It seems that South Koreans are willing to do almost anything to learn English. Elementary-school children are sent to foreign schools by their zealous parents, and there are even reports of some children undergoing surgery to cut the membrane linking the tongue to the bottom of the mouth in order to eliminate the Korean accent. Adults attend English-conversation schools and listen to audio tapes while commuting, knowing that good English is essential to get on in business. The latest victims of this English fever appear to be South Korean women. According to one website of foreign English-language instructors living in South Korea, women will do just about anything, including having sex, to learn English. The website was widely publicised by a leading newspaper in Seoul this week. The confessions of these instructors are rather shocking. According to posts on the 'Ask the Playboy' column, many Korean women are willing to go to bed with their tutors in return for English lessons. 'I am treated like a king by Korean women who want to learn English, while enjoying free sex,' one instructor claimed. Many of these claims are, of course, exaggerated. After all, South Korean women are raised with strong Confucian values, emphasising chastity, and many follow the teachings. But there is more than a hint of truth, as some will stop at little in their quest to learn the language. Today, English-language education is a multibillion-dollar business. The market has expanded hugely following the 1997-1998 financial crisis, when the economy was rapidly opened to foreign investors. Today, many South Korean companies are owned and run by foreigners. This new environment has, of course, made English the official language in many corporations. Even government agencies and non-governmental organisations are seeking to enhance the use of English as part of the move towards greater globalisation. Today, English speakers are the ones targeted for fast-track promotion and bonuses, while non-English-speakers are the first ones to be fired during corporate restructuring. As a result, English schools are mushrooming. More than 60 per cent of kindergartens nationwide offer English courses. Thousands of young pupils take a year out to study abroad - living with relatives - with the belief that the earlier the better for foreign-language education. It would be unwise to criticise the trend in this age of globalisation. But, perhaps, you can have too much of a good thing. There are already concerns that children begin to learn English even before they have mastered their mother tongue. They may succeed in the corporate world, but at home, that is another matter.