WHAT was intended as a way to make spare cash turned out to be an invitation to a stalker. Two years after the incident, a Korean international student tells her story.
While some international students seek English tutoring online, others, like Korean student Lisa* (not her real name), have used the internet to offer tutoring in their own native languages.
After living and studying in Australia for three and a half years, Lisa was fairly fluent in English, so she began advertising Korean language classes to English-speakers on Gumtree.
But what she intended as a way to make spare cash, soon turned out to be an invitation to a stalker.
“There was this guy who replied to my post saying he wanted to learn more about Korean culture and the language,” she recalls.
“I emailed him to become online friends. After that, he started sending me lengthy emails saying that he wants to meet me, and he even found my mobile phone number on Gumtree and called me repeatedly, nagging me to meet, but my friends cautioned me against it.”
The man went from persistently calling her, to physically following her around.
Fearing for her safety, she shared her experience on a social networking site for Korean students, and found out that many others had similar stories to tell about that same person.
“I learnt from the Internet that minimizing contact with stalkers is the best way of dealing with it,” she says.
“I tried to stay home for few days; of course sometimes I had to go out but, I always tried to be careful if I sensed someone was following me.”
Now back in Korea for good, Lisa strongly recommends against using sites like Gumtree to improve one’s language skills, saying there is absolutely no way around protecting your personal information.
Instead, she recommends finding your language-exchange buddy through your travels, through doing volunteer work, or at your local church – as she later did.