[lg policy] Korea: New policy on multiracial families to focus on openness

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Fri Nov 27 16:06:12 UTC 2015

New policy on multiracial families to focus on openness
[image: 음성듣기]
*‘More openness toward multiracial people is next policy target'*

By Kim Se-jeong

Kim Hee-jung, minister of
gender equality and family
The government will put a greater focus on correcting prejudiced views of
multiracial families and boosting the public's receptivity of them, said
Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Hee-jung in a recent interview.

Her remarks show the ministry's policy focus shifting from the current
policy of helping marriage migrants adapt to life here over the last decade.

"The policy has come a long way, but what's more important now is for
Korean society to embrace these multicultural families more heartily," Kim
said. "We will make greater efforts to raise public awareness that these
families bring openness and flexibility to Korean society."

One such effort was the revision of the Multicultural Families Support Act
passed earlier this month. The new law stipulates that services for
multiracial families would no longer always be free.

A majority of immigrant wives in Korea are from other Asian countries such
as China, Vietnam, Mongolia and Japan. While Koreans often regard them as
lower-class citizens in need of help, many are reluctant to help them,
believing that the immigrant population places a burden on their own
opportunities for welfare.

One support program for marriage migrants is a home-visit service, in which
Korean language instructors and social workers visit the family to teach
the Korean language or give counseling to make cultural integration

"So far, all foreign spouses received the home-visit service for free
regardless of income level," the minister said. "But under the revision,
this will change and multiracial families in mid- and high-income brackets
will pay for the service. I believe this will help people see these
families as more than just recipients of social benefits."

The revised law also makes it mandatory for teachers and heads of childcare
centers and kindergartens to take action to protect children from
multiracial backgrounds from discrimination. The ministry is working on
more details.

*Past and future *

As the marriage immigrant population grew, so too did the need for
effective policies.

According to the ministry, there are almost 300,000 migrant spouses in
Korea, mostly women, and they are estimated to have had around 200,000
children. The ministry expects 1 million people will have multiracial
families by 2020.

The government began to offer support programs for them in 2006 when the
flow of marriage migrants reached its peak, with bachelors in rural areas
looking for wives from other Asian countries.

The growing trend had various downsides, such as family conflicts arising
from the foreign spouses' difficulties adapting to a new culture and

The government began offering help to marriage migrants through 217
multicultural family support centers. The centers have proven effective,
helping reduce such conflicts.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the government's policy for multiracial
families this year, Kim said the future policy focus for the next 10 years
will be on children, especially those who join their parent in Korea later
after the parent married a Korean citizen.

"These children are more vulnerable to identity crises, and it's very
critical to help them grow without major trouble," she said.

One of the support programs is the Rainbow School, with 17 branches around
the country offering information about Korea, Korean language education and
academic assistance to new arrivals.

The ministry also runs a multi-language program, aiming at increasing
fluency of multiracial children in Korean and the language of the immigrant
parent. "We hope these children will be a bridge between Korea and the
country of their parent," the minister said.

Some 6,800 children have participated in the multi-language program, and
the government will make a database of the participants' profiles to
support their further academic and job careers.


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