Go to contents

[Editorial] New Meaning for Nat`l Foundation Day

Posted October. 09, 2008 22:25,   


Yesterday was National Foundation Day, when Korea is believed to have been founded 4,341 years ago. The day marks the founding of Gojoseon, the first ancient Korean kingdom, by legendary founder Dangun Wanggeom and is an occasion to commemorate Korean pride as a homogeneous people and historical achievements. Koreans, however, now live in a multicultural society in which foreign residents in Korea number about one million and about seven million ethnic Koreans live abroad. In this multi-cultural era, the meaning of the holiday needs to be redefined and further evolve. Koreans should break their insularity, embrace the cultural values of other people, and strive to live in harmony with them.

The number of foreigners who come to Korea through marriage or immigration is growing. Despite rapid globalization and rising multiculturalism in Korean society, public awareness has failed to keep up with the domestic situation.

In this regard, a survey conducted by Education Broadcasting System in June on 852 foreigners who came to Korea after getting married to Korean nationals clearly supports this argument. In the survey, 68.7 percent cited “serious social bias against foreigners” as the biggest obstacle to settlement in Korea.

For more than 140,000 foreigners who are in Korea through marriage, economic hardship, language or cultural barriers, and their children’s social adaptation put a grave burden on them. Their children especially suffer anxiety due to lack of a proper environment for language and education, identity crisis and social isolation. The same goes for the many migrant workers who cannot even enjoy a minimum level of human rights. Korea’s per capita income has jumped over the decades, but the country cannot truly join the ranks of advanced nations without embracing these people.

Fortunately, Korea has witnessed growing efforts to enhance the human rights of foreign immigrants and workers. A case in point is Korea Digital University, which offers online classes on the Korean language and culture for foreigners.

Prime Minister Han Seung-soo yesterday pledged more state assistance to foreign immigrants and multicultural families for settlement, welfare services and education. The government should put this idea into action through effective policies and systematic support. National Foundation Day should serve as an occasion to recognize a more sincere and peaceful Korea as a multicultural society.