The following is a list of the stories I consider most relevant to, and among, my readers, many of whom happen to be English speakers and English teachers. I don't write "relevant to foreigners" or "among expatriates" because though we might all be called the same word in Korean, we're a diverse group of people.
And I'm aware that there's a ton of people who don't read the papers, don't bother with blogs, and have never heard of Dave's ESL Cafe. Anyway, here's the bottom three:
8. English-language radio comes to town
In February an English-language radio station started broadcasting in Busan, and in April one came to Gwangju. The stations are popular among Koreans looking to practice their English, but because few native English speakers are involved, and because few native English speakers in Korea listen to the radio, questions remain about how relevant they are to the foreign community.
9. Stephannie White sues over death of son
Stephannie White, mother of a 14-year-old boy who died under suspicious circumstances in a Gyeongsan sauna in 2008, sued the Korean government, the South Gyeongsan provincial government, the hospital, and the sauna in January. She lost, and her questions remain unanswered. Our question, whether a non-Korean can find justice in Korea, is unanswered, too.
10. Mandatory culture classes for foreign teachers
A politician announced in November that he'd make it mandatory for foreign English teachers to attend classes on Korean culture and education. Teachers who have experienced such programs, though -- and most in public schools have -- realize how dull and impractical they are. Foreign teachers want real opportunities for training, not lessons on kimchi and the Baekje kingdom, and I, at least, want real thought put into effectively using native speaker English teachers in the classroom.
Though I like what I have at number one, I think 2009 will be remembered for all the nasty stories on English teachers in the local press and for teachers hitting back. The category "We hate native speaker English teachers" has a good collection of the worst from 2008 and 2009. I also like what Roboseyo put as his number one on his list of top K-blog stories, and indeed, watching the Korea Times become what it's become---first with bad journalism, with nasty opinion pieces against native speaker English teachers, then with fake letters to the editor, then with more bad journalism, and finally with tabloid-style articles to attract Korean readers from Naver---has been very disappointing to the comparatively few people who look critically at the news they read.
And to preemptively answer the charges that my list is too negative, I admit that yes, the list is negative. News is usually bad news, and I'll bet the large number of expats who don't read the papers or follow online discussions probably didn't even hear about any stories except #4, encouraging people to believe I simply fabricate news via my negativity. But even though I sometimes envy people who keep themselves detached, I can't see any way around writing a list of ten stories most relevant to expats without acknowledging some of what I've included there.