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New Laws Confront Racial Bias in Korea

Posted April. 08, 2006 03:05,   


The government is set to outline comprehensive anti-discrimination measures in the wake of NFL football star Hines Ward’s visit to Seoul. The planed laws will address discrimination against minorities, including immigrants married to Koreans and biracial Koreans.

Cheong Wa Dae is expected to expand its “Social Integration Policy” in association with the ministries of education, justice, health and welfare, and gender equality later this month.

According to the government’s plan, foreigners in de facto marriages with Koreans will be granted citizenship or permanent resident rights, and this will also be extended to their children.

Currently, only after Korean spouses register their biracial children with authorities can they acquire Korean nationality.

The government also suggested that it will no longer use the term “mixed-blood” in legal documents for its derogatory nuances, and will alternatively use the terms “children of an international marriage couple.”

It also plans to pass anti-discrimination legislation, which protects biracial Koreans from discrimination in the workplace, school and public facilities by the end of this year.

Additionally, a 24-hour hotline called the “1366 Center” will provide non-Korean female spouses with phone consultation in six languages. Moreover, 21 immigration family support centers will be established this year to help international marriage couples settle in Korean society and learn the culture.

Until now, many foreigners married to Koreans have had difficulties with adapting to Korean society due to its different language and culture. They have also found it hard to seek advice for conflicts among family members, their children’s education, or domestic violence.

The government will also offer information kits to aid foreign spouses’ successful settlement, including a Korean language learning program, information on motherhood and welcoming messages.

Historically, foreign parents without Korean nationality have been given little assistance from the government. However, they will soon be able to receive aid program and emergency assistance, if necessary.

The Welfare Ministry estimates that 52.9 percent of international marriage couples live at an income level below the minimum living standard, and 23.6 percent do not have health insurance or health benefits.

In the coming years, Korean classes will open in elementary, middle and high schools for children born to foreign workers or international couples. Special institutions will provide psychotherapy and family therapy with biracial people to overcome identity crises.

A Regional Human Resources Development budget of 10 billion won will be allocated for the education of biracial individuals in Daegu and North Gyeongsang Province, where 2,000 foreign spouses reside.

Currently, a total of 6,100 biracial students are attending primary and secondary schools.

The Education Ministry is set to guarantee education opportunities to children of all foreign workers regardless of their legal status and to prevent unfair treatment against them in schools.

Moreover, the government will push for anti-discrimination legislation for international marriage families featuring college admissions quota, special education for children with learning disabilities, and daycare center operations for families in the lowest-income bracket.