Epoch of Multiculturalism in South Korea: The Unfolding of Diversity and Role of the Different Players in the Korean Society

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South Korea is a very racially homogeneous nation. They call this “Tan-il-min-jok” in Korean. However, with the more than a million of immigrants living and working here announced by the Korean Immigration Services recently, the direction to diversity and multiculturalism is inevitable. Although most of South Koreans won’t admit that their pride of being racially homogeneous is melting, it is observed that the society is leading to diversity. The main objective of the paper is to show the evolution of multiculturalism and assess the roles of the different players in the Korean society in fueling the way to multiculturalism. It also shows some of the issues concerning the transition to multiculturalism. The paper believes that different organizations play pivotal roles in changing the Korean society from homogeneous to multiculture. It was also found that intercultural marriages and guest workers are the most contributing factors, sensationalized by the media. On the event of easing the transition to openness, several issues were found that were rooted in the mentality of Koreans themselves as well as the ambiguities in the related laws. In conclusion, the paper recommends the different organizations as well as the foreigners in their efforts to achieve a harmonious multicultural South Korea to continue and aggressively campaign to address the aforementioned issues cooperatively. The paradoxes in the mentality can be resolved through education, educating the children from the very young age as well as adults in accepting and embracing migrants as part of the society and not as strangers. Koreans on the one hand coming from abroad also have the responsibilities to impart and fuel the process of multiculturalism. Living in harmony will bring positive consequences to the Korean society in the long run.


Keywords: Multiculturalism in Korea, Intercultural Marriage, Employment Permit System, Homogeneous Race, Labor Migration
Stream: Race and Racism
Presentation Type: 30 minute Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.


Joeffrey Calimag

Fulltime Lecturer, Department of Social Welfare, Sungmin University
Seoul, South Korea

As a professor, Joeffrey teaches courses related to Social Welfare and Industrial Relations (Labor) in Sungmin University in Cheonan City, South Korea. As a Ph. D. candidate, he studies International Relations and Korean Studies under the Graduate School of International Studies at Hanyang University in Seoul. As a Consultant (Counselor) at the Migrant Workers' Center under the Ministry of Labor of Korea, he caters all forms of assistance particularly to the needs of migrant workers and migrant women married to Koreans who are experiencing hardships living and working in Korea. He is also the editor and translator of the Migrant Center's MigrantOK Monthly Newsletter. He also devots his time as Adviser of the Kabayan Migrants Association, a Filipino migrant workers' as well as Filipina migrants married to Koreans’community. Lastly, as News Anchor, he delivers news once a week at MNTV.net/english. MNTV.net is an Internet broadcasting company especially founded for migrants in South Korea. His research interests include labor, migration, multiculturalism, security, international relations, human rights, and welfare. Originally from the Philippines, but studying and working in Korea. Recipient of several awards and fellowships/scholarships such as Korea Foundation Fellowship, Global Ambassador Fellowship through KDI School (Korean Government Award), Award of Recognition from Australian Mathematics Olympiad and Philippine Government Scholarships.

Ref: D08P0147