The website of the Pan-National Alliance against Foreign Workers, which claims migrant workers take jobs away from Koreans
By Lee Hyo-sik
Concern is being raised over an increasing number of xenophobic Koreans supporting and organizing online and offline campaigns against migrant workers and immigrant wives.
They said they launched “anti-multiculturalism” movement as migrant workers take jobs away from Koreans and commit crimes, and many migrant women, mostly from China and Southeast Asia, come to Korea to earn money under marriage scams.
In the past, a few Internet users used to post messages critical of the growing number of foreign residents here on bulletin boards operated by web portals.
But recently, several websites and community cafes against migrant workers and foreign wives have been launched, recruiting thousands of members from netizens and organizing activities online to promote their agenda.
Furthermore, members of some anti-multicultural groups have begun engaging in offline activities, making protest calls to government agencies and lawmakers to force them to scrap the expansion of benefits for foreign residents.
They even protested outside embassies of Southeast Asian countries, demanding they do more to prevent their nationals from committing crimes here.
Among the groups that are leading the anti-foreign movement are the Pan-National Alliance against Foreign Workers (http://cafe.daum.net/pncsfw), the Alliance against Multiculturalism (http://cafe.daum.net/antifworker), the International Marriage Damage & Prevention Center (http://cafe.daum.net/mna5319?t——nil—cafemy=item) and the Citizens’ Alliance against Foreign Workers (www.njustice.org/).
The International Marriage Damage & Prevention Center plans to hold a rally in front of KBS headquarters in Yeouido in June to urge the TV broadcaster to stop airing a series of programs what they call “beautifying” multicultural families.
“We have filed a complaint with KBS not to air programs, which create illusions about interracial marriage and multicultural families. But our efforts came to no avail. So, we have decided to take bolder action,” Ahn Jae-sung, a representative, said.
Ahn said when he first launched the organization, many disapproved of him. But he said these days a growing number of people are joining his cause.
Hostility toward difference
However, government officials and supporters of migrant workers and multicultural families have expressed alarm at such movements, saying Korea should become a more diverse and tolerant society.
Park Sung-nam, team leader at the National Human Rights Commission said it was regrettable that an increasing number of Koreans have become hostile toward foreigners.
“Korea should become an integrated society in which all members should be treated equally, regardless of nationality and color of skin. Despite the growing anti-multicultural movement, still the majority of Koreans hold favorable views toward migrant workers and foreign wives, as well as appreciating their contribution to society,” he said.
On May 9, the commission demanded law enforcement authorities and Internet regulators to introduce steps to remove racially discriminating comments and articles in cyberspace. It called on the Ministry of Justice and the Korea Internet Self-governance Organization to come up with countermeasures against discriminative language, which it says could hamper social integration.
Kim Jung-youl, director of the Multicultural Family Division at the Ministry of Gender, Equality and Family, echoed Park’s views, saying the government will take a range of measures to promote multiculturalism.
“We offer a wide array of support to multicultural families. Foreign wives and their children are part of us. It is not right to tell them to leave the country,” Kim stressed.
He said in order to counter anti-multiculturalism organizations, the government will boost public relations activities to promote the benefits of multiculturalism and contributions that foreign residents have made to the development of Korean society.
Lee Ha-ryong, head of Korea Migrant’s Center, also expressed regrets over a pick-up in civic movements against foreign workers and their families.
“Members of such organizations should be ashamed of themselves. It is just absurd to argue that foreign workers take jobs away from Koreans. They work under poorer working conditions and receive smaller paychecks. Migrant workers take up what Koreans don’t want to do,” Lee stressed.
He said Korea should treat migrant workers well and pay more attention to improving their well-being so that they go home with a favorable opinion of Korea. “I cannot stress enough that the so-called anti-multiculturalism organizations should disband themselves.”
Campaign gets aggressive
In April, members of the Citizens’ Alliance against Foreign Workers and the Alliance against Multiculturalism came to the office of Rep. Kim Dong-sung of the governing Grand National Party to protest Kim’s bill seeking to expand educational and medical benefits for children of illegal aliens.
A staff at Kim’s office said they talked with the lawmaker for over an hour, adding it was the first time for the opponents of multiculturalism to come and protest in person.
Additionally, members of the Alliance against Multiculturalism paid a visit to the Bangladesh Embassy here in January, demanding the Bangladesh government introduce a crime-prevention program for its nationals staying here.