Tuesday, December 5, 2006


The term is slang for Korean-Asian. Children who are born with Korean (usually father) and Asian (mother) union. Top on the Asian list are Chinese followed by Vietnamese, Thai and Philippines. These are women who marry Korean guys after they applied or recruited at a dating service agency in their native country.
Discrimination against foreigners has long been happening in this country. With the now growing number of children born in inter-marriages, Koreans suddenly, in my opinion, don’t know how to react. Should they continue with the discrimination or be more open about it?
There are banners here where I can see every time we drive by on our way to the discount store. It advertises “Vietnamese bride here, get your own”. They’re being peddled as objects not as humans. It sickens me to see that banner every time and I always wonder why the government allows it.
There are, of course, those kind-hearted Koreans who open their views on this issue. When it comes to children, the issue becomes sensitive. I have a daughter who was teased and treated differently at first because of her skin color. My son gets teased when his friends saw me with him. They’ll say, “Hey, you have a foreign mom” with a tone that says it’s not normal. (My son came up with a cute way to answer them saying, “at least my mom’s the prettiest”).
There is documentary program/show that airs weekly on TV that focuses on this. It shows the inter-unions and their daily lives. That’s where you’ll get insight of how children feel about being half-and-half. It also tells the struggle we foreigners have to face in our daily lives here in Korea.
There are also good situations that come from it. In one farming community in the outskirts of Seoul, a Vietnamese woman becomes the head of the village when she was elected unanimously by the people there. They’re almost all old people and the idea of a younger generation leading them regardless of race seems good to them. There are also those who become famous because they’re of a different race. In my opinion though, the bad still outnumbers the good events.
The government can’t be chastised for doing nothing because they just recently launched a program for us. There are now hot lines where you can call and speak your native language if you do not know how to speak Korean (happens a lot). There are also support groups you can attend where you can meet others. They also offer free consultations, free counseling and others.
Still, how can they help anyone who needs the most help, those women who were recruited to be married and work in farms? They replace the Korean women who won’t do the manual labor in farms and rather be working in the city. Most of these foreign wives are physically and emotionally drained. Waking up very early in the morning, working hard labor in fields with their mother-in-law constantly talking to them in language they do not know. There are kids studying while being teased in a school where they’re color is an issue.
In another TV program here dealing with abuse, there are several cases of wife calling for help and nobody could understand her. It goes on until one neighbor can’t tolerate the noise and called the program. That’s when they realized what was happening.
What is really happening here is understated. I do think the Korean government should do more especially to the women in the farming villages.
Koreans need to be more tolerant and be sensitive to the children and their foreigner parent. But then again, Koreans are a stubborn nation and needs more than a blog for them to hear what needs to be done.

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