On Thursday, August 2nd, ten members of a South Korean xenophobic groups called the “Organization of Solidarity of the Eradication of Foreigners’ Crimes” and the “Organization of Solidarity of the Citizens against Foreign Workers” gathered in front of the Immigration Office in Yangcheon-gu, Seoul. Members held signs displaying, “Abolish multicultural policies now.”
The members openly criticized the South Korean government for promoting policies that favor multiculturalism. Some members even criticized the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family for “discriminating against men and supporting Women Migrants Human Rights Center, which protects fake [international] marriages.”
Some foreigners who were visiting the Immigration Office were perplexed by such protest. Watching the protest, a female English instructor from Australia said, “I understand that these people are angry at the crimes committed by some foreigners, but if they keep protesting like this [against foreigners] in front of a place that many foreigners often visit, they might ruin Korea’s national image abroad.”
According to population statistics from January 2012, 2.5% of the total population in South Korea are foreigners, including long-term residents, naturalized citizens, and children of multicultural families. The xenophobic groups in South Korea often start an anti-foreigner movement through websites and blog online, by posting specific crimes committed by foreigners. The groups are often against immigrant workers from developing countries. One xenophobic group has more than 6,000 members.
According to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea, the number of petitions filed with the nation’s human rights agency against racial and religious discrimination has steadily increased in recent years.
Han Kyung-koo, a professor at Seoul National University, said that xenophobia could become a major social problem in Korea, if it is not properly addressed. “What’s important is to develop more programs to help immigrants adapt so they can contribute to the development of Korean society,” said Han.