The Korea Times reports that last year saw a huge jump in the number of children born to multicultural families:
Births from multiracial marriages sharply increased last year at a far higher level than among Koreans, figures showed Wednesday.
According to Statistics Korea, 22,014 babies were born to such families last year, up 1,702 or 8.4 percent from the previous year. The rate is much higher than the 0.2 percent increase for Korean couples.
But their contribution may shrink in the future as divorces for this demographic have continuously risen and there has been a relatively big decline in interracial marriages.
The Chosun Ilbo also notes a big jump in the number of multicultural children born over the last four years, but also notes that these children are having a rough go at it in school.
Some kids are teased by their elementary school classmates for their appearance, or because one of their parents comes from a poorer nation. Or they are told they smell.
The bigger problem, however, is that they the young ones aren’t learning to speak Korean properly, perhaps because their mothers aren’t Korean. One kid, a 19-month-old boy born to a Korean father and Vietnamese mother who came to Korea two years ago, still can’t say eomma (“mother”) properly, and instead tells his mom what he wants by hitting her, throwing things at her or spitting. According to the whatever the Health and Welfare Ministry is calling itself nowadays, the percentage of multicultural kids whose speech development is six months later than normal or more climbs from 18.6% at age two to 67.2% at age six. 18% of six-year-old multicultural kids have speech impediments.
Then there’s discrimination due to culture and history. One 14-year-old girl in Seoul born to a Japanese mother said her school friends abuse her each time Dokdo comes up in the news, yelling at her, “Your mom’s a Jap, isn’t she? Go back to your country. Don’t hang around here.”
The director of the Multicultural Family Support Center of whatever the Women and Family Ministry is calling themselves nowadays said that the number of multicultural families would increase in the future, and if things continue as they are now, it’s very possible it will lead to social tensions.
Some think Korea’s inflexible social atmosphere must change. One six-year-old boy born to a Mongolian mother was ostracized by his kindergarten friends because he grew his hair down to his shoulders in accordance with Mongolian tradition. Some point out it’s problematic that Koreans consider it natural that Koreans living overseas keep their traditions, but they frown on foreigners doing the same in Korea. The director of some other multicultural family education center in Seoul said in many cases, the first teachers to deal with children of multicultural families cannot understand them, and that multicultural understanding should be included in the teacher certification test.
The Chosun also warns that crime by multicultural teens is also becoming a social issue. In March, a 17-year-old boy in Gwangjin-gu with a Russian mother was arrested on charges of lighting three fires, including one in a parking lot that burnt the outside of a row house. It turned out he’d been teased and ostracized at school due to his appearance.