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UN experts rap S.Korea over AIDS test for expat teachers


HIV infectionUN rights experts on Wednesday rapped South Korea for demanding that a New Zealander undergo an HIV test before renewing her teaching contract, insisting she should be paid compensation.

The woman, identified in the media as Lisa Griffin, did not have her contract renewed in 2009 after she refused to undergo the test, which is not required of ethnic Korean teachers.

She maintained the mandatory test was “discriminatory and an affront to her dignity”.

Griffin’s employers, the Uslan Metropolitan Office of Education, had said that HIV/AIDS tests were “viewed as a means to check the values and morality of foreign English teachers,” a UN statement said.

Foreigners who come to South Korea to teach English, and engage in some other occupations, were long reportedly also required to undergo criminal background checks and tests for illegal drug use.

South Korean nationals in equivalent jobs were not required to do so.

South Korea has said it scrapped the HIV/AIDS tests for expatriate teachers in 2010.

The Geneva-based Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination said the HIV/AIDS test “does not appear to be justified on public health grounds or any other ground and is a breach of the right to work without distinction to race, colour, national or ethnic origin.”

It called on South Korea to “grant L.G. adequate compensation for the moral and material damages she suffered.”

It also said South Korea should “counter any manifestations of xenophobia, through stereotyping or stigmatising, of foreigners by public officials, the media and the public at large”, and gave the country 90 days to inform the committee of the steps it has taken.

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  • Jaco 야쿠 Van Dyk

    As a foreigner that has lived in Korea for almost 6 years, I don’t see the big issue with being required to get an AIDS test. As an employer they should have the right to hire a healthy person who can fulfill his/her teaching duties and not worry that their teacher will be too sick to work.

    • Bob no

      That’s not the problem, the problem is that ONLY foreigners were required to do it and not Koreans. Unless you are trying to claim that Koreans do not get HIV/AIDS or any other diseases…

      • Laura Emmons

        I absolutely agree with you Bob. I have no beef with taking a drug test/AIDS test, etc. But why am I the only one among the 50 teachers at my public school to have to do so? I have an F-6 visa. There is no regulation from immigration or the Ministry of Education (why has blanketed the E-2 visa regs to all foreigners due to their incompetence and misinterpretation of the law). So far I have refused to take any additional tests at my school. I took tests the Korean teachers take (costs much less) and I may lose my job, but if it has to go down like that, so be it.