The Marmot's Hole

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Korean companies face anti-discrimination lawsuits in United States

Korea’s major corporations may be experiencing some, ahem, growing pains in the United States.

Two women in the United States have filed a lawsuit in a US federal court in Georgia against three companies, including a major Korean company identified only as Company A, and two executives for allegedly firing them after they got pregnant.

The women, who were sent to the big Korean company’s local factory by subcontractor, claim Company A’s Korean manager said pregnant women are a headache to the company and ordered the subcontractor to terminate their contracts. One of the women also said the Korean manager yelled at her that she was incapable of doing her work because of her pregnancy and told her that if she didn’t leave he’d call the guards.

She claims the day after the fight, she was sent to an empty warehouse with no air conditioning or drinking water and with a broken bathroom. The subcontractor said they’d back her up, but instead they fired her after she gave birth.

The two women reportedly brought the matter before the EEOC last year, but earlier this year withdrew that and filed a lawsuit.

Company A, meanwhile, said the lawsuit is nonsense. In an phone call with Yonhap, the head of the company’s US subsidiary said this was a matter with the subcontractor and had nothing to do with them. The stuff about the manager was also one-sided and untrue.

Interestingly enough, the manager in question left the company last year and was excluded as a defendant.

An industry official thinks Company A was included in the suit to increase the potential pot.

This case comes on the heals of another case in Georgia in which Hyundai Heavy Industry’s US subsidiary got sued by a former executive for racial discrimination.

The executive, who is white, claimed he and some other executives were sacked by the subsidiary president, a Korean-American, because they were a) old and b) weren’t Korean. Some 13 executives had their contracts terminated in 2009; of these, 11 were non-Koreans. They were allegedly replaced entirely by young Koreans.

The plaintiff also claimed he felt ostracized by the Koreans, who ate and played golf only among themselves.

The plaintiff lost the case, but as editorial writer Sunny Yang writes in the JoongAng Ilbo:

The head of the subsidiary made racial jokes, and Korean employees had a cliquish culture that excluded locally hired employees. If the suit were filed by a non-white American, would the company have been able to avoid the charge? Hyundai may have benefitted from the preconception held by many in America that Caucasians are traditionally the inflictors of racial discrimination.

I found the possibility that the guy may have been screwed by the racial politics of not just one, but two countries darkly amusing.

Anyway, you can read more about the case (in English) here.

Now, it should be noted here that an all-white jury found in favor of Hyundai. Hyundai argued that for business reasons it preferred employees fluent in Korean and Spanish. It also argued that due to the nature of the company, it would be difficult to conduct international business in English only. One of the lawyers who handled the case told the US edition of the JoongAng Ilbo that the jurors agreed that it wasn’t unusual that, for instance, German would be used in a German company or French in a French company. Or as the Oranckay tweeted:

The Hanguk Ilbo put it thus—the jury recognized that if we consider that Korean was a major language of communication within the company, preference for a certain race was largely unavoidable. Feel free to debate “racism as motivation vs. racism as outcomes” among yourselves.

Nevertheless, some are calling for Korean companies in the United States to use the case as an opportunity to reflect. An official with one major Korean company with a subsidiary based in Atlanta told the Hanguk Ilbo that there have been endless complaints among American employees that the Koreans associate only among themselves. After the case, Hyundai Heavy Industries asked (presumably Korean) employees not to eat kimchi in the office.

I shit you not.

An official with another major Korean company said a lot of misunderstanding occur because family-oriented American employees can’t really get with the whole poktanju thing and that Korean staff were being told to watch what they do and say so that the company doesn’t get sued.

The head of Hyundai Heavy Industry’s US subsidiary, John Lim, had apparently caused something of a stir during a 2011 ceremony to mark the move of the subsidiary’s headquarters from Chicago to Atlanta when he joked that there was a way to tell Koreans, Chinese and Japanese apart—if they look rich, they’re Chinese; if they look smart, they’re Japanese; and if they’re good-looking, they’re Korean. Apparently Georgia’s governor and other state political and business big-wigs were in the audience.

In Yonhap, an official with a major Korean company said there were many cases in the United States of thoughtless words said by executives coming back as lawsuits. He said his company asked executives to watch what they say and do, but this wasn’t working as requested due to what he called Korea’s unique workplace culture in which employees speak candidly when they grow close.

I’ll let you ponder that last line on your own.

Anyway, judging from the reports, I can’t really tell which aspect of American culture Korean companies are rudely awakening to: our dislike of racial and gender discrimination or our butt-hurt litigiousness. Maybe a little of both.

Hey, at least multiracial kids might be better at sport

In the Korea Times, Asian Friends president Jimmy the Greek Kim Jun-sik explains why multiracial children might make better athletes:

Kim Jun-sik, president of Asian Friends, notes that “the so-called mixed-blood hybrids” tend to have better physical features compared to those with a “pure blood” lineage.

“Biologically, children from an interracial marriage have an advantage as seen from world famous stars as former NFL football player Hines Ward, born to an African American father and Korean mother,” he said.

Kim said that multiracial children should not feel ashamed of their ethnic identity for not having “pure Korean blood,” which some xenophobes often mention even though it is based on a myth.

I can only hope Islander scouts are paying notice.

Multicultural kids still got it rough: Ye Olde Chosun

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.

Well, that’s one way to deal with negative Chinese bloggers, I suppose

The Korea Times notes that anti-Korean sentiment is growing in China in part because of growing person-to-person contacts.

This, of course, lends itself to a rather simple solution:

Won Dong-wook, a professor of China studies at Dong-A University in Busan, noted that the sharp growth of such exchanges is a root cause of anti-Korea sentiment in China and therefore is also a key to easing it.

“Given that Chinese students who have a hard time adapting to Korea and Korean universities tend to cause the negative sentiment through social media, I believe university authorities will need to adopt more stringent admissions policies,” he said.

Won said that currently, universities accept most Chinese students who express their intention to study here without imposing a strict admission process just to make money.

These young Chinese have an understanding of the Korean language and culture, and tweet the negative aspects of Korea to their friends and followers in China so that they can see them. Their friends then retweet this information, giving Chinese bloggers a bad impression of the country.

See? Limit the contacts, and you limit the negativity!

(HT to J.F. Power)

Diversity winning Koreans back to Itaewon?

In case you didn’t see it, I’ll link NPR’s recent story on Itaewon:

Itaewon is a neighborhood in South Korea that locals used to avoid because it attracted a high number of foreigners, especially young American soldiers from the U.S. Army Garrison just down the hill. But Itaewon’s image has changed in recent years — it’s now a trendy hangout for young Koreans, attracted by its relatively liberal atmosphere in a culturally conservative nation.

No doubt Itaewon has changed a lot—lots of Koreans visiting on the weekends, including families and all the Gangnam girls doing the “Sex & the City” brunch thing. On our alley near Gyeongnidan alone, we’ve recently gotten a German bakery, a microbrewery and a Greek place. Things are certainly looking and feeling better.

That said, I do wonder how the people who actually live in Itaewon feel about the changing face (and faces) of their neighborhood. I’d be keen to see some survey numbers.

(HT to reader)

Weekly Chosun on multiculturalism, xenophobia

The Weekly Chosun, the weekly (duh) magazine of the Chosun Ilbo, did a feature piece on multiculturalism and xenophobia in Korea.

It’s a long piece which I haven’t the time (or inclination, frankly) to translate, but allow me to summarize:

  • A Korean shopkeeper in the highly joseonjok Garibong-dong district of Seoul bitches about how all the Koreans have moved out, that the joseonjok and migrant laborers are always causing problems, and they send all their money to China rather than spending it here. Moreover, their kids are granted residency and get all the benefits of citizenship, but without having to go into the military. Oh, he also said multicultural policies are “policies to exterminate the minjok” and complained that Filipino-born Jasmine Lee is a lawmaker despite the fact that nobody voted for her. Why this was different from any other proportional representative, he did not say, nor did the reporter apparently ask.
  • Yep, there was the ugly incident at a hearing conducted by Jasmine Lee on multicultural policy. You’re starting to see the appearance in Korea of xenophobic groups of the type seen in the West. In particular, these groups—once confined to the Internet—are now appearing in public. And it appears these groups will grow in these economically depressed times with claims that foreigners are stealing their jobs.
  • You could say xenophobia in Korea is still rather limited. Moreover, the people complaining about the government’s “excessive” multi-cultural policies and “reverse discrimination” try to avoid terms like “xenophobia.” The head of the group that sneaked into Rep. Lee’s hearing told the Weekly Chosun that expressing diverse opinions about multicultural policies and protecting ones own citizens from reverse discrimination was not racial hatred. Since April, with Rep. Lee’s election to the National Assembly and the Oh Won-chun killing, their have been growing voices—centered on some far-right groups—directed against resident foreigners, and xenophobic groups have been growing on the Internet. What’s more, some Koreans living in neighborhoods with a lot of foreign laborers are sympathetic, if not in full agreement. One pharmacist in Ansan’s so-called “Multicultural Street” said there’s violence and disorderly behavior almost every day, and now he’s got three CCTVs in his shop. He thought the far-right groups were excessive, but he sort of understood. A housewife in Ansan said she knew in her head that migrant laborers were people just like us (i.e., Koreans), but she still worried about kids going back and forth from schools near Multicultural Street.
  • There are several “anti-foreigner/anti-multicultural” groups on the web, all of which have over 2,000 members; the largest one has about 9,800 members. Most remain just Internet groups, but several have registered themselves as civic groups. One group upset largely at the importation of cheap foreign labor and its impact on low income families has been operating since 2004. It slowed down late last year, but picked up again with the election of Rep. Lee. Another group, this one much more explicitly xenophobic (“No Entry to Dogs, Foreigners or Pro-North Koreans”), got active in April, too, with the election of Rep. Lee. These groups have got lots of kinds of folk, including students, men fell prey to scam marriages with foreign women, and mothers with school-age children. The level of xenophobia differs, too. You have “moderates” who just write and share essays, and more “activist” groups who go to multiculturalism-related events to shout slogans and demonstrate. The activists recently seem focused on Rep. Lee. They learn her schedule ahead of time to show up, picket and prevent her from talking. They’re also a regular fixture at any event attended by Kim Hae-seong, the head of this group dedicated to resolving migrant laborer issues. Along with opposing the government’s multicultural policies, they also spend a lot of time sharing tales of international marriage scams, news reports on foreigner crime and info on how to turn in illegal aliens. They also make claims about the coming cultural clashes and fissures in national identity, the destruction of Korea’s ethnic purity, foreign gangsters, and reverse discrimination. Some of the more extreme ones are also calling for indiscriminate violence against foreigners in Korea. Some militant types want to coin the term “Chiuheads,” an amalgamation of “Chiu Cheonwang” and “skinheads.” Sort of like Buddhist monks, I suppose, but with Doc Martens instead of gomusin.
  • These groups generally complain about “rising foreigner crime due to the indiscriminate influx of foreigners.” Academia and civic groups actually agree that foreigner crime is rising. One professor told the Weekly Chosun that we must pay heed to the possibility that migrant labor anger regarding unpaid wages, abuse from employers and social discrimination might express itself in group crime. Some experts also say there isn’t a close correlation between the rising number of resident foreigners and the rising crime rate. Another professor said there are no objective stats demonstrating a correlation between the rising number of foreigners and rates of criminality. In particular, in 2011, just 1.9% of resident foreigners became criminal suspects, a much lower rate than the 3.7% for locals. Just 0.05% of criminal suspects were foreigners. Even the professor who warned against migrant laborers becoming a criminal group said one must manage the danger factors, not exaggerated the problem.
  • Another common claim is that foreigners are taking jobs from Koreans. However, the foreign laborers and marriage immigrants—who bear the brunt of these groups’ attacks—come to Korea due to social needs. Some, however, argue that unrealistically excessive multicultural policies are making xenophobia worse. An official from Rep. Lee’s own office told the Weekly Chosun that overusing support policies with knowing what foreigners need and how are meaningless. One official from a civic group dealing with multicultural families expressed concern that the multiculturalism issue had been excessively politicized, and that this in turn seemed to be earning the ire of far right-wing groups. Indeed, both central and local governments were engaged in policies aimed at multicultural families and migrant laborers. But is Korea really so multicultural a society that xenophobic groups should be protesting? Scholars, politicians and civic groups all agree it ain’t. At least not yet. As of 2011, foreigners accounted for just 2.7% of the population. There were just 400,000—500,000 multicultural families.
  • Experts say the manner in which locals and foreigners coexist is the key to the multicultural age, and to find this, we need to create a space for public debate. The secretary general of the Korea Multicultural Center (with whom the Weekly Chosun conducted a full interview also probably worth summarizing) said we should be able to talk comfortably openly, regardless of whether you agree or disagree with multiculturalism. The government’s multicultural and foreigner management policies should be based on this, he said.

Marmot’s Note: With the foreign population under 3% of the total population, the far right hasn’t really earned the right to bitch yet. Cheer up, guys—in Korea, immigration policy apparently works.

I suppose it’s never too early to get a social discourse going on multiculturalism, though, and like the Korea Multicultural Center head said, we need to be able to talk comfortably about this. I understand, however, that we’re not all in agreement on this point.

A note about foreign crime. One wonders which stats to trust. Not long ago, the Weekly Chosun’s parent newspaper reported that foreigners accounted for a disproportion high number of murders in Korea. And yesterday, a report on Incheon’s crackdown on major foreigner crimes claimed that while the foreign population has increased 30% since 2007, the number of foreign criminals have climbed 80%.

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.

Continue reading

Chinese students bitching

Also on the multiculti front, the Dong-A Ilbo interviewed three Chinese exchange students at a private university in Seoul. To sum up, they developed anti-Korean sentiment while they were here, feeling that Korea is a nation that disrespects China. They complained of Korean students asking them stupid questions about China, Korean students liking white students from Migukistan and Europe more, and Korean students treating Chinese not from Beijing or Shanghai like they’re barbarians.

None want to stay in Korea or do work related to Korea, and when asked what they’d say about Korea when they return to China, they said they probably wouldn’t say anything good.

Marmot’s Note: I gather from the news their Korean classmates don’t feel particularly respected, either.

PS: Please keep your Great Wall off Goguryeo land. Thanks for your cooperation.

No sundae making for the Muslims: human rights watchdog

National Human Rights Commission has judged that if religion is not taken into consideration when assigning workers to workplaces, it could be regarded as discrimination.

The case before the commission was brought by an Indonesian worker who was tasked with making sundae for a Korean foodstuffs company. When he asked the boss to re-assign him elsewhere, the boss refused. Hence the complaint.

During the course of the investigation, the company did agree to re-assign the worker.

Foreign husband troubles

The JoongAng looks at the woe that has befallen some of the Korean women who have married men from Pakistan and Bangladesh:

As the number of international marriages continues to rise, there is no shortage of stories painting multiculturalism in a positive light. But one such marriage has left a woman fighting for custody of her son in a trend of marital deception that appears to be growing.

The woman, who asked to be identified only as Oh, 38, is part of an Internet group with thousands of members who have suffered as a result of marriages with Pakistani and Bangladeshi men. The Korean women writing there have shared stories of being tricked into marriages with migrant workers from the two countries as well as verbal and physical abuse.

Needless to say, it’s all TV’s fault:

“There are so many women who have similar stories as mine. Most of us were hesitant to marry a migrant worker, but all of the TV shows and news stories beautifying multiculturalism and the stories of multicultural families living happily in Korea comforted us,” Oh said. “But now, all of us are suffering from broken marriages. I just don’t want to see any more victims like myself.”

Your Uncle Marmot is not going to touch this.

And don’t blame me. Blame Gypsy Scholar. I read it on his blog first.

Moving on…

Earlier in the month, online daily eToday looked at how even as Korean society grows more multicultural, Korean women married to foreign dudes are still being ostracized (great graphic, BTW). They talked to one woman who just broke up with her American boyfriend: the relationship was fine, but she got tired of people around her asking her questions (“How could you go out when you can’t communicate? How’s he in bed?) and thinking she’s a slut. They also talked to another woman who married a Thai man she met while she was studying abroad. He’s an educated man, good-looking and capable, but people still think he’s a guest worker. Moreover, because he’s neither a “marriage immigrant” or a Korean national, they can’t can’t the government support offered other multicultural families.

The paper notes that while attitudes towards international marriages and relationships are turning towards the better due to globalization, women stll avoid making public relationships with foreign men due to lingering social prejudices.

They asked women with foreign husbands or boyfriends why it seemed only Korean women still faced difficulties with international relationships. Their responses?

  • The stigma of the yang gongju—the Korean women who went about with American servicemen in the 1960s and 1970s—continues to live on. The woman who just broke up with her American boyfriend cited this as the reason, saying that people carefully but continuously kept asking her questions about their sex life, questions that nobody would ask if her boyfriend were Korean. The paper noted you could easily find hateful comments or posts about women dating foreigners on portal sites.
  • Pure blood and parental opposition. The parents of Mrs. A, who is married to a Canadian of Chinese descent, wouldn’t meet her husband while they were still going out. Only after he proposed did they relent and meet him. In Korea, where ideas about “pure blood” still run strong, women who date foreigners are branded. Strong parental opposition to their daughters dating foreigners is connected to this. Moreover, foreign husbands without Korean blood are thoroughly relegated to non-mainstreem status in Korean society. In the case of the woman who married the Thai dude, they left Korea to live in Thailand due to the discrimination she witnessed her then-boyfriend take. He spoke perfect English, and spoke Chinese, Thai and Korean, but could find no work in Korea, and was sometimes treated unkindly because he was Thai.
  • Cultural tensions. Mr. B, a university English instructor who married a Korean women, said he felt when he was dating his wife in Korea, Koreans they met would force Korean culture on him. For example, in America, squid is rarely eaten, and there are few dishes with fish with heads still attached. When they went out to eat in Korea, however, Koreans would not respect these cultural differences and forced him to eat unfamiliar dishes, telling him they were good for him and delicious. He wanted to actively learn and exerience the culture of Korea, the land of the woman he loved. He was perplexed, however, at being forced to chose between his tastes and cultural sensibilities and those of Korea. Korean women with foreign boyfriends are apparently sick of this, too, having to hear people bitch about “Korean identity” when they try to protect their boyfriends from this.
  • Only Korean men are supposed to marry foreigners.

The problem is, according to the paper, that these attitudes are deeply rooted in society. You can easily see this in the Multicultural Family Support Law, which defines multicultural families as “marriage immigrants and family members who have acquired Korean citizenship.” Korean women who marry foreign men resident in Korea are not included.

Xenophobia grows louder: KT

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Norway, the KT expresses concern that similar anti-immigrant sentiment might lead to attacks here:

“Our citizens are being forced to compete with migrant workers for low-income jobs. What’s the government doing to protect our interests from the aliens?”

“Let’s keep our jobs from foreign workers and tell them to just go back to their own countries.”

Such messages are posted on the website of a Seoul-based anti-foreign civic group, which has more than 5,000 members. The group claims the government should rewrite laws to ban local firms from hiring migrant workers until the country achieves a $25,000 per capita income and disallow marriages between Korean women and those from poor nations.

The bombing and shooting rampage by an anti-Muslim extremist in Norway that killed 76 people has sparked fears of possible assaults on migrant workers here.

According to one migrant workers group, such groups are growing organized:

“We are receiving more threatening calls from such groups than ever before,” said Kim Ki-don from the Korea Migrant Human Rights Center. “They regularly post anti-foreign messages on websites and spread news about crimes committed by foreigners. They are becoming organized.”

Likewise, the Maeil Gyeongje ran a piece on xenophobia in Korean cyberspace.

Still, not everyone is particularly worried—from the KT piece:

Prof. Han Kyung-koo of Seoul National University said xenophobia could become a major social problem in Korea like other countries around the world, but Koreans are mostly favorable toward foreigners.

“What’s important is to develop more programs to help immigrants adapt themselves and contribute to the development of the Korean society,” Han said.

I would hasten to add there’s another reason I wouldn’t worry too much — put bluntly, Korea and Japan have done fairly well keeping their immigrant population to low and socially tolerable levels. Sure, you hear a lot about multiracialism and multiculturalism in Korea, but as a friend of mine once put it, the more you hear Korea talk about being a multicultural society, the more you realize it ain’t. Last year, there were a grand total of 1.26 million foreigners in Korea, accounting for just over 2% of the population. Not exactly a paragon of diversity (and I don’t mean that in a derogatory sense). Sure, sentiment might change if Korea really does get with the whole multi-culti thing, and 2% is still a big number for Korea, but — and I know I’m stating the obvious here — the situation is quite different from that of the West.

More Adventures in Multi-Kulti

In MetsLand, two Republican councilmen have introduced a bill that would ban foreign-language only signs:

Queens, a district of New York, is to regulate foreign language signs by requiring English translations.

Two Republican councilmen, Peter Koo from Flushing and Dan Halloran of Whitestone, are planning on introducing the controversial bill.

When the new law is enforced, shop owners are forced to change their signs so that at least 60 percent is written in English. Some streets in areas like Flushing are expected to go through major changes, as their appearance today is not so different from those of Seoul.

Hold on there — I’m sure they’re plenty different from those of Seoul. For starters, the streets in Seoul probably have more English signs.

BTW, Han Halloran is apparently something of a Viking pagan. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The New York Daily News cites tourism and safety concerns for the bill:

The bill is intended to quell a culture clash between homegrown residents and new immigrants.

“We have to make sure people know about these stores. We want to help these businesses expand and help them attract more tourists,” Koo said.

The English signage will also help cops and firefighters, Halloran said.

“Our public safety officers need to know exactly where they need to respond to and what their surroundings will be when they enter the location,” he said.

Not everybody is happy about this, of course:

Ikhwan Kim, president of the Union Street Merchants Association in Flushing, slammed the bill as “ridiculous.” Kim, who owns a jewelry store, said changing the signage will hit merchants’ bottom lines, no matter how much time they have.

“If you change the sign, it’s going to cost you extra money,” Kim said.

Yeah, not to mention encourage the “wrong” kind of customer to show up.

Meanwhile, a continent and a ocean away, in the charming Seoul suburb of Ansan, four East Timorese were detained and 11 others booked without detention for a group assault on two Indonesians passing by on the street. According to the report, two of the Timorese were drinking with some Indonesians when there was an argument and the Indonesians rudely left. So one of the Timorese called some friends over and they went to town on two other Indonesians who happened to be passing by.

Police believe the attack to have been motivated by bad blood related to Indonesia’s rule over East Timor from 1975 to 1999.

Video footage here.

And I thought my old avatar was cute…

Columnist Oh Tae-jin warns against the rise of foreign gangs with Korea’s growing multiculturalism:

A police crackdown that ended early this month led to the arrest of 1,249 foreigners and 79 indictments. Most cases involved extortion and violence. And the foreign gangs are seeking to join hands with organized Korean crime. It is only a matter of time before they expand their reach into Korean society. The country needs to think twice about welcoming foreigners without proper screening. There has to be a system of background checks and records of visitors. Without it, Korea could be headed toward a dangerous future.

No argument from me. What I really dig, though, is the accompanying graphic:

Now THAT’s menacing!

ROK military goes multi-ethnic

The military has removed the term “minjok” from its oath of enlistment:

The military has decided to omit the word “minjok,” which refers to the Korean race, from the oath of enlistment for officers and soldiers, and replace it with “the citizen.” The measure reflects the growing number of foreigners who gain Korean citizenship and of children from mixed marriages entering military service.

Article 5 of the law governing military service stipulates that new officers and enlisted soldiers have to swear “utmost loyalty to the nation and the race as a soldier of the Republic of Korea.” One military official said, “The change will apply immediately at the upcoming enlistment ceremony for officers on April 26 and all thereafter.”

It was only in January that Korea extended the draft to include males of multi-ethnic families:

Around 350 men falling into that category underwent physical examination and around 100 of them are presently serving on active duty. And there are 140 career soldiers whose spouses come from abroad.

Five-O to crack down on foreign gangs, gov’t to help slums

And going into the “Ain’t Multiculturalism Grand?” file, we have this from the Korean Herald:

South Korea said Monday it will crack down on foreigner gang crimes, which are on the rise as the number of non-Korean nationals increase each year in this traditionally homogeneous country.

The National Police Agency said it will launch a five-month crackdown from Tuesday on foreign gangsters who are known to be expanding their influence in foreigner-populated areas such as Itaewon in Seoul.
[...]
According to the police agency’s press release last year, foreigners who were arrested for involvement in the five major crimes ― homicide, robbery, burglary, rape and physical assault ― rose by nearly 20 percent from two years before.

Grouped in accordance with their nationalities, foreign gangsters are becoming notorious for drug dealing, voice phishing, kidnapping and illegal money loaning activities, police said.

Christ, who knew Itaewon was a veritable Guy Ritchie film?

Meanwhile, with communities with large foreign communities showing signs of “slumification,” the government is also trying — at the cost of 3.17 billion won — to improve living conditions in such neighborhoods to prevent crime from rising and help improve communication between Korean and foreign residents. This means the installation of security lights and CCTVs as well as the creation of multicultural education centers and parks.

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