With interest in mixed-race Koreans intensifying thanks to the Hines Ward-Daniel Henny craze, mixed-race Koreans have apparently asked the media to stop using the term “Kosian” to refer to the children of marriages between Koreans and other Asians (usually Korean men and Southeast Asian women and South Asian laborers and Korean women), reports NoCut News. The term, which is an amalgamation of “Korean” and “Asian,” was first coined in 1997 by civic groups studying the issue of migrant workers in Korea. In 2004, the word went into wide usage after a certain newspaper (doesn’t say which one) used it during a special feature on international marriages in the Korean countryside.
While the term might suggest children produced by marriages between Koreans and individuals of any other Asian nationality or ethnicity, in fact, the term is generally used to refer only to children produced by marriages between Korean nationals and nationals of relatively poorer nations such as the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia and Pakistan.
Lee Cheol-su of the Gyungnam Migrant Worker’s Counsel Office slammed a recent SBS program on multicultural families, saying that it made multicultural families produced by international marriages out to be “problematic families” with serious issues, and the children produced by such marriages as in need of social care.
About the use of the term “Kosian,” he said, “Calling these children, who are fully Korean nationals born of international marriages, ‘Kosians’ is a concept putting priority on superficial ‘pure-bloodedness’ that seeks to differentiate between existing Koreans and the children of multicultural children.” He asked, “Why don’t they call the children of mixed marriages with white Americans or Germans ‘Komericans’ or Komans?’”
Raza, a 34-year-old Pakistani who became a Korean citizen in December 2004 after marrying a Korean woman, said he is already worried that his 3-year-old daughter will be ostracized when he sends her to school. About the use of the word “Kosian,” he said, “Koreans are also Asians, and Koreans and Pakistanis are both human beings, so I think the use of the term of ‘Kosian’ is rather closed-minded.”
This sentiment is apparently shared by Korean men who have married foreign women. Kim Ho-dong, who married a Thai women in April 2004 and has a two year old daughter, said, “Children of multicultural families, who can learn two cultures, can have an advantage over the children of Korean-Korean couples… I think the strange word ‘Kosian’ will disappear only when ['Korean'] Koreans think more broadly and try not to discriminate against multicultural couples, who are Koreans like anyone else, and their children.”
Some 2,500 children of multicultural families attend school in Korea, while another 100,000 born since 1999 will soon begin attending.