Pothead English Teachers Arrested

September 5th, 2007 · Accidents, Crimes and Scandals, Education and ESL, Foreigners · 28 comments

NoCut News brings us this report of quite a few people — mainly ESL teachers — being arrested for smoking marijuana, which is a serious offense under Korean law. If the accusations are true these idiots deserve whatever the law would have in store for them, but as you’re probably not surprised this report is way off base. It pretty much accuses most or all ESL teachers of smoking marijuana daily and of preying upon the innocent women of Korea.

Reports from other news sources have not been taking a different tone. This one is a typical example and comes from tonight’s In Depth 60 Minutes report on the same topic.

Foreign English teachers have been arrested for smoking marijuana before lessons and habitually using drugs in seedy areas.

The number of foreign English teachers who regularly use drugs is increasing.

One is a Canadian, “S” (24), who entered Korea intending to teach English in September 2004. S worked at an elementary school before being hired by an English hagwon in Gangnam, being paid W3,000,000 per month for six hours of classes per day.

Police say that since 2006 S has been using that money to procure Ghanian marijuana from drug dealer “A” (34) and regularly smoked it afterward.

Police claim that S would even smoke marijuana into the early morning and then go to school and teach the students. Police explained that not only S but most of the foreign English teachers arrested taught English by day and smoked marijuana by night.

A source at the foreign affairs division of the Seoul Police Department said, “American and Canadian English teachers think Korea is a ‘land of opportunity.'”

They become hagwon teachers not only because there is no country which has much desire to learn English as Korea but because they believe they can make up to 1,000,000 won per month through illegal private lessons.

The source also said, “the majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them.”

Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a ‘land of opportunity’ but also as a ‘perverted heaven’.

The case of “R”, a 26-year old American who smoked marijuana with his Korean girlfriend, is a typical case.

R, while living with his girlfriend “H”, a worker in her 20s at a foreign bank, is accused of going to bars and clubs in Hongdae and Itaewon after classes and regularly smoking marijuana.

The police investigation concluded that they were all working in local universities, Gangnam, Seocho, Yangcheon, Bupyeong, or Gwangmyeong in regular hagwons and were all exposed as having committed the same crime.

The police emphasized that to prevent the entry of these kinds of foreign English teachers inquiries have already begun into criminal convictions for drug use.

Police also emphasized that, “they had satisfied the requirement to receive an E-2 foreign language visa of having a degree from a four-year institution and there was no problem with their degrees. In the cases of other English hagwons it appears there are no problems.”

The Seoul Police Department’s foreign affairs division has arrested six people for smoking marijuana, including S, and applied for arrest warrants for 16 others including H.

Update: A while ago SBS did a similar kind of broadcast and you can see some of the results in this post — SBS Looks at ESL Teachers. Also, please note that the translation has been corrected — the police said most of these arrested teachers smoked pot at night, not most foreign teachers in general. I take responsibility for that error.


  • Well I guess smoking pot isn’t that big of an offense in America but yea – I wouldn’t put blame on these American teachers for seducing women or whatever…no offense if women want to be seduced – they will be…if they don’t…no way any guy is going to make them do drugs with him. Those women knew what they were doing so…yea they should be arrested too if that’s the case.

    Eve · September 5th, 2007 at 10:21 PM

  • “The number of foreign English teachers who regularly use drugs is increasing”.

    they arrested 6 people for using….how is this evidence on an increase?
    sounds like a scare tactic to me

    genezorm · September 6th, 2007 at 11:33 AM

  • Sounds like propaganda to me. Korean women: Don’t date foreign men because they all think your easy. Even if this is true, don’t blame the foreigners, blame the absentee fathers.

    VinnyPaz · September 6th, 2007 at 12:57 PM

  • Thirteen years ago in 1993, you never saw or read a story like this in the news media. A couple of nights ago on Korean TV they reported this story and said that they had arrested 31 people for drugs. Is this a sign of an increase? You do the math.
    Is this a scare tactic? Korean law enforcement works differently than in the states. If you get caught, you should worry, but how much? I do not know.

    eckfan · September 6th, 2007 at 12:57 PM

  • There’s blatant envy on the part of Koreans concerning how much foreigners get paid in this country. What does salary have to do with get busted for marijuana? Naturally, out of envy, the Korean media ties salary into every bust. Koreans need to focus their attention away from the ‘supply’ side and focus on their ‘demand’ for English in this country. It’s the demand which has our salaries higher than what’s offered at entry level positions at most major companies, including Samsung. Hogwons offer this salary, end of story.

    Koreans need to overcome their envy of foreigners and focus on what they truly believe to be invaluable: learning English.

    Jon · September 6th, 2007 at 2:08 PM

  • When did it become issue in Korea about seducing women and drinking in bars. Has anyone been with, or seen a Korean salary man after hours?

    What’s the point in bringing up things unrelated to illegal teaching?

    Just your typical journalistic race baiting.

    yawn · September 6th, 2007 at 3:14 PM

  • […] The source also said, “the majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them.”  Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a ‘land of opportunity’ but also as a ‘perverted heaven’. [translated by Korea Beat] […]

    Responding to Foreign English Teacher Expose at ROK Drop · September 6th, 2007 at 9:20 PM

  • “Police explained that not only S but most foreign English teachers teach English by day and smoke marijuana by night.”

    This one is incorrect, I have never seen or heard of a foreigner smoking weed in Korea. This simply is not true that most foreign English teachers smoke marijuana in Korea. It is extremely rare and most of us are not foolish enough to take the risk of having weed in Korea. I was asked by a Chinese man on international street of Busan one Saturday if I wanted to buy some shit and I just ignored him and walked on. I bet K police caught on very quickly what was going on that day at an intersection corner and took care of business swiftly. Korea is one of the most anti-marijuana countries in the world; you don’t come to Korea to teach if you’re a stoner.

    K land ESL teacher · September 6th, 2007 at 10:37 PM

  • […] as Korean Beat translated, and the Korean media have reported this week, foreign teachers like myself in Korea are pot smoking, woman seducing, diploma forgers that will sto…. This is PRIME TIME NEWS, swiping forum blog posts and using “ex-girlfriends” […]

    ::A Geek in Korea:: » Blog Archive » Cheese it! They're onto us! · September 6th, 2007 at 10:52 PM

  • Exactly how do they come up with the statistics that allow the incredulous claim that… ” most foreign English teachers teach English by day and smoke marijuana by night” ?. Why doesn’t the reading public demand such ludicrous claims to be substantiated? Is it because they accept being lied to readily?

    How do they know “The number of foreign English teachers who regularly use drugs is increasing” ? If the number of arrests has increased, it may only indicate increased police activity. It saddens me to think that anyone would take such an article and such claims as anything other than thinly veiled attempts to increase xenophobic attitudes in Korean.

    Perhaps we should ask, “Why does Korea let these sorts of people and their drugs into Korea in the first place?” How many international airports and boarders do they have to control?

    hitest · September 7th, 2007 at 5:09 PM

  • It’s unfortunate that such a small handful of idiots can influence the image of the rest of us, but that’s typical of human nature, isn’t it? I think there’s always been mixed feelings about having us here. Yes, we do earn more money than them. If they offered us what the koreans get paid, we wouldn’t be here, and it’s as simple as that. While a minority of koreans despise us & use any opportunity to discredit us, at the same time they need us, which forces them to be nice to our face. I honestly do not know of any foreigner here who uses any kind of illicit drug, & the only mixed partnerships I’m aware of, are korean women who seduce foreigner men, because they want to get out of this country & marriage is an easy ticket.

    Toni Wright · September 7th, 2007 at 5:24 PM

  • I think a navgative aspect of bad people/teachers doing the wrong thing at the wrong time and getting cought at it sort of brings the heart on all of us (Teaching in ROK). However what bites me on the four point of contact is that those POLICE/GOOD KOREANS that classify all of us English teachers as bad people are just trying to justify that there DO DO dont stink. However i been in ROK now just going on 12yrs and it has gone from not liking English Teachers on a scale of 1-10 too 8.5 now. Soon it will be an all out war between the Western Community and ROK. So get ready to pack your bags; unless they change their ways of thinking about everyone else (them vs everyone else).

    TO BE CONTINUED · September 7th, 2007 at 5:31 PM

  • hitest — I get the sense that many Koreans are quite dissatisfied with how their media are serving them. Certainly those who’ve lived abroad for significant periods of time often, and paid attention to the media there, have a lot of complains about Korean media.

    On the other hand, we shouldn’t pretend our home countries’ media are perfect either. Obviously most of us are not minorities and probably don’t realize how much bias is there.

    Korea Beat · September 7th, 2007 at 5:53 PM

  • […] Korean media love it, too. Here’s an excerpt from the koreabeat website about TV show on ESL teachers in Korea. Foreign English teachers have been arrested for […]

    Sold on Seoul » Blog Archive » White Trash Blues - Wrecked Again · September 10th, 2007 at 9:50 PM

  • Korean Beat-Quite correct about the amount of potential bias in any media source, and also about the sensativity brought about by being a minority. That said, I cannot imagine what sort of publication in my home country would print the above article. I think that quite rightly people who break the law in Korea should suffer the consequences of not respecting their host country, as any Korean would for the same offence. I do object however to being painted with the same very wide brush!

    hitest · September 11th, 2007 at 5:21 PM

  • I admit to smoking pot in the past, and I also believe, no know, many of my favorite and best teachers growing up and in university were teaching during the day and flaming it up in the evenings. They also probably drank wine or beer. Maybe even had sex! Oh my God! Teachers are human beings who like to enjoy there lives. I guess that’s a sin in capitalistic cultures that manipulate and brainwash their proles into thinking smoking pot is an evil. Soju is a more dangerous drug by far. I believe the controlling powers that be in Korea and many other industrialized countries want pot to be illegal so their work force doesn’t decide to protest the conditions they endure. My girlfriend, for example, works six days a week at a posh skin clinic in Kangnam and makes about 1300 bucks a month. Seoul works longer than any other city in the world. Who benefits from this? The upper class of Korea. You bet and they’re the ones who control the government and media. They have private interest in keeping pot out of their prole population and maintaining their gravy train built on the backs of an underpaid people who has no idea how to think outside of a box because they don’t know they’re in one. Most of those salary guys drink it up all night and frequent high class whore houses that are suppose to be illegal, but they’re everywhere. I wish the media would crack down on that. Oh but they can’t because it’s the people who pay them. That’s all I have to say about that. Peace

    wildchild · September 14th, 2007 at 2:45 PM

  • Wildchild: I would almost take the opposite stance regarding pot smoking. Most pot heads I know are rather more compliant, and have little ambition to institute change and reform. One would think employers would be handing the stuff out free of charge :)It is time that Korean workers spoke out against their subjegation because I do agree that they are surpressed by their cultural norms to the benefit of those who choose not to be surpressed, and work them selves to death to make other people rich with little to no complaint.

    hitest · September 19th, 2007 at 11:52 AM

  • […] the 23 foreigners arrested last month for smoking marijuana in nightlife districts, 16 were English instructors in the Kangnam area and 2 […]

    Another Year, Another Pedophile Scandal : Korea Beat · October 19th, 2007 at 10:48 AM

  • […] seems foreigners aren’t the only ones who can catch it from the media for smoking pot (see this), though few of us have lucrative entertainment careers to fall back on. The situtation of Goh […]

    The “Marijuana Couple” : Korea Beat · December 5th, 2007 at 12:12 PM

  • Korean prison sounds awesmome!

    It is the one place I have never seen in Korea. I think I have been to Pusan, Taejon, Taegu, and of course all of seoul, and even the old city. My favorite place in Korea is Miryang.

    I once tried to infiltrate the North just to get a glimpse, but was unsuccessful at cutting a fence barrier with my box cutter that I use to make paper flash cards a games.

    A korean prison would be much more interesting than a DMZ tour. I can imagine spending a few years in a cell with cop killers and gangsters might sound intimidating, but think of the experiences you could tell to others.

    Dong Dong Ju · December 14th, 2007 at 10:49 PM

  • This is all interesting reading. Just a quick comment that relates to a recently published Belguim report on marijuana users vs non users in the workforce, which admittably surprised me originally but not after reflection.

    Pot users are more productive and friendly (socially aware) than non pot smokers.

    WHY; my thoughts on Professionals who smoke pot as this is what the research paper covered.

    Users go home and through pot relax at night instead of being anxious/stressed about work or workmates.

    Because of the widespread use in the west of pot users are used to socilaising with people from all walks of life. Its a bit like cigarette smokers if you like, you are part of the same socially denergrated sub-culture so you are friendly to like minded individuals.

    Basically everyone needs some form of a relax mechanism otherwise you burn out or become stressed.

    As for the situation here in Korea, laugh, after witnessing the ammounts of alcohol that Korean’s consume you’ve got to be amused by the blatent hyprocracy

    shane · December 19th, 2007 at 3:07 PM

  • […] In case you don’t know, the background check requirements stem from the case in September of foreign teachers arrested for smoking marijuana. […]

    More Foreign Teachers Arrested For Drugs : Korea Beat · December 26th, 2007 at 9:24 AM

  • I guess I am coming back for more suspicion from the Koreans. Be there in 36 hours.

    submitted this site to http://www.languagesearch.org by the way

    soju · January 14th, 2008 at 2:37 PM

  • Funny how Asian countries think weed is such a bad thing – especially Korea, which arguably has the worst drinking culture in all of Asia. Booze is encouraged, but weed is evil – oh, how such arbitrary social distinctions make me want to laugh!

    Canuckistan · January 31st, 2008 at 1:12 PM

  • Typical Korean xenophobia, inferiority complex and irrational nationalist anger over interracial dating. They should all loosen up, smoke some ganj and become less racist. A culture of overwork, alcohol abuse and addiction to cigarettes that takes one step forward from fascism then two steps back. PITIFUL

    Gavin · December 15th, 2008 at 3:03 PM

  • what sucks is that it’s hard to get stuff here, unlike america, where weed is also illegal. …does anyone know how to?

    kid · February 1st, 2009 at 11:06 PM

  • I straight up believe that Korea suffers from societal repression, I am an English teacher here who has smoked weed since I was sixteen years old. Yes it brings problems, but it is also great fun and an invaluable promoter of self expression. Especially when fused with music. Now as far as I can see the music scene in Korea is in deep need of some spliff to mouth resuscitation, the culture as a whole seems stagnant to me, format, whack, shamefully aspiring to the worst of American culture and starved of any imagination. Fire it up!

    Dave · February 19th, 2009 at 10:32 PM

  • […] the 23 foreigners arrested last month for smoking marijuana in nightlife districts, 16 were English instructors in the Kangnam area and 2 […]

    Korea Beat » Blog Archive » Another Year, Another Pedophile English Teacher Scandal · March 31st, 2013 at 2:39 AM

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