[Letter to the editor] Don’t bully foreign embassies

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[Letter to the editor] Don’t bully foreign embassies

In the article entitled “Embassies bar help for teachers’ visas,” you wrote: “Foreign English teachers in Korea may not be able to depend on their embassies for help in securing criminal record clearances required under new E-2 visa regulations that go into effect tomorrow.
At least seven embassies in Korea have told the Justice Ministry that they cannot provide the record checks for their citizens locally, a move that could mean long delays or expensive trips back to their home countries for foreign English teachers.
Despite the thumbs down from embassy officials to the request for cooperation, the ministry said yesterday that it will not ease the new regulations.
The embassies are not being “uncooperative.”
To say so is wrong and deceptive, if not a deceitful, shameful act. Embassies are not responsible for criminal record checks.
If you witness a crime, whom do you call, embassy staff or the police? Who arrests the criminals? Who puts the perpetrators in jail? Who keeps the records? The answer to all of these questions is the police. So they are the ones responsible for criminal record checks.
Imagine that there’s a fire. I go to the post office and tell them to put it out. They will respond with: “We don’t do that. That’s the fire department’s job. We want to help, but we don’t have trucks, hoses, axes or trained personnel. They do.”
They are not being “uncooperative.” I am being foolish.
The governments of all English-speaking countries were, and still are, supportive of requiring criminal record checks for teachers in Korea. It’s standard practice in many countries, including Canada.
They only asked that they be given a reasonable amount of time. (For example, according to the Web site of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (located at www.rcmp.ca/crimrec/finger_e.htm), a criminal record check takes in excess of 120 days.
Furthermore, the criminal record check would then have to be both notarized and verified in Canada. These two processes are done by two separate entities: a notary and a Korean consulate or embassy, respectively.
Instead, the Korean government ignored the embassies’ requests for adequate time and tried to push the reforms through prematurely. Now they are trying to blame foreign governments for their mistake.
Embassies in Korea are not part of the Korean government. They are part of their respective governments. For example, the Canadian embassy is actually part of Canada’s government.
Trying to force an embassy to do something to help implement a Korean regulation basically amounts to trying to bully a foreign government. Korea should think more deeply about how it treats other countries.
You also wrote: “In Korea, criminal records can be easily obtained online. But they[other government] don’t have a centralized system.” Talking about how things are done in Korea is irrelevant. As I said previously, foreign embassies are foreign soil.
The Korean government is wrong, and instead of blaming others, they should seriously consider apologizing to several foreign governments for creating a lot of ill will.

Richard Stansfield, Seoul
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