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Biracial model Han Hyeon-min

Posted November. 06, 2017 07:59,   

Updated November. 06, 2017 08:20


It is not surprising for children from multi-cultural families, although born and raised in Korea as a respectable Korean, to face uncomfortable situations. They are complimented for eating Korean food well when they eat tteokbokki, Korean stir-fried rice cake, at snack stands and draw admirations for speaking good Korean when chatting with friends in subways. Prejudice that can be felt in words spat out unconsciously by adults, who have not been able to escape the boundary of a homogenous society, leave scars to young hearts.

Racial discrimination is not just a problem in the United States. Children from multi-cultural families in Korea receive unfathomable stress at various turning points in life such as studies, employment and marriage, just because their appearance or skin color is different. In particular, biracial children need determination to tread a thorny path. Han Hyeon-min, a 16-year-old model who was born to a Nigerian father and a Korean mother, overcame such discrimination and became the only Korean to be listed in the “30 Most Influential Teens in 2017,” published by the Time weekly magazine.

Han Hyeon-min is the only half-black model in Korea. In just a year and a half since his debut, he was in more than 20 shows at the Seoul Fashion Week and became a top model. He talked about his childhood at an interview with Time. Mothers of his friends would point at him and say “Don’t hang out with him. Your skin color will get dark if you play with him.” Nonetheless, Han Hyeon-min, who was born and raised in Itaewon, did not get discouraged. This was all thanks to his mother, who would always tell him, “You are special.” Along with children from multi-cultural family, who suffer from isolation and outcast, “shadow children” also call for social attention. Shadow children refers to children of unregistered foreigners who are staying in Korea illegally. It is everybody’s responsibility and duty to help children who suffer from “human rights blind spot” because of the adults’ fault.

Multi-culture is a part of our daily lives now. According to a statistic a few years ago, one out of 10 newly married households were multi-cultural family. This year, it is expected that the number of children born in multi-cultural families will outpace the number of marriage migrants. South Korea, which agonizes over low birthrate, should embrace others generously. No matter what the cause is, a sound society will not commit discrimination against children, who have not done anything wrong.