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Thoughts on Jasmine Lee attacks, xenophobia and the media

Doubtlessly you’ve read the stories about the malicious netizen attacks on Philippine-born Jasmine Lee, the newly elected lawmaker with the Saenuri Party.

The ruling party has been expressing concerns about the attacks, concerns echoed by the press, some quarters of which are raising the alarm against “xenophobia” and contrasting Korea–quite unfavorably–to the United States, where Korean-American Jim Yong Kim has been nominated to head the World Bank.

As I sifted through the press accounts and commentary, a couple of things came to mind:

1) It’s interesting–although not surprising, given that it’s a Saenuri lawmaker we’re talking about–that it seems to be the conservative press rushing to Lee’s defense. Which is not to say that the progressive press hasn’t talked about it–the Kyunghyang ran an op-ed on Lee and migrant workers yesterday, for instance–but in terms of intensity, it’s the conservatives leading the way. The Chosun, Dong-A and JoongAng have all run editorials on Lee, with Ye Olde Chosun in particular attacking the DUP and UPP in an editorial this morning for remaining silent about the racist netizen assaults on the lawmaker. I find this somewhat ironic, given the tenor of the conservative press’ coverage of the recent killing in Suwon. Not that it has been racist per se, but compare this editorial on Chinese-Koreans in the Chosun and this one in the Hankyoreh. The Chosun:

Around half of the 1.36 million foreigners in Korea are Chinese, and 70 percent of them, or 460,000, are ethnic Koreans. Most of them live in the Yeongdeungpo, Guro and Geumcheon districts on the outskirts of Seoul, surrounding Gyeonggi Province or in the satellite cities of Suwon and Ansan just south of the capital.

Wongok-dong in Ansan, a neighborhood especially favored by ethnic Koreans from China, has seen a rise in violent crime, and some residents there say they are afraid to go outside after dark. There has also been a rise in prostitution, gambling, drug dealing and extortion committed by ethnic Korean gangs targeting others in their group. The number of Chinese nationals arrested for crimes in Korea rose 22.6 percent from 12,791 in 2007 to 15,682 in 2011.

vs. the Hani:

Claims that the migrant worker community is a hotbed of violent crime also lack factual support. More often, they are victims of crime. The crime rate among foreigners living in South Korea is lower than among South Koreans. Obviously, we do need to increase the security presence in high-crime areas to prevent offenses. Ahead of that, however, we need preventive measures to stop foreigners from being made into social outsiders.

To be sure, the Chosun also calls for Chinese-Koreans to be treated humanely and counsels better communication, but the difference in tone is obvious.

This leads me to believe the Jasmine Lee story is largely driven by concerns other than xenophobia. Which is to say, I think certain newspapers smell blood in the water and are using the attacks to bludgeon a) the opposition in general, and b) Internet and SMS users in particular. I think it’s also useful in keeping other issues off the front page.

2) The progressive press shouldn’t be let off the hook, though. If the NPP had secured enough votes to put Pak No-ja in the Assembly and he came under similar racist attacks from netizens, I’m sure the Hani, Kyunghyang and friends would be screaming bloody murder about “right-wing xenophobia” and dropping Anders Breivik’s name every chance they got. And not to be excessively subtle here, but it seems the progressive heart bleeds for the plight of the foreigner only when they are poor and preferably brown–see if the Hani takes care to note low foreign crime rates next time it runs an editorial about USFK. Or a story on English teachers, for that matter (OK, the Hani has been OK to the English teachers—see Bulgasari’s comment here).

3) About these attacks on Jasmine Lee, how bad are they? I’ve read what has been printed in the press, but heck, you can read more and worse in half of my weekend Open Threads. Some of things I’ve read are nasty to be sure, and I hope she goes after some of those jackasses legally, but are comments and Tweets being cherry-picked to a) unfairly tarr Internet and SMS users and b) make a story where no story exists? I’m asking, because I honestly don’t know.

4) Rep. Lee has been pretty gracious about this all, saying that while she worried that other multicultural families might be hurt by this episode, it was also a chance to show how incredible Korea’s inclusiveness was. Probably true, even if it should be noted that she wasn’t elected by the people–she’s a proportional representative. What I’m more curious about is what policies she will push as a lawmaker. The “fake campaign pledge” might be, well, fake, but truthfully, I’m not sure I like the Saenuri Party’s platform on multicultural families, either (something readers of the Korea Herald have probably gathered already).

PS: Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. I’d say I was busy, but truth be told, I was just exhausted. Now I’m re-energized and ready to go again.

UPDATE

1) And as if to prove my point about the left’s selective sympathy, the reliably progressive Seoul Sinmun chimes in with an article today on xenophobia. The article itself isn’t bad, mind you, warning about the dangers of treating all foreigners like potential criminals and noting—very responsibly—that foreigners have a crime rate less than half that of locals. But smack dab in the middle, they quote a Mohammed—a Pakistani-turned Korean national in Ansan—who complains that even if they commit the same crime, Koreans will let an American go ™ but deal sternly with a guy from a small, weak country.

Not that we haven’t heard that before.

2) The Korea Communications Commission announced yesterday it would start taking measures against cafes and other websites that post xenophobic material. Can’t say I like that very much, but I know some of you will be thrilled.

3) Even the prime minister is chiming in, saying we need comprehensive measures to deal with xenophobia. That’s all well and good, but I could do without the “multiculturalism not being a choice” BS. Before you hoist a change like multiculturalism on society at the policy level, you’d better ask the society what it thinks.

4) I have to say, I’ve been really disappointed by the North Koreans. With a “drop of ink” not only polluting the Han River, but now even the National Assembly, I should have thought Pyongyang would have had let loose with a deliciously racist rant by now. Especially with said drop of ink wearing Saenuri Party red. They must be loosing a step under Kim Jong-un.

UPDATE

Despite the winds of xenophobia reportedly blowing all around me, I made it safely home without being accosted by a pitchfork-carrying mob.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • http://pawikoreapics.blogspot.com/ pawikirogii 石鵝

    unfair to compare korea and the us at this point. america is some 30% colored while just 1.5% are colored in korea. having said that i am glad to see a filipina korean in the national assembly and hope to see more. koreans cannot ignore the great contribution the filipinos are making to the future of korea. they better get used to it.

  • Granfalloon

    Yeah, I can’t raise much outrage over the Jasmine Lee “controversy” either. Far worse has been said by those oh-so cultured miguks about Obama, in far more public forums. It’s good chum for the expat K-haters, though.

    Spot on about the Hani’s selective protection of foreigners.

    In related news, mandatory fingerprinting is set to start soon, or something:
    http://www.busanhaps.com/article/foreigners-be-fingerprinted-today

  • YangachiBastardo

    I’ll agree with pawi here Filipinos are some of the hardest working people i’ve ever seen, heck in my country Filipinos, Chinese and Ukrainians seem actually the only people who bother with work.

    South East Asia is taking off and Korea is well positioned to take advantage of the catch-up process, being one of the largest investors in the area.

    If Korea will need significant amount of immigrants (and that’s a big if) me personally think South East Asians should be given priority access.

    Specifically about this case, i don’t mean to generalise but it is a known tendency among the political Left worldwide to spew enormous amounts of vitriol toward a succesful, conservative woman

    In related news, mandatory fingerprinting is set to start soon, or something:
    http://www.busanhaps.com/article/foreigners-be-fingerprinted-today

    I was fingerprinted when i got my green card and i didn’t think it was a strange or bad thing at all. Actually i thought it was kinda natural the US wanted to keep an archive of all the people settling in and out of the country. By the way it was pre-9/11 and the procedure wasn’t difficult or unpleasant at all, interview lasted around 30 seconds.

    If done in a non-harassing way i honestly do not see anything wrong with such procedure

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    When did Korea suspend fingerprinting. When i arrived 17+ years ago, everyone was fingerprinted as a matter of course. Having previously been finerprinted in various places for various reasons, my reaction was “so what”.

  • Soulz

    This article says that the ‘racially derogatory tweets’ issue was fabricated: http://media.daum.net/society/others/view.html?cateid=1067&newsid=20120417164714027&p=moneytoday

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #2,

    I had a look at that article. It quotes another article which claims that the number of crimes committed by foreigners in Korea has had a five-fold increase over the previous 10 years…What it conveniently forgets to mention is that the number of foreigners has seen a five-fold increase in the same period of time. Heck, there are now 1.3 million foreigners residing in South Korea (Just a couple of years ago, the population of foreign residents was 1 million). As mentioned above, it remains that foreigners are twice less likely to commit crimes in South Korea than the rest of the population (very simple explanation: you can usually prevent foreign criminals from entering, but you can’t deport the homegrown ones).

    PS.

    “The article itself isn’t bad, mind you, warning about the dangers of treating all foreigners like potential criminals and noting—very responsibly—about foreigners having a a crime rate less than half that of locals. ”

    I’m glad that this inconvenient truth is finally being mentioned in the local vernacular press.

    This trend first came to my attention over a decade ago. I had looked up the stats myself after having read a particularly xenophobic article in one of local English newspapers (no kidding) which spoke of a crime wave. I sent the correct information to the reporter, confronting him with the facts. In his reply, he was unapologetic. He claimed he was simply quoting the government’s stats. I’ve been sharing this information since, hoping it would eventually be picked up. Ten years is a long time to wait.

  • Robin Hedge

    SomeguyinKorea (or anyone else), where does one get such stats?

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    “I think certain newspapers smell blood in the water and are using the attacks to bludgeon a) the opposition in general, and b) Internet and SMS users in particular.”

    Damned hammerhead sharks!

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • cm

    As Soulz at post #5 states, this is a manufactured issue for political purpose.
    Someone actually went in and counted up the supposed racist comments and found out it’s nowhere as bad as being reported. In some cases, they blot out comments and say it was because racism, but after finding the same comments, they were all statements against racism. And in another, case, a same program is constantly posting the same comments all over the forums at a pace that only the automatic programs can do it.

    The shit’s going to hit the fan soon on this one, but I’m not sure who’s behind this. It could be Senuri party supporters, or it could be those who want to scapegoat the Senuri party. And did the conservative papers get taken in, because they were lazy and forgot to check the source, or was this intentional?

    Whatever this is, I would treat this topic with a healthy dose of suspicion, in this election year.

  • gbnhj

    SomeguyinKorea (or anyone else), where does one get such stats?

    You can get them here. You can make requests for data, and also check out data that others have requested.

  • R. Elgin

    Evan Ramstad appreciates this thread and mentions it in the WSJ as well Robert.

    http://www.blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2012/04/18/sudden-discussion-on-race-grips-south-korea/

  • cm

    “I have to say, I’ve been really disappointed by the North Koreans. With a “drop of ink” not only polluting the Han River, but now even the National Assembly, I should have thought Pyongyang would have had let loose with a deliciously racist rant by now.”

    Robert, don’t assume that they’re not doing this already. They’ve done a good job so far causing havoc on the internet on other issues, they could be doing exactly the same things on this one as well. North Korea’s goal is to confuse the issues and cause societal conflict and divide up the nation for North Korea to exploit.

  • http://populargusts.blogspot.com/ bulgasari

    [I]t seems the progressive heart bleeds for the plight of the foreigner only when they are poor and preferably brown–see if the Hani takes care to note low foreign crime rates next time it runs an editorial about USFK. Or a story on English teachers, for that matter.

    The odd thing is that, while the Seoul Sinmun and Kyunghyang Sinmun have both interviewed or given op-ed space to AES, the Hani has never done so, generally lays off foreign teachers, and even published a four part series looking at the struggles foreign teachers face in the classroom a few years ago. It’s rather perplexing, considering how the ‘moral failings’ of foreign teachers generally overlap with those of GIs, minus the taxi kerfuffles (though Ohmynews did spend time covering one such foreign teacher incident a week or so ago: http://www.ohmynews.com/NWS_Web/view/at_pg.aspx?CNTN_CD=A0001717870 )

  • http://populargusts.blogspot.com/ bulgasari

    @6 Actually, the Chosun Ilbo published an article back in 2008 quoting statistics showing that the foreign crime rate was less than half of the Korean crime rate:
    http://asiancorrespondent.com/22525/chosun-ilbo-foreigners-not-committing-so-much-crime/

    @11 That WSJ link doesn’t seem to be working.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    #14,

    Interesting. Still, 2008 was roughly 10 years from the first time I mentioned those stats online. Moreover, how many stories were publish between 2008 and now who speak of the rising number of crimes committed by foreign residents without mentioning population growth and relative crime rates? In any case, lets hope that this signifies an end to that sort of yellow journalism.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Or rather, lets hope that it marks the end of that sort of yellow journalism. ;)

  • cm
  • austin

    Robert, I’ve posted about this before could you please stop using the term “progressives”. It is false and misleading. The people you are refering to are socialists. There is NOTHING progressive about a socialist.

  • keith

    Myself, I’m not suprised by north Korea’s lack of reaction. They already tell the people there that south Koreans are subjugated by the imperialist bastard US. I’m also not suprised that some racist South Korean idiots aren’t happy that a non ‘pure-blood’ has been given a seat. Racist people tend to be the most ignorant people you’ll ever meet.

    North Korea, can ill afford to be too racist outside it’s borders. Most of the dodgy countries it does business with are in Africa, the ME and SE Asia. The ‘pure-blood’ nazi type sentiments is for domestic NK consumption.

    I think that Jasmine Lee can make a contribution, and help improve the country. Well behaved foreign residents improve any country. Underneath the skin colour we are all the same species, and hanging out with the same ‘kind of people’ all the time is simply boring.

    I like living in Seoul, because it is quite multicultural for Korea. Just hanging out with any one group of people can get tedious. I love the fact that I have friends in Korea who are from Korea, Europe, north America,, Africa S Asia, SE Asia, and generally all over the wonderful planet we live on. Some of us go to church or do the mosque thing, many of my friends are atheists, and we all get along just fine. We all contribute our little bit to making life in Korea that bit nicer.

    The other day I helped out an old Korean guy who had a flat on his bike, I just pumped his tire up enough to get him back home. He looked miserable with his non functioning bike, and I made him happy because I cared and was carrying a pump. It’s nice to be nice.

  • aaronm

    I find myself in the odd situation of being in full agreement with Pawi. What we are seeing here is the teething pains of the new Korea. Kudos to the government for sticking up for their girl, but they’ll soon find its like bottling fart gas – useless and unprofitable. We’ve got our Stormfront.orgs in the west where the numpties can wish all they like they could bring back the 1950s or even the 1850s, while the cruel winds of post-industrial society blow the other way.

    As per Robert’s assertion that the multicultural thing needs putting to a vote, I respectfully disagree. Sometimes a government must lead an make the unpopular choices. Otherwise Korea will be stuck like Japan, wishing for a day that will never come when every chap has a robot butler to sweep the streets and wipe the faeces from his wrinkly, unsupported, state-sponsored arse. Change will always have its malcontents, selddom be popular and will inevitably create friction. Its how it is managed that makes the difference.

  • YangachiBastardo

    I respectfully disagree. Sometimes a government must lead an make the unpopular choices. Otherwise Korea will be stuck like Japan, wishing for a day that will never come when every chap has a robot butler to sweep the streets and wipe the faeces from his wrinkly, unsupported, state-sponsored arse

    Well it’s my turn to say i respectfully disagree: i’m personally convinced robotics and artificial intelligence will amount to a new powerful industrial revolution. I take the contrarian view that it will be aging, overeducated societies jumping on the bandwagon of this productivity leap rather than youngish, more ebullient societies who risk to stay trapped in some sort of labour-intensive pre-industrial (in the robotics meaning of the word) era.

    Maybe i’m too much of a Malthusian but i don’t see economies needing too many bodies in the future, just a few highly trained brains.

    Yes GDP won’t grow, it might even decrease, GDP per capita may shoot into outer space, some signs of this phenomen have already appeared in Japan in the past decade

  • cm

    “Kudos to the government for sticking up for their girl”

    I have no problems “sticking up for their girl”, unless the whole thing was an orchestrated farce to make the opposition look like idiots. In other words, it’s dispicable to use the race issue to advance their political goals.

  • YangachiBastardo

    cm: it was probably a mix of both, it’s not unlikely some idiots made racist remarks on Rep. Lee and it’s not unlikely the Saenuri spin machine jumped on it to score some cheap points…overall nothing to see, politics as usual

  • YangachiBastardo

    We’ve got our Stormfront.orgs in the west where the numpties can wish all they like they could bring back the 1950s or even the 1850s, while the cruel winds of post-industrial society blow the other way

    I have to admit Stormfront is, in moderate dosage, a delicious guilty pleasure,i love particularly when they routinely have those white women celebration rounds, when a bunch of nerds upload feverishly pics of the blondest celebrity chicks from their homeland

  • cm

    What is wrong with this report that press from Philippines and United States are heavily criticizing Korean xenophobia and racism?

    http://news.chosun.com/site/data/html_dir/2012/04/18/2012041801578.html?news_Head2

    Reading Chosun Ilbo’s report doesn’t even match what’s really said in that Philippines ABS-CBN news story, which is just basically repeating the story what Korean press are reporting. Is this a problem with English translation, or is this deliberate misinterpretation?

  • cm

    “cm: it was probably a mix of both, it’s not unlikely some idiots made racist remarks on Rep. Lee and it’s not unlikely the Saenuri spin machine jumped on it to score some cheap points…overall nothing to see, politics as usual”

    Of course, why wouldn’t there be racist remarks anonymously on-line on any given issue, particularly on issues like this? It happens quite often and it’s no shock either.

    But what’s interesting is people trying to score political points using this flimsy excuse, and making it look much bigger than what it really is.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    As per Robert’s assertion that the multicultural thing needs putting to a vote, I respectfully disagree. Sometimes a government must lead an make the unpopular choices. Otherwise Korea will be stuck like Japan, wishing for a day that will never come when every chap has a robot butler to sweep the streets and wipe the faeces from his wrinkly, unsupported, state-sponsored arse. Change will always have its malcontents, selddom be popular and will inevitably create friction. Its how it is managed that makes the difference.

    Well, I’ve got to be honest—if the apocalypse looks like Japan, I’d be quite happy with that, especially when the future of the Western welfare state isn’t looking so hot, even with immigration.

    As for putting multiculturalism to a “vote,” I don’t necessarily think there needs to be a vote, per se. Immigration has serious cultural, social, economic and even security consequences, though, so I can’t see how a government can encourage immigration without something at least approximating a social consensus. Heck, even if you support immigration, you still need to decide which kind of immigrant society you wish to become. American-style? French-style? Something different? Given all the other areas social matters we’ve made into legitimate areas of public policy subject to public debate, I see no reason why something as important as population policy should be excluded.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Reading Chosun Ilbo’s report doesn’t even match what’s really said in that Philippines ABS-CBN news story, which is just basically repeating the story what Korean press are reporting. Is this a problem with English translation, or is this deliberate misinterpretation?

    If Oranckay jumps into the discussion, he’ll explain what that’s all about.

  • Granfalloon

    Agree with Aaronm. One look at those birth rates, and society has clearly already cast their vote.

  • aaronm

    @YB, I have a certain faith in technology as well, but I’m not going to sit around watching the place go to the brink of crisis waiting for a white knight. Korea is acting, rightly in my mind, in the here and now. Surely you’ve neglected the demand side of the equation in your theoretical future economy – you’ll never be a billionaire when you can’t sell do-hickeys because the lumpen proletariat can’t get a job to buy a big screen.

    Re Stormfront, guilty as charged, I’ve had a login for years back from the days when I used to dabble in Anti-Fa antics. These days I like to watch more for the poor grammar, circular logic and complete absence of reason in the debates.

    @Robert – will get back tomorrow, am half drunk, tired and have to start work at my dark satanic corporate mill at 5 am.

  • tommyboy123

    I give it about ten years before Korea develops a far-right, neo-naziesque political party well-received by Koreans.

  • cm

    “UPDATE Despite the winds of xenophobia reportedly blowing all around me, I made it safely home without being accosted by a pitchfork-carrying mob.”

    OK, I admit it, that was quite funny.

  • cm

    “We are unkind hosts to foreigners”

    http://koreatimes.co.kr/www/news/nation/2012/04/117_109236.html

    “Two faces of Korea’s multiculturalism… being friends are OK but…”

    http://kr.news.yahoo.com/service/news/shellview.htm?linkid=459&articleid=2012041819153043947&newssetid=5

    The above article expands on the Korea Times article, and adds out of 37 nations, Korea ranks third when it comes to putting importance on blood when determining one’s nationality. The first ranked is Philippines where 95% of the people surveyed said blood is the most important, followed by Venezuela with 87.6%. Korea was third at 86.5% putting importance on ancestors.

  • http://bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    I give it about ten years before Korea develops a far-right, neo-naziesque political party well-received by Koreans.

    Unification is the event I fear most likely will bring about this development.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    I give it about ten years before Korea develops a far-right, neo-naziesque political party well-received by Koreans.

    Back in 2006, I wrote that unless something changes dramatically, there will be race riots in Korea within 20 years — i.e. by the time when the Kosian children are adults. I am heartened to see that Korea’s elites are more or less unified behind multiculturalism, but I am not sure if Korea is doing enough.

  • tommyboy123

    Speaking of xenophobia, why is that Koreans still laugh at blackface comedy?
    I was appalled when I was watching 나는가수다 and a comedienne did the 시커멍스 routine while 인순이 was sitting there with an obvious wtf? look. I also saw the kid from 비스트 put on a blackface to impersonate a black man on another show.

  • YangachiBastardo

    there will be race riots in Korea within 20 years

    Oh my ! Why ?!?! Link to your piece would be sincerely appreciated

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    It was literally one of the first posts on my blog. Here.

    Right now, 1/3 of all Korean men in rural areas are married to non-Korean women. The first wave of mixed heritage Korean children are around middle school-aged, i.e. early teens. Imagine them being in their 20s, looking for jobs in big cities, and getting shit on by racists. I would freakin’ riot.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Weird, the link didn’t work. Trying again

  • slim

    I give it about ten years before Korea develops a far-right, neo-naziesque political party well-received by Koreans.

    The Worker’s Party up North fits part of that bill.

  • R. Elgin

    Brendon in #34 has a very valid point. We have yet to see the full extent of this mindset.

  • http://gypsyscholarship.blogspot.com/ jefferyhodges

    “For a bon vivant like me, the blood — pure or mixed — is the life.” – Vlad Dracul

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  • cm

    “Right now, 1/3 of all Korean men in rural areas are married to non-Korean women. The first wave of mixed heritage Korean children are around middle school-aged, i.e. early teens. Imagine them being in their 20s, looking for jobs in big cities, and getting shit on by racists. I would freakin’ riot.”

    - that sounds like LA Riots. Racism may or may not have anything to do with the coming riots that you eagerly await. We’re not even talking about black people, we’re talking about other Asians who make up majority of the foreign population in Korea – a virtually invisible foreign population. And I just do not see them rioting, however bad things are supposedly are.

    There are too many discriminatory welfare programs for multicultural families, that many native Koreans do not receive, which will make the Korean population resentful, and the multicultural families depended on government handouts. The discriminatory and preferential practices in the name of multiculturalism is backfiring, and it has to stop. What’s needed are anti-discrimination laws to enforce the racism law, and everyone should be eligible to receive government programs, or none should receive them. Just apply the laws and programs evenly to everyone.

    And am I the only one notice that it’s the Korean media huffing and puffing and causing a big deal storm about racism right now and calling for tolerance, but what’s funny is that they have been the worst culprits in shaping a the xenophobic public opinion of foreigners in the country?

  • http://www.xanga.com/wangkon936 WangKon936

    Hey Rob!

    Looks like your name’s been mentioned in the WSJ (blog):

    http://blogs.wsj.com/korearealtime/2012/04/18/sudden-discussion-on-race-grips-south-korea/?mod=google_news_blog

    “Robert Koehler, whose Marmot’s Hole is one of the best-read blogs in the Korean expat community, suggests there’s politics at work even in the way the various media are playing different aspects of this discussion.”

  • Q

    Jasmine Lee is a lovely Filippina Korean lady. There is nothing wrong with the Korean citizen winning a seat at Korean parliament. Her reaction to assailant netizens was mature and respectable. On other hand, Korean public’s resistance to Korean government’s policy of multiculturalism is understandable, which gives a lot of incentives to interracial marriage family. To win Korean government’s benefits, it might be a smart idea to marry a person with different ethnic profile.

    Anyway, dear US citizens, who can blame whom? I do not believe United States multiculturalism has been formed in a natural process. And I do not believe the situation could have been better with America being divided by the Northern Union and Southern Confederate either. Today’s American society of respect for diversity has gotten through hundreds years of conflicts and trials and errors. For example, Immigration Act of 1917:

    This act added to the number of undesirables banned from entering the country, including but not limited to “homosexuals”, “idiots”, “feeble-minded persons”, “criminals”, “epileptics”, “insane persons”, alcoholics, “professional beggars”, all persons “mentally or physically defective”, polygamists, and anarchists. Furthermore, it barred all immigrants over the age of sixteen who were illiterate. The most controversial part of the law was the section that designated an “Asiatic Barred Zone”, a region that included much of eastern Asia and the Pacific Islands from which people could not immigrate.

    And the racial conflicts are on-going problems in European countries and America. Whether or not for multiculturalism, Koreans have good reasons to be anxious about the sudden changes introduced in a relatively short time in Korean society. However, who can blame whom? 다문화가 싫으면 한국 사람이랑 결혼해서 애 낳고 잘 살면 되잖어!

  • gbnhj

    cm, I agree that Korea is unlikely to see rioting over this – demonstrations perhaps, but no rioting. After all, they will have been raised here, and will have been shaped by the macrosociety’s cultural influences. In simple terms, rioting is way too individualistic to get much traction here, while demonstrations have a well-grounded historical support within the culture.

    And am I the only one notice that it’s the Korean media huffing and puffing and causing a big deal storm about racism right now and calling for tolerance, but what’s funny is that they have been the worst culprits in shaping a the xenophobic public opinion of foreigners in the country?

    Good point. I think that the difference may stem from the fact that Ms. Lee has citizenship, whereas virtually every other case has concerned non-nationals. It’s a story (though not much of one) and they want to sell it, but I think that their changed attitude comes from the knowledge that they’ll have to live with how they report on something relating to a citizen, particularly a politically connected one.

  • http://roboseyo.blogspot.com roboseyo

    @45: Koreans have good reasons to be anxious about the sudden changes introduced in a relatively short time in Korean society.

    And this is different from the rest of Korea’s last 110 years of history HOW?

  • Yu Bum Suk

    “This leads me to believe the Jasmine Lee story is largely driven by concerns other than xenophobia. Which is to say, I think certain newspapers smell blood in the water and are using the attacks to bludgeon a) the opposition in general”

    No doubt, and the racist nutizens are doing a fine job of making the “progressives” look like small-minded national socialists. Hopefully one or two “progressive” lawmakers get caught on record bashing her for no reason and it turns away enough young voters.

  • http://rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Back in 2006, I wrote that unless something changes dramatically, there will be race riots in Korea within 20 years

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry. In 20 years, Korea will be so busy trying to integrate the North Koreans that dealing with the multiracial will seem like a welcome distraction.

    I am heartened to see that Korea’s elites are more or less unified behind multiculturalism, but I am not sure if Korea is doing enough.

    Be careful of what you’re heartened to see. If the poll cm linked to is indication of anything, it’s that the elites are unifying behind a deeply unpopular policy. That’s how you get “far right” political parties popping up. See comment #27.

    And just throwing this out there—there really needs to be a separation between “multi-racialism” and “multi-culturalism.” The first I think may be helpful and maybe to some extent inevitable. The latter I’m, to say the least, extremely skeptical of, especially if pushed at the state level.

  • http://askakorean.blogspot.com thekorean

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry. In 20 years, Korea will be so busy trying to integrate the North Koreans that dealing with the multiracial will seem like a welcome distraction.

    That’s a surprising bit of optimism from someone who thought we will be seeing KJU for a long, long time :)

  • http://vmphotography.com.au hoju_saram

    Optimistic indeed! Kim Jong-un will be the longest serving leader in Korean history IMO, and the North Koreans will remain tithes for the duration. I don’t expect change in my lifetime.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    Let’s take a lesson from the Analects and start callings by thier tru names. Korea has no policy of multiculturalism. It has a policy of cultural assimilation directed at the ethnic migrants whom it is very cautiously admitting for thoroughly pragmatic reasons. The US today would have fewer problems if it too had comprehensively adhered to (and selectively discriminated in the application of) and maintained its own original assimilationist approach rather than engaging in multi-culti appeasement.

  • adbc

    Considering that diversity is unnatural and unsustainable, this is not terribly surprising.

    Evolutionary psychology would state that the Korean men married to Filipinas would otherwise have been reproductive losers. Artificially pairing them up does not address the root of the problem.

    As The Korean has said, shit is going to get ugly soon.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com Sperwer

    @52

    “not” selectively discriminated.

  • Robin Hedge

    Brendon, could you expand on your comment. Seemed insightful, prescient.

  • bumfromkorea

    Well, if you want to be technical, what we have here in America isn’t exactly multiculturalism either. It’s more like this.

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  • SomeguyinKorea

    #40,

    Is that a prediction or a wish?

    Besides, if you knew anything about Korean history and nationalism, you’d know that ship has sailed many years ago.

    #43,
    “There are too many discriminatory welfare programs for multicultural families, that many native Koreans do not receive, which will make the Korean population resentful, and the multicultural families depended on government handouts. The discriminatory and preferential practices in the name of multiculturalism is backfiring, and it has to stop.”

    You obviously don’t know what you’re talking about.

    Providing a support structure for these families is sound investment on the government’s part.

    Really, this discussion went to hell. Not that I didn’t see it coming.
    It would be nice if certain people could refrain from looking at Korean issues through the eyes of American racial politics.

  • ecw

    Today’s American society of respect for diversity has gotten through hundreds years of conflicts and trials and errors.

    America has always been generally against greater immigration and diversity. And it still is today. Greater immigration and diversity have been brought about against popular opinion.

    Immigration and diversity have been promoted by liberal elites who avoid and insulate themselves from it in their own lives. They’re hypocrites who attack people who are against immigration and diversity while avoiding it themselves. If they were unable to avoid it in their own lives, they themselves would be opposed and it wouldn’t happen.

  • R. Elgin

    . . . And am I the only one notice that it’s the Korean media . . . causing a big deal storm about racism right now and calling for tolerance, but what’s funny is that they have been the worst culprits in shaping a the xenophobic public opinion of foreigners in the country?

    Yes, this is true. Like media in any country, they help create the news by simply observing it or writing about it and this is the fault of editors who try to shape the news to sell papers or for political reasons.
    As time goes one, we will see more shaping of news to support a multi-cultural society rather than a society that promotes the assimilation of foreigners into Korea.
    Also certain projects like the ill-fated Saemanguem Project have been changed so that it could help support the new immigrant community that would be needed to help run it since there will not be enough native sons and daughters to run it. I will not be surprised to see a large influx of Chinese men to run tourism facilities in Chejudo and on the south coast as well. This is part of a long-term plan on the part of the government.
    I did note that the largest number of tickets to this Yeosu Expo coastal development carnival in Yeosu are Chinese and this expo is simply an vastly updated watermelon truck vendor who is hawking the coast as the newest form of investment through development.
    This sort of sneaky development scheme has also not gone unnoticed by some political parties as well, so I also expect to see more backlash against these projects and they may very well take the form of news articles and editorials on both environmental issues (government is almost always slow to this issue) and the soon to be large influx of foreign workers.

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