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The dream of century, finally gathered
  • Choi Jung-youn, Bang Hye-jung
  • 승인 2010.03.10 19:33
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The dream of century, finally gathered

Shake-up beyond the borders
Opening our hearts to THEM
Breaking up our stereotype heading for THEM

In Korea, there are foreigners who reside within a country.  They are a population of a million and it is about 2percent of Korea's social members as of 2009.  That is about 80 out of every 1,000 people in Yeongdeungpo-gu, Seoul, Ansan and Gyeonggi areas.  If this trend continues, the government predicts that the foreign population would be approximately 1,766,900 roughly 3.58 percent very soon.  Korea is already a 'multicultural society.' However, Koreans need to learn more about multiculturalism.

[What is Multiculturalism?]
 Benedict Anderson (Aaron L. Binenkorb Professor Emeritus of International Studies, Government & Asian Studies at Cornell University), an author best known for his celebrated book Imagined Communities, first published in 1983, defines multiculturalism as "consisting of or relating to people of many different nationalities and cultures."  Multiculturalism occurs when a country absorbs people from other countries creating an international atmosphere.  People who emigrate can easily come in contact with other cultures. As we continue discussing multiculturalism, how does multiculturalism affect Korean Universities?
 
[The effort of Universities]
 This year Dongguk University (DU) made multicultural family screening for children of mixed ethnic backgrounds for research purposes.  Go Yu-hwan(the leader of DU admission center) said that "Multicultural family students can overcome cultural or religious conflicts in society.  Through this screening, we will continuously increase the number of people studied." There are other universities that have multicultural family screening like Dankook University, Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology, Kangwon National University, Korea Digital University and Sangmyung University in Cheonan.
 
 In the Center for Korean Language Education at DU ( an expansion of the Korean Language Program started in 2002 by the Center for Language Research and Instruction), foreigners can learn a lot from friendly and qualified instructors armed with advanced training in teaching Korean as a foreign language.  Besides the indoor classes, there are various cultural events and club activities which reflect student’s demands.  20 hours every semester provide cultural classes and a study visit to improve student’s understanding of Korea and Korean culture.  Furthermore, club activities are linked with various clubs in DU.  There are field trips in every year, and students can join school festivals and school athletic meetings to experience Korean campus life, and practice cooking Korean food.  From this center, many foreigners can lean about Korean culture and understand multiculturalism.
 
 From this year, DU has set up a lecture which is available to students of double major classes called 'Multicultural Society'.  The field of economics, international trade, law and other lectures are available for students.   In a phone interview with the related department secretary, he said that the reason for establishing lectures of multicultural society is to bring about a better approach to various social phenomenon.  The trend of modern culture is increasing multiculturalism internationally.  So, the education and understanding of multiculturalism is needed currently.

 Furthermore, other universities have been trying to become more multicultural.  Some time ago the Ministry of Justice appointed selected universities for integrating Korean Immigration and promoting the understanding of multiculturalism.  These Universities were called ABT (Active Brain Tower) universities.  The range of ABT universities covers the entire country.  This means that the Ministry of Justice needs to develop the policy of integrating multicultural Korean immigration which is suitable for the regional characteristics.  Also, professionally educating expert in the understanding of multiculturalism is needed to support a multicultural society.  The goals of ABT universities can be divided in three parts: training expert in multiculturalism, propelling the policy of integrating Korean Immigration regionally, and composing the base of study about various multicultural ideologies.  The Ministry of Justice focused on educating people on the idea of multiculturalism.  Multicultural education helps students develop a positive self-concept by providing knowledge about the histories, cultures, and contributions of diverse groups.  Learning about various cultures not only helps students recognize other cultures, but also offers students an equitable educational opportunity.  To accomplish these developments, multicultural education demands a school staff who is culturally competent.  The staff must be multiculturally literate and capable of including and embracing families and communities to create an environment that is supportive of multiple perspectives.  It means that the most important aspect of appreciating multiculturalism is training experts.  ABT universities can help society form a professionally multicultural society group.  On November 2008, the course of educating the 2nd professional multicultural society was opened to 398 foreigners and Korean people.  And the five universities of ABT universities did initiate the agency of operating tests on multicultural education. 
 In October 2009 , one of the professional courses, ‘The Understanding of Korea Society’, operated in sixteen ABT universities.  In 2010, the Ministry of Justice adjusted the agency of operating at universities one more time.  One of those universities, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies(HUFS), will hold a class about ‘Korean Language’ and ‘Korean Society.’ When ABT universities are operating various programs, the permission of the Ministry of Justice is needed. 
 
[The effort of Universities and Society]
 In a newspaper interview with Hong Shin-hyeok(Korea university, Junior), participant of the multicultural press corps, Hong said that this activity is a good chance that can take root and help develop multicultural recognition for both Korean students and foreign students alike. When asked what multiculturalism is, Hong said, “When I heard the word ‘multicultural’, I thought of foreign emigration laborers and the multicultural families.  But, as I knew the concept of multicultural supporters' activity to help students study abroad, I was getting curious.”
 The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism singled out multicultural supporters 1st session on university students from August 17th 2009 to September 13th.  The public goal of multicultural supporters is to manage the place of being able to understand multicultural society rightly through cultural interchanging with domestic university students and foreign students. This activity was greatly supported by the government.  Hong said that the most important factors for solving the multicultural stereotype are to become more open-minded and avoid prejudice.  Hong insisted that people should have an open mind and should be thoughtful and considerate and respect different cultures and people.    These advantages will help Korean people become more open minded.  Actually, Korean people can’t easily dismiss the closed viewpoint of multiculturalism because of having strong pride in a racially homogeneous nation.  But, the  more people learn about multiculturalism, the more interested they will get in cultures of other countries.  At the same time, Korean people won’t look at multiculturalism with a prejudiced viewpoint.  Foreign people gain public acceptance for one’s existence as member of society. 
 
 The Korean conglomerate LG opened the 'Multicultural School of Love' as one of the multicultural family support businesses on November 11th, 2009.  It provides systematic education programs for 70 students over the course of 2 years who have talents in science and language. 30 students who have talents in science are studying in Korea's Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and others who have talents about language study in HUFS one or two times per month.  The LG officials said that "Multicultural family children will be a globally talented person because they can naturally accept two countries' culture and language.  So we started this business in order to contribute to public welfare." Cha Lim-lim (Incheon KwanKyo Elementary School, fifth grade) who learns Chinese in a language program said that "I will be a translator and can assist society.  I received the teacher's help.  They are very kind to us and I am very happy because I can make many new friends." And she added that "I want to go to art school because I like painting and these programs can help us achieve our dreams."

 There is a paper on multicultural study.  Park Jae-young, a professor at Dept. of History Education, wrote a paper ‘Conflict of Culture in Europe Multicultural Society’.  The paper elucidated the actual condition and policy of European multicultural society and stated the relation to the influence of Korean society and what the governmental policy should be to solve problems in Korean multicultural society.  The historical cause was the mass-influx of alien workers after the Second World War because of the shortage of hands in case of England, France and Germany.  Integrating with people coming from different cultures caused increasing international marriage since 1990 is the cause of the increase of Korea's becoming a multicultural society.  Korea also has many social problems that cause an unstable domestic labor market, decreasing subsistence wages, increasing divorce rate of international marriages and inadaptable to Kosian (A generation between Korean and Asian or children of Asian immigrant workers).  There are many ways to solve those problems. In a newspaper interview, Park Jae young, a professor at Dept. of History Education, suggested four possible solutions: applying strong punishment to illegal immigrants; granting social and legal position to alien workers; governmental support of immigrants and securing equal opportunity.  After all, the heart of multiculturalism is to respect fundamental human rights and to understand different cultures and life styles, as well as to promot the range of mutual understanding.


[Conclusion]
 Our societies' ability to understand muliculturalism is too low.  Korean people should be made to be aware of social situations such as active international marriage, increasing the number of immigrants and coexistence among various religions.  These social situations should change our minds and thinking about a multicultural society.  According to a survey made by the YMCA in Seoul about the reactions of four hundred people over thirteen years, from May 2009 to December 2009, the score of multicultural thinking is 46.3 out of 100.  Whether we like it or not, Korea has been and is continually increasing to become a multicultural society.  The starting point of a good multicultural society is for the native people to set a good tone for foreigners.  For example, not having hatred for foreigners and exuding an extremely negative attitude.
 Let's continue to become more open-minded and accepting of cultures and people from other countries.

Choi Jung-youn, Bang Hye-jung  lillasgo@dgu.edu

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