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From pure bloodline to mixed-race

By Kang, Min-ji, reporter 기자2006.05.31 22:56:58

 
▲ Hines Ward & his mother, Kim Young-hee 
ⓒ photo by naver
The Korean-American football hero Hines Ward, who won the Super Bowl MVP award in 2006, recently visited South Korea, the homeland of his mother, Kim Young-hee. Hines, who was born to a black American serviceman and a Korean mother, left Korea on April 12th, 2006, after a 10-day trip.


A number of entertainers (e.g. Daniel Henney, Dennis Joseph O"Neil, Insuni, Yun Su-il etc.) have performed on the stage in Korea, but when interviewed, they pointed out that they have suffered from a great number of problems in Korea. These included not only the strange views of indigenous Koreans, but also being called black sheep, because of their mixed race. Thanks to this the visit of Hines Ward, many Koreans are paying attention once more the discrimination of mixed-blooded Koreans. In contrast to previous times, our perceptions related to biracial people are starting to move from prejudice and discrimination to equality.

 
▲ Alternative of mixed race and Kosian children who are bothered 
ⓒ photo by naver
Mixed race can be defined as the genetic mixing of one racial group with another racial group. The reasons for such interbreeding can be classified largely into two types. One reason is geographical proximity. When two different groups are geographically close to each other, international weddings and biracial children commonly occur due to frequent contact. For example, there are many cases of mixed breeding between North and South Americans, Japanese and Ainus etc. The other reason is due to more artificial causes such as migration, occupation by war or unbalanced sex ratios. For instance, there are many international weddings of American servicemen who work in foreign countries, including South Korea and Japan.


At present, the number of Kosians (children of Koreans and Southeast Asians) is increasing as time goes by. Therefore, this article investigates the phenomena of Kosians in detail. The word ‘Kosians’ has been used since 1997, and there are two main categories: i) urban Kosians, and ii) rural Kosians. The former type, which refers to an international family of a Korean woman and a Southeast Asian man, is small compared to the latter. The term ‘rural Kosians’ refers to children of a Korean man and a Southeast Asian woman (especially from China, Vietnam, and the Philippines). This phenomenon has arisen because Korean women avoid marriage with Korean rural men because their incomes are lower than the urban men. Rural areas are thus experiencing a terrible sex ratio, and rural Korean men often get married to Southeast Asian women through professional matchmakers. As a result, their children have various problems, such as communicating with their neighbors. In addition, Kosians are regularly assaulted and beaten by other Koreans, and they find it much more difficult to get jobs than indigenous Koreans. When we consider the prediction that one-third of all newborn babies will be Kosian in 2020, we can see that it is extremely important for the Korean government to make a new policy or law against mixed-racial prejudice and discrimination.

 
▲ Cartoon related to mixed people 
ⓒ photo by naver
Up to now, pureblood ties in Korean society have been emphasized, despite the suffering of mixed-race people. There are a number of reasons for this situation. The first of these is a historical one. Throughout Korean history (half ten thousand years), Koreans have been proud of being ethnically homogeneous, in spite of frequent invasions. In addition, they didn"t move to other lands. They settled on farmland in the Korean Peninsula for a long time, and as a result, they become more homogeneous than other groups. Another reason is an ideological one. The Korean War broke out in 1950, because North Korea sought to unify through Communism. Therefore, the most important policy for the South since the war became anti-Communism. So they emphasized unilateral identification and they ostracized biracial people through heterogeneity.


In the light of increasing public interest in the plight of mixed-race people, the Korean governing party introduced bills protecting them on April 7th, 2006. According to these bills, mixed-race children can obtain Korean nationality or permanent residentship. Pooling the data from a KBS survey, 80 percent of the respondents agreed that mixed-race people should be eligible for Korean nationality. Moreover, the government plans to establish support centers for immigrants, members of minor races and mixed-races, in order to help them adapt to Korean life and culture. In addition, the government will prepare special programs such as financial help and low-cost medical services. There are also plans to introduce a new law regulating interracial marriage brokers to prevent human rights abuses.


Last, but not least, Koreans need to change their awareness and prejudices with regard to people of mixed-race. Koreans are not as open as other peoples, because they are not accustomed to biracial people"s different faces and colors. Discrimination against biracial people appears in Korean pureblood values from ancient times. So it is important that Korean attitudes should change from isolation to openness. Many Koreans have said that it is time to tackle discrimination against the facial color of mixed-race children. Hines Ward’s visit to Korea has helped many Koreans to realize that they have been adhering to their prejudices. From now on, it is imperative that they continue to take an interest in minority groups and in a multi-cultural future.


[No.314]
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