Thursday, June 13, 2013

Open your heart to the world

Where to speech: Bongmyeng Elementary School (My school which I will be back next year)

Boys and girls! Good to see you again and I am very glad to be here.
Today I want to share stories of people who live in the world. First, I’d like to introduce Hwang min-woo, popularly known as “Little PSY”, appeared in “Gangnam style”.  Do you like him? I know you like him very much. Then, have you ever heard of his crying? I read some articles about his crying and the Akpeulers. His mother came from Vietnam and got married his father who is Korean so he belongs to be multicultural family. Because of multicultural background, he was being bullied at his previous school and now he is suffering from online racial hatred. He said he found difficult to cope with insults against his parents. Do you know what her mother’s nationality is? She is Korean. Some people wrote comments “Min-woo should leave from Korea.” Why do they think like that? They refuse to accept multicultural families as members of Korean. Do you think Min-woo is not Korean?

How about In Soon-i? She is mixed blood, her father was a US Armed Forces in Korea and she never saw his father. She has struggled against people’s bias of mixed blood entire her life. Now she is one of the most popular singers. Do you think In Soon-I is Korean or not?
Korea has a five thousand-years-old history, and we are racially homogeneous country. We tried to protect our country from enemies to keep our pure blood so it is familiar living only us. However now we live in 21st century, people move all around world to study, to do their business, to travel, to live in another country, to get jobs, to marry and so on.  Due to these reasons Korean multicultural families are increasing so there are lots of In Soon-I’s, Min-woo’s  in our society. They are not strangers anymore they are our friends, neighborhoods so we need to change our point of view to keep face with the rapid changes in the world.
I’d like to introduce a woman who was born in Japan and got married to a Korean man. She has Korean nationality however she was born in Japan and had to grow up in Japan so she got a special Japanese green card. When she got married to a Korean man she realized that she does not have Korean ID even though she is Korean. Because of her Japanese green card she cannot obtain Korean ID. Why she cannot have Korean ID even though she is Korean? According to Korean law she has to give up Japanese green card to get Korean ID. Do you know why some Korean who lives in Japan has special Japanese green card? Because their ancestor had to be taken to Japan during Japanese colonial and after gained independence from Japan in 1945, they could not come back to Korea some reasons, however they wanted to keep Korean nationality and to preserve Korean tradition, food, spirits, and so on. Getting Japanese nationality was probably easy way to live in Japan however they kept their pride as Korean. Now their grand children face some difficult living in Korea like her. She has a son however her son cannot get Korean nationality because she has green card. Is her son Korean or not? How do you think about that?
There is lots of Koreans, pure Koreans, mixed blood Koreans, naturalized Koreans, overseas Koreans thank to globalization. We cannot insist only pure Koreans are Koreans anymore so move toward to accept all kinds of Koreans as Korean and embrace them like our siblings, friends, neighborhoods from the bottom of our heart.

Boys and girls! Have you ever heard of minors and nurses who went to Germany in 1960’s and 1970’s? After Korean War Korea was one of the poorest countries, we did not have enough food, materials so our government exported minors and nurses to Germany. They saved most of their income and sent it their families in Korea to feed them, to educate their siblings. Thanks to their sacrifices our economies boosted and their families lived. Do you think how they adapted in Germany? They had to stick it out surrounding by totally different environment, food, and people. We could guess as foreigners they faced lots of difficult and their jobs were not easy. Why they could go to Germany? Because the jobs were hard and dirty so no one wanted to work, that was why Germany government to accept to import Korean workers as migrant workers however Korean minors and nurses worked hard they did their best for their families who left behind.
Boys and girls! Our city, Gimhae is the second largest city which has migrant workers in Korea so it is easy to see foreigners on the street. Why they came to Korea? Like Korean minors and nurses who went to Germany in 1960’s and 1970’s they came to Korea with Korean dream to support their families. Nowadays most of Korean avoids applying for hard, dirty works so the companies want to hire migrant workers who want to work willingly. Migrant workers save their income to support their families that is why they came to Korea far away from their home countries. They have to work hard and to stick it out surrounding by totally different environment, food, and people like what Korean minors and nurses did 40 years ago in Germany. From German’s point of view Korea was a small and poor country in East Asia and some of European has a tendency to have white supremacy so as migrant workers the Korean workers had some tough time I guess. How they survived in Germany? Like most of Asian migrant workers they thought of their own families who left behind, I guess they had no choice but worked hard. Now you can understand what migrant workers situation in Korea. Some of company owners who hired migrant workers are not nice to their employees because they came from poor countries. Sometimes they hit their employees and insult them. How do you feel about this?  We have to embrace migrant workers as our partners and neighbors because we invite them to work.

Boys and girls please open your heart to the world and embrace people from other countries and live together happily. Thank you for your listening and have a wonderful day! minors and nurses who went to Germany in 1960’s, 1970’s

Friday, June 7, 2013

Multiculturalism in our society

When I start to write this reflection, I think of the site of “from Korea with love”. So I search it in the internet.  I love her stories, they gave me lots of emotions:  fun, adorable, touched, funny, sad, angry, furious, sad, frustrated, sorry and embarrassed. When I read her stories, I usually looked back on myself as a Korean and as a human. She is from the Philippines and lives in Korea with her parents-in-laws.  If you read her stories, you can feel what her feeling’s is living in Korea as a foreigner especially as a South East Asian.

Recently the population of foreigners is increasing because of marriage, laborers from outside of Korea however Korean society is not ready for welcoming them as a part of us not for them but for mixed blood Korean as well. Actually I thought we Korean were moving forward as a member of international society so our attitude toward foreigners was changing gradually. However when I heard of little Psy’s new, I was disappointed. Homogeneity society is a kind of a hindrance to accept multiculturalism.

I know some multicultural families in Gimhae, when I had met them; most of their children were infants, or no children so most of their concerns about Korean language or how to adapt Korean life with their in-laws or their husbands. Now their children go to elementary schools or kindergartens so their concerns’ are changing to raise their children properly however it seems difficult for them. As a Korean parent I am having a difficult time to raise my own kids properly, I am not sure what I do for my kids, then as foreigners how difficult they are.  Mothers’ Korean seem good as foreigners, however that is not enough as mothers. Mother has to deal with her children and their homeroom teachers and it is not easy for them. If their children speak English or tagalog well they could communicate well, in the reality they cannot speak well none of them. I guess that when their children go to middle school or high school, it can be social issues.

I heard about an international marriage policy which foreign spouse has to pass Korean proficiency test to get married to Korean to prevent language barrier between Korean and foreign spouses. If someone who cannot speak Korean is not allowed to get married to Korean, the idea is funny.

Early this year I met two factory workers who wanted to change their companies because the company did not pay regularly. Because of that they were suffering for a few months so they needed to help. It worked well so they could release from the company and try to find new company. That time I realized that the policy for foreign laborers’ finding job was changed, before they could pick companies which they want to work. Now they do not have a choice they just register their name on the finding job list then companies which need to hire workers choose workers and call them.  They have to wait for call from companies, it moved back.

I know Korean government make some policy for multi-cultural families and there are few Korean spouses who are suffering from their foreign wives. However it is time to move forward together so government has to figure out how we can change our view of multiculturalism including immigrant workers and foreign wives and so on. I have to go to bed, it means I have to review it tomorrow.