We’re ‘Koreans,’ not ‘Kosians': multicultural families

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.

  • http://bluejives.typepad.com/burp bluejives

    What do you call a product of Cuban and an Icelander??

    A guy from Harlem and a Filipino?


    French and Greek?


    Source: Comedian Russell Peters.

  • http://asiapages.typepad.com/ jodi

    bluejives: you forgot to mention a somewhat critical fact–that Russel Peters is Indian Canadian. sort of makes a difference. (well, to some people it might). i had the file of that entire routine on my old laptop before it busted. it was a great show.

  • iheartblueballs

    The simple solution is to refer to all Korean-Koreans as Kokos, which was (and still may be) the slang-de-rigeur for the locals back in the day.

  • Mizar5

    Please note that I watched that show and rolled my eyes at the word Kosian – a bastardization (pardon the pun) of Eurasian.

  • slim

    A tougher line on all silly ubiquitous Konglish would do Koreans a favor in the long run.

  • YManchun

    I’ve only heard about the kosians only a few weeks ago.

  • Mizar5

    “I??e only heard about the kosians only a few weeks ago.”

    Don’t worry, you’ll be hearing a lot more about them. We like to make a big deal out of how sophisticated and international – our remote little private country is. It gives us stuff to argue about for years which is our way of burrying an issue – we complicate an issue and submerge it beneath a mudslide of words. That way nothing gets done.

    Besides, it’s a great euphamism because, while we consider people with darker skin dirty,it’s no longer fashionable to use ????(half-breed, impure) as freely as we did a few years back.

    Frankly, I’m tired of having to make apologies about our racial supremecism. Every society needs someone to look down on, and despite the various divisions in Korean society, one common dog we could always manage to agree on have been the melanin-rich, which up until now were the common laborers. While the trend has been going the other way in developed nations toward the elimination of racial prejudice, bear in mind that we’re just beginning to enjoy the privilige of having citizens of other races to discriminate against. Once we’ve had our fun with it, we too might tire of it but ennui has not yet set in as it has with you and – hey – we deserve our chance too and we’re not about to give up that right. Until globalization eventually wipes out our culture, we’ve got to savor it. We’ve got to own our racial supremecism.

  • cm

    This pretty much sums up where young Koreans get the idea.
    It even explains pretty well I think, the plastic surgery craze.
    White is beautiful, good, and rich. Black is primitive, bad, and poor.
    Worship of Caucasions, demonization of Blacks (or dark skinned).


  • http://www.maxwatson.com/blog Max Watson

    Yet, Koreans seem to forget that they’re all basically mixed Han and Mongolian, right? It’s no coincidence of the striking resemblance between Mongolians and Koreans, thanks to Ghengis Khan.

  • http://kushibo.blogspot.com kushibo

    Probably more Mongoiian than Han. And probably more Japanese than Han. Probably more Inuit than Han. But still some Han.

  • jyce

    I wonder if he means the Chines Han or the Korean Han.

    As far as the striking resemblance goes, I have often wondered why Koreans in particular look more like Mongols (and Kazakhs and Kyrgyz) than other people that are geographically closer to Mongolia and where Mongols are likely to have settled in much greater numbers.

  • thompsonce

    I’m glad the Koreans put on a good show for Hines Ward-Daniel but that’s all it was. My son was recently attacked by 3 Korean guys but because he was a half and half he was charged and they went free all three had been drinking. The Koreans will continue to discriminate against all that isn’t Korean and if American they are automatically wrong Korean Law 101.

  • Matthew Kwak

    You may be a cultural Korean, but you’ll never be a “Korean” unless you look like a native Korean….

  • Matthew Kwak

    At least I look regular.