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Police charge instructors with drug use and fraud

Oct 23,2006
Police are investigating 12 people, teachers at private language schools in the Seoul metropolitan area, on forgery and drug-related charges.
The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said yesterday the suspects, seven of whom are now in custody, were targets of an inquiry into marijuana and methamphetamine use; the investigation was later broadened into one involving fraudulent university degrees to obtain teaching jobs.
Six of the suspects are Korean citizens, police said; some were reportedly members of Korean gangs in the United States while permanently residing there, but were deported after U.S. criminal convictions on drug, robbery and weapons charges.
Of the remainder, two are Korean-Americans, two Americans and two Canadians.
Most of the suspects, the authorities continued, do not have bachelor’s degrees, a prerequisite for a foreigner to obtain a working visa to teach at a private institute; Korean citizens face no legal bar to such jobs without an undergraduate degree, but institutes generally demand one as a precondition for employment. With the help of three alleged brokers, police said, they obtained fraudulent transcripts and college diplomas.
One suspect, police said, is in reality a high-school dropout who was named “best teacher” at a chain of 330 private institutes.
Three other South Koreans are also being investigated for assisting the teachers in the fraud. One broker and her husband had both been deported from the United States, according to the police, and began working here in 2003 to connect potential teachers, many of them also deportees from other countries, with institutes. They also provided the counterfeit documents; police estimated their earnings at 300 million won ($310,000) during that period.
The third, police said, was the owner of an English institute in Anyang, Gyeonggi province, who hired one of the American suspects knowing that she was in Korea on a tourist visa.


by Lee Chul-jae


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