Pointing, negligence, contemptuous language cited
By Kim Rahn, Kim Tae-jong
Michel Catuira from the Philippines lives in Korea but experienced difficulty in finding a place to stay, as many Korean house owners didn’t want to rent to him, telling realtors that they only wanted Korean or Caucasian tenants.
“I went to rent a cheap, small studio with my friend in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. The owner showed us a room and asked us who it was for,” Catuira said. “When I said me, he refused to rent the room. If it had been my Korean-American friend, he would have rented the room easily.”
Catuira, the president of the Migrant Trade Union, said discrimination here against people from Southeast Asia is everywhere, from taking a taxi to renting a house and landing a job.
This episode is part of discrimination many people from Southeast Asia commonly experience in Korea. Many living in Seoul face pointing, negligence and contemptuous language, a report released by the Seoul Development Institute, a unit of Seoul Metropolitan Government, noted.
According to the research, 25.9 percent of Seoul residents from Southeast Asia experienced discrimination from both Koreans and foreigners from other countries.
The figure is far higher than 8.2 percent of foreigners from OECD member countries — including the U.S., Japan and European nations — who have experienced discrimination; and marginally above the 20 percent for Northeast Asian respondents, including Chinese and Taiwanese.
The research was conducted on 333 foreign residents in the capital last July and those surveyed said they were treated unequally in seeking jobs and engaging in economic activities.
Public administrative services and seeking residences were also sectors where they suffered discrimination.
By origin, those from Southeast Asia and Southwest Asia said they felt discriminated against most in getting houses.
“Korean landlords are favorable to Caucasians but not to black people or Southeast Asians, saying they are noisy and smelly. It is a typical prejudice, like foreigners discriminating against Koreans saying they smell of kimchi and garlic,” a researcher, Hong Suk-ki, said.
Those from Northeast Asia said they were discriminated against in medical services. “Hospitals these days offer language services to foreign patients, but mostly only English. We presume that’s why Northeast Asians felt discriminated against,” Hong said.
People from OECD member countries said they experienced unequal treatment in financial services, and the researcher said discrimination against foreigners in this sector is made regardless of their origins, as most banks here offer only limited services to them.
When asked whether they have a sense of belonging as a Seoul citizen, 21.9 percent answered “not really” and 13.8 percent, “not at all.” Many of the surveyed said their home cultures were not respected in the capital.
“In Itaewon where many black people gather, troubles arise between them and Korean residents, as the latter are prejudiced against colored people and don’t understand the former’s culture. Koreans also look down on Southeast Asians partly because of the latter’s relatively shorter height and partly because of the countries’ relatively worse financial status. Judging people by their origins and such biased views hurt those people,” Hong said.
“I think it is not because Koreans are bad but because they are not accustomed to foreign cultures. Koreans need to open their minds wider and become more worldly wise,” he said.
동남아 출신들 한국에서 차별 경험
필리핀 출신의 Michel Caturia는 한국에서 집을 얻는데 많은 어려움을 격은 적이 있다. 한국의 집주인들이 한국이나 백인들에게만 방을 내어주려고 하기 때문이다.
Caturia씨의 경우처럼, 동남아시아 출신의 사람들은 한국에서 차별을 경험하는 경우가 많다는 조사 결과가 발표되었다.
서울시정개발연구원의 조사에 따르면, 서울에 사는 동남아시아 출신 중 25.9%가 한국인과 다른 나라 출신의 외국인들로부터 차별을 당했다고 응답했다. 이 결과는 다른 OECD 회원국 출신의 8.2%만이 차별을 경험했다고 대답한 것에 비해 3배 이상 높은 수치이다.
이 조사는 서울 거주 외국인 333명을 대상으로 '서울에서 차별을 당한 적이 있느냐'는 물음에 대한 답을 기초로 한 것이다.