It’s been a common topic of discussion amongst ESL teachers…what are the ramifications of smoking pot here in Korea? The general consensus seems to be “smoke at your own risk…and it’s probably not worth it.” Jail time is your worst case scenario whereas deportation seems to be your best. The recent rumor is that 20 or so Native English speakers were arrested recently in the English quarter (Itaewon) for getting stoned. I have yet to see an actual news story confirming this, but South Korea is notorious for not printing bad news in the English newspapers…only in the Korean ones (tourism/political purposes). Today though, I ran across THIS NEWS STORY/DISCUSSION of pothead ESL teachers in a discussion forum for ESL teachers. It’s a moderately interesting read…my favorite part though is when the article accuses ESL teachers of corrupting the Korean Youth and stealing their women.
They become hagwon teachers not only because there is no country which has much desire to learn English as Korea but because they believe they can make up to 1,000,000 won per month through illegal private lessons.
The source also said, “the majority of them find it easy to seduce Korean women and do drugs with them.”
Foreign English teachers see Korea not only as a ‘land of opportunity’ but also as a ‘perverted heaven’.
I suppose there’s an ounce of truth in every rumor as there are a large number of Korean girls who really like the idea of having a Westernized boyfriend. You see them all the times at clubs, staring you down, and yelling out things like “You so handsome!” (Again, not making this up…I get called handsome at least 5 times a day…at first I felt really special, but apparently it happens to pretty much every single male English teacher. I can’t imagine what it would be like if you were a male teacher and didn’t get called that…basically, if you can’t get complimented on your appearance in South Korea then you are ugly…seriously, stop trying…go find some fat chicks and learn to enjoy whiskey)
(really though, I think it’s due mostly to the fact that it’s one of the few phrases they know…that and “I lubu you.” I get this from both school aged girls AND boys.)
Anyways, since we’re all perverted drug addicts who can bag 3 Korean girls by the time I drop a dime bag out of my pocket, I’d like to share with you some of the drug info given to me in my orientation packet…pretty informative and fairly treacherous.
Although some illegal drugs are available in Korea particularly marijuana and in the major cities methamphetamines, (known as hirropon) and ecstasy, you are taking a real chance by doing drugs in Korea.
While you aren’t likely to receive the death penalty for smoking pot, you will spend a few months in jail and then get deported. Is it worth it? If you are caught with drugs- even a few grams of pot- you can face harsh penalties, and your embassy won’t do anything for you. If you absolutely have to smoke up, catch a flight to Cambodia or Laos for the weekend- but don’t be stupid enough to try to bring any back with you. One Canadian genius recently spent several months in a Korean prison sleeping on the floor and eating fish heads and rice three times a day after trying to mail pot from the Philippines back to himself in Korea. Duh. Definitely don’t go to Singapore or Malaysia to use recreational drugs- and avoid all other countries that have signs in the airport that state, “Death to drug users and sellers.” They ain’t foolin’- take a walk down Kho San Road, the backpacker ghetto in Bangkok and read the mimeographed signs in the internet cafes that read, “Hi, my name is Joe, I’m from St. Louis and I’ve been in jail in Bangkok for 14 years. My teeth are falling out so I would really appreciate some chocolate…please visit me…” Don’t become a statistic.
Possession laws are also different in Korea- in Korea if you have drugs in your bloodstream it is the same as possessing them, occasionally the police have been known to set up mobile drug testing sites outside of nightclubs.
I am not trying to spend the next few years of my life eating fish heads, there are enough crappy tasting delicacies here already
Additionally, here are some of the actual laws on the books
2) Any person who has committed the offenses under paragraph (1) for profit-making or habitually shall be punished by death penalty, imprisonment for life or for not less than 10 years
A person who imports or exports, manufactures, trades or interceding in trade of the narcotics, or who holds or possesses the narcotics for the purpose of an import or export, manufacture, trade or interceding in trade, in violations of subparagraphs 2 through 4.
(1) Any person who falls under any of the following subparagraphs shall be punished by imprisonment for not exceeding five years, or a fine not exceeding 50 million won:
1. A person who cultivates a plant forming a raw material of the narcotics, or holds or possesses a raw material, seed or seedling containing the relevant components, in violation of subparagraph 3 of Article 3
Basically, what I read out of this is “Don’t smoke”
So far I haven’t met anybody who has attempted, let alone even knows where to get pot.
They do have some bad ass over the counter cough medicines though…robotripping anyone?