This article is about four different American guys who got themselves in trouble in Korea. They didn’t all know one another, but I knew all of them. One was my neighbor when I lived up at Paju City. I met two of them at church. The last one contacted me because he was in trouble and was looking for an American who might be able to help him. These guys all went through a hard time that was of their own making. The two who I met at church were tamer than the other two, but they still got themselves in trouble.
When I lived in Paju City, I had a neighbor I didn’t know well, but we talked if we ran into each other. He was an American and taught at a school behind the apartment building. I ran into him once on the grounds, and he was drunk. His sun glasses were on crooked. Lots of foreign English teachers in Korea hang out at bars and drink. They have tried more than once to recruit me to hang out at the bars with them, but it isn’t my style. I am a Christian, and I was raised not to go to bars, and I have never hung out at bars. When this guy was drunk on the grounds of the apartment building with crooked sun glasses playing with the little kids, I couldn’t believe that Koreans would want someone like that around their kids, and the didn’t. The next time I saw the guy, he had been in a bar fight, gotten his nose broken, spent a night in the hospital, and then spent some time in jail. They were deporting him for his nonsense.
The next guy who got in trouble was a preacher from the southern part of the U. S. He was retired military and about 15 years older than I was. I met him at church the first Sunday I came to Korea. He was a really nice guy. However, before I met him, he had gotten himself in trouble in Korea. He had been teaching English in a private school. He didn’t like his boss or his school at all. He decided to quit. He got a job at Korea Christian University. He had broken his contract with the private school. The boss at the private school was mad at him. There was a clause in the contract that is in all the foreign teacher’s contracts in S. Korea. You have to give your boss a six months notice before you can break a contract. He had not given his boss a six months notice. He had begun teaching at KCU, and when his old boss heard about it, he sent police after him to have him deported. I asked him what he did. He said he went over into Japan, got his papers in order, and came back. He said he was deported, but I thought you couldn’t come back for two years after you had been deported. Maybe he was escorted out, but I don’t think he was gone for two years before he came back. He was one of my colleagues at KCU for a long time, and we had a lot of fun together. He is preaching in America now. He is one of my Facebook friends, but he never gets on Facebook. Every few years, he comes back for a visit, and we hang out again.
The other guy I met at church was a preacher’s son from Florida. He was about 20 years younger than I am. He had talked to me about how happy he was teaching in Korea. He was making lots and lots of money and encouraging me to teach extra lessons on the side like he was doing. He was a really nice guy. He taught a special Bible class at church just for my kids. He was a professor at KCU too. He taught an English camp on the side and signed a second contract. When a foreign teacher signs a contract, it gets sent to Immigration. When they sent his second contract to Immigration, Immigration deported him for all those hours he was teaching on the side. When he left, he went to Puerto Rico and went to graduate school to get a Masters in teaching English as a Second Language. He had been teaching English with a Spanish B. A. One of the things he likes to do is dance salsa dancing. Every few years, he has come back to visit, and we hang out when he comes back. He has gotten married in the last few years, so he isn’t as free as he was, so perhaps he won’t be back again. He is one of my Facebook friends.
The last guy contacted me because he was in trouble. He was looking for an American to help him, and something made him think what he saw of me on the internet that I would help him, and I tried. This guy was from Southern California. He had been in Korea to sing for Super Star K, Korea’s big televised talent show. He had almost won first place. He was mulatto and an orphan. He looked white except that he had a blonde Afro. He was quite unusual looking. All the Koreans knew who he was. He had a press conference while I knew him, and he asked my daughter to come to the press conference. I think he was trying to portray to them that he was a nice guy and could have nice friends. I really didn’t know the whole story from the start. You see, he had a sponsor for singing in Korea, a Korean girl. She paid for everything. He also slept with her and gotten her pregnant. In Korea, if a girl gets pregnant, Koreans never just go about their way, they get married, but he didn’t want to get married. The reporters had been following him around, and he couldn’t get away from them. They came into his room while he was trying to pack to leave and he had ended up hitting one of them trying to get them out of his room. The girl he had gotten pregnant was suing him to keep him in the country, and he was trying to get out, but couldn’t legally leave. He had no money because she had been supporting him. He came to church with us, and come to find out, he was a Christian from South California, but he had not acted very Christian and gotten himself into a lot of trouble. I was worried and went to visit him one day and realized he hadn’t been eating, so I gave him money to eat. He was trying hard to leave. He even wondered if he could swim the sea between Korea and Japan to get away, but it was too far. The police decided to arrest him because they knew he was trying to leave. He called me from jail, but I didn’t know what to do for him. I called one of my Korean friends who spoke English really well, and he went over there and translated for him and got him out of jail. They finally released him and let him go back to America. He is one of my Facebook friends. The Korean girl joined him in America, and they got married. He enjoys his baby. He is now a struggling singer in Hollywood. I heard a couple of years ago he was thinking about singing in Japan.
When you live in foreign countries, you really have to keep your nose clean! These guys weren’t out looking to get themselves into trouble. They just didn’t understand that things are done differently in Korea. Whenever you live in a foreign country, you must be aware of the laws. Probably my neighbor, the first guy I told you about, would never have been hired as a teacher in America. He really needed to grow up and clean himself up. The preacher and the preacher’s son were just naive about the laws. The last guy was used to living in a place where the morals were laxer. He was from Orange County in South California. He was used to people sleeping around. He was used to not marrying a girl because you got her pregnant. Most Christians would never get themselves into the kind of trouble he got into because we know better than to sleep around. It is a sin. If you sign a contract, make sure you read that contract. If you have one contract in Korea, never sign a second one. Hopefully, this article will help others not get themselves into trouble as they are traveling.