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!