Police arrest five hagwon teachers

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Police arrest five hagwon teachers

Five private English teachers have been arrested without physical detention for allegedly smuggling, selling and taking drugs and using fake university degrees to get their jobs.

The five hagwon teachers, all Koreans, including a man surnamed Lee, 26, and a woman named Park, 25, allegedly met up routinely in areas of Seoul including Gangnam, Sinchon and Hongdae in order to take marijuana and methamphetamine. Police said they have verified that the teachers sold the drugs to each other at about 850,000 won ($756) a gram; they are still investigating whether other sales were made.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said the teachers each paid $240-$300 to www.phonydiploma.com in order to obtain graduate certificates in English literature or education from universities such as California State University in Long Beach and Old Dominion University in Virginia. Police said the Web site issued their diplomas in less than a month via international mail.

Lee allegedly used his to obtain a job at an English hagwon in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, which is known for having the largest number of hagwon in the city.

In a separate criminal matter with ties to hagwon, a Korean-American male, R, 24, will be extradited back to the United States on charges of murder, the Seoul High Court ruled yesterday. R, a former Los Angeles gang member who was arrested in Korea last month for drug charges, allegedly stabbed a man to death on July 14, 2006, and fled to Korea four days later.

While here, R allegedly submitted a fake university diploma to get a job at a hagwon in Suwon, Gyeonggi.

R had asked to be tried in Korea, but the court ruled that all other suspects in the murder case had been tried in the United States, and all the evidence is there.

R was arrested late last month along with a second Korean-American former gang member for taking and selling drugs in Korea while they worked as English teachers. Both were charged with taking and/or selling marijuana and methamphetamine and using false diplomas to obtain employment.

By Cho Jae-eun, Choe Sun-uk [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]
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