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Multiculturalism: a choice, not an inevitability

I read recently a very good column in the Chosun Ilbo by Hallim University poli-sci professor Kim Yeong-myeong on multiculturalism in Korea.

As readers know, I’m not especially fond of multi-kulti. And yes, as a foreigner living in Korea with a Mongolian wife, I appreciate the irony. Anyway, the problem with being something of an equal-opportunity, knuckle-dragging nativist is that so often, the people on “your” side come off like jackasses (see TK’s post).

So it’s nice when you find one who doesn’t.

I’ll translate/summarize his piece below.

Kim points out that multiculturalism has become something of a fad. Multiculturalism can be summed up as “since we’re entering a global age, an inflow of foreigners is inevitable, so let’s usher them in with open hearts.” Seems reasonable at first, with little room for dispute. Globalization, too, can be seen as a global trend, and treating foreigners with open hearts sounds like a moral law nobody can deny. But it’s not that simple.

Firstly, the word “multiculturalism” is vague and controversial. Is the term “multiculturalism” naturally correct? Or would “multiracialism” be more exact? And is “multiracialism” unavoidable and desirable, and are the social tensions that will emerge in the course of becoming a multicultural society worth bearing? There’s a lot to think about. In Korea, however, calls for multiculturalism are based on an excessively simple logic.

Korean multiculturalism began with trying to protect the human rights of “marriage immigrants,” i.e., women who came to Korea to marry Korean men. It was to help relieve the pain suffered by these women as they came to a strange country and assist them in making a life here. It was a desirable start. However, there are already more foreign laborers than marriage immigrants, and in the future, Korea’s foreigner issues will mostly be about them. Accordingly, Korea’s policies regarding foreigners should focus on just how many foreign laborers Korea needs, how they should be brought here and how they can become short-term members of Korean society.

Policy regarding things such as multiculturalism should be based on three axis—employment structure, manpower supply and demand, and the treatment, welfare and social integration of foreigners, but Korea’s current policies are excessively focused on the second (manpower supply and demand). This is because Korea has indiscriminately adopted multicultural arguments from immigrant nations with very different situations. Canada, Australia and the United States are immigrant nations, while the United Kingdom, Germany and France have become multiracial nations by bringing in foreign laborers over the last several decades. To say that Korea, where the inflow of foreigners has only just begun in earnest and is still a “one ethnic group nation,” should take these nations’ experiences and theories and adopt their multicultural policies like Korea was already a multiracial nation runs counter to reality.

Korea is reflecting greatly on its closed past. This is good, but it’s not without its excesses. One of the results has been a sort of “openess complex,” and calls for multiculturalism are on expression. Two groups are representative advocates of multiculturalism. Jaebeol capital wishes to import cheap labor en masse and maximize profits. Intellectuals, on the other hand, view Western multicultural and multiethnic societies as an ideal. These two groups encompass left and right, conservative and progressive, ruling party and opposition party.

On the Internet, netizens attacks on multicultural policies are fierce. Their complaints lean towards the government’s preferential treatment of foreigners, reverse discrimination against Koreans and foreigner crime. They have a lot of good points, but unfortunately, due to their excessively aggressive language, they’ve brought upon themselves the label of “xenophobia.” On the other hand, in mainstream discourse, it’s hard to find criticism of multicultural policies. There’s no proper debate between pro and con, with rampant unilateral attacks and defense without communication.

Korea’s path towards becoming a multicultural/multiethnic society is not inevitable; it depends on a policy choice. Accordingly, there needs to be social agreement. Moreover, multicultural societies have experienced racial tension. Accordingly, German chancellor Angela Merkel and former French president Nicolas Sarkozy declared that multicultural policies should be abandoned. Korea, too, is gradually experiencing tensions resulting from the influx of foreigners. Xenophobia is occurring, and foreigner crime, too, is growing. These cannot be solved through just the spirit of tolerance or civic virtue espoused by the multiculturalists. The government and people must gather the wisdom to reduce social tensions through a balanced policy regarding foreigners.

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

  • pawikirogii

    korea needs immigrants but it needs the right kind; that means they need immigrants form asian nations where the people look like koreans. vitnamese, filipinos, and mongols would be ideal. korea doea not need to be like the west where westerners are slowing bringing about their own demise. 잘 생각해봐.

  • imememememe

    the world does NOT need more multiculti nations. those advocating for multiculti are very misguided.

    homogeneous nations = boutiques / mom & pops of the world

    multiculti nations = walmart

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Well, then.  Does that mean you’re going to leave North America?  After all, you don’t look anything like members of the First Nations if you’re Korean.

  • hoju_saram

    This is the best blog layout yet – the tagline “Korea…in blog format” just needs to be shifted to the right slightly – a few spaces in front ought to do that. The banner photo is beautiful, and the feel of the site is much better – very colourful and bright. People are visual creatures – they need a bit of colour!

    Now stop tinkering!!!

  • MikeWC77

    They have a lot of good points, but unfortunately, due to their
    excessively aggressive language, they’ve brought upon themselves the label of “xenophobia.”

    I’d very much like to know what these complaints are, and how they can be phrased so as not to be “xenophobic.”

    Nationalism is shit, it is always shit.  It is the political equivalent of Young Earth Creationism. You’d think that Westerns have had enough experience with the shit that nationalism of all stripes brings with it, that it would have been beaten out of us by now, but I guess not.

    So I’m curious.  Robert, I assume you’re white.  You’re married to an Asian living in an Asian country.  You want the Korean government to have a “balanced policy” regarding foreigners.  What policy should they have regarding you?  I ask, because I bet that somewhere in the back of your mind, white people don’t count as foreigners.

    That being said, tolerance certainly does have its limits.  For one, it completely ignores the fact that not every problem foreign workers (let’s say the term “worker” means excludes English teachers) face here is a matter of a Korean being a jerk to them.  Exploitation is a systemic issue, one that requires political solutions, not merely singing kumbaya.

  • Jieun K

    A couple of hours ago,  I was going to write like, “I like this FOCUS CHILD THEME a lot, please stick to it,” but I already commented a lot about the new look, so I decided against it.

    Now, If only the font were thicker

    P.S. I think the photo could use some vertical resizing, though. It takes up more than half the screen space…

  • Yu Bum Suk

    I don’t really get what his point is. What policies should change and how? Single farmers and guys in rural areas are going to continue marrying SE Asian brides. Companies are going to continue importing cheaper labour. A few Koreans are going to continue to marry random foreigners from various countries and settle here. So instead of trying to get along should everyone try not to get along? What’s his alternative?

    I also think he’s wrong when he states “Korea’s foreigner issues will mostly be about [immigrant labourers]“. In a few decades there will be hundreds of thousands of mixed-race Koreans, and their treatment is going to be a major issue with which to grapple. “If you don’t like Korea, go home” won’t apply because Korea will be their home. “You don’t understand Korean culture” won’t work either, because they’ll be as fluent in the language and will have observed as much of the culture as anyone else. What will happen when they run into open discrimination will be of much greater significance than what happens to transient labourers.

    Then there’s the issue of over half a million immigrants from China, some of whom can basically pass as ordinary Koreans and some of whom are distinctly Chinese. Will they just be gradually transformed into Koreans and absorbed into ordinary society or will they form a cultural minorty?

    In sort I find his views, at least as paraphrased here, not very useful.

  • Cloud

     One could argue that Koreans look more like Native Americans than Europeans and Africans, so Pawi fits right in.
    http://www.news.ku.edu/1998/98N/JulyNews/July16/debate.html

  • Cloud
  • bballi

    Foreigner crime on the rise?

    I thought that had been debunked on more than one occasion.  Proportionally foreign crime is less than crimes committed by Korean citizens…..If the guy stills believes in a “rise” in foreigner crime (taken from politicians who skewed the numbers and took them out of context) then, well, I can’t really take his opinions on other issues seriously

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I’d very much like to know what these complaints are, and how they can be phrased so as not to be “xenophobic.”

    Well, you’d have to ask Professor Kim, but I’d imagine they’d be about social integration, cultural and national identity, crime, tax money used exclusively for the benefit of foreigners, etc. Some of these arguments are better than others, of course.

    Nationalism is shit, it is always shit.

    That’s your opinion, I suppose. Suffice it say I don’t think it’s shit, or that it’s always shit.

    You’d think that Westerns have had enough experience with the shit that nationalism of all stripes brings with it, that it would have been beaten out of us by now, but I guess not.

    Actually, I was thinking much the same about multiculturalism and “open borders,” but alas. I suppose this is similar to what folk say about Californians who flee California but, as soon as they settle down in another state, start wanting things done like they were in California.

    So I’m curious.  Robert, I assume you’re white.

    ‘Tis true, sadly. I’ve even got Boston on my playlist—don’t get much whiter than that. Just got done watching “The Wire”—I heard that’s pretty white, too.

     You want the Korean government to have a “balanced policy” regarding foreigners.

    Well, mostly true. I’d say I think most governments should have a “balanced policy” regarding foreigners.

    What policy should they have regarding you?  I ask, because I bet that somewhere in the back of your mind, white people don’t count as foreigners.

    Oh, we whities are foreigners, all right. And probably the group that makes the least effort to integrate. And as you know, we whities usually think the opposite—that “foreigner” refers only to us, rather than the less melanin-deficient folk that make up the overwhelming number of resident foreigners.

    But since you ask, as far as which policies the government should have regarding moi, I’d say it should be “keep our numbers manageable and absorbable.” I think the current immigration regime does a fairly good job of this already—in fact, if anything, it could probably ease up a bit (and not just for honkies like your’s truly), but like Prof. Kim, I’d seriously question whether adopting “Western” immigration and social policies is such a good idea.

    Exploitation is a systemic issue, one that requires political solutions, not merely singing kumbaya.

    I suppose it does require a political solution, although I gather we may differ as to the proposals.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Yeah, I’d prefer to have heard a bit more about what he’d propose, if anything. His major complaint is that people are throwing around the word “multiculturalism” without considering even the term’s definition, let alone its social impact. He’s also frustrated by what he believes to be both left and right pushing “multiculturalism” without any sort of social consensus. I’m not him, obviously, but I think he’d argue that if you’d like change the ethnic and cultural composition of your society, you may wish to ask said society first. I don’t think he’s anti-multiculturalism per se, but he would like questions like “how many,” “whom” and “how” asked and debated upon. These are important decisions, after all.

    Good point about the “laborers vs. multiethnic kids,” though I’ll need to look at the number projections.

  • http://www.bcarr.com Brendon Carr

    Chaebol capital generally does not make much use of foreign manual labor. That is a phenomenon largely confined to the struggling small-to-medium manufacturing enterprise sector, which doesn’t make good use of either technology or capital.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    First off, I don’t think he’s arguing that foreigners commit more crimes than locals, only that foreign crime is on the rise. What he didn’t mention is that according to recent reports, while foreigner crime rates are still relatively low, we commit a disproportionately high number of murders—8% of the total, in fact:

    http://www.rjkoehler.com/2012/05/17/foreigner-crime-rate-low-but-i-guess-were-more-likely-to-kill-you/

    I think TheKorean (whose views on this issue probably differ quite significantly from mine) also posted some comments once about how the “low foreigner crime” meme might be more complicated than it seems, but I’ll leave it to him to do the explaining.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Yeah, well, I might be switching back to the old theme if I can get it to play nice with the new comment system. Even if I don’t, I’ll need to do something about the banner.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Will do something about the banner. Not much I can do about the font, though—I try not to eff too much with typography.

  • Jieun K

     Yes, sir!

    I’ll try living with the font. T.T

  • HSchmidt

    Mail order brides are the biggest problem in South Korea. The Korean mail order bride industry is a corrupt industry that must be banned completely. Every year, thousands of innocent teenagers and young women mainly from China and Vietnam are trafficked into Korea by mail order bride agencies. 

    Soon after, the Korean men bash these women (I’ve heard of a few cases in Jeolla province from some friends of mine) and then divorce them. Also a lot of the time, Korean men are victims too. The Korea Times reported that Korean men are often victims of sham marriages. The mail order bride industry is a corrupt industry which causes social instability. 

    Mail order bride industry is a disgusting industry that must be stopped. Multiculturalism has failed in Korea already… I can already sense it. Korea should know better and stick with homogeneity. 

    Just look at Germany, where millions of Turkish immigrants live. The Turkish people have caused a number of riots in Germany and many German neo-Nazi groups are murdering Turkish people. 

    Look at the riots in Britain last year. A clear example of violence fueled by racism. 

    Racism is inevitable. There will ALWAYS be racism whether people like it or not. Thus multiculturalism will NEVER work in homogeneous countries like Korea. 

    As a foreigner I feel sick of seeing illegal Southeast Asian immigrants settling in Korea. Yes, illegal immigration is a huge problem in South Korea. Look at all those illegal Vietnamese immigrants forging citizenship papers in Korea. You can find all the evidence from top Korean newspapers (I would stick to Yonhap News). 

    I really don’t understand why the Korean government loves multiculturalism so much. I would like it if they would tighten their immigration policy and let us foreigners have a more unique experience in Korea rather than trying to make Korea a small America. 

    Korean government, PLEASE ban the mail order bride industry. I’m getting sick and tired of seeing mail order brides in Korea. All they do is steal from Korean taxpayer money, cause social instability and live off welfare.

  • Dokdoforever

    If mail order brides are banned, many rural men will be denied the opportunity to marry and raise a family. There is a large gender imbalance from abortion of female fetuses from the 90s which is peaking at present.  Without foreign women, the Korean birth rate, the OECD’s lowest, will continue to decline.

    Korea’s rural areas are disproportionately well represented in the National Assembly (similar to the US, Japan, and the EU) and rural industry has political clout.  Those industries rely on cheap foreign labor.

    The ‘Korean hub’ idea is popular partly because of Korea’s geostrategic location, in between several large nations.   S Korea is in a situation not unlike an island, on the lower half of the Korean peninsula.  It’s too small to be an autonomous regional political/military player.  The nation’s condition is well suited toward international trade – to take advantage of China’s rise, and it’s position in between China and Japan& US.   It’s natural for an international trading power to have a cosmopolitan society.  The two go hand and hand.  

    Many Korean elite realize this and see that Xenophobia is a real impediment to the country’s development.

    Maybe it’s a matter of personal taste.  Personally, I really appreciate cosmopolitan cities, like New York, for instance.  Places where you can try different types of food, become exposed to different cultures, test out different ideas.   Throughout history, the greatest technological innovations occur in cosmopolitan, multi-cultural environments, like Tang and Song Dynasty China, Rome, the US in the 20th century, etc.   Homogenous countries like Japan are pretty good at copying and mobilizing their population, but not at innovating. 

    Korea’s best bet is to become more open to the world.

     

  • Guest

    Yes, good points. Allow me to counter: LOWEST BIRTHRATE IN THE WORLD.

    The defense rests.

  • bballi

    You don’t think he’s arguing that way, but the fact remains we don’t really know do we because he doesn’t explain his statement with context.  You’re telling me the average Korean reading the article is going to understand like you do?

    gusts of popular feeling has , imo, a better summary on the “rise” of foreigner crime…

  • The_Korean

    I find it to be the typical racist bullshit. The disguised weasel line was this one:

    더구나 다문화 사회는 인종 갈등이라는 커다란 결함을 안고 있다. . . . 한국도 이제 외국인 유입에 따른 갈등이 서서히 나타나고 있다. 외국인 혐오주의도 발생하고
    외국인 범죄도 많아지고 있다. 다문화주의자들이 주장하는 관용 정신이나 시민적 덕목만으로는 이를 해결할 수 없다.

    The way he phrased “인종갈등이라는 커다란 결함” or “외국인 혐오주의도 발생하고” are repulsive. Such phrasing utterly disclaims any responsibility for Korea’s racism to its minorities. You are not supposed to be racist, period. Whatever problem that arises because of racism is the fault of the racist, not the fault of the racial minority.

    Seen with that subtext in mind, the line above essentially means: “we will always be racist, and having more foreigners in Korea will only
    continue to stoke our racism. Therefore, the solution is to have less
    foreigners.” Right, and the solution to rape is not allow women to be out of the house.

  • José María Areta Ayuso

    The biggest muticultural challenge is North Korea, Korean emigrants who return and the rest of us lagging well behind. This has nothing to do with Westeners or SE Asians. There is, I  guess, a larger picture with many ethnic Koreans with different cultures.

  • The_Korean

     

    I think TheKorean (whose views on this issue probably differ quite
    significantly from mine) also posted some comments once about how the
    “low foreigner crime” meme might be more complicated than it seems, but
    I’ll leave it to him to do the explaining.

    My comment was that the expats who make that point usually misunderstand Korea’s crime statistics and end up significantly inflating Korea’s crime rate. Using the correct stat, the crime rate for Koreans and foreigners are actually about the same.

  • http://www.globalasianculture.com Liz

    All multiculturalism is is a matter of give-and-take.

    I like to think of it in simple terms — treat your fellow human beings with the respect that you’d like to be given if you were in their shoes.

    And that sort of mutual, implicit agreement is increasingly common everywhere. 

    Kim Yeong-myeong sounds like a decent guy — but he’s not addressing the larger issue around multiculturalism as it pertains to Koreans in Korea and abroad. Korean expats are allowed to thrive in these migrant countries — be it the Philippines, Vietnam or even the United States — and they’ve been allowed to build insular enclaves. If this is the case — then not sure how that’s okay but foreigners coming to Korea and not integrating properly isn’t.

    I guess there’s obviously conflicting messages coming from Korea and Koreans — a pretty scattered group but still — I’m willing to bet those on the outside looking in want some kind of a coherent message. 

  • HSchmidt

    Well a lot of these marriages are corrupted and hence they do not last very long and result in no children.

    I would rather see ethnic Koreans in Korea. Maybe I’m being racist but that’s the best way to ensure Korean social security and national interest. 

    As of 2011, Korea doesn’t have the lowest birth rate in the world. Taiwan does. After that it’s Japan. Korea has a higher birth rate than both of these countries. According to a 2011 report from Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21).[139]

    Mail order bride industry is corrupt and it has to be stopped. The Korean government should ban this corrupt industry. Illegal immigrants, forging citizenship papers, sham marriages… are these the things that Korea wants. Not to mention, does Korea need all this corruption?

    Foreigners like us should not try to influence Korea in a bad way. I sure as hell don’t want my native country (Germany, although I’m a US citizen) to become infested with immigrants. 

    I want Korea to preserve Korea’s strength and that is its cultural and ethnic homogeneity. Korea needs to ban mail order bride agencies. I don’t mind multiculturalism here and there, but mail order bride industry is just too corrupt and is causing social instability in Korea.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I find it to be the typical racist bullshit.

    I though you might.

    The way he phrased “인종갈등이라는 커다란 결함” or “외국인 혐오주의도 발생하고” are repulsive. Such phrasing utterly disclaims any responsibility for Korea’s racism to its minorities.

    I think you’re putting words in his mouth, and what’s more, I think you’re sort of proving one of his key points, namely, it’s next to impossible in polite society to raise questions about either multiculturalism or immigration without someone shouting “racist!” I mean, if even as measured a column as Mr. Kim’s draws words like “repulsive,” public debate on this issue is likely to be futile.

  • HSchmidt

    I would much prefer if the Korean government tries to allow more ethnic Koreans into South Korea rather than Southeast Asians. This doesn’t mean just ethnic Koreans from China (probably not the best choice as you’ve seen in the media a couple of months ago), but more ethnic Koreans from Russia, Mongolia and other Central Asian countries and ethnic Koreans from the west. 

    Korea’s immigration policy is too relaxed. We all know this. I want Korea to tighten its immigration policy but still allow foreign workers. 

    Mail order bride industry is one of the biggest threats to Korean social stability. Sham marriages, forging citizenship papers, etc are why mail order bride agencies need to be banned completely.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    Every country who takes immigrants could be complaining about the “wrong” kind of immigrants being drawn into the country. If you want the “right” kind maybe the more affluent white collar who bring with them skills and are less apt to commit crimes. But those people are fickle and just being wealthy country is not enough. Another are people that are closer to Koreans ethnically which are the natives living in siberia, manchuria, and mongolia but they might be poor and less educated given that they come from poorer regions-> problems adapting.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    The problem with banning mail order brides is that those desperate individuals to get married may resort to trafficking of women which will make the problem worse. You’ve just given organized crime free rein to enter another area that plus the fact that rural areas are probably less policed. 

  • Byeonguk Yook

    We want kids but not kids from broken homes that have not worked out. That will only create more problems down the line. It seems like nobody has figured out how to deal with immigrants and low birthrate. In all fairness I haven’t seen a country that has nailed this down. It’s either too restrictive to immigrants and population decline or too open to immigrants with crime with population increase. 

  • HSchmidt

    Multiculturalism can exist in Korea to some extent. 

    But the problem is the mail order bride industry which damages Korean society with sham marriages, scams and forging of illegal citizenship papers. 

    The mail order bride industry is the biggest threat to Korean social stability and makes Korea look like a 3rd world country. I think the mail order bride industry is corrupt and should be banned completely.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    Yea, Koreans haven’t really figured that out. They just caught a bunch of them committing insurance fraud. Why do this? They had trouble adapting. 

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Well, several things. I think Kim was arguing that even if places like the United States, the Philippines or Vietnam make a certain policy decision, we shouldn’t assume said policy will work in Korea. He might also argue that countries that have allowed insular ethnic enclaves to develop now regret their decisions—he cites France and Germany, but in truth he could have cited any number of Western nations that, had they had it to do over again, might have made very different policy decisions in regards to immigration. I think he might also argue that the desirability of said enclaves really depends on who the enclaves are composed of, which is why—at least in theory—why countries have immigration policies rather than throwing the door open to everyone who wants in. 

  • The_Korean

    I think you’re putting words in his mouth

    I really don’t think so. How does racial tension arise, but for racism? Why does xenophobia “occur”, but for racism?

    The key point you noted is exactly the reason why I find opposition to multiculturalism so repulsive:  it is not possible to oppose multiculturalism without endorsing racism. If that makes public debate on this issue futile, that’s fine with me — I would rather not have endorsement of racism on the negotiating table.

  • MikeWC77

    Racism is inevitable. There will ALWAYS be racism whether people like it
    or not. Thus multiculturalism will NEVER work in homogeneous countries
    like Korea.

    So, you’re either racist or you’ve discovered a magical formula which allows you to avoid the inevitable.

    Cross-cultural clashes can be pretty bad.  But you’re willingness to completely ignore the political and economic issues in all your examples is a big part of the problem.  It’s lame to just say it’s all inevitable, because you and everyone else is racist.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I really don’t think so. How does racial tension arise, but forracism? Why does xenophobia “occur”, but for racism?

    I don’t think he necessarily disagrees; he just thinks that’s besides the point. Experience suggests that encouraging large-scale immigration will inevitably lead to racial, ethnic and sectarian tension. The question is, are the social benefits worth it? He never gives an answer to this; he only says the question needs to be asked and answered.

    The key point you noted is exactly the reason why I find opposition to multiculturalism so repulsive:  it is not possible to oppose multiculturalism without endorsing racism.

    I can’t say I’m surprised—you are, after all, the guy who once wrote he’d let everyone into the United States who wanted to come, so I’m sure you realize you’re a bit of an opinion outlier here. I doubt this will pass below your “racist” bar, but I think there are plenty of “non-racist” reasons you’d oppose multiculturalism, including you might like the cultural environment of your community the way it is and see no reason to destroy it by bringing in large numbers of people with different customs and perhaps even values from yours.

  • The_Korean

     

    you are, after all, the guy who once wrote he’d let everyone into the
    United States who wanted to come, so I’m sure you realize you’re a bit
    of an opinion outlier here.

    Yup :) I always wondered why so many of MH’s so-called libertarians never react positively to this argument. By all rights, it should be the ultimate libertarian policy.

    I doubt this will pass below your “racist” bar, but I think there are
    plenty of “non-racist” reasons you’d oppose multiculturalism, including
    you might like the cultural environment of your community the way it is
    and see no reason to destroy it by bringing in large numbers of people
    with different customs and perhaps even values from yours.

    You doubt correctly. How is that reason different from saying: “I like the cultural environment of my country club, made exclusively up of whites, the way it is; I see no reason to destroy it bringing in large numbers of black people with a different approach to golf”?

  • Byeonguk Yook

    What do you mean by “ethnic enclaves”? In countries like US when people first immigrate they start out in ethnic enclaves like Koreatown and Chinatown but as they become well off they move away from those enclaves to more affluent areas. Could it be that racism prevents people in certain other countries from making this progress? I mean as people become more successful which also goes hand in hand with better adapted they blend it better and move away from ethnic enclaves. I suspect that Racism may be part of the problem in countries like France and Germany but then again it is also the problem with the conduct of these immigrants.

  • bumfromkorea

    But what would be the viable alternative for Korea?  It’s suffering from America’s problem (no one wants to work the hard jobs) and Japan’s problem (not enough babies) at the same time, and mass immigration is a very attractive option – if anything else because it’s the easiest option for the gov’t (no real work involved there).

    And I think a critical clarification is needed, Robert.  When you say you are against ‘multiculturalism’, is it in terms of ethnic/racial divergence, or a cultural one?  The charges of racism are thrown easily to the opinions that are against multiculturalism because often the line between ethnic/racial and cultural are unclear (if not non-existent).  The huge population of Southeast Asian Koreans in the rural area and the debate over the inflow of immigrants, I think, are two separate problems.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    I think you are talking about the trafficking behind these operations. I’d be for better policing. I’d be more worried about people from China moving to Korea on forged papers and some of them have criminal past. 

  • Ben Wagner

     “is ‘multiracialism’ unavoidable . . . ?”Yes, with over 200,000 multi-ethnic Koreans already living here, it’s unavoidable.  ” To say that Korea [which] is still a ‘one ethnic group nation,’ should take these nations’ experiences and theories and adopt their multicultural policies like Korea was already a multiracial nation runs counter to reality.”I’d say the claim that Korea is a “one ethnic group nation” and the refusal to recognize the multi-ethnic character of contemporary Korea society is what “runs counter to reality”.  I aslo find it odd to argue that Korea should not listen to other nations’ experiences and theories on multiculturalism – when they are advocating it of course – but then to argue that Korea should in fact listen to the experiences and theories of other nations when they say “multicultural societies have experienced racial tension [and advocate] that multicultural policies should be abandoned.”  “Xenophobia is occurring [and] cannot be solved through just the spirit of tolerance or civic virtue espoused by the multiculturalists.”Can’t fault his logic here. Let’s get rid of of xenophobia by keeping out foreigners. Brilliant.  

  • bulgasari

     Can you explain the alchemy involved in making that assertion?

  • The_Korean

    I gave the most thorough explanation as a comment on ROK Drop, when GI Korea mistakenly claimed that Korea’s crime rate was something like 10 times that of GI’s based on a misreading of the police statistics. Unfortunately, GI Korea took down the shortcut to that post from his front page, so kinda hard to find now…

  • http://www.globalasianculture.com Liz

    It’s interesting to note you mention “the desirability of said enclaves really depends on who the enclaves are composed of” as a plausible argument from Kim. I’m guessing what you mean by that is multiculturalism or pluralism is not really a principle to be upheld, but rather an adjustable concept that should be customized to the limits and the reality of the host country. Am I right?

    It might make more sense then, to — rather than attack multiculturalism — to address the limitations of a country or a society (culture — really) that is facing the prospects of rising immigration into its borders. In Korea’s case, there’s probably enough limitations for Kim’s argument to make sense.

    The question isn’t whether multiculturalism is good or bad — it’s actually a concern about how multicultural-robust a country is, which is probably determined by several variables — and a set of moral values that have worked for the country in the past.

    In Korea’s case, the ‘dan-il-min-jok’ mindset probably has been a big boost to nation-building, especially if we’re talking about industrialization, people arriving in Seoul from all parts of the country to rebuild their lives. Race-conscious Koreanism probably served as a catalyst to help different people get along. Then again, one could argue, that’s not the only way to build a nation, but that is what Korea did, and it is now part of the country’s historical legacy.

    While I would argue that mindset is getting in the way of a more globalized Korea, I see your point, and Kim’s as well. It’s multiculturalism that’s getting in the way of good old-fashioned Korean values, and challenging its 20th century way of life. My only caveat is this isn’t the 20th century (not by a long shot) and better prepared Korea is for the 21st & 22nd centuries, the better off the country will be.

     

  • Kahcoghl

    I would just like to add one little comment to this very complicated issue. 
    Its this fallacy to say that France, England and Germany recently became what this guy is calling multiracial states. These countries were always « multiracial » the only change has been in the general understanding what is race. Just going to show that the concept doesn’t exist in reality. 

    The English thought that the Irish, Welsh and Scottish were always different races.  More than that before immigrants began to arrive after ww2 they divided race along class lines as well. When Italians and Portuguese workers came to England they were a different race. The same works for France.  Before the reorganization of education and the standardization in the 19th  of French, only about 50% of the people living in France spoke French. They divided these populations along race. And they were a different race from the Spanish and Italians.  In the 1930 German already thought they had a racial problem, didn’t they now! It is just historical amnesia to suggest that these populations never thought of themselves as being « racially » mixed. 

    I was going to write more. But I wont. Last thing that I will add will be that the three countries there England, France and Germany all had various was of dealing with the multicultural problem following ww2, each of them complicated and interesting. But were really taking about their reaction to dark faces, right ?
     

  • Immigrant


    I sure as hell don’t want my native country (Germany, although I’m a US citizen) to become infested with immigrants. ”

    So let me get this straight….you’re a native German, but you have US citizenship….doesn’t that make you an immigrant of sorts? What makes you better than the immigrants infesting your native Germany? Could it be because you’re white and they’re not?

    Also, according to your “Ideology”, aren’t you and your family “infesting” the US with your immigrant roots? Also, if you live and work in Korea, doesn’t that make you an IMMIGRANT?! 
     
    BIGOT! Perhaps you’ll start campaigning for the Korean version of the Aryan race…….ahh, I see…..you’ve already started!

  • Cloud

     Is there a way to be economically viable without population growth? It seems to me that S. Korea is crowded enough as is. I’ve never seen tourist sites as crowded as they are here. Sorak San in the fall is like Times Square and very few people seem to be foreign tourists. I see kids and little yellow buses everywhere. There has to be a better way to live than crowded in ugly Soviet style cement atrocities.

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    United States and Canada nailed it down. One can make a case for Australia and New Zealand also.

  • HSchmidt

    Do some research. 
    As of 2011, Korea doesn’t have the lowest birth rate in the world. Taiwan does. After that it’s Japan. Korea has a higher birth rate than both of these countries. According to a 2011 report from Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21).[139]

  • SomeguyinKorea
  • bumfromkorea

    … And?  Unless it’s near 2.1, Korea’s in trouble.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Nationalism and patriotism are  illusions.

    “I’d say I think most governments should have a “balanced policy” regarding foreigners.”

    Please tell us how one who lives abroad can become a landed immigrant on a fast track to citizenship in South Korea as one can in most advanced nations?  You can’t.  How about applying for refugee status here? Not unless you’re North Korean.

    Face it, the amount of immigration that takes place here is hardly worth a mention.  Just because a few South Koreans get their panties in a twist because there is a tiny percentage of the population here that holds foreign passports doesn’t mean that it’s a multicultural society, nor does it meant that it is on its way to becoming one any day soon.  The immigration laws are too insular for that to happen in our lifetimes.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    And so you think all those missing people are going to turn up alive one day?  Such optimism only has its place when it validates one’s argument, right?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    If you ignore the unreported crimes and fudge the statistics to conclude that every missing person is just taking an extended vacation…Sure, the crime rate is about the same.

  • SomeguyinKorea


    Mail order brides are the biggest problem in South Korea”

    Government corruption and collusion with corporations, industrial pollution as a result of that unhealthy relationship,…

    No problem, eh?

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    Of course, if you cite absolutely no statistics at all, the argument becomes a whole lot easier to make.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Yes, I totally agree.  Opposing multiculturalism is an expression of racism.

  • SomeguyinKorea

    The Japanese were opposing multiculturalism when they were trying to assimilate Koreans.

  • HSchmidt

    And mail order bride industry is not the way to solve it. The mail order bride industry has done nothing to increase the birth rate because the birth rate in Korea is still very low. This is because mail order brides are usually involved in sham marriages which cause social instability within Korea. Many of these mail order brides do not have children and choose to leave their husbands after a few months when they get a job. Thus the mail order bride industry is corrupt, exploitative and causes social instability. 

    Mail order bride industry only causes problems in South Korea. The mail order bride industry will NOT increase South Korea’s birth rate. 

    Furthermore, Korea does not need a huge population to be rich. To be competitive, yes Korea does need a young population but that problem will be solved once South Korea and North Korea reunite. North Korea has a larger proportion of the younger population and hence will provide South Korea with a large labor force in exchange for South Korea’s industrial infrastructure.  

    The only way to increase the Korean birth rate is to decrease work load and increase leave benefits like maternity and paternity leave (paternity leave is very generous in Scandinavian countries).  

    The mail order bride industry is not the answer to Korea’s birth rate problem. Many of these women do not have children because they are involved in sham and deceptive marriages and often go to Korea for purely economic reasons (i.e. to get a job and send money back to their families in Southeast Asia). This is what I call corruption and a causative factor of social instability in South Korea. 

    Mail order bride industry must be banned completely. 

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Nationalism and patriotism are  illusions.

    I don’t think it is. I think they are both products of a common cultural identity and shared historical experience. Just because many places in the West have jettisoned these ideas doesn’t make them illusionary. 

    Please tell us how one who lives abroad can become a landed immigrant on a fast track to citizenship in South Korea as one can in most advanced nations?  You can’t.  How about applying for refugee status here? Not unless you’re North Korean.

    A “landed” immigrant? Well, that might be tough, although that’s more a function of housing prices than it is immigration law. But in terms of becoming a citizen, it’s actually fairly easy, especially if you come from a developed nation. It’s just that most people aren’t comfortable with giving up their original passports. I think commenter “cm”—whom I hope is commenting under a different name here—nailed it on the head a while ago when he said that unlike, say, Canada, Korea doesn’t just embrace any and all. You’ve got to WANT to be Korean, and you’ve got to work for it. I can see how if you come from a country where a passport is just a convenience, this might be difficult to accept. I’m American—a country that still, by and large, places “illusionary” importance on citizenship relative to some other Western countries—so I can I can understand it better.

    Face it, the amount of immigration that takes place here is hardly worth a mention.  Just because a few South Koreans get their panties in a twist because there is a tiny percentage of the population here that holds foreign passports doesn’t mean that it’s a multicultural society, nor does it meant that it is on its way to becoming one any day soon.  The immigration laws are too insular for that to happen in our lifetimes.

    I actually agree—as a friend once told me, the more Korea talks about being a multicultural society, the more you realize it isn’t. I tend to agree with those who voice skepticism about promoting multiculturalism and large-scale immigration, but with a caveat—it might seem like there are a lot of foreigners in Korea now, but with a foreign-born population of just 3% or so, anti-immigration types really don’t have much to complain about. Heck, in the United States, illegal immigrants alone accounted for 4% of the population prior to the financial crisis, and something like 8% in border states like California and Arizona. Immigration policy is doing what they want it to do. Not to be blunt, but that wackjob in Norway cited Korea and Japan for a reason.

  • Arghaeri

    Of course, if its viable one year, why should it be any less viable the next with idenditcal GDP, especially if bithrate us down, GDP Per Person is actually up.

  • Arghaeri

    You kidding right!

  • Arghaeri

    As far as I recall the riots in Britain last year appeared to be a very open multicultural affair, even if the trigger (excuse) was initially a racial protest.

  • Arghaeri

    Aren’t the Chaebols supplied by those SME’s?

  • SomeguyinKorea

     You’ve got to work to be a refugee, unless you’re North Korean…That’s effed up.

    And nationalism and patriotism are illusions.  They are both the conviction that your own country is the best in the world just because you were born there.

  • SomeguyinKorea

     The Korean, 

    Statistics?  Are you going to deny that children and adults go missing every day in South Korea?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I wasn’t referring to refugee status (the granting of which in Korea is overly restrictive, I think most of us will agree). You asked about becoming a “landed immigrant.” Unless, of course, you’re acknowledging that many try to use refugee status as a means of “backdoor immigration”:

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/story/2009/04/15/cgy-mexicans-kenney-immigration.html
    http://www.cis.org/TemporaryRefugees-PolicyImplications

    And nationalism and patriotism are illusions. They are both the conviction that your own country is the best in the world just because you were born there.

    Perhaps that’s what they are to you, but they’re not to everyone. They are simply an acknowledgement and expression of pride in a shared identity, history and destiny. It’s like a family—I’m proud of my family, but that does not mean I think my family is “better” than yours. Are you going to tell me that the Korean nationalism during the Japanese colonial era was a bad thing?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

     I’m guessing what you mean by that is multiculturalism or pluralism is not really a principle to be upheld, but rather an adjustable concept that should be customized to the limits and the reality of the host country. Am I right?

    Sounds about right. Depending on its implementation, diversity and pluralism–or ethnic diversity and pluralism, since that’s really what we’re talking about—can be useful and beneficial. Of course, so can ethnic homogeneity—see Korea and Japan. Personally, I don’t see what my being white brings to Korea in and of itself other than drastically lowering the average melanin count of my office.

    Anyway, I—and Prof. Kim, I think—are just saying immigration and population policies are just that—policies. They are the result of choices, choices that ideally should be made with something resembling a social consensus. I see, however, judging from some of the comments above, not everyone feels immigration should be a matter of social discussion.

  • HSchmidt

    I hope these multiracial children go back to their mother’s countries in Southeast Asia. Southeast Asia’s agricultural industries are rapidly booming and these multiracial children are usually children of Southeast Asian mothers and Korean farmers. 

    Therefore these multiracial children would assimilate much better in farming communities in Southeast Asia. 

    South Korea’s agricultural industry is receding as it is arguably the most technologically advanced country in the world. Therefore the Korean government should offer multiracial children incentives to migrate to Southeast Asian nations in order to support the rapidly booming agricultural industries in Vietnam, Thailand and the Phillipines. Furthermore, these multiracial children would have no problems communicating within their mothers’ country since the mothers are usually fluent in their native language. 

  • HSchmidt

    Not true. Do more research. South Korea has a higher birthrate than Taiwan and Japan.

  • SomeguyinKorea

     Pawi is most probably a fat white guy…a picture of which I posted a link to before someone censored it (Really, Robert?  Is that why you’ve gone to Disqus?  Tsk, tsk, tsk…)

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Bringing up Korean nationalism during the Japanese occupation after you’ve censored a comment I’ve made about how the Japanese were opposed to multiculturalism when they tried to assimilate the Koreans…Please, you’re being absurd hypocritical.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Someguyinkorea: I didn’t censor your comment-press “More Comments” at the bottom.

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  • Bob Bobbs

    So RJ, that irony. How you gonna get past it? 

  • TheGC

    “According to a 2011 report from Chosun Ilbo, South Korea’s total fertility rate (1.23 children born per woman) is higher than those of Taiwan (1.15) and Japan (1.21).”
    Look at this. You’re arguing over eight hundredths of a point. A stable society needs at least a 2.1 fertility rate in order to maintain its population. So Korea’s not the biggest loser, just the third worst!
    It’s like arguing about who started a fire, while your house is burning down. Doesn’t solve anything.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    It’s not whether the country wants to be multicultural or not. It is that once country becomes affluent people from poorer countries tend to either get recruited or immigrate to those countries to earn money. Result you get people from different cultures. I wish Korea would have looked at other countries that have experience with immigrants such as France, Germany, and US. 

  • Byeonguk Yook

    How? US continues to have issues with illegal immigration and smuggling rings.  Aren’t Australians going to be complaining about shortage of workers?

  • Byeonguk Yook

    It’s not about crowding it is the level of economic activity that has to be maintained. If population shrinks then the high level of economic activity in Korea will be harder to maintain. 

  • Byeonguk Yook

    I think the education material needs to be changed since people are taught that they are one homogenous race. 

  • Byeonguk Yook

    What about Korea? Are you going to depopulate the rural areas then? Kicking them out isn’t going to solve anything. What are you going to do about the demographic decline?

  • Byeonguk Yook

    I don’t think you will be able to get all of them to move back to Korea. Even if you got more of them to come it would still be a challenge to get them to integrate. They’ve been there since their grandparents or great grandparents generation.

  • Byeonguk Yook

    The cosmopolitan cities became great not because of locals but because foreigners acknowledge them and got to know them. Unfortunately with immigrants there is going to be an underclass but the point is that is Seoul aspires to be a “hub” then people have to recognize that foreigners have to be drawn into the city and get to know it at the very least.

  • White devil

    “You are not supposed to be racist, period” – And yet people are, and have been for thousands of years. Tribalism, and the urge to define ‘in’ and ‘out’ groups is a constant in human history. To ignore this, and to base immigration policies on how people should behave, seems naive in the extreme.

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