I was checking out a piece in the Chosun on foreign criminals in Korea when the last paragraph jumped out at me:
The biggest group of convicted lawbreakers came from Iran, who made up 6,691 of every 100,000 foreign criminals, followed by 6,304 Russians, 5,672 Hong Kong citizens, 4,958 Americans and 3,190 Germans. Statistically the most law-abiding guests were the Nepalese, who made up only 211 convicted criminals per 100,000 wrongdoers from abroad, followed by 571 Indonesians, 807 Filipinos and 821 Thais.
100,000 foreign criminals?
This is a pretty good example of a poorly chosen method of reporting statistics for the simple reason that there were nowhere near 100,000 foreigners convicted of crimes in 2004 (the year reported on in the article). The most damnable part is that the apparent precision of the measurement gives more weight to the false impression of rampant criminal activity among foreigners. Someone who did not read that paragraph carefully might think that there were, for example, 4,958 Americans convicted of crimes in Korea in 2004. What is wrong with saying 4.96% instead of 4,958 of 100,000?
Luckily, the actual number of crimes was listed in the previous paragraph:
The number of foreign criminals in Korea increased more than five-fold since 1988, from 2,532 to 13,045 in 2004, while the overall number of foreigners only grew 2.6 times, from 2.17 million in 1998 to 5.75 million in 2004, meaning the number of criminals among them rose twice as fast.
With that in mind, let's figure out what the actually numbers really were. Being an American, I'll use those numbers:
(13,045/100,000) x 4,958 = 646.7711
So, there were about 647 Americans convicted of crimes in Korea in 2004, not exactly a rampage of crime. That is 4.9697%, which is pretty close to the number reported by the Chosun (math in not an exact science).
So you can rest at night knowing that hordes of foreign criminals will not kill you in your sleep.