Hongdae-Loving Foreign Professors: “We Are Vampires”
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Hongdae-Loving Foreign Professors: “We Are Vampires”

That’s pretty much the headline for this Pressian piece of yellow journalism relaying the alleged story of a handful of foreign professors possibly spending too much in Hongdae. It’s yet another “evil foreign professors” article sourced mainly from an ex-girlfriend.

Hat tip to Matt from Popular Gusts.

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The rate of foreigner professors being hired at domestic universities has recently increased considerably. They are being hired not only due to the increasing importance of foreign languages and international studies but to increase visibility in domestic and international rankings. The hiring of foreign professors is in keeping with the trend, pushed by the Lee Myung-bak administration, towards globalization and increasing English immersion education.

But it is also controversial since many of the foreign professors who enter the country have not been screened for character considerations. They love enjoying Korean nightlife both before and after their research and lessons and the university offers them all kinds of conveniences. Finally, some of the foreign professors attempt to keep the company of Korean women and to smuggle in drugs.

According to Pressian’s investigation, American professor A, who worked at university P in America and in 2007 was invited to work at university Y in Seoul, shared drugs such as the painkillers oxycodone and percodan with Ms. K, a woman he knew from school and met in front of a club in Hongdae. One of the woman’s siblings is a nurse.

If ingested the drugs, used to treat cancer, can cause many injuries including visual and auditory hallucinations and mania. Because of the danger of addiction they are classified as controlled substances like morphine.

Ms. K, realizing she was being offered illegal drugs but knowing Prof. A was her friend, decided to get advice from Prof. B, an American at the same school but a different department. But when Prof. B said it was none his business, Ms. K was suddenly cut off from friendship with him.

Profs. A and B continued to stay in the foreigner- and club-heavy district of Hongdae and indiscriminately meet Korean women.

Pressian learned from one of Prof. B’s ex-girlfriends, a Korean, that they sent text messages reading, “we can do anything in Seoul,” “we are vampires,” and “when are you going to take another girl’s virginity?” Prof. B used his ex-girlfriend’s name to sign a contract for cellphone service.

And that is not all. Another foreign Prof. C, who teaches at university E, was sometimes called the “manager” by the employees of club in Hongdae where they sometimes went. Profs. A and B would call it “my friend’s (Prof. C’s) club” and use it as a place to meet various Korean women. In fact, said a representative of the club, “there is no financial relationship but the owner is friends with Prof. C.”

Lee Jeong (pseudonym), who used to know Prof. B, said, “I have seen white men living in Korea take advantage of Koreans’ preconceptions of them. They basically follow the English-speaking white man and engage in a baseless friendship.”

Lee added, “when they meet a Korean woman they know she will be their tourist guide, interpreter, and finally sexual partner, and they use the Hongdae clubs as the way to meet Korean women. They come here to teach and conduct research and this is how they behave. It’s shocking.”

Previously, it has been unqualified instructors from private schools and hagwons who were reported to be using illegal drugs and living badly. There was controversy when one discussion site for foreign instructors there wereposts which denigrated Korean women. But this is the first time of problems involving professors.

Regarding these allegations a lawyer for Prof. A said, “it is true that he attempted to ingest controlled painkillers, but this was because he had a back injury which was due to an accident, was undiagnosed at the hospital and which sometimes caused severe pain. At the time, Prof. A could not buy the drugs nor could he use them.” The lawyer maintained, “Profs. A and B are certified teachers from well-known schools in the United States. They are completely different from the other foreign instructors about which there is controversy over the lack of character screening.”

The dean of the university where Prof. A in working said, “this is the first I have heard of it so I have no comment. If it is true we will deal with it seriously as it is a grave matter.”

But another professor at the university reacted coldly. The professor, part of the school’s backbone, said, “if you look at the situation involving foreign professors, there are many times when it is totally unreasonable. When you look at this situation, you have to ask how a person with health problems, undiagnosed at the hospital but which force him to secretly take controlled painkillers, how can he teach students properly?”

The professor maintained, “and can a person with such bad health be hanging out in Hongdae every day? It’s just chasing the stars to think university Y can hire superbly-qualified people who have studied in foreign countries. Considering the situation we must readjust the way we hire foreigners just because they are foreigners, without considering their character.”