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Foreign Teachers and Government Seek Dialog on Common Goals

April 29, 2009

The Association for Teachers of English in Korea (ATEK), a new professional organization that provides a voice for foreign teachers, praised the Korean government’s willingness to establish an open dialog with the English teaching community.

The hopes of ATEK members rose recently when the Ministry of Justice translated into English the Basic Act on the Treatment of Foreigners Residing in Korea, passed by the National Assembly in 2007.

“We applaud the Ministry of Justice’s commitment to openness,” said ATEK spokesman Tony Hellmann. “This valuable piece of legislation will go a long way to reaching our mutual goals.”

The Basic Act includes a five-year plan for policy on foreigners, yearly action plans, and a foreigners’ policy committee chaired by the Prime Minister.

“We hope that future legislation and regulations are being be reviewed by this committee,” said Hellmann, “to ensure such proposals are in accordance with the Basic Act, the five year Basic Plan, and President Lee Myung Bak’s vision for an open society.” According to the official website of the Republic of Korea, one of the President’s 100 Policy Tasks is “Building an open society where Koreans and non-Koreans live in harmony.”

The Basic Act also provides for programs and services for immigrants, and Article 10: Safeguarding the Human Rights of Foreigners in Korea requires local governments to, “take whatever activities proper and necessary to prevent unreasonable discrimination against foreigners in Korea or their children and to safeguard their human rights.”

Minister of Justice Kim Kyung-Han wrote in a February 24 Korea Times article entitled Breaking Down the Walls of Discrimination that, “a society where Koreans and foreigners live in harmony will be created only when all of the people, the media, and civil groups work together.”

ATEK believes it can build a strong partnership with the Korean government because of the Ministry of Justice’s proactive stance on responding to the concerns and requests of foreigners. ATEK said the MOJ’s plans for “a proactive immigration policy that shifts the focus from regulation and control to openness and exchange” is welcomed by the foreign community, who look forward to seeing these pledges fulfilled.

“We are monitoring the government and passing on information to the over 25,000 expatriate English teachers in Korea,” said Hellmann. “We look forward to facilitating an open channel between the government and English teachers.”

Contact: Tony Hellmann, Communications Director

Mobile: 010-3993-2484, media@atek.or.kr, http://atek.or.kr

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