's caught doing something revolting...guys like this always crusade against something that's an integral part of their kink. Hire a PI and dig in his past and personal info...if people are going to donate to every Tom, Dick, and Harry that get themselves in some sort of uninsured idiotic fix (wasn't the last assclown involved in a bungee jumping accident?)...then people should have no trouble donating to this.

Mike Bohemoth said...

How is it that no one has come forward with a story of an encounter with this psycho? So much discussion and NO stories? I'm not sure I believe this guy exists.

IcemanYVR said...

Thanks for covering this Brian... you know, maybe if he could get a girlfriend, he'd have less time for stalking... I mean following well meaning English Teachers.

Andrew said...

We should get this guy a hooker.

lifer11 said...

Stuart wrote: I've got many more important things to do than deal with the likes of these pathetic little ****ers. The sooner I get an MA the sooner I can leave.

Stuart spare a thought for those of us that call this country home. In addition I for sure don't see myself running around stalking this guy as I agree we have better things to do with our time. However, what I meant was IF the situation arises and you find him in a corner of a bar sitting smoking watching you and your friends all night like the spacecase I'm sure he is... well then getting him drunk and taking a few pictures isn't going too far out of my way.

To those that say let this guy be I urge you to think of this. How many lives has this guy shaken and turned upside down by getting foreigners interrogated by immigration (And believe me they DO interrogate you) and for what? Singing hickory-dickory-dock to a bunch of kindergarteners outside of your contract? -I don't believe this guy stalks foreigners looking for just drugs or sex offences. He has been suspected of going through garbage and doing his best to turn up dirt on anything. In one AES post he is suspected of stalking a female English teacher and mentioning she had a used condom in her garbage! Remember this was posted on the net…

This guy gets a kick out of seeing you get dragged down to immigration. He is a recruiter which means it helps his business if you get the boot –I wouldn’t be surprised if he turns around and attempts to punt his own teachers off to the schools that lost one thanks to him.

It’s hard enough in Korea with its strict regulation on E2 holders and xenophobic style nationalism. We don’t need a stalker who goes through our garbage and god knows what else.

Stuart said...

I did consider this my home. I've lived in Korea for 6 years now but after my own principal of the school I've worked at for 4 years, openly started harboring suspicions of me being a drug addicted criminal, then I figured it was time to pack this country in.

I've been harassed by these guys more than once.

I was at a party in Sincheon when some mofos came in with a video camera and tried to set me up as a drug abuser and a womanizer.

My friend was in a bar in Hongdae last year when he saw 2 Korean guys sitting in the corner of the bar, taking pictures of the younger teachers whilst they were drinking.

He went over to him and made him delete all the pictures.

When that SOB outside my apartment came to me and asked me if I had any drugs I was physically shaking with rage. I would have smacked the guy if he had said one thing to provoke me any further.

I can get my F visa now. I could apply for a Korean passport but why would you want to call a place your home when you will never be accepted and always looked on with suspicion.

This idiot, Lee Ung Eun complains that foreigners are not qualified enough. If I had any more qualifications I probably wouldn't work here.

lifer11 said...

I was at a party in Sincheon when some mofos came in with a video camera and tried to set me up as a drug abuser and a womanizer.

Stuart please tell us about this incident. Whose party was it? How did they go about trying to set you up?

Stuart said...

This was a party back in 2008. It's a regular networking and language exchange that is hosted by the same Korean guy every month.

It's usually hosted in Sincheon, which is where it happened to be that night.

The usual deal is that we pay 15'000 won at the door and then all the draft beer and side dishes are covered for.

within around 10 minutes of me and my group arriving a group of people came in with a professional video camera with a KBS logo on the side. The camera focused itself on me and I jokingly introduced myself as a teacher that doesn't do anything illegal. I then asked some questions as I was wondering what they were doing here. Nobody knew.

shortly after, the camera crew left things got back to normal and we were just introducing ourselves when a Korean man came over to me and told me his name. Then my friend pulled me to the side and warned me that the man I was talking to was most likely a reporter as he didn't really fit in with anybody else as he was much older as most of the Koreans there were university students.

I ended up talking to the same man again and I asked him what his job was and he said he was a student. I asked him his major and he said he was an IT student. I told him that I majored in Business IT at university and asked him what he was studying but he didn't want to talk about it.

Shortly after that he asked me if I had many girlfriends. To that I said no. Then he pointed to a girl going by and asked me what I thought of her and if I thought that she liked me (it later turned out that they were there together). I told him that I wasn't interested and I left him shortly afterward.

Later that night I lit up a cigar and started to smoke it when the same guy and the girl who he pointed out sat down at my table and told me that my cigar smelled like marijuana. I told him that I wouldn't know as I don't smoke marijuana and I asked him how he knew what it smelt like. To that he said that lots of foreigners smoked marijuana at the university he went to.

He then asked me again what was in my cigar. I told him that it was just tobacco. Shortly after that, another Korean guy sat at my table along with the other man and the Woman. He didn't introduce himself to me. As soon as he sat down he started regurgitating some text that he had memorized about the Korean war. This went on for a good 3 minutes before anybody else was able to get a word in. I tried to engage this guy but he wouldn't say anything but the script that he had memorized.

I finally got up to leave and the same man who was questioning me about the cigar before asked me the same question again. "what's in the cigar?"

I told him again that it's just tobacco and I left.

That's the last time I've ever been to one of those parties. I later asked the host what KBS was doing there and he said that he didn't know either. He said that they just called him the day before the party and asked him if it was OK if they came to the party and he said yes.

Talena said...
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John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

As the first and only American transgender person that I know of working in South Korea as an English teacher, I feel compelled to speak about my own experiences as a person that has been victimized by similar abusive acts of bigotry to what Yie Eun-woong and the Anti-English Spectrum is engaged in. I have been working as a teacher in South Korea for about four and half years. I have come to Korea with much teaching experience and a graduate degree and education from, yes, one of the top three universities in America for my major. I am the longest serving and most senior level native English speaking teacher in the county of my employ. I have consistently received impeccable teacher evaluation each year I have been at my job.

For the first three years of my job, I have truly had a fabulous working relationship with my co-workers and with the administrators of my program, and really loved my students and work. This all changed abruptly, immediately following the program being taken over by a new administrative staff, and them hiring a completely new group of co-teachers in my program. My former co-workers were all replaced with fundamentalist Christians who lived in the community near the school I worked in. One of which was the wife of a local conservative evangelical Christian minister of a very large church in the very small town I worked in. I went from hero to zero, overnight!

At about this time, I began to notice shocking and frightening intrusions into my privacy, all occurring around the time, one of my co-teachers began telling me that I was angry at her, and that she was frightened of me!!!! Further, this co-teacher began to ask me usual personal questions about my private life and background that was not in the context of our relationship and that she had no official need to know. I remember her becoming angry with me because I could not give her the zip code to my former American address that I long forgot!!! Her then becoming angry, once again, because I renewed my visa at the Korean immigrations office that I have been going to for the last four years, instead of going to the immigrations office she wanted me to go to.


John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

The first thing that I noticed that was wrong was that things in my apartment were out of place, the frightened behavior of my little toy puddle puppy dog when I returned home from work, and that my personal papers and documents were searched and tampered with. Then, I noticed that many of my private documents regarding my personal history and background that qualified me for my teaching job in Korea were taken. I then noticed the memory disk of my digital camera that had some private and intimate photos of me was missing. I began to get many harassing phone calls, the rear tire on my motor bike was flattened nine times within a few months, the lock on the storage compartment of the motorbike was broken, my garbage was searched and picked throw, my e-mails accounts were hacked and tampered with, my e-mail address was used as an user name to post things on the Internet that would, at the very least, cause suspicion about me, my handbag was entered and its content was repeatedly tampered with and items were taken, my international phone card was stolen from my handbag while at work, my personal property at work was tampered with in such a way to deliberately remind me of these intrusions and to further frighten and harass me. On one occasion, as I entered my work place, and I discovered a clump of my light brown hair, hanging from the entrance light switch. I am the only westerner with light brown hair at my job. I began to notice the presence of the local police doing unusual and unlikely times and places. I was told by my local doctor that one of my co-teachers, and my supervisor came to his office with the local police demanding to see my medical files. I was stopped and questioned at the local train station about why I was there and where I was going. These things all began, from what I was told by a human rights investigator, after another native English speaking teacher in the small town I worked in outed me to my new Korean co-teachers.

When I attempted to report these issues to my co-teachers, they became very angry and accused me of making them up and called me a lyre. On one occasion, one of my co-teachers, angrily demanded that I go to the police with her, not to report the harassment, but because I had made a false accusation. When I attempted, in a frightened and intimidated manner, to report what was happening to my supervisor, I was treated not as a victim, but as a whistle blower attempting to cause trouble. My superior’s response to my request for help was; “that someone needed to be fired”. There was absolutely no attempt by my co-teachers or superior to aid me in any way. There was just an unexplained angry, defensive and reactionary response. I remember on one occasion, going to work, and discovering that I was locked out. I have always had the keys to my work place. On this occasion, my co-worker had a cable type of bicycle lock tide around the
handles of the entrance doors.

These and many other things, all occurred in an environment of xenophobia, suspicion, passive aggression, and increasing anti social behavior towards me on the part of my co-teachers. When I sought help from outside Korean advocacy and human rights groups, I received little to no support, and this only inflamed the situation even further. I was told by the human rights organization that I contacted that they could not do anything because what was happening to me was a criminal, not a human rights issue!!!!

My co-teacher’s behavior was no longer limited to passive aggression, but now it was, in your face, overt anger and hostility. Subsequently, this same co-teacher, threatened, for whatever reasons, (possibly believing that she had dug up some dirt on me) to report me to the Korean Immigration’s Office and the United States Embassy!!! Although, my work record has been exceptional and I have received very favorable teacher evaluations since I started this job, my job has been placed in great jeopardy and there is almost an absolute certainty that my employment contract for next year will not be renewed!!!