While the government has announced a change in "internal policy" that allows HIV-positive foreigners to enter the country, there have been no actual legislative changes that make the decision legally binding.
The mixed message becomes especially apparent in the government's refusal to end the practice of mandatory HIV-testing of many of the country's foreign workers. What's more, because the Ministry of Justice retains its right to assess whether or not foreigners living with HIV pose a "health risk," such people may still be subjected to threats of job loss, deportation and lack of treatment.
It also mentions Bill 3356 and the Anti-English Spectrum, referring to an article by Adam Walsh of the Korea Herald, who collaborated on Solis' THP piece:
From this point forward, the practice of compulsory testing in Korea may only intensify. In February, drafters will present Bill 3356 to the National Assembly calling for the mandatory testing of all foreigners who hope to work in Korea on a visa.
According to Seo Bokun, spokesperson for Assemblyman Lee Sang-jun, a drafter of the bill, "the government should prioritize the safety of our citizens amongst any other matters, so we think it was wrong for the Ministry of Justice to alleviate their regulations on allowing HIV positive foreigners from entering Korea."
As stated in Adam Walsh's article in the Korea Herald, included within Bill 3356 is a flawed statistic that originates from Anti-English Spectrum, an anti-foreigner hate group that admittedly tries to catch foreign teachers doing drugs and other "unwanted" behavior. The group submitted a petition to the Ministry of Justice claiming that an AIDS clinic in Itaewon, the foreigner's district, performed 80 percent of its tests in 2007 on foreign teachers and foreign white-collar workers.
The Korea HIV/AIDS Prevention and Support Center responded by saying the 80 percent statistic was false. Moreover, the clinic moved its location from Itaewon to Seongbuk-gu in 2006, thus proving the misguided nature of Anti-English Spectrum's claim.
Walsh's article from November goes on to say:
The same dubious statistic can be traced back even further. A petition from AES sent to the Ministry of Justice in 2006 bears the same 80 percent figure. Around this time, Anti-English Spectrum assisted in an online article that alleged the percentage was English teachers, leaving out the mention of white collar workers. The picture included with the article is of a white man giving a blood sample to a nurse -- presumably an English teacher, since the article is about EFL teachers -- with the caption once again mentioning the Itaewon AIDS tests.
As it turns out, the photo was a fake. The picture is of President George W. Bush's former U.S. Global AIDS coordinator being publicly tested for HIV/AIDS in Ethiopia in an effort to fight AIDS stigma. The same picture is on Wikipedia.
Solis last wrote about the issue of mandatory HIV tests in The Huffington Post in October:
In reference to Korea's testing policies, Korean Ministry of Justice official Lee Bok-nam states, "Foreigners do not have the right to demand that a country guarantees equal rights with the nationals of the country regarding entry into the country."
What Lee overlooks are the binding international human rights treaties that Korea has signed: the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which binds it to guarantee the right to equal protection of the law to all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, or any other status; and Korea's 2006 renewal of the 2001 Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS, which seeks to eliminate all forms of discrimination against people living with HIV/AIDS by ensuring their privacy and access to health services, prevention, support, treatment, and legal protection.
He has contributed numerous articles to OhMyNews---including both of those THP pieces---including one in April, 2008 on "anonymous" HIV tests for foreigners.