Doggone it!

19th January 2007 at 00:00
Teaching English in the Far East can lead to exotic sidelines. But nine foreign tutors in South Korea have found that a little thespian work on the side can get you into a lot of trouble.

Police in the southern port city of Pusan arrested nine foreign English teachers, including one Briton, for staging a comedy sketch show which included jokes about Koreans eating dogs.

The teachers - now known in foreign resident circles as The Pusan Nine - staged the show twice early last month. The audience of locals and ex-pats seemed to appreciate the show, which one witness said did "a wonderful job - walking the impossibly thin line of being witty and occasionally sarcastic without being spiteful or mean towards the Koreans". But the authorities did not agree. Police have started proceedings which could lead to the teachers being expelled.

Prosecutors insist the arrests were not due to censorship but because the teachers violated their visas. However, many other foreign teachers have been allowed to set up bands or perform plays and poetry. To suggest the country is going to the dogs might be unwise at this juncture.

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