South Korean Human Rights Monitor

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Xenophobic Remarks in TV Broadcasts; NHRCK Issues Recommendations

Julie Min July 14, 2014

The National Human Rights Committee of Korea has issued recommendations to broadcasters regarding the use of expressions that are discriminatory toward foreigners, including migrants, and to come up with measures to prevent their use. This recommendation is based on the result of television broadcast monitoring conducted by the NHRCK from May to September of last year. The investigation detected several discriminatory remarks on migrants and foreigners from news, documentaries, entertainment shows, and educational programs broadcast on four terrestrial channels and four general service channels.

First of all, some expressions clearly showed racial and cultural stereotypes. For example, subtitles reading ‘human monkeys getting bananas’ appeared on screens showing one Asian circus team performance. Another example referred Korea’s antismoking policy as ‘worse than that of East South Asia’. Some scenes were accused of encouraging stereotypes and excessively supporting Korean culture. Some examples are as follows:

– A remark that generalized multicultural students as “introverted”
– Intentionally repeating a scene of migrant women married to a Korean man cooking kimchi stew for him
– Use of the terms “Blue-eyed foreigner”, “Black-haired foreigner”, “Japanese Styled”, “half-breed”

Some expressions that were intended to arouse interest were also pointed out as being recommended for modification. An example was a reporting of a murder case in the city of Yong-in. Broadcasting services used the expression, “The 2nd Oh Case”, while the actual murder case only had criminal violence as common ground. The NHRCK stated that this expression aimed to worsen the general reputation of ethnic-Korean Chinese citizens residing in Korea. (Editor’s note – Read more about the case of Oh Won-chun here and some of the reaction in the media here and here.)

The NHRCK announced, “Such expressions are against the 11th article of Constitution and the Broadcast Act that forbids racial discrimination. Broadcast contents need modification to protect the human rights of foreigner residents, respect cultural diversity, and to encourage smooth social integration of migrants.”

Sources: Kim Ki-Hoon; 2014/06/30; “주민관련  TV프로그램에차별적표현없도록개선“;  Korea Herald Corp.

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