Friday, November 14, 2008
by: Kim, Hyun Mee, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Anthropology, Yonsei University
“The defendant is not only the one who should be indicted. It is merely one evidence of our society’s overall immaturity. The heartlessness of ‘handling’ foreign women who might have come from countries less wealthy than ours (South Korea) like ‘imported goods,’ the recklessness of thinking that marriage is complete when a man and a woman decide to live together, even though the couple cannot communicate with each other verbally; these inanities of ours inevitably lead to catastrophic results. Here, we should painfully confess the barbarism that hides underneath a seemingly civilized state and prosperous country of the 21st century.”
The passage above is part of judgment made on a case in which a Korean man killed his Vietnamese bride, Huan Mai. In 2007, Huan Mai was beaten to death by her husband, with 18 ribs broken. The 41-year old husband paid 10 million won, which was all he had, to a marriage brokerage and married Huan Mai, who was only 19-years old, because he “was ashamed of living alone at his age” and “thought people would consider him as a moron.” The husband was an ex-convict who had been charged with alcohol-related violence several times, but the bride didn’t know. The husband wasn’t faithful to the marriage even after Huan Mai arrived in Korea in May 2007. Judging that her husband no longer had the will to sustain their marriage, Huan Mai made her mind to return to Vietnam, but was murdered when she was packing by her husband who came back home drunk. This incident is only one of the many suicides, harassments, and murders foreign brides have experienced in Korea.
Here, I want to focus on ‘barbarism that hides underneath a seemingly civilized state,’ which is what the judge painfully confessed to. Multiculturalism discourses that lack serious reflection on our barbarism are thriving in Korea recently. Multiculturalism is the basis of the Korean government’s policies and is also a political standpoint, which embraces multiculturalism and proclaims a political vision of social integration based on equality. Specifically, government policies based on multiculturalism reflect each country’s historical experiences and values. Normally, this aims to eliminate discrimination that exists between groups of different culture and between natives and migrants. Policies that gear to the merging of cultural minorities or migrants into the main-stream are actively carried out. Social integration is sought under the consideration that cultural divergence and the creativity that stems from it, is an important resource to the state’s competitiveness. Hence, the goal of the multicultural policy lies in the state presenting fair conditions for ‘integration’ to migrants.
The situation of Korea and Korean Governments’ using the term ‘multiculturalism’ is quite unique and rather contradictory to the values multiculturalism normally promotes. 1.6 million long-time foreign residents live in Korea as of 2007, but the Korean government has never prepared multicultural policies for migrant workers, who are considered temporary residents. It was only when the number of marriage migrants, who are the first settle-down type immigrants, started to increase rapidly multiculturalism discourse was spurred. Currently, eleven thousand marriage migrants are ‘accepted as Korean citizens’ because they give birth to Korean children and become part of Korean families.
The government introduced multiculturalism discourse rather abruptly in 2006, announcing a ‘transition to a multicultural, multiethnic society.’ Systemized Korean education was provided to marriage immigrants, and welfare for women and their children was introduced. Nevertheless, especially after 2006, marriage immigrants are explicitly referred to as ‘a solution to the low-birth, aging crisis of the Korean society.’ Since the settle-down type marriage immigrants are expected to do reproductive labor, not productive labor, legislations and policies regarding marriage immigrants are limited to ‘family’ and ‘home.’ A variety of legislations related to marriage immigrants are being enacted in this situation. For example, there is the
This presentation aims at critically analyzing the meaning of the Korean policies made for the marriage migrants and their families, and the gender ideology that is contained inside them.
2. Korean Government Policies on Marriage Migrants: Making the ‘Average’ Women Migrant
(1) Act on Regulations of the International Marriage Brokerage
The claimant married a Vietnam local on May 2006 after paying 9 million won to an international marriage brokerage on 02/12/2005. The spouse arrived in Korea on 18/12/2006, but left home on 05/02/2007. The claimant requested a reimbursement from the brokerage but was refused.
Nowhere in the law are found descriptions of the damages done on migrant women by false information or compensation for them. Marriage migrant women are explained as products that can be ‘purchased,’ ‘used,’ ‘returned’ and ‘reimbursed.’ The law has the possibility of infringing on women’s rights. Terms like ‘reimbursement’ and ‘return’ have become important in stating the rights and duties of the consumer and provider surrounding marriage migrant women. Ultimately, the brokerage act positions brokerage within the consumer law, which leads to the ‘commercialization’ of migrant women.
What I felt when I did human rights education for international marriage brokerages was a great ‘disappointment.’ The new brokerage law states that all brokerages are required to have deposits or have guaranty insurance. Because of this, there were application forms from guaranty insurance companies all over the education room, and the brokers were excited that their business can emerge as ‘legal’ business recognized by the Ministry of Welfare and that they can also receive education from the state. The brokerage which has been tainted with its profit-making practices of ‘buying foreign women’ becomes a registered and very legitimate business which more people seek this job as a lucrative business. Where does our reflection of the ‘barbarism that hides underneath a seemingly civilized state and prosperous country of the 21st century’ triggered by the death of Huan Mai, exist? Is the integration of migrants, which is the main value of multiculturalism, lawful?
(2) Multicultural Family Support Law
The < Multicultural Family Support law >, which came into effect in September 2008, aims at providing broad social service to migrant women and their children. Social support for migrant women is conceptualized as ‘life-cycle service.’ Women are thought to go through life-cycle 1: early years of migration, family forming stage, life-cycle 2: pregnancy, birth stage, life-cycle 3: child-raising stage, life-cycle 4: reentering labor market stage. The women are provided service according to each life cycle. But actually, many migrant women are re-married, and there are also many women who haven’t had children because of their husband’s children. Some enter the labor market earlier because of their economic situations. More than often, women experience stages simultaneously, not independently. This act, which is based on the life-scripts of Korean middle class women, is being advertised as systematic state support of migrant women, but it supposes that all marriage migrant women live the kind of life ‘expected from the society.’ Migrant women, regardless of their career goals, educational background, or work experience, are totally integrated into the Korean family early upon their arrival at Korea or are equalized as unsophisticated entities. Such imagination on migrant women even justifies discrimination against those who don’t fit into the norm. Delaying the granting of citizenship in cases of childless migrant women because they ‘have not been thoroughly adjusted yet’ is one common example. Even though many migrant women decide to have children after their family reaches a certain amount of economic stability, they are accused of ‘disguised marriages.’
(3) Social Integration Program Completion Policy
The Social Integration Program Completion policy, which is currently being debated, is also materializing. The Social Integration Program Completion policy exempts migrants who wish to settle in Korea from the citizenship acquisition test when s/he finishes certain Korean education courses or ‘Understand multiculturalism’ authorized by the Minister of Legislation. The Ministry of Legislation says the program is intended to prevent “the increasing maladjustments of marriage migrants and naturalized citizens” and “social costs that might be caused if migrants and their offspring become socially and economically vulnerable when cut off from education and job opportunities.” The main target of the program is marriage migrant women. The social integration program divides Korean language ability to 5 levels, and allows one to skip levels through taking differentiated tests. The Ministry of Legislation also claims that the
There are opinions that the Social Integration Program will actually have a positive effect over marriage migrant women. Namely, making it mandatory for women to learn Korean can help migrant women who can’t receive education due to their family’s oppositions. Especially, for migrant women in the rural areas who do not have access to education either because of work or their husband’s objections, the program can give them the opportunity to speak out for their right to education. Some say that the program encourages migrant women’s sense of ‘self-respect’ and facilitates interviews, which leads to migrant women’s health settlement in Korea (Lee Sung-soon 2008:352-353).
But the cultural discourse that lies underneath social integration is problematic because it fosters the notion of nationality based on linguistic homogeneity by making women learn Korean for two years after their arrival. The receiving country should break from the habitual coupling language ability and citizenship acquisition. The Social Integration Program turned the Korean language into something that should be blindly pursued in order to acquire citizenship. In fact, Korean is merely a means of communication, not something that should be forced to be learned. A good transition to a migration state can be achieved naturally when the various dialects of Korean spoken by migrants are performed in the public space or the media, letting the society experience multicultural change. Also, language is both an instrument for communication and artistic self-expression, thus for migrant women, speaking in their own language is a symbol of self-respect and self-identity. Numerous studies show that migrants construct the most positive self-identity when they consider they are absorbing different culture on the basis of their cultural identity. But Korea’s strong language-nationalism sees the migrants’ maintenance of cultural identity through speaking their own language, as something that should be given up for their quick adjustment. This severely harms migrant women’s sense of cultural identity, which is fundamental to their self-esteem.
The most important thing in the integration into a multicultural society, is that culture including language is also a form of right. Even if migrants have achieved a so-called ‘citizenship,’ s/he cannot exercise the political rights, labor rights, and social rights with discrimination and lack of social recognition. Cultural rights as a part of citizenship provides the material and emotional resources that enables one’s integration into the mainstream and grants one the right to speak for one’s cultural differences (Kim, Hyun Mee 2008). For this reason, migrants have the right to refuse mainstream culture against unwanted and forced cultural integration (Castles and Davidson, 2000).
In fact, the strong association of the same ancestry-mother tongue-citizenship is based on the most exclusive nation-state. Transition into a multi-ethnic, multicultural nation as the Korean government claims, requires the heteroglossian imagination of the civil society. Kim Young-ok (2008) emphasizes that since integration gives migrants the feeling of ‘belonging,’ and an important factor of ‘belonging’ is participation, genuine integration can be achieved only through guaranteeing equity of participation. She writes that the empowerment of migrant women through various education programs using non-language media like plays or films, should be actively developed.
Also, this program does not take consideration of migrant women in the rural areas who are burdened of heavy reproductive and productive labor. The heavy burden might result in migrant women dropping out of the social integration program, which would in turn lead to social denouncement of their irresponsibility and incompetence. Ultimately, the migrant women who refuse to be integrated will receive disadvantage in the form of citizenship and qualifications for stay, bothering migrant women from seeking stabile settlement.
3. The Integration Policy as Patriarchal Family-Oriented Welfare Model
The characteristics of the Korean government’s policies for migrant women can be defined as the ‘patriarchal family-oriented welfare model.’ The gender ideology within this model imagines women as labor power that replaces reproductive labor, and subjects them under the frame of forming, maintaining, and reproducing the ‘family,’ despite their various roles and practices. Social services are provided for women to fit into this ideology. In fact, the patriarchal family defines women’s roles specifically and incorporates them in a very amicable and reciprocal way. If migrant women tacitly meet the demands of the Korean society, they provide welfare service and equalize women as passive, helpless recipients of welfare service. Since Korea’s social integration model is that of a patriarchal institution which prioritizes men’s interests, social service provided for women is actually a support program for families who have migrant women.
The policy includes class discrimination as well as sexism. In fact, according to a 2005 survey on marriage migrants conducted by the Ministry of Welfare, approximately 52.9% women lived under the social minimum income level. In a 2006 survey conducted by the Ministry of Women, many replied that they were ‘low class,’ when asked about their economic status in Korea, and 43.6% said that the women’s status in Korea is even lower than that of their native countries. It reflects that the Korean society is currently transferring the low-birth crisis and lack of care-work to the so-called multicultural families who are mostly lower class, generating a stratified labor division system within the society. This is related to the situation in which ‘education’ for migrant women and also their spouses and families, is guided by the government. Telling men the importance of being responsible for their marriage, warding off women who came to Korea through ‘disguised marriage’ and do productive labor instead of reproductive labor, can also interpreted in the same context.
The evaluation of migrant women’s reproductive labor is not proper in this model. The more serious problem is that the marriage migrant women’s reproductive labor is seen as a natural process of adjustment, which isn’t ‘too difficult.’ Seen through the lens of orientalism, Asian women are considered as docile, easy-to-control women who have the ‘inherent’ desire to care. Also, since marriage migrant women practice typical gender roles in Korea, their settlement is thought as ‘natural.’ Since the women do reproductive labor and care work, which don’t require education and skill, they are considered to carrying out the type of work they have done back in their country. But the Korean society’s expectations on marriage migrant women to play the typical gender roles are very different from those of the women, who have had various cultural experiences. Although there are differences based on age and native country, many Chinese, Vietnamese, Mongolian, and Cambodian women have internalized the socialist notion of gender-equal labor. Philippine women, having been influenced by their country’s tradition of matriliny, hold strong belief in the economic role of women. Their life style is in stark contrast to that of the Confucian idea of women, which demands ‘sacrifice without compensation’ and nullifies women’s economic contributions. Upon their arrival and settlement in Korea, marriage migrant women are surprised to discover the conservative, outdated concept of gender and expectations their husbands and families, who live in such a ‘modern’ and ‘prosperous’ country, have (Freeman 2005). Marriage migrant women are familiar to nuclear families and expect intimacy between husband and wife. But being called ‘foreign wives’ and ‘foreign daughter-in-laws’ in Korea, they are shocked to learn how patriarchal the roles given to them are. The women drop their cultural identity in order to adjust themselves to expected gender roles and they go through many conflicts and negotiations.
But the legal, social, and common discourses of marriage migrant women all see the women as those who can tacitly practice reproductive labor and ‘filial piety’ as well. Women have to sketch their reality and future on the basis of these social expectations. Asian migrant women, regardless of their will, education, or class, become the ‘typical Asian migrant women’ who undertakes reproductive work. But integration should take into consideration the labor rights, gender rights, and cultural rights that meet the expectations of women who have ‘chosen’ to migrate to Korea ‘for a better life’ (Kim Hyun Mee, Kim Min-jung, Kim Jung-sun 2008).
Marriage migrations should be understood as ‘the reorganization process of gendered labor’ generated by the neo-liberalist global economy, not a matter of ‘migrant women settling down in the Korean society through marriage.’ The femininity, caring ability, and devotion demanded from migrant women as reproduction laborers are specific abilities required in a specific context, and they are by no means inherent or natural.
This problem leads to the question ‘how can Korean women and migrant women unite.’ Migrant women are imagined as a ‘substitutive labor force’ that can resolve the Korean society’s low-birth crisis and lack of care-work. They are therefore expected to take up social roles that couldn’t be easily forced on native Korean women. Korean women have participated in historical movements that refused and fought against typical gender roles. But they often lack the belief that their desire for ‘equality’ and ‘modernity’ should also be extended to the lives of marriage migrant women. Therefore, the hierarchy formed between ‘native women’ and ‘migrant women’ needs reflection. Ways for native and Korean women to collectively dismantle the patriarchal imagination of Korean society as ‘equal’ participants should by thought out. The most important thing needed for the recognition of migrant women as ‘new citizens’ is the reinforcement of laws that guarantee women’s ‘safe migration,’ and the dismantling of ‘discrimination’ that lies in laws and institutions centralized on ‘native citizens,’ so that the women can enjoy basic rights, such as rights that guarantee stable settlements. Discriminative laws, language, and images of foreigners that are fixed in the Korean society, should disappear. Breaking from the old habit of thinking marriage migrant women only within patriarchal imagination is also important.
Kim, Hyun Mee (2008), “Migrants and Multiculturalism,” Journal of Contemporary Society and Culture, 26. Institute for Social Development Studies, Yonsei University.
Kim, Hyun Mee, Kim, Min-Jeong, Kim, Jung Sun (2008), “Safe Marriage Migration? Migration Process and Experiences of Mongolian Migrants in South Korea,” Journal of Korean Women’s Studies, 24(1): 121-155.
Kim, Young-Ok (2008), “Cultural Education for Women Marriage Migrant from a Perspective of the Social Integration,” A paper presented at the
Lee, Sung-Soon (2008), “Introducing Immigration Integration Courses in Korea,” The Journal of Migration & Society, 1(1): 347-357.
Freeman, Caren (2005), “Marrying Up and Marrying Down: The Paradoxes of Marital Mobility for Chosunjok Brides in South Korea,’ In Cross-Border Marriages: Gender and Mobility in Transnational Asia, edited by Nocole Constable, 80-100. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania.
Castles, Stephan and Davidson, Alastair , 2000, Citizenship and Migration: Globalization and the Politics of Belonging. New York: Routledge.
Monday, November 3, 2008
by MARIA ALETA O. NIEVA, abs-cbnNEWS.com | 10/28/2008 1:36 PM
It was in 1999 when May Cordova, then 19, reluctantly agreed to attend a party at the request of her regular customer in a supermarket in Quezon City where she worked as a saleslady. It was too late when she learned that the “party” turned out to be a “mass wedding”, with herself participating as an unwilling bride.
May said her husband-to-be was a member of the religious group called the Unification Church, founded by Moon Sun Myung, also known as Rev. Sun Myung Moon in the Philippines.
“He joined the group with the purpose of marrying a Pinay. He submitted his picture to his church in Korea to get married. He was matched with Pinays through their pictures,” May said.
Even though the Korean had not yet met the woman (not May) in the picture, they were married by attending separate ceremonies in Korea and in the Philippines.
“They were already a couple in pictures because they married holding each other’s pictures,” May explained.
May’s trouble began when the Korean man arrived in the country to meet that woman he married in the picture. But according to May, that woman backed out, forcing Unification members of find a replacement.
The party in Antipolo City, which May agreed to attend, was not what it was supposed to be. May felt trapped in the company of more than a hundred Filipino women in a mountainous area in Antipolo City.
“Hindi namin alam kung anong gagawin namin,” she said. May had brought her cousin along with her, who eventually was also paired with a Korean national.
“Hindi ka makakatakas sa lugar na yun. Walang mga kapitbahay, walang sasakyan na maghahatid sa iyo pabalik, tapos mountainous pa yung lugar,” she said.
A year after they were married, she found herself living in Korea with their first child.
“I didn’t know how to speak Korean. Also, I could not eat Korean spicy food. But I have no choice anymore,” said May. She decided to face the conseqences she said.
There were times when she had thought of giving up. The cultural differences, the weather, the food, and the language, barrier were just too much for her.
“Most Koreans force their wives to follow their culture, and we did. The trouble is, they also want us to forget about our culture. That’s the problem of migrant married couples. All I wanted was that they should be fair to us. We accept their culture, I think they must also accept the culture of their wives,” she said.
In a study by Elmer Malibiran, a research fellow of the Action Research on Marriage Migration Network (ARMMNet), he cited four modes of marriage migration and these are:
- intermediary agencies such as marriage brokers and recruitment agencies;
- interaction with common network and friends, and traditional matchmakers;
- internet (chatrooms and emails) and other communication channels; and,
- recruitment through the Unification Church (The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity or Moonies).
Malibiran’s paper titled, “When Elsa said, “I am victim no more!” was delivered during a forum on “Happily Ever After? Different Tales of Women Marriage Migrants,” held last Friday in Manila.
“Marriage migration is a collective term referring to cross-border marriages which often involves women migrating to the home country of their husbands. The trend shows that most women in marriage migration come from developing countries while the husbands-to-be are from developed and advanced economies,” Malibiran said.
Malibiran said statistics shows that between 1989 and 1999, over 175,000 Filipinos are registered either engaged or married to foreign spouses and around 91 percent involved Filipino women.
He said that studies suggest that some reasons of women in marriage migration are due to economic rise from poverty; passageway to secure work; romantic love; curiosity/desire to live in foreign countries; escape from family problems; and, catching up with their age.
ARMMNet is currently conducting a study on marriage migration specifically between South Korea and the Philippines.
“Elsa” is the name given to 15 women in marriage migration who were interviewed. “Their stories reflect their capacities to negotiate, to resist and to contest some aspect of their marriage, relationship to their families and the mainstream society.”
The difficulty in adjusting to a different environment and the lack of knowledge to speak the language made Elsa “a helpless victim”.
“Her capacity to reflect on her own situation makes her realize that she doesn’t need to be a victim, and what she needs is to help herself out of the situation. She started to adopt the culture of her husband, but at the same time asserted herself and her agency,” Malibiran said.
One of the women interviewed was quoted as saying “sabi ko sa sarili ko. kailangan kong matuto ng Korean kasi hindi ko alam kung minumura niya ako in Korean”.
Role of language
They believe that learning the language is an empowering tool that can provide her space to exerccise her resistance to be labelled as victim.
“By having the facility of language, she can negotiate some decisions both in marital and household, with her husband,” Mallibiran said. While some were able to assert their selves, there were others who were not able to adjust.
The challenge, he said, is to view marriage migration from the lens of cultural politics and feminism both in crafting policies or providing support services.
"If we are to advance the conditions of women, we should imagine that marriage migration can be a first step to empower them. We should not look at them only as a foreign bride. We must see them as women. And in a society where the desires of women are restricted by social institutions through political and cultural instruments, it is imperative for us to provide platforms in order to reverse the cultures of patriarchy and exclusiveness,” he said.
As for May, she is now the secretary of the Philippine Korean Wives Association (PKWA), an affliate of the Bucheon Migrants Worker’s House.
The main purpose of the group is to provide emotional assistance to marriage migrants through sharing and help their children understand Korean, Philippines and other cultures.
as of 10/28/2008 1:39 PM
Monday, October 13, 2008
Text and photos by Bak Chaeran, Drawings by Han Sungwon
First publication: 11/20/2004; 208 pages; 8,500 KRW
ISBN 89-7483-231-3 03810
Road to the Borderless Village
Kyunggi-do, Ansan-si, Wongok-bondong, “Borderless Village”. Located behind the Wongok Bondong Office across from Ansan Station, the “Borderless Village” is not that different from any other residential street in a small town. But what is a little different are the foreign children one sees everywhere and the foreign signs hanging on the storefronts for the nearly 20,000 foreigners who live here.
Located right in the middle of this village is the Ansan Foreign Workers Center, where mi-grant workers often come to seek help. Here, Kosian children, volunteers, workers injured in indus-trial accidents, and unemployed Koreans are living in and creating an alternative, borderless village.
“Borderless Village” is both their story and our story. Like us, they are sometimes discouraged by life’s difficulties, and sometimes they succeed at finding new hope... but they are known by a different name: “foreign workers”. We use this term to describe migrant workers from countries that are economically weaker than ours, other than countries like Korea or Japan. The Borderless Village is one of the places where they have formed a community.
First story: Dian, the six-year-old daughter of a Korean mother and an Indonesian father, always wonders: “Why do my father and uncles speak Indonesian, but I only speak Korean? Why do other people get to eat pork, but I can’t?”
Second story: I teach at a private institute. I believe it is my calling to teach children. One day, I saw a television show about a Bangladeshi boy who was only allowed to attend school as an auditing student. On top of that, he was even ostracized by the other kids. The next day, I came to the Ansan Foreign Worker’s Center.
Third story: My name is Nurikki, and I am a carpenter from Uzbekistan. My closest friend, Chori, works in a factory operating a press. He injured his hand in the press.
Fourth story: Jaeho used to farm in the country before coming up to Seoul and drifting from one city to the next. For seven years he has been living with foreign workers as the shelter caretaker for the Ansan Foreign Worker’s Center. Having lived the life of an urban migrant, he al-ways treats the shelter’s foreign migrants like family.
Fifth story: I started high school at a late age. I first came to Korea with my mother. I was the first foreign migrant in Ansan to graduate from middle school, and now I am the first foreign high school student in Ansan.
Sixth story: We are Korean-Chinese. We came to Korea to work because we speak the language. But we were not even here for a full year before both my husband and I were in accidents at the construction site.
Seventh story: Jackie is a young man who dreams of becoming a movie director someday. He is so full of passion, he even took a plane to Jeju-do to cheer during the 2002 World Cup games. As a Muslim, he sometimes visits a mosque. He always says, “God has already given me everything. I am so thankful for that.”
People of the Borderless Village
Through television and newspapers, we have become familiar with cases of discrimination against foreign workers, and we are beginning to hear stories of discrimination against their children.
Kim Juyeon, one of the voices in this book, says she decided to become a teacher for the children of migrant workers after feeling outraged by the story of an ostracized Bangladeshi child who was just barely allowed to attend school as an auditing student. “For the children of foreign workers, not being able to attend school or walk around freely and being confined to their homes all day to avoid the police is an everyday occurrence. On top of that, they’re discriminated against by Korean children.”
That was the moment she witnessed the painful truth that Korean children naturally adopt the discriminatory attitudes of adults. That said, migrant workers should not simply be looked at vaguely as “kind, vulnerable people who need help”.
“Borderless Village”. Jaeho, an older gentleman who also appears in this book, says, “They are people just like us. There are those who obey the rules, and those who would rather die than listen. And there are those who show up and help out without even being asked... If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working here for seven years, it’s that good people are good and bad people are bad, regardless of whether they’re Korean or foreign!”
Migrant workers and their children are our neighbors. For this reason, we must change the discriminatory attitudes we carry within us. We can begin by taking a step closer to them and greeting them with a simple hello. By doing so, like the author, we will be able to learn each of their nationalities, remember each of their names, and hear each of their stories. Then we will find our-selves with neighbors with unique cultures of their own. The hope is that this book will serve as an-other road to their village, the “Borderless Village”.
Coming out of the Borderless Village
Over fifteen years have passed since migrant workers first came to Korea. But how much do we really know about them? Are we accepting them as our neighbors? Of course, the main reason they came to Korea was to earn money through short-term employment. And though not fully prepared to accept them, Korea brought in migrant workers as “cheap labor” merely to strengthen industrial competitiveness. However, before they were “cheap labor”, they were people who came to Korea to make a living in this world with us. Now, they live in groups in specific areas, and they are forming communities.
When the book was published, the author noted, “This is not a story about human rights. Nor is this about discussing a system for human rights policy. I just wanted to tell a story about people who are no different from us--people who are nice, lazy people who like to take it easy, peo-ple who are genuine, people who are coarse, people with lots of dreams--in other words, people who are only different in nationality. I hope that those we call migrant workers will instead be called by each of their names, and that they will be accepted as our neighbors who live with us and stand by us.”
Perhaps within the author’s words a solution that is at once easy and difficult can be found to today’s migrant worker issue.
From “Six-year-old Dian and her Father”
When my father and uncles were talking, I kept interrupting to talk to my father. I did this because they were speaking Indonesian, and I can’t understand a single word of it.
“Daddy, why do you all speak Indonesian instead of Korean?”
“Because your uncles and I are Indonesian.”
“Then what am I?
“You’re Indonesian, too, of course.”
“But why don’t I speak Indonesian?”
“Because you live in Korea.”
“Ah, that’s right.”
I think I understand, but then again, I really don’t.
It’s true that I am Indonesian. My father is Indonesian, and I don’t eat pork. Therefore, I am Indonesian. But I don’t speak Indonesian. I speak Korean. He says that if we go to Indonesia, I will have to speak Indonesian. But, can’t I just speak Korean?
From “Kim Juyeon’s Kosian House”
With a wondering look, he picks it up then sits back down again.
It is his midterm exam. Not all of the subjects are included. Korean language, social studies and other subjects that require strong Korean skills are left out. The very first page of the test is math.
78 points. For ordinary Korean students who attend several private institutes even after school lets out, a 78 might not be a very good score. However, for Jinsu, who is still unfamiliar with school and the Korean language, a 78 is enough for him to feel proud. When other children his age were attending school, Jinsu had to stay at home. But this year, he was just allowed to join the third grade to study with children younger than him. Seeing the test paper he turned in was very moving for me.
From “Jaeho: Shelter Caretaker for the Ansan Migrant Worker’s Center for Seven Years”
Even when we can’t communicate, it is still our nature to want to help those who show us good will. Jaeho doesn’t speak English or Chinese, and not all of the people who come here speak Korean. However, they have almost no communication problems. This is because they communicate by saying “okay” and using a mixture of Korean and body language.
If he wants to know if someone is hungry, he mimics eating and asks, “Okay?” If his arm hurts, all he has to do is knead it and say “ouch” with a pained expression. Even when they answer in their own language, Jaeho understands almost all of what they are saying.
“What do people need? Something to eat, a place to sleep, something to wear? For that, hand gestures and even foot gestures are enough to communicate. Even when they’re speaking their own languages, you can tell right away whether they’re cursing or praising you.”
With a half-pleased and half-worried expression, Taejo watches a Moroccan man hammer some nails. As the wind blows stronger, the tapping sound of the hammer spreads through the air.
Writing and photography: Bak Chaeran
Bak Chaeran was born in Seoul and studied Korean Literature at Soongsil University. She has worked as a guest reporter for “Walking Together”, published by the Research Institute of the Differently Abled Persons’ Rights in Korea (RIDRIK). As she enjoys reading books, writing, and meeting new people, she is currently working as a freelance writer specializing in interviews. “Borderless Village” is her first book.
Pictures: Han Seong-weon
Han Seong-weon studied painting in college and currently works as an illustrator in vari-ous mediums. He is currently producing illustrations for “Chagun Chaek”, a publication for work-ing people.
We’re ‘Koreans,’ not ‘Kosians’: multicultural familieshttp://www.rjkoehler.com/2006/02/23/were-koreans-not-kosians-multicultural-families/
This entry was written by Robert Koehler, posted on February 23, 2006 at 2:21 pm,
So my question : is the word Kosian then not politically correct?
Readers it is up for you to decide
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Lee Ji Hun
It is estimated that migrant population to other countries leaving home country reaches about 200 million out of total 6.5 billion in the world population. According to one survey about ‘the present status of foreign nationals' conducted by the ministry of government administration and home affairs in last May, the number of migrant foreigners who currently reside in Korea amounts to 722,696. This sum of amount is occupying 1.5% of registered population. This figure shows 35% increase compared to last year, and the former figure was estimated as 535,627. Besides, this statistics reflects the calculation except the number of short-term and illegal immigrants. If they're included, the number of foreigners would reach beyond 1,000,000.
Recently, Korean society is turning into new phase of change with the increase of international marriages. An existing value based on homogeneous culture is modified and various attempts are turning up to understand other cultures. The homogeneous value is converting into the situation which needs to accept a new value, called as ‘multi-nationalism'. Now, Korea is developing into multi-cultural and multi-nation society surpassing multi-national society. Just a few years before, the term ‘multi-culture' was unfamiliar and odd to all of Koreans, but now it can be found everywhere. The frequent use of ‘multi-culture’ reflects the transformed society, while it means new class exists in our society and unprecedented problems are deriving from this class.
An important subject of multi-culture is immigrants. They are defined as those who settle in Korean society, such as migrant workers, migrant women by marriage, overseas Koreans and someone else. In this paper, a distinctive view for the immigrants is examined in a brief and then ‘migrant women by marriage' who got married with Koreans and constitute the majority of local community are mentioned.
◦ Social and Political Background of Local Community
There is a unique historical background in Jeonnam and Kwangju. The 5.18 Kwangju democratic uprising was the pain of our period, and horrible spring of Kwangju and Jeonnam. At that time, the historical experience of 5.18 was the resistance of Kwangju and Jeonnam citizens against non-democratic dictatorship. The resistance had to focus on the concerns of physical survival on the matter of how to overcome the presented crisis before defining the value of ‘democracy'. Under such circumstances, Jeonnam and Kwangju were a deputy and comrade who expressed the anger of Koreans in a full spirit against the dictatorship.
In this context of historical pain and experience, Kwangju and Jeonnam was titled to the sacred ground of democracy, and the people of there could have a regular consolation in the midst of pains, but their emotion fell into the certain afraidness for advocating the progress among the subtle intersection.
After that, they pursued the stability rather than change, and decided to keep silence rather than disclosure. Slowly, they were being involved in the tendency of conservatism. This may be explained that they returned to the initial conservatism of local community. Their resistance against the dictatorship would match with the protest and struggle against the power which killed their family and colleagues, before the resistance against non-democratic power. After the 5.18 uprising, they would have formed the atmosphere that controls mentioning of pains for themselves under the situation which they had to hurriedly hide their pains.
Presently, Kwangju and Jeonnam seem to have a progress, but the frame of conservative idea appears to be rooted in everywhere of the community. Along with a particular experience of Kwangju, conformism and patriarchal toadyism in Korean society came into friction or short-term amnesia through a certain incentive, but it can be explained that they restored the overall sentiment of Korea by tracing back to the expression of conformism and patriarchal toadyism as the basic order.
They are showing a weakened constitution in disclosing the human rights and developing it into the organized form. This works out as the same when mentioning the multi-culture.
It's undesirable to interpret ‘multi-culture' simply saying that various cultures are circulated in the society. More than it, the fundamental background and condition should be formed to provide immigrants stable settlement in the society not infringing their basic rights. In meantime, it needs the proper awareness and perception of people in community to treat the immigrants as an equal personality.
However, the basic rights of immigrants and concerns for human rights are currently driven into the minor concerns, and under the assimilation policy of local community for the immigrants, the concerns are biased to the education of Korean language and traditional culture for their social adaptation. This means that the local emotion and fear for the change are combined with conformism, patriarchal toadyism, and discriminative chauvinism. The former is focused on the attempts of extreme stabilization and the latter is deeply rooted in the local community.
◦ The Subject of Multi-Culture in Our Society
As the migrant workers began to inflow after the late 1980's, and more recently, the number of migrant women by marriage has increased after the mid 2000's, they brought the new social issue and social judgement concluded a term, ‘multi-culture' to call this society after considering how to call them, how to coexist with them and how to call this society. Now, the ‘multi-culture' is expected as the hot issue of Korean society after the mid 2000's.
To settle the ‘multi-culture’ in a desirable manner, it needs a serious social question of who is the subject to develop ‘multi-culture’. Understandably, this subject might be not only ‘Koreans' who have settled under the background of history with thousands of years, but also ‘immigrants' because they could form and developed a new culture in that the native people who had originally settled is the people in ‘homogeneous culture'.
As for the idea of taking Koreans as the subject, it's true that the immigrants formed a new culture, but rather than immigrants, ‘Koreans' lead the current Korean society and promote ‘multi-culture' through the institution and policy. Therefore, the subject of ‘multi-culture' is only Koreans and ‘immigrants' should be understood as inducing the active incorporation in forming ‘multi-culture' under the allowance as they started from the exterior source.
On the contrary, as for the idea of taking immigrants as the subject, it's the old issue to accept the new culture by leading ‘the policy and institution' and the immigrants contributed to form a new culture and multi-culture under the current society. Therefore, the immigrants should be the center of policy and institution as the member of society from now on.
It doesn't matter to define who is the subject but the focus is on who should take the initiative. Anybody can be the subject if various people consist of a certain society express their different opinion and habit in a various cultural way.
It's no doubt that ‘migrant workers' and ‘migrant women by marriage' are those who enabled our society to step into the ‘multi-culture' These people can be the subject of ‘multi-culture' along with Koreans. However, Korean society doesn't regard them as the subject and committing an infringement of human rights and discrimination considering them as a ‘guest'. Our society doesn't recognize ‘immigrants' as a social subject, yet.
◦ Distinctive Multi-Culturalism
The number of migrant workers who settle in Korea is now more than 400,000, and the number of migrant women by marriage is estimated as approximately 100,000. The concerns for immigrants started from the migrant workers. From the late 1990 to the early 2000, the social concern for the migrant workers reached its peak. Such a high concern was mostly originated from broadcasting various situation of migrant workers and prevalent discussions of the rights infringement and discrimination of them in the public opinion. However, such thing was just temporary and the issues of migrant workers faded away as time passed by.
Abruptly, Korea fell into the concerns for race mixture children of migrant workers. The public opinions were heated with the beating story of Hines Ward, a US football player who is born between American father and Korean mother, in that he overcame the adversity and won the MVP. In meantime, our society focused to find out the race mixture children and created the background that evokes the social concerns by broadcasting various problems and social adaptation of them. It was followed by the concerns for the migrant women who is the mother of race mixtures. This kind of social concerns were very cheerful and brought the opportunity to coordinate the basic rights of the children under multi-cultural family and migrant women.
Particularly, the concerns began to increase for the Asian migrant women who got married with Korean. In that sense, the problem of migrant women by marriage and their children was unique concern. This was obviously different from the view of migrant workers. The concerns for migrant workers and their children are different from that of migrant women by marriage and their children. If the latter were called as ‘multi-cultural family', they arranged a social system while central department of government showed a significant and organizational concerns along with supporting budget.
Though both of them are defined as the immigrant, they make significant difference and form a conspicuous gap. Observing it more in detail, the migrant women were interpreted as those who intend to settle as the spouse of Korean in the long-term and this made the background that they were targeted on the social concerns to arrange the social system for them. Conversely, the migrant workers have no ground to be a Korean even if they form a family. However, the migrant women have a Korean husband and this is the point that they're considered as Koreans. Both of migrant workers and women are the member of ‘multi-culture', and have an equal personality which can be or cannot be distinguished from our society, but the concerns for them varies from the significant difference whether they can develop into kinship with Koreans.
The 2006 UN convention of international immigrant was signed by 20 countries and enacted a legal arrangement. This convention was designed to ensure various rights of immigrants and their family, such as the right of residence and education and something. However, Korea neither ratifies this convention nor discuss it.
Multi-cultural society cannot be built only based on the kinship. Regardless of their kinship, all of migrants should be the target of concern, and freed from the isolation or discrimination. It is hard to say that the ‘multi-cultural society' can be brought just by the current concerns for migrant women by marriage. ‘Multi-cultural society' should allow every immigrants including the migrant workers to have an equal rights as Koreans in education, labor, residence, culture and like that.
◦ Background of Migration
The migrant women can be classified as those who settle on the purpose of work, and those who settle to get married. As for the former, they are confined to their expectation or requirement for Korean society, because they cannot stay in Korea more than 3 years. Their major hope is to stay longer in Korea and get better wages. On the contrary, as for the latter, they want to carry on a happy life as the spouse of Korean. Their hope as a ‘marriage immigrant' is simple, but makes difference from that of the latter because they have to settle in Korea for their whole life. The migrant women by marriage has a difference from those for work. They aim to live in Korea for all of their life rather than staying for a certain time. However, their actual marriage is mostly ranged from the late 19 to the early 20's. It is difficult to interpret their marriage background in a simple sense because they tend to get married for the breakthrough of their crisis or relieve the hardship of their parent's home rather than thinking over their marriage. The migrant women by marriage have a certain degree of fantasy for Korea through drama based on Korean wave. For marriage, some migrant women follow their judgement, but most of migrant women fail to have a rational and objective decision because they are misguided or cheated by the temptation and false information from the international marriage agency. In the past, Japanese and Philippines women got married through the distorted belief like unification church or they conversely took advantage of it to get married. Now, the international marriage agencies are extending the marriage migration in a similar way. Though it's not a religious belief, they use the Korean wave and there appears women who use this kind of agency conversely.
Similarly with a type of immigration that foreigners plot to achieve an economical purpose by employment violating the initial approval after they enter Korea through tour visa or student visa, the marriage migration is also losing its initial purpose. Because the marriage migration is arranged by the structure of marriage agency which seek for the profit. Therefore, it is required to remove the profitability of international marriage business and have the proper alternatives to solve various problems. The marriage mediation which can be interpreted as commercial or even trafficking sometimes makes the migrant women have unclear and suspicious view keeping them from the desire to achieve a good married life with a real marriage intention. Also, it causes a discrimination of them in some intervals. To settle the proper trend of marriage migration, it needs the concerns of how to deal with the marriage agency which seek for profit and how to develop a transparent marriage migration including the effort of those women.
◦ Process of Marriage Migration
According to the data of national statistical office, 'the actual status of international marriage over the recent 3 years', the marriage between Korean and foreigner in 2006 was totally 309,700, which increased 3 times more than 12,300 of 2000, but decreased by 8.0% (3,400) compared to 43,100 in 2005. In case of the number of marriage with Korean male, it turned out to be 25,594 in 2004, 31,180 in 2005, and 30,208 in 2006. The number in 2006 was decreased by 972 compared to 2005. However, in case of 2007, the number is expected to be high by the increase and intervention of marriage agencies.
In addition, as for the actual status of residence of marriage immigrants under nationality, it is currently 93,786 in the late December, 2006. (male 10,958, female 82,828). And the order of nationality is Korean-Chinese, China, Japan, Vietnam, and Philippines. In the past, Vietnam was ruled out of ranking, but its current increase is consistent with the movement route of international marriage agency. Recently, its route transits into Cambodia, Raos from Vitenam. In Vietnam, the cost has been increased by the intervention of women alliance committee and the fact that Korean male had to visit to Vietnam twice, which becomes the reason of reducing profit earning. Also, the increase of marriage with Vietnam women causes the discussion of marriage intention, and the failure of marriage after women's entrance to Korea brings the problems such as male's defect and woman's leaving from home and something. In this context, objective factor is working out to increase the profit and make image through the development and migration of other marriage counterpart country.
Actual Status of International Marriage Over the Recent 3 years
200420052006Korean male＋foreign female marriage25,59431,18030,208China18,52720,63514,608Vietnam2,4625,82210,131Japan1,2241,2551,484Philippines9649971,157Mongolia504561594Uzbekistan247333394America344285334Thailand326270314Others 9961,0221,192foreign male＋Korean female marriage9,853 11,941 9,482Japan3,378 3,672 3,756China3,621 5,042 2,597America1,348 1,413 1,455Canada230 285 308Pakistan103 219 152Australia136 102 139England120 106 138Germany11085129Others8071,017808※ Data：National Statistical Office, demographical status (marriage, divorce)
Actual status of residence of marriage immigrants under nationality
RatioTotal93,78610010,95810082,828100Korean-Chinese35,801384,6184231,18337China20,485221,9441818,54123Vietnam14,83116630.514,76818Japan6,546756955,9777Philippines4,306513814,1685Mongolia1,6411.72701,6142Thailand1,5811.62601,5552America1,3351.47797.15560.6Uzbekistan1,0561.1320.21,0241.3Russia9771.0360.39411.2Pakistan5160.5509570Bangladesh4550.44304250Indonesia3610.3390.33220.4England1950.21781.6170Nepal1580.1931650.1Australia1530.11201330Korean-Russian1080.1301050.1Iran780.175130Others3,2033.41,279121,9242.3※ Data：Ministry of Justice
The social analysis that Korea is moving into the low birth and aging society links the increase of migrant women with the birth of Korean children, and evaluates that migrant women plays a significant role. In meantime, the analysis asserts that the international marriage is solving the problem of marriage failure due to the age gap between low-income people in farm and city. It also supports for the positive assessment of its role in the society. However, the international marriage reflected by the migrant women in Korea is causing various problem as much as it can be said 'trafficking' over the commercialism. The international marriage agency expels 'the human rights' by following examples.; Quick marriage under 3 days and 2 nights or 5 days and 4 nights, force to have sexual intercourse before the marriage, meetings like a beauty contest, false and exaggerated information, invalid career letter, group lodging of women, violence to women and something.
On the inspection of the actual condition of Vietnam on September, 2007, we visited to Hipong and Genjang distant from Hanoi and Hochimin. In case of Hipong, women tended to give the mediator 1000 dollars to 2000 dollars through the private loan. Those who take the money were called as big madam and small madam. They were looking for those women who want to get married and running marriage-related business over rural area according to Korean marriage agencies. The business system is that big madams order small madams to find a right woman in the rural area. In case of Korean mediators, if large and medium, they have sub structures adding to their pure marketing network, which increases the cost of Korean males. Though there lies in somewhat difference according to the nature of marriage agency and the target country, women in rural area must pay the big madam or small madam for their arrangement.
◦The basic rights infringement of migrant women and problem of supporting their human rights
The 'family' is the basic structural system of a certain country. The wellbeing of family means the health of society. The fitness of family can be accomplished by the efforts of every member not by one person. The marriage migrant women, so-called ‘multi-cultural family', are increasingly situated in the strange structure of seeking for one-sided happiness which their family and husband can feel not by the bilateral communication in making the family. If one person is unhappy while the other is happy, this is called as unhealthy family.
The family must be the valuable and important concept to anybody on the earth. For Koreans, this concept of 'family' is occupying more importantly affected by the Confucianism. The family community is the most basic form of organizing the society and nobody will be able to deny its importance. However, the family is evoking many problems as the non-democratic and non-humane contents are getting slipped away and spreading in spite of its positive role. The most fundamental element of our society is 'family'. Also, it is the family where is the most non-democratic and non-humane. A sense of homogeneity for the same blood under the same parent, and the blood tie have a good reason of making tremendous feeling of concentration and membership. However, the family members should abandon their private profit because of their family, and sometimes give up their future goal by the demand of their family, and otherwise put up with the bad words or whipping. We need to succeed to the strong merit, but still get rid of the negative aspect of the 'family'.
The family of migrant women is under situation which their freedom is more restricted under the oppression by the patriarchal order and non-humane types of impairment. They should unconditionally adapt to the Korean culture and language. And they should not give other opinions about the saying of their husband and mother-in-law or sister-in-law. They should be obedient and follow the word without their will. If they don't keep the rule and talk back, they would be often shamed and disadvantaged. This kind of order based on the patriarchal order makes the migrant women more troubled and tired, and often the migrant women are exposed to the frequent family violence. However, this exposure to the violence is looked down as just a trivial matter, and if the third man intervened in, they would say, 'it's none of your business', which shows a strong rejection for the move that aim to terminates the infringement of human rights
As the migrant women are exposed to various family violence such as the discrimination by the family members, husband's violence, the level of their human rights infringement is situated in the level of danger. Human rights must not be threatened or limited by other man regardless of gender and generation. Even if the subject were their family, the human rights must not be infringed. However, the migrant women are living with their rights infringed or violated by the close family who have to protect them, and they are undergoing pains everyday.
It is obvious that the exclusive nationalism would be the background of violence of Korean males to the migrant women. The males who do the violence to the migrant women often think wife's country as the poorest and inferior country and put away from it. Males spit words like, “The beggar land, Philippines, You sucks, XX Bastard" This kind of expression were common, and they frequently said, “Get away from here, I will send you back to Vietnam. Stay away from me". Violent males can't have a view of understanding wife's country. Unconditionally, such males emphasize their wife to learn only Koreans as soon as possible. Those who ignores the wife's country has already lost their respect for the wife, and are expected to turn into the violence.
Recently, as the concerns for the marriage migrant women are increasing, the central government and local communities have been trying to be engaged in the business related with them. However, the actual benefits to them seem to be little. The budget is running quite short, though they operate the various program like Korean language education, cultural experience and something directed by them or other agencies. The 100% reserved budget of local government is arranged for their social adaptation. In contrast, the budget for human rights protection is not considered. They just urged the migrants to have one-sided assimilation and adaptation, but seem to have no concerns for the human rights infringement by the national, cultural prejudice and discrimination. The business for the marriage migrant women is getting degraded into just an exhibition of local communities. They seem to have no concern for social activity or employment necessary for their settlement in Korea. Rather than, they are focused on the short-term Korean language education, assistance for the temporary event, cultural business and social adaptation. The migrant women is called on their superficial business to bring a doubt that they're used for stacking up the records of head of local community.
Consultation Cases (Client Migrant Women of Asian Migrant Woman Center)
Disadvantaged Migrant WomanNationality (age)Details of Disadvantage Woman A Vietnam
(26)-She had no option to immigrate to Korea on her husband's urge to compensate for the marriage cost as her husband has a mental disorder.
- Lowering of husband's social adaptability
(even unable to deposit or withdraw the money)
- When she takes a rest on her pregnancy, people around her husband interfere with her scolding that she is lazy. . Woman B Vietnam
(26)- Husband's alcohol addiction
- Her mother-in-law scolds her everyday. She doesn't know why she's degraded.
- She was hit in the marriage agency.
- Her passport is torn up in the marriage agency. Woman C Vietnam
(24)- Cheated by the marriage agency, she was married with the husband with a mental problem.
- Husband has been on 10-year medication for mental disease.
- He doesn't sleep in the room but in the warehouse.
- He shows odd behavior like wearing her clothes. Woman D China
(33)- Husband has a mental problem.
- She is hospitalized in the mental hospital.
- Her husband committed a suicide by hanging. Woman E Vietnam
(23)- Husband's alcohol addiction
- Family violence
- Migrant woman is hospitalized for schizophrenia Woman F Philippines (45)- Husband's alcohol addiction
- Husband's violence
-Migrant woman is diagnosed for illness, such as diabetes, pneumonia, and hepatitis.
-She spends most of her day in the monthly rental room which is dark and infected with bacteria-smell.
- She has a mental problem. Woman G Philippines (30)- Husband's violence
- She shows a sign of schizophrenia Woman H China
(36)- Husband's frequent violence
- His 4th marriage. Husband says he'd divorce with her again and plan to marry the woman from other country.
- Alcohol addiction Woman I Philippines (26)-Marriage agency cheated the age of husband (husband's age)
- Husband's violence and threat Woman J China
(50)- Husband's violence
- Husband turned out to have a mental disorder. Woman K Philippines (45)- Husband's alcohol addiction
- Family violence Woman L China
(28)- Husband's violence Woman M Vietnam
(25)- Husband's violence
- She was hit in her belly on pregnancy. Woman N Vietnam
(22)- Her husband hit her in her belly on pregnancy.
- Husband's inability or irresponsibility Woman O Vietnam
(23)- She was hit in the marriage agency.
- Her husband's frequent drinking Woman P Philippines (47)- She testifies that she doesn't know why her
mother-in-law is always angry with her.
- Her mother-in-law unilaterally drives her away.
- Husband claims for the marriage invalidity. Woman Q Vietnam
(31)- Sexual battery from the son of husband
- She is worn out by the assistance of her
mother-in-law and husband in the hospital.
- Husband's impotence Woman R China
(46)- Husband's addiction to gambling, financial inability
- Husband's delusion of infidelity
- Husband strangled her neck after a quarrel. Woman S China
(36)- Husband depreciates her in a male-dominance idea.
- Husband's violence in a quarrel from the gap of
language Woman T Vietnam
(19)- Conflicts with mother-in-law in the married life Woman U China
(44)- Husband's inability
- Husband's frequent violence
- He begins to hit her as having another family
with other woman. Woman V China
(45)- Husband's delusion of infidelity, frequent drinking, He hits her in the eyes, neck after a quarrel. Woman W China
(26)- Husband's frequent drinking.
Her hair is caught and she is thrown to the floor by the conflict with her mother-in-law or sister-in-law.
◦ Problem of the Supporting From Central Government And Local Government
In May, 2006, government suggested measurements and support plans for the migrant women. Compared that a rough measures and supports under the unsettled situation among departments with no clear points through the program collection, this has very developed form and contents. The government has made efforts to coordinate the repetition of the business and roles by clearly distinguishing the specific task working with ministry of leisure, welfare, justice, education, labor, police agency, and civil service commission.
(Figure-1) Government's measurement for building the division of labor among
departments and cooperative system on the marriage immigrants
ContentsManaging DepartmentSubjectAssistance∙Protection of the international marriage in parties. Language and culture education. Assist to settle a life base of the family. Support a victim of family violence. Improve social awareness. Build the communicative system
(marriage immigrant assistance center)Ministry of LeisureMinistry of Justice, Ministry of Culture and Tourism, Ministry of Welfare, Ministry of Information and Communication, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs∙Supervise and monitor the international marriage agency. Assist the medical or living conditions and provide the life information. Set up the infra system for volunteer work activity. Ministry of WelfareMinistry of Justice, Ministry of Leisure, Local Government∙Prevent the international marriage caused by human traffic. Settle the unrest of residence qualification. Monitor the illegitimate actMinistry of
JusticeMinistry of Leisure, Police Agency∙ Support children's adaptation to school lifeMinistry of EducationMinistry of Leisure, Ministry of Welfare, Local Government∙Encourage the employment and support trainingMinistry of
LaborMinistry of Leisure∙ Monitor the illegal actPolice
AgencyMinistry of Justice∙Train officials in the related business Civil Service
The coordination for the comprehensive tasks between departments was gained, but the government had the lack of managing it in combination, and fell into the repetitive untidiness which was revealed before suggesting the overall measurement for the migrant women. Recently, the name of ministry of justice has been changed into the 'foreigners policy headquarter' managing the overall affairs of policy, and there have been a controversy that the ministry is inappropriate for the overall management as its main purpose is to sentence through the law implementation. The center of the controversy was the question whether the ministry of justice previously occupied into monitoring for the human rights infringement of unregistered migrants can fulfill its mission to protect the migrant women's rights. Based on the utterance of president, Noh Moo-hyun's 'immigration ministry', the foreigners policy under the ministry of justice were created, and then developed into the 'immigration committee', and it has the possibility of transforming into the immigration ministry.
The ministry of gender equality and family called the multi-cultural family as ‘marriage immigrants', and built the applicable system for them. The number of ‘marriage immigrants family assistance center' is currently 38 nationwide in 2007, and it's predicted to reach 80 in 2008. Also, its budget would be increased from 3. 9 billion won to 22.3 billion won. The major task of ‘marriage immigrants family assistance center' is the social adaptation and education for the migrant women and their family. Though it also handles with the consultation between Korean male and migrant woman, it has the limitation that approaches in the aspect of human rights protection. The utterance for 'human rights' to male is burdensome, because they believe the patriarchal awareness as the major principle of life.
Therefore, the ‘marriage immigrants family assistance center' is postponing the valuable rights protection not to stimulate Korean males.
Budget Comparison Table for Marriage Immigrants Policy
(Ministry of Gender Equality and Family)
Contents20072008(-)(+)Rate Total Budget3,900,000,00022,300,000,000471.8% Visiting Han-geul
Education Service200,000,0005,600,000,0002,700% Visiting Child Caregiving
Assistance Service1,900,000,00011,100,000,000484.2% Marriage Immigrant
Family Supporting Center
(110.5%) Marriage Immigrant
Information Share Space
(New Business)200,000,000Pure Increase
The division of work between departments was distinguished by the certain underline, as for what understanding should be based on the assistance for the migrant women, it would be changed by the degree of the task manager. The ministry of gender equality and family has a different view from the ministry of welfare, justice, agriculture, only if considering the issue of commission with marriage mediation from the local communities and marriage agency. Also, it's poorly communicated between the central government and local communities. In case of the ministry of agriculture, it seems that it has poor communication in the unfairness and illegality of marriage mediation business through the communication with the managers of local community.
Though it is the important issue of where the assistance for the migrant women would start and what contents it would contain, the lack of communication between central and local governments including the constant exchange of managers show the limitation of finding the problem of the migrant women, and applying the right assistance.
The social adaptation and education for the marriage migrants from the central and local governments showed a large range of increase, the budget for the human rights and protection of the basic rights show the lack except that the family violence resting place would be doubled and the woman emergency call 1577-1366. The budget structure of requiring the one-sided adaptation and assimilation in Korea is showing its problem as well as the limitations in the protection of human rights of the migrant women. In case of local communities, the business for the marriage immigrant women is actually being lowered into the exhibition business of them. They seem to have little concerns for social activity or employment necessary for their settlement in Korea. Rather than, they are focused on the short-term Korean language education, assistance for the temporary event, cultural business and social adaptation. The migrant women is called on their superficial business to bring a doubt that they're used for stacking up the records of head of local community.
Coming to this year, each local communities are planning to give 4,000,000~ 5,000,000 won per 1 male in the farm or fishing village on its budge, under a title of 'international marriage subsidy support'. It's not oriented toward the case of the marriage with Koreans, but to support the case when it's recognized as the international marriage. It seems that they perceived unmarried males in the farm or fishing village are unable to get married with Korean female. Eventually, the formula that 'the migrant women are inferior to Korean women' is followed by the background of this awareness that ‘marriage is hard to make a goal in Korean society, and mediation with the international marriage is essential'. Neither the migrant women nor males in rural area will be the beneficiary of supporting business of local communities related to the marriage migrant women. It's the local community itself which get the most benefit in the election.
Recently, the placard 'the international subsidy support for the city worker in farm and fishing village' is often found on the street. It includes that 4,000,000 won is supported by Jeollabuk-do. On the placard, the name of its supporter, Jeonju Ilbo is specified, and the information call is also written as the same number of the newspaper company. After calling them to get more information, we found that they support 4,000,000 won per 1 person, and the local community supports 5,000,000 won. They estimated the target to support as 1,000, and commit an agency for the marriage mediation promotion.
These days, each local communities are exerted to the movement of ‘marriage for countryside males' It's true that many local communities arrange the relevant budgets. However, this kind of international marriage implies bunches of problem. Followings are examples continuously pointed out as non-humane.; false and exaggerated information, large meetings like a beauty contest, force to have sexual intercourse before the marriage, group lodging of women which ignores the voluntary will, and Quick marriage under 3days and 2 nights or 5days and 4 nights. Vietnam and Philippines prohibit the profit-oriented marriage by the law. However, Korean local communities including the regional newspaper firm mediate even such kind of marriage, and this reflects that our local society doesn't take the problem into consideration in a serious manner at all, despite the international society perceives it. A few days ago, there was the incident that one county headman was taken to the Vietnam police for the international marriage mediation of the local community. This reflects the lack of such awareness, and it's really shameful before worlds. Vietnam government even designated Korea and Taiwan as the special country for monitoring as the case increased with their women damaged by the non-humane international marriage. Currently, America designated Taiwan as the country for monitoring the human rights trafficking, and more recently, international society is monitoring Korea for the issue of non-humane international marriage.
The international marriage serves as one hope that unmarried males in rural area and low-income workers can make a happy family. However, the unprepared marriage causes to the family disruption. Recently, 3 families out of 5 families in a town where the international marriage took place came into the disruption. The unmarried men in this town is becoming a victim not a beneficiary by the international marriage. The background of international marriage among the males in rural area starts from the biased view that they're unable to get married with Korean women. They are also a victim of the rural policy failure in Korea, and the low-income workers are a victim of the policy failure for relieving the financial polarization. These people are the first victim of Korean institution and policy failure, but they are now secondarily disadvantaged by the international marriage.
The public opinions repetitively point out many problems of the current international marriage. Both of Korean men and foreign women are raised into the victim, and the damage is worsening. Under this circumstances, local community is expanding the international marriage business rather than stopping it. Even the local newspaper firm gets into it to promote the international marriage subsidy. This trend will severely lower Korean status in the international society. The local community must cease the international marriage mediation and related subsidy. It must focus on drawing the policy and instrument to substantially make the rural area vigorous and provide the low-income workers with the stable position as well as supporting the marriage migrants with the social settlement and protection of their rights.
◦ Problem in the civil support
As for the civil support for the migrant women and their family, there are the ‘marriage migrants family assistance center', welfare center, migrant worker's supporting organization, and religious group in a various way. Recently, the type and contents of assistance for the migrant women are almost similar. Its major contents consist of training program which requires them to accept Korean culture and language as soon as possible, and it is followed by one-time contests. Imitation for one-time program is repetitively administered. The big problem is that it has lack of the contents which can constitute the trade and exchange of culture but focuses on the superficial imitation. In these events, passive participation is more plausible rather than subjective participation. And the migrant women who joined an event is likely to participate in an event with the same level. This is just repetition of one person rotating in turns. The business must be proceeded in cooperative manner, but the migrant women are tired of the business which has the type of borrowing.
As it has a prevalence of the temporary business with events, the migrant women tend to expect only the benefit. Some migrant women question, “Can I get the money on the event? What can I receive?” This trend reflects the abuse of uncontrolled donating business to mobilize the participation in such events.
Recently, some organizations put their strength for the localization with the various background like religious background. As the native organization in the region, the appearance of organization which has the system of centralization, not designed to support the migrant women, should be based on the purity and social morality to support the migrant women. But, as the market is formed where the capital lies, the rough appearance of civil organizations which seek for the purpose of support by the economic order of market will be a serious challenge to the identity that they should have and similarly give a rise to the ruin.
◦ Problem of Residence Stabilization Like Immigration Law
When the marriage migrant women come to Korea, they should register as a foreigner within 90days. In case they don't follow that, they are classified as the illegal stayers and must pay for the fine as much as prolonged terms. But there are some marriage migrants who don't know the right order of registration, and after that, if they are involved in the problem with their husband, they often end up as a status of illegal staying. The foreigners can stay in Korea if they report to prolong their stay before the staying period is terminated. So does the marriage migrants. However, the main reason is not attributed to the husband when they faced with no allowance to the residence extension as the husband keeps the passport and the certificate of foreigner. Therefore, the responsibility for the fine depends on the migrant women. It is most common that husband or his family distrain the passport and certificate of foreigner. The family on male side says that they don't return such documents in fear of her runaway. However, according to the immigration law, the passport and certificate of foreigners must be retained by the migrant women. As the fine is charged on the person who doesn't have it, the family member who seized is not defined as having fault, even though he or she seized the passport and certificate of foreigner. In case of the marriage migrant women whose human rights was infringed, they must submit a copy of their family register to the immigration office to demonstrate that they are the spouse of Korean. However, if they have no passport and certificate of foreigner, they get in trouble because the town office, township office and village office don't issue the copy of family register. One migrant woman happened to face with an incident that her passport was torn away in the marriage agency, and she went to the Vietnam embassy in Seoul to reissue her passport. But, the embassy required her to pay 300,000 for issuing the passport. This woman couldn't help but return to her local residence.
A passport and certificate of foreigner are the belongings of the migrant women, and they can understandably claim their rights, but our reality is not like that. If one way is possible, she will have to accuse her husband and family members of the theft, but this is very reluctant way to take for her. This procedure about owning the certificate or passport by their family should be clearly specified in terms of fault, and the provision of penalty will be modified.
◦ Problem of Ordinance
The draft made by the ministry of government administration and home affairs of central government has been distributed in each local communities relating to the ordinance of foreigners support. Each local governments established 'resident alien supporting ordinance' based on that.
The ordinance leaves a pity that it didn't keep the procedure of democracy even in formative way. The ordinance contains various contradictions and problems. The overall contents of this ordinance is related with the social adaptation and assistance of resident aliens who occupy the realm of our society. The ordinance puts its weigh on helping the resident aliens to adapt to the society, but doesn't describe any line about the human rights of foreigners, which is recently making a social issue and causing a social abnormality. This ordinance focuses on the social adaptation of resident aliens, but it is just a part of wheel which must be accompanied by the 'human rights'. Under the circumstances that human rights are infringed and discriminated, the social adaptation program is just like the broken wagon which rolls with one wheel.
Also, this ordinance omits the part of assistance in the provision of 'assistance for the independent life of resident aliens' which is specified in the objectives scope. And in the function of committee which specifies the object of assistance, it describes about the assistance for the 'alien' but omits the category of aliens who attained the nationality, resulting in the expression of inconsistent contents on many parts.
The ordinance had no procedures like asking for civil advice who assists for aliens, omitted the important part of 'human rights', and showed numerous inconsistency in the context. The important purpose for the resident aliens should be at least centered on the isolated aliens out of aliens who stay in Korea. If there were aliens isolated from our society, most of them would be the migrant workers or women. The migrant workers are the workers who entered by the working visa, and the migrant women mostly consist of Asian women who entered by the international marriage. In addition, this ordinance doesn't mention about the part of assistance for the aliens whose human right are infringed and who suffer from the discrimination, but only focuses on the social adaptation in Korea. The social adaptation and 'human rights' must go together, and none of these can be looked down. Currently, the human rights of migrant women and workers is being infringed by the violence and cheat of Koreans, and they are standing on the center of discrimination. In spite of such fact, it's a pity that this ordinance has no mention about the part of mentioning 'human rights' which is making a social issue. Accordingly, it's hard to expect the protection and improvement of human rights of immigrants like a migrant woman even in the local governments.
◦ Problem of Ensuring the Economic Activity
According to the data by the ministry of health and welfare in 2005, despite more than 50% is suffering from the minimum cost of life, only 13.7% was benefited by the policy of basic life subsidy. The total rate of households under the minimum cost of life was 52.9%. 57.5% was for the households having less than 18-year-old child, and 15.5% was for the case of having the experience of skipping the meal due to the lack of money. The participation rate of the migrant women's economical activity was 60%, and the reason for their economic activity was to keep living (51%), and children education fee(17%). The majority type of occupation was service industry like a restaurant employee(52%). The reason for unemployment was children rearing(43%), followed by the failure of employment(21%).
In case of the multi-cultural families by the international marriage, most of them suffer from the financial poverty. The financial poverty forces the women to do the economic activity passively, and the migrant women are restricted in their economic activity because of the exclusive nationalism and statism. It's hard for the migrant women to be employed in Korean society. Along with the basic exclusive awareness for the Asian migrant women, our society can't figure out their understanding, demand and background in the aspect of institution and structure. It's true that most of people married with the migrant women are mentioned as the poor who cannot be ensured with their status in Korea, like the unmarried old men in rural area or low-income workers. Such people solve their problem of marriage even by giving the marriage agency a good deal of money and get married with the migrant women. In fact, the problem of unmarried men in rural area and low-income workers in city can be called as the structural disruption caused from the failure of Korean society, and the problem of polarization caused from the misguided policy. Under the serious circumstances that even husbands are unable to do a desirable economical activity, the migrant women put on the street to do the economic activity instead of husband, but there is little place where employs them. The common works that migrant women choose are the assistant at the textile firm, washing the dishes or serving at the restaurant. Some of them who came from Philippines work as the lecturer at academy, after school elementary teacher, and English tutor, but these works are just partial and their return is much smaller than Koreans. The migrant women has poor guarantee in their rights of labor. The basic wage doesn't reach to the minimum wage.; they get 400,000~500,000 won and if maximum, it would be 600,000 won. To get the retirement grants is still more difficult. So far, the migrant workers have been centered on the issue of workers but afterwards, it may be the social problem that their rights of labor would not be ensured in their economic activities. In addition, Korean emotion based on the exclusive nationalism would give a rise to various problems of human rights to the marriage migrant women such as, sexual battery, violence, bad words and something.
The social activity for migrant women is almost cut off. What takes the majority is the economic activity, but it's very hard for them to carry on the economic activity with the occupation. Because the view of Koreans is not smooth but works out discriminatively not placed in equal situation. The majority of the migrant women with international marriage is Asian, who came from the inferior country in finance. Even if the same case with the international marriage, Koreans have so different treatment for the women who came from Europe, America not Asian. In addition, though it's in the same Asian belt, the treatment for migrant women from Japan has more advantages than that of Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia. This may be because Japan is more developed than Korea in economy. These problems derive from the exclusive nationalism which longs for just western society, and wrong viewpoint which show off themselves before the poor, while lowering themselves before the rich, which may be the original problems which threaten the social activity and financial business activity.
For long time, the Korean society has taken the education which emphasize the superiority of homogeneous nationals, which makes Koreans stand so exclusive to other nationals. The past experience of being ruled by Japan was enough to root us with anti-colonial resistant nationalism. This resistant nationalism was the primary driving force to make our nation independent country. However, this 'resistant nationalism' has been transformed into 'exclusive nationalism'. It was natural that the education and emotion of our society under this background accepted 'homogeneous nationalism' without question.
This exclusive nationalism of us is producing many complaints and discrimination in Korea. For the reason that immigrants have a different face color or language, they are put under the discrimination and isolation. However, something peculiar is that, there is a significant difference between treating the white from west and those from the East Asia. Particularly, it's more largely varied from the English speaking country and those not. For the whites who speak English, Koreans want to get along well with them attempting to make a word. However, for those who came from Cambodia or Philippines with rather dark face and skin, Koreans discriminate them as much as directly seen. This kind of phenomenon may be rooted in the exclusive nationalism, the evil effects of capitalism which judges everything by the money, and reflexed pro-American awareness which was changed disgracefully after the division of Korea.
It brings out the big challenge and unrest that the person who had been in other cultures speaking other language moves into another fresh culture. As Korean society, the difference between the language and culture would be even harder problem when the democracy works out strong and patriarchal familism is firmly situated.
According to the data surveyed by the ministry of health and welfare, the general language is Korean, but the level of Korean proficiency is very low in the women from Japan, Vietnam except the overseas Koreans. And the major conflict factor with mother-in-law turned out to arise from the difference of communication and culture(45%).
The Korean family members urges the migrant women to acquire Korean language as soon as possible, and learn how to cook Korean food to serve the delicious food for them. Their ask for the migrant women applied the culture of 'hurry hurry', and form a sense of unrest by scolding their poor Korean, though it's not passed long since they entered Korea.
The migrant women have lived with different cultural way and idea for long time. In this context, their cultural way and idea cannot immediately change by staying in Korea. To settle in Korea with a good manner, their culture must be firstly understood and they should be helped with overcoming the hardship. The concerns for the migrant women which lasted so far was centered on the demand to be a homogeneous national by learning Korean language and culture as soon as possible rather than understanding their culture and way of thinking. However, this is to insist on the exclusive attitude under this mulit-national society which stands for the multi-culture and might cause to worsen the conflict with women.
The Korean families demand the migrant women to learn Koreans quickly, but othertimes block them not to settle in Korea, which is the contradictory behavior. The factor of family disruption can be found in controlling their life in Korea and demanding them to quickly assimilate, as it keeps them from adjusting to the Korean society. Thus, it doesn't need one sided assimilation but bilateral one. But, such a thing is still far from the reality.
◦ Children problem of multi-cultural family
According to the 2005 survey by the ministry of health and welfare, it was discovered that the children under the multi-cultural family had poor rearing conditions. The majority of such children showed problems in the education of home and school due to the low social and economical status of their parent, difference in languages, culture, and education. For the preschool child, the use rate of kindergarten or nursing facility (child home, playing room) was 27.3% under the international marriage and 56.8% under the normal family. Considering the problem between the cases to adopt the kindergarten or not, the imbalance would be well noted. They have low understanding of class lecture because of the language development retardation and maladaptation to the culture. Othertimes, they are too passive or too violent with ADHD(attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). As the attitude of teachers doesn't embrace the multi-culturalism, and their 'distinction' and 'exclusion' are likely to cause a social isolation.
The children problem of multi-cultural family is related with that of migrant women. Therefore, if it's failed to solve and prevent the problem derived from the migrant women, it's also impossible to solve the problem of their children. Thus, what is precedent should be focused on the problem in the migrant women. The problems to the children under the multi-cultural family, it is often misinterpreted and magnified over the wholel multi-cultural society. However, under actual condition, there show no big problem of children in the multi-culture. They're likely to have more outgoing and explicit skills than Koreans. As mentioned above, if the children of migrant women were committed earlier to kindergarten education, and the integrated atmosphere formed to get along well with Koreans, it doesn't bring about the problem.
Followings are the problematic cases with children of multi-cultural family who make problem.：when their father's addicted to alcohol; when the family violence is prevalent; if he migrant women show lower level of language proficiency and develop into cultural maladaptation, their children would also have the same problem. However, in this case, when the Korean children is fixed with incorporated education, it turns out to have no problem. It shows a difference based on whether they give their children a kindergarten education or not
Children problem of multi-cultural family can cause more serious problem when it's met with so sensitive view of discrimination and independent education. More natural concern is needed. Currently, the type of education is based on the culture of father's country, but it's required that they should have a pride in their mother through the education of culture and language of mother's country. Concerns and program are needed to form a self-respect in a smooth and natural way. Excessive concerns could form another group which were separated, and keep the multi-cultural family from right placement.
The children problem of multi-cultural family has many fundamental scope which can be settled through the solution of problem that's common to migrant women. It needs the measurement to solve this problem in both of political and instrumental way, while the society should make efforts not to magnify the fact and clear view not degraded by the discrimination.
There are many groups and people who cry and support for ‘multi-culture'. It reflects that the concerns for it in our society reached as much as such an increase, and actually, this kind of ‘multi-culture' is often understood as a ‘multi-culture' in the view of one-sided assimilation for the Korean culture. As the majority of local immigrants is the married women with Koreans, the subject of ‘multi-culture' must be the married women with Koreans. However, the ‘multi-culture' should include the issue of migrant workers, overseas Koreans, and those who may concern. To make the ‘multi-culture' as the wholesome multi-culture not ceased to the partial one, we should be focus on the multi-national awareness and value by throwing up those based on Koreans. Korean society is still exclusive. When calling for the multi-culture, Koreans seem to allow it for the migrant women as the spouse of Koreans and their children. Because the majority of Korean spouse can be recognized as the subject of multi-culture, It cannot help but to concentrate our concern on them, multi-cultural policy and alternatives should be come out based on them who mostly constitute the local community. However, if our view were only calling for the multi-culture ignoring the minority of migrant workers and other migrants, it would need to be modified.
The marriage migrant women are our neighbor and friends. The kindness and concerns for our neighbor would be the great strength to those who should settle in Korean society for all of their life. However, the concerns should be expressed as the respect for others and humans. It's undesirable to show off new things or advocating the superior culture and financial status than others. Yet, the ceremony, several business and events for the marriage migrant women have the subtle tendency of expressing such a superiority.
The level of our awareness is the measuring stick of how to establish the institution and policy. With a respect to the marriage migrant women, we should not take some attempts like distinguishing something or to distinguish. The attempts which aimed to classify the migrant women and their children hinder them from settling in Korean society, including the factor which makes them isolated group or discriminated group. Therefore, we should have a pertinent view of the marriage migrant women and the attitude to get along with them.
Another new alternatives must be considered through the monitor, control, and activation of legal requirement and non-profitability to get rid of the problem among marriage agencies which have a moneymaking scheme and cause a problem of human rights. In addition, it's suggested that the human rights of marriage migrant women would be strengthened by the reinforcement and closure of various legal support, such as the immigration law, support law of multi-cultural family, and related ordinance for foreigners. Along with ensuring their rights and valuing their culture, the true multi-cultural society would be formed.
(This document includes the written agenda presentations from the 'International Multi-Cultural Seminar' in Daegu and Gwangju co-hosted by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, British Embassy in Korea, Yeungnam University, and Chonnam National University on November 8 - 9, 2007.
The International Multi-Cultural Seminar was held to raise awareness of migrants' rights and further their social integration in Korean society, where the number of migrants now exceeds one million. Michael Keith and Leonie McCarthy (Commissioners, British Commission on Integration and Cohesion), and Ji-Hun Lee (Human Rights Solidarity for Women and Migrants) made agenda presentations. Among the participants in the panel discussion were human rights experts from Gyeongsang and Jeolla Province. This document contains only the greetings by the hosting organizations and written agenda presentations by those who made presentations on the main topic.)