A modest proposal for visa reform
If there's anything that Kang Shin Who's recent pieces have demonstrated, it's that the market forces of supply and demand trumps the law, whether well-intentioned or not. Whether illegal or not, there are more than enough bootleg DVD sellers to satisfy one's need for the latest movie. Whether illegal or not, people will seek out any edge they can to be better than the competition. The same goes for English lessons - whether illegal or not, people will seek out that edge.
But the whole question of 'illegal' English teaching reminds me of a dark time in my own nation's history. A time when teaching blacks to read was punishable by a mobs wrath. A time when women were expected to do the housework - she didn't need to go to school, she needed to stay at home and make dinner!
The question, as I'd like to ask it, is this: why is teaching English illegal? For E-2 visa holders, teaching private lessons (or anywhere other than your sponsoring school) is illegal and theoretically punishable by a fine. Why has the act of teaching been made illegal? It's the very same reason tens of thousand of foreigners come to Korea - the same reason we choose to move halfway across the world.
Perhaps foreigners are guilty of the same thing many Koreans are: seeking out that edge to make our lives better. Is that truly a reason worth punishing them? As an E-2 visa holder, your first and foremost responsibility is to the school that's hired you, flown you halfway around the world, and is providing you a place to live. At the same time, it is one's constitutional right to "pursue happiness" (Article 10); it is also one's "right" and "duty" to work (Article 32).
My modest proposal is this: A citizen living in Korea on an E-2 visa shall have the right to work any job(s) they desire and are able to get, so long as:
- They are capable and / or qualified to do the job(s), according to their employer(s) and relevant government agencies.
- They are able to keep up their work performance at the work that brought them into Korea.
- The other job(s) do not interfere with or compete with the work that brought them into Korea.
- The other job(s) are not done while 'on the clock' of the work that brought them into Korea.
- The other job(s) are not illegal according to the Korean government.
This idea simply asks for the same freedoms other people have: the ability to work when and where one is able to find it - no 'permission slip' or restrictions needed. How is that wrong?
© Chris Backe - 2010
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