Epoch of Multiculturalism in South Korea: The Unfolding of Diversity and Role of the Different Players in the Korean Society
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
Fulltime Lecturer, Department of Social Welfare, Sungmin University