Disturbing Money Making Trend in Korea

Float back several years in time with me for a moment. There was once a time in Korea when the government got really serious about curbing traffic violations. This was probably due to ranking highly on all sorts of international statistic lists for traffic fatalities.

Anyhow, the Korean government’s solution was to implement a reward system whereby normal citizens would receive a monetary reward for submitting photos of other drivers violating the law. Brilliant idea right? Yeah, and it failed brilliantly too. Wanna guess why? The Korean government failed to take the following into account:

1. The number of false reports and staged photos was absolutely through the roof.

2. People began CAUSING traffic violations in order to profit. For example, they’d block a street momentarily so that an intersection would get filled up with cars during a red light, and then they’d have a friend photograph all the cars stuck in the intersection.

3. People began blackmailing each other. Instead sending the photos into the police, they started trying to sell the photos to the drivers of the cars being photographed while breaking the law, and it turned out to be even MORE profitable.

4. Korean people began quitting their jobs, buying expensive camera gear, and setting up elaborate photograph traps in areas where they knew they could make money. That’s right, people actually quit their day jobs because blackmailing or turning in their fellow citizens all of the sudden became more profitable than working in an office.

5. The government didn’t consider that they would receive hundreds of thousands of photographs, and without some type of standard or rules set in place, would be obligated to pay out insane amounts of money to the thousands of amateur photographers who suddenly materialized across the peninsula. The profits generated by traffic fines went to pay off the photographers, which means no profit for the government.

6. Traffic violators would see another person photographing them, and then they’d get out of the car and beat the shit out of the cameraman.

7. Men would take pictures of women violating traffic laws, and then demand sexual favors in exchange for not submitting the photos to the police.

Thus the “turn in your poorly driving neighbor” policy was scrapped almost as quickly as it started. And no, this isn’t fiction. Ask a Korean about it.

Flash back to current day Korea. The new trend seems to be reporting academies to the Ministry of Education in exchange for money. A good friend of mine (gambler) owns an English hagwon with his wife. Recently someone filed a complaint with the ministry of education about his school. The ministry showed up with a video camera and tore the place up from top to bottom. They opened drawers, demanded credentials, price lists, student lists, phone numbers, time schedules, copies of syllabuses etc. They photographed every inch of his office including the top and contents of his desk.

When asked whom the complaint was filed by, the MOE replied “it’s anonymous”. And herein lies the problem. Last night KBS news ran a story about a Korean woman who claims to have made more than a million dollars simply from reporting academies to the ministry of education. It seems the ‘anonymous’ reporter is rewarded based on the number and types of infractions found.

The ‘anonymous reporter’ doesn’t even need to be a CUSTOMER at the school they are reporting (red flag number 2). This means that one simply needs to open the phone book and start reporting every listed academy. Or better yet; if you own an academy, you can simply start filing anonymous complaints against ALL of your competitors in the area.

Still think ‘anonymous’ reporting is a good idea? The main issue I see with this is that it leaves the door wide open for abuse on many fronts. Furthermore, there is NO PENALTY for making a false report. The Ministry of Education obviously learned absolutely NOTHING from the government’s previous attempts to deputize the greedy masses.

Anyhow, I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of working hard for my money. I think I’m going to make a list of every academy within 5 square kilometers of my house and report them all. Working 9 to 5 is for suckers!

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16 Responses to Disturbing Money Making Trend in Korea

  1. Billy says:

    Is this reporting for Koreans only, or can anyone join in?

    • The Expat says:

      Not yet sure if being a “snitch” is considered a legal form of employment, and thus requires some kind of work permit or visa. Only way to find out is to try!

  2. Roarchild says:

    As soon as the first waygokin makes a won from reporting dodgy Mr Kim this scheme will come to an end.

    • The Expat says:

      I’m guessing the labor office is the only place foreigners make reports; and then it’s usually because they’ve been cheated out of money that is due to them.

    • Darth Babaganoosh says:

      But if it’s “anonymous”, would they know it’s a waeg?

      • The Expat says:

        By “anonymous”, they just mean that the BUSINESS OWNER won’t be notified of your identity. The government obviously needs to know who you are so they can pay you the bribe money.

        • Darth Babaganoosh says:

          Crime Stoppers back home is more anonymous than that. They just require a bank account to give you your money; they won’t even ask your name. Although, if the po-po wanted your name, it would be pretty trivial for them to find it by calling up the bank.

  3. Bianca the Skydiver says:

    They’d have been better off employing traffic wardens or giving the police a 5.000 commission per violation. Private Korean citizens will ty to rip off anyone they can. You can’t trust them to so much as stand in line with decorum, why would you trust them with being part of revenue collection??

  4. Darth Babaganoosh says:

    BTW, how would one submit a complaint? via webpage or phone?

    • The Expat says:

      I think it must be done in person or via snail mail with forms you print out online. If it were an online form, I’d simply write a script that submitted random complaints against every school registered in Seoul with the click of a button.

      • Darth Babaganoosh says:

        Maybe the MoE has a link on their webpage somewhere… have to check later when I have nothing better to do.

  5. supplanter says:

    Very common occurrence with owners of one room academies. A friend of mine who runs one says that he and his wife will now only take students by referral from other students, and only communicate with the students/parents via a special cellphone number they give to them. The company phone is permanently switched to answer phone because they were wasting so much time fielding enquiries about their fees (you’re only allowed to charge up to a certain government levied amount in these study rooms, anything more is illegal), from these professional snitches that they don’t bother responding to calls unless they know of the person calling.

  6. The Baron says:

    An aquaintance of mine (American) runs a “hagwon” out of his home, which I guess is illegal. Anyway, one of the mothers went in there with a hidden camera in her shirt and he has since been busted. Not sure what’s going to happen to him from here, and didn’t understand what motivation this mother would have had until reading this post.

    • The Expat says:

      Grassing on your neighbors for money seems to be pretty common here. They are paying the public to police eachother. Its kind of pathetic when you think about it.

      • thisisausername says:

        To be fair, people dob their neighbors in for stupid shit even without finacial motive in America.

        • thisisausername says:

          Like “Hello 911, actually this isn’t really an emergancy. Now I dont wanna get anyone in trouble, but my neighbor has these plants in his back yard garden and I think some of them might be marijuana.”

          Or, “Hello is this child protective services? My neighbors son is running around outside without shoes on. Now I don’t mean to pry, but its nearly 50 degrees outside. He’ll catch his death!”

          CPS comes. Removes the kid from the home. Places him in a better living situation where he’s molested by the foster mother’s boyfriend. Please understand our unique culture.

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