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[Opinion] International Family

Posted July. 09, 2005 03:06,   


In Korea, where there is a deep-rooted “pure blood principle,” “mixed-bloods” are abandoned from society. The situation has not improved much in this so-called global era. Mixed-bloods are often subject to contempt and alienation simply because of their race. On the website of the Korean branch of Pearl S. Buck International (www.pearlsbuck.or.kr), a non-governmental organization dedicated to abandoned children, the cries of mothers with mixed-race children can still be heard. “Even when I am having a fun time with my child, I am afraid that I might lose my child due to prejudice existing in Korean society.”

Looking closely, the problem regarding mixed-bloods started with the Korean War. It is a “historical scar” that inevitably appeared when U.S. troops came to Korea. Since the 1990s, “Kosians (Korean Asians),” those born between Koreans and South East Asian workers who came to Korea in search of jobs, are increasing. International marriages of rural bachelors are also on the rise. According to the National Statistical Office, one out of four rural bachelors who married last year took foreign women as their brides.

In Korea, life as a mixed-blood is one of constant suffering. According to a report from Pearl S. Buck International, nine out of 10 mixed-bloods from the military campside towns are unemployed. One out of 10 has not even completed elementary school. Though they may be healthy Korean citizens, they cannot even enter the army if the conscription officer decides they are clearly mixed-blood. The controversy that this is a violation of equal rights compelled the government to revise the enforcement ordinance of the Military Service Law to allow volunteers to enter the army, effective this month.

The families of the offspring of Korean women and former U.S. forces stationed in Korea have organized the “International Family Association.” They are stepping out to claim their equal rights as Korean citizens. The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) has no regulations on obligations for mixed-bloods yet. If the words “global village” does not sound awkward, we should open up our hearts to their cries. We should start looking at their poor circumstances. Recognizing that the mixed-bloods are “us and not they” is a pressing problem.

Song Dae-geun, Editorial writer, dksong@donga.com