Sunday, 16 October 2011
It is interesting to catch a glimpse in this article of the same kind of genocidal discourse and bureaucratic logic that we are familiar with in Europe now beginning to be unleashed in a non-European country. Will Koreans be as passively accepting of their own demise as Europeans have been?

Also interesting is the fact that many Koreans reportedly admired Breivik. Note the example of prejudice cited in the article relates to an Uzbek. Uzbekistan is overwhelmingly Muslim. Are Koreans starting to be islamophobic too? Isn't it curious that almost everyone who comes into contact with Muslims instantly seems to contract that strange pathology known as Islamophobia?
Time to enact laws to punish racial discrimination

The report that a Busan bathhouse denied an Uzbek-Korean entrance because of her skin color is simply unbelievable. The real problem is quite a few Koreans may not see it that way.

Pressed by the police, the owner of the sauna said if he lets foreigners in, his revenue would fall sharply. He said that Koreans don’t like to bathe with colored people, because they might ``make the water dirty” or ``have AIDS” as many of the foreigners seem to work at bars.

It’s an outrageous prejudice, unscientific at best, and childish at worst.

But this is the reality in a country where the number of foreign residents totals 1.3 million, or 2.7 percent of the total population, with their composition ever diversifying into multinational corporate employees, migrant workers, immigrant wives, teachers and students. Given the current pace of increase, foreigners will represent 10 percent of the population by 2050 to fully establish Korea as a multicultural society, according to Statistics Korea.

Is the nation prepared? Hardly. Is it making efforts in this direction? Yes, but far from satisfactorily.

The sauna operator wouldn’t have dared to refuse entry to the naturalized Korean woman, had the nation had a law that punishes people who discriminate against foreigners. Korea has laws that ban discrimination for reasons of gender and social status. It’s past the time the National Assembly dusted off the two-year-old bill and passed it.

Some officials, elected or appointed, say what’s more important is the change in people’s consciousness. Not entirely wrong, but it seems to be little more than an excuse for inaction. More often than not, legal restraints make people rethink what they have long taken for granted. Korean people’s adherence to or pride in exaggerated singe-race nation is so strong that not just a U.N. agency but the domestic human rights body is warning Seoul against discriminatory thoughts and actions.

Most egregious, even chilling, was the reported admiration of this country for notorious Norwegian gunman, Anders Behring Breivik, who wants to turn his homeland into a fascist citadel of sorts. This episode shows how the Koreans’ vague notion about racial purity is viewed abroad. Even before the foreigners’ ratio here reaches 3 percent, there are signs of anti-multiculturalism, albeit neither official nor organized and mostly on cyberspace.

Immigration of international workers is inevitable in the globalized economy. Koreans’ complaints of ``reverse discrimination” in job markets may be justifiable to some extent. Given this country’s low birthrate and resultant rapid aging, however, it cannot live as an island even if it wants to.

Economic needs aside, this self-claimed advanced country needs to see how Norway responded to the calls for closing doors as a result of the horrible homicide ― openness, more democracy and greater love for humankind.

A government report shows Koreans are now living in more than 100 countries throughout the world.
Source: Korea Times

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