I ran across Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK), an interesting professional association’s website this morning. My first guess was that some professionals in Korea were tired of KOTESOL’s lack of advocacy, much needed advocacy for teachers and they banded together to get some equity. Yet later as I read through the website, I saw that they state that advocacy isn’t their main mission. Evidently, the Korean government prohibits foreigners from engaging in local politics, even foreigners who have lived and will live in Korea for years and years.
Here’s a portion of a letter they wrote to the Korea Press Ethics Commission:
DATE: July 13, 2009
TO: Korean Press Ethics Commission
FROM: Association for Teachers of English in Korea
RE: Negative Representations of Native English Teachers in the Press
Recently, there has been an alarming increase in the number and severity of negative articles about foreign English teachers living in Korea. This is not only damaging to teachers, but also to the society as a whole because it weakens the social contract for everyone.
The Korean Constitution guarantees freedom of speech and the press as a basic right of citizens, with prior censorship banned, but qualifies free expression. Article 21(4) provides that “neither speech nor the press shall violate the honor or rights of other persons nor undermine public morals or social ethics. Should speech or the press violate the honor or rights of other persons, claims may be made for the damage resulting there from.” This association is not seeking damages; only fair treatment in the press.
It is the duty of a free and independent press to present the news as it happens, and to provide facts, context, and analysis. Professional news organizations, and indeed all mass media outlets, have a responsibility to adhere to the agreed upon journalistic standards of practice.
The current trend in reporting on foreign teachers does not meet the standards set in the Korean Code of Press Ethics.
Bravo! It’s good to see professionals taking the high road and holding people accountable. Too often EFL teachers behave like they need to suffer any and hall hardship and disrespect just so they can take some breadcrumbs and scrape by. Sad to see college educated people do so, but it’s common. I’m not sure how successful ATEK is, but they fill a void. KOTESOL puts on a good conference and maybe should stick to that while other groups get teachers the rights they deserve for their hard work.