On the 5th of June, it was announced that Korea ranked 13th place on the Migrant Integration Policy Index (MIPEX), among the 36 countries evaluated, including 27 EU countries, Canada, United States, and Japan.
The MIPEX, developed by the British Council and Migration Policy Group in 2004, is an index indicating the effectiveness legal framework for social integration of immigrants. Composed of 7 areas of policies, it measures: Labour Market Mobility, Family Reunion for Third-Country Nationals, Education, Political Participation, Long Term Residence, Access to Nationality and Anti-discrimination.
It was the first time that Korea was evaluated in the index and the country passed the average score with flying colours. At 60 points, it surpassed the EU’s average of 51 points and Japan’s score of 38 points.
In Labour Market Mobility, Korea scored particularly high with 80 points due to its laws prohibiting discrimination against foreign workers as well as its job seeking and consulting programs. Korea also excelled in Education with its multicultural programs for children to explore their own cultures and opportunities for children of illegal immigrants to receive education. Policies regarding Political Participation, too, were impressive as foreigners have the right to vote for their local governments and can enjoy the liberty of assembly and association.
However, Korea scored below average for discrimination, at 22nd place with 54 points.
This recent progress report has proven to be a constructive and encouraging feedback on Korea’s progress in accepting cultural diversity. It is clear that while active governmental initiatives have proved effective, the area for improvement lies in the traditional notions and prejudice of society. There are now more than 1.5million foreigners residing in Korea due to marriage, education or work. This makes 3 out of every 100 people in Korea a foreigner. With the number of international people having more than doubled since 2003 (680,000), the figures are definitely on the rise. With multicultural families making up 266,547 in number, it is clear that they are here to stay.
This makes it all the more necessary for Korean society to rapidly adjust to the influx of different ethnicities, appearances and cultures. Social prejudice must be actively tackled with raising more public awareness campaigns and establishing more concrete non-discriminatory laws to effectively protect the newcomers from inequality.