An article about Scott Burgeson's new book appeared in the Korea Times today, and mentions that
On Nov. 5, he is giving a lecture titled "Notes on Multiculturalism in Korea" at Kium, an annex of Kyobo bookstore inside [Shin] Nonhyeon subway station, Gangnam.As he described it to me,
"[T]he point of the lecture is to deconstruct the myth of "multiculturalism" in Korea, address the Korean media's continued stereotyping and demonizing of Western expat males here, especially ESL teachers, and offer an alternative formulation of multiculturalism here based not on ethnicity, since Korea will remain overwhelmingly homogenous ethnically speaking for the next several decades (reaching only 10% in 2050), but rather based on alternative values transcending race and ethnicity, which will ideally help Koreans better tolerate differences and diversity among themselves."Here is the opening:
These days we often hear in the South Korean media and from the South Korean government that Korea has entered a "New Age of Multiculturalism." The reasons for what I will call the Korean establishment's promotion of this idealized notion are complex, and for now I can only offer two primary causes or motivation here: First of all, the old national ideals of "Danil Minjok" and "Han Bando" (i.e., Reunification with the North) have come under widespread questioning in the past few years, and are no longer seen as realistic or desirable by many Koreans, and so a "Multicultural Korea" offers a positive alternative identity as the nation seeks to "rebrand" itself in today's globalized world. More to the point, this is simply a "good" international marketing strategy, as South Korea aims to attract more "multinational companies" and "international investment" here.It sounds like an interesting lecture, and as he points out at his site, it's at 7pm.
A second reason is driven by what we might call "gendered multiculturalism," specifically in response to the many "foreign brides," mostly from China and Southeast Asia, who have been coming to Korea since the late 1990s to marry Korean men, often older men in the countryside. These bicultural families, which presently number over 100,000, have in turn been raising a new generation of bicultural children, prompting the South Korean government to introduce a number of laws and policies in the past few years in support of such "multicultural families." Of course, from the 1950s and well into the 1990s, tens of thousands of "bicultural children" were born of Korean mothers and U.S. military service members, and quite a few more as the result of marriages between South Korean women and male native ESL teachers from Western countries, who have been coming to Korea in large numbers since the 1990s. However, the South Korean government traditionally felt no need to support such "multicultural families" at the official level, and the reason is fairly obvious: Gendered multiculturalism has only recently been embraced by the Korean establishment because it serves the interests of Korean men, which is to say the patriarchal structure here. This becomes even more apparent when we consider that the number of male migrant workers here from Southeast Asia and China is roughly four times that of "foreign brides" from these same countries, and yet the South Korean government continues to make it difficult for male migrant workers from developing countries to obtain permanent residency or citizenship here, and often they are deported in large numbers. Clearly, "multiculturalism" has a rather narrow meaning as far as official Korea is concerned, which is why I call it "gendered multiculturalism" in the service of Korean patriarchy.
Scott asked me to confirm some immigration statistics, so I thought I'd post the fruits of those findings here (the numbers are rounded, not exact).
The Korea Immigration Service's statistics for 2008 can be downloaded by clicking here. You may end up with a file called '2008'; if so, you have to rename it '2008.zip'. In the zip file are many excel files. “2장_Ⅱ_체류외국인현황” has the end-of-2008 statistics for all foreigners in Korea by country and visa type. Helpful in determining the different visa types is this List of South Korean visas.
For migrant workers, we can find them under three visa types:
D-3 (industrial trainee (which I thought had been discontinued?))
E-9 Employment Permit (migrant workers)
(They are all Asian, but only 7000 are Korean Chinese)
H-2 (Korean Chinese working visit visa)
If you include H-2 Korean Chinese workers there are 549,000 migrant workers.
M 379,400 69%
F 169,800 31%
Without the H-2 Korean Chinese migrant workers, the total runs
M 218,400 87%
F 32,800 13%
So including the Korean Chinese in the total migrant worker figure, we see that there are are twice as many males as females.
F-2 (Marriage residency - total 123,000)
M 15,300 12.2%
F 108,000 87.8%
Most of these are Asian, but 5,000 are not.
F-5 (permanent resident - Total 19,000)
(An F-2 prior makes it easier to get this, but is no guarantee of marriage)
If we only look at the F-2 figures as an indicator of marriage migrants, we see there are seven times as many females as males, though among non-Asian marriage partners we see 50% more males. Interesting. Also interesting is the fact that it was only, I believe, in the last decade that foreign men married to Korean women could get an F-2 visa. Prior to that it was only for foreign wives of Korean men, something else pointing in the direction of '"gendered multiculturalism" in the service of Korean patriarchy.'
Those statistics are well worth downloading and looking through (quite a few of them have English translations, at least in part) if you want to kill an hour or two...