Well here am I again, I have been so busy working at Korean School. Can you believe I'd just lost 2 kilograms in 2 months! I just can't keep myself silent when I saw the news at CNN and heard rumors at my school. It's about the Canadian pedophile Christopher Neil who happened to work at our school in 2005. I didn't see him in person but this issue shocked the English teaching not only here in Vietnam but also in Southeast Asia and South Korea. The Korean consulate in Ho Chi Minh City required all the teachers here at Korean school to have police clearance. I believe that this issue will make the ELT community more strict. This is not a simple case, we never know who these people are. They might be our neighbor or colleagues. They look gentle but behind them is roaring monster hungry for evil.
Suspected pedophile was 'creative, dynamic'
'The kids loved him for his work,' colleague says of Canadian teacher targeted by manhunt
Oct 18, 2007 04:30 AM Bill Schiller Asia Bureau
BEIJING–Canadian teacher and accused pedophile Christopher Neil had a passion for drama and a flair for acting, his former colleagues say.
"He said he enjoyed being on stage," former teaching colleague Kia Pearson recalls.
Today Neil finds himself as the lead character in an international manhunt that has captured the world's attention.
Acting skills might also have helped him lead a dangerous double life, until he slipped away from South Korea last week and disappeared into Southeast Asia.
Fellow Canadian teacher Ray Fowler said Neil appeared utterly calm right up until the day he disappeared.
Fowler, like others on the staff, was shocked to learn of the charges against Neil, he said.
Staff learned of the allegations only last Friday when four members of Interpol's Korean contingent showed up to question them.
Fowler lived directly across the hall from Neil, in an apartment building in the town of Gwangju where the two taught together, a four-hour drive south of Seoul.
Fowler last saw him eight days ago – the day before Neil boarded a plane for Bangkok, Thailand.
The two walked home from Gwangju Foreign School at the end of a day of classes.
Neil gave no hint that flight was imminent.
"We chit-chatted along the way. I couldn't even tell you what we talked about," says Fowler. "But we came to our building and went into our respective apartments and closed the doors."
The next day Neil was gone.
"I've thought a lot about it," the Newfoundland native says in a telephone interview. "This man was right here in my apartment on several occasions and I never picked up a clue."
Fowler had taught at the school for five years, and his apartment acted as a kind of social centre for teachers, where they could let their hair down on Friday and Saturday nights.
"We'd have a few beers and listen to music and talk – but no shop talk," he said.
With a student population of 120 and a staff of just 18, the teachers tend to be a tightly knit bunch.
"We're a small group in a strange country and we work together, live together and socialize together," he says.
Fowler admired Neil's talents as a teacher of English Language Arts for grades 7 and 8.
"I can tell you that Chris Neil was a very good teacher," he says. "He was dynamic. He was creative. And the kids loved him for his work."
Fowler described him as a "positive person" who would leave his apartment every morning at 7:20 dressed professionally in a shirt and tie keen to get to school early.
When police showed up Friday after classes, he said, "everyone was surprised; everyone was shocked."
Fowler remembered Neil saying at a staff meeting in mid-August that he had previously taught in Vietnam and Thailand.
Yesterday, those claims were borne out when the Korean news agency reported the Vietnamese school at which Neil taught was Ho Chi Minh Korean School, District 7, and reports from Thailand said government officials confirmed Neil had worked at an international school there.
Both Fowler and Pearson said that Neil – a one-time Catholic seminarian – made no secret of his skepticism of organized religion.
"Conversation seemed to gravitate towards religion a lot," said Pearson. "He was dissatisfied with organized religion and how organized religion had lost God.
"He was disillusioned with religion in general."
Meanwhile, many Web surfers discovered Chris Neil's MySpace Web page yesterday, before it was removed.
The site, which Neil posted Aug. 15, 2005, begins with the sentence, "Been kicking around Asia for the past five years, teaching, and finding other forms of mischief."
A poem by Neil posted on the site begins: "I've got to get out of myself/ Free this slave, endure this trial no more/ I'm running as fast as I can."