SKorea: Election of naturalized Korean brings out racism in netizens
Share this on

SKorea: Election of naturalized Korean brings out racism in netizens

A few naturalized Koreans have run for the National Assembly in previous years, but none succeeded until this year, when Jasmine Lee was voted in.

Original article in Korean is at this link.

In the April 11th general election, 35-year-old Filipina Jasmine Lee, a marriage immigrant, was elected from the Saenuri Party. In the wake of her victory, some netizens have written angry attacks such as “now there will be illegal immigrants doing what they want and more sham marriages.”

Jasmine’s election may lead to an increase in anti-foreigner sentiment and make other marriage immigrants into targets as well. On the 16th this newspaper investigated the situation and immediately found that most marriage immigrants were reluctant to speak publicly. They feared being attacked by netizens the same as Jasmine Lee. The nearly 200,000 marriage immigrants in this country are shrinking before this social problem.

Mrs. A, a marriage immigrant from Vietnam who was receiving advice at a marriage immigrants’ center in the Seoul area, said that, “I thought that it would be a good thing to have Jasmine representing us in the Saenuri Party and voted for her, but I don’t understand why she is being terribly insulted (by some Korean netizens).” She added that “from what I know, Korean people also take jobs in America and in America their hard work is recognized… why doe Korean people have to be so against Jasmine?” Mrs. A requested anonymity, saying that “I might be attacked the same way.”

35-year-old Mrs. B, who came here nine years ago from Mongolia, said that “when I see what people are writing about Jasmine I feel heartsick… Koreans are bad. How can they such things when they don’t even know much about her… before they say something like ‘how can such a person be in the National Assembly’ they should think about how hard it is for her to live and work hard.”

36-year-old Hwang Eui-sun, the Taiwanese head of the multicultural families’ organization 아름다우, said that “as marriage immigrants we can feel that Jasmine’s heart is just as heavy as ours.” Mrs. Hwang, who has three children from her marriage to a Korean man in 2002, is an active leader of the group and sometimes appeared on television. After those appearances netizens would say “her husband is a lawyer,” “she came here to sell her body,” and “multicultural families are wasting our taxes.” Mrs. Hwang said that “those things always get written in internet sites for people who oppose Korean society becoming more diverse… Korean people use the phrase ‘multiculturalism’ a lot, but the culture appears not fully mature yet.”

Mrs. C, a Vietnamese woman who lives in a medium-sized city in Gyeongsangnam-do, said that “I’m very happy that Jasmine is now representing marriage immigrants in the National Assembly, but it is really shocking to see the reactions of Korean people… recently wherever I go there are people who say multiculturalism, multiculturalism, but I didn’t know there would be people insulting me and hating that there is a marriage immigrant in the National Assembly.”

Mrs. Jeong, a marriage immigrant who came from Mongolia and has been married 12 years, said that “the reaction (of Koreans) to Jasmine has been getting more severe by the day, and I worry that there is no way to protect us marriage immigrants… when I look at this situation I feel that we need to be much more active in society.”

Also this week, accusations of racism flew on an American Idol-type program, as top K-Pop producer JYP expressed thinly-veiled frustration at what he believes to be biased fan voting.