By Park Si-soo
Human rights groups have launched a fact-finding team to investigate a claim by an Indian professor who has accused a Korean of humiliating him through abusive and racial language.
The move led by a group of NGOs comes after policemen allegedly sided with the Korean offender during questioning.
The incident is the first case of its kind to be reported to police, indicating that many more such claims could pop up in a nation where as many as 1.2 million are foreign residents.
According to Bonojit Hussain, 28, an Indian research professor at Sungkonghoe University, he was riding a bus with his Korean female friend in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province, on July 10 at 9:15 p.m.
As the bus traveled toward Bucheon City Hall, a neatly dressed Korean man, who was sitting behind them yelled, ``What a disgusting odor! You're dirty.''
The Korean, later identified as Park, kept shouting, ``You must be an Arab. It's dirty. F*** you!''
Park continued using offensive language and hurling four-letter words at him in Korean and English for about a minute, Hussain told The Korea Times, Monday.
When Hussain asked him why he was treating him this way, Park answered in English, ``You Arab, you Arab.''
The Korean even insulted his Korean female friend, saying ``Are you Korean? Are you happy to date with a black man?''
They asked the driver to stop the bus, and then took Park to a nearby police station.
``We knew he drank alcohol, but he was absolutely sane at the time,'' Hussain said.
Hussain intended to file a complaint against Park, but police officers tried to discourage him from doing so.
``They asked the two sides to apologize to each other. But I refused because I did nothing wrong,'' he said.
Hussain filed the complaint that night and the case has recently been forwarded to the prosecution.
``It was not my first time to be subject to racial abuse. I have had many similar experiences. But this time was serious,'' he said. ``It wouldn't have happened to me if I were a white man.''
Hussain said he has no intention to withdraw the suit.
A judge at the Seoul Central District Court commented, ``In this case, the accused could be punished for slandering the foreigner, and if convicted, he could face up to one year in prison or a fine of 2 million won ($1,640).''
Hussain said, ``Any behavior and language looking down on foreigners constitutes racial discrimination originating from an imperialist point of view, which should be eliminated.''
He urged the government to pay keen attention to the issue, as South Korea has been rapidly transforming itself into a multi-racial society.
He said that this is the right time for the government to kick racism out of the country, which has believed itself to be racially homogeneous.
The accident has motivated human rights activists and NGOs to form an anti-racism committee and ask the National Human Rights Commission to look into the case.