'I want to make it better for my kids'
Rep. Jasmine Lee of the ruling Saenuri Party said in an interview with The Korea Times Friday that she joined politics with the hopes of promoting multiculturalism and creating a better environment for children with a multiracial background.
“I joined a program aimed at making a marriage migrant a local government representative in 2008 not because of my ambition to become a big name politician, but to make a better society for my kids,” the 35-year-old Philippine-born naturalized citizen said.
Lee earned much respect as a role model for marriage migrants as well as an actress when she played the estranged wife of a dwarf husband raising a son without revealing the identity of his Filipino mother in the 2011 hit film “Punch.”
The first-term lawmaker said both of her children, who are now 11 and 15 years old respectively, have encountered racism in school because of their multicultural background.
Nevertheless, Lee pointed out that she is confident that she and her kids have “the courage to fight it off. ”
The lawmaker said she wants to work as a member of the National Assembly Culture, Sports, Tourism, Broadcasting and Communication Committee in order to positively impact the media’s views and resolve theirmisunderstandings on multiculturalism.
“My first choice is the committee on culture, sports, tourism, broadcasting and communication and next is education, as I believe both are very important in shaping the correct perspective on multiculturalism,” she said.
She encountered difficulty in the lead-up to and after her election.
Xenophobic voters fiercely resisted the conservative party’s move to give a chance to a foreign-born citizen to better represent the country’s over 110,000 naturalized Koreans and an increasing number of foreign residents.
In 2010, her Korean husband died while trying to rescue his daughter from drowning in a stream.
Also, there were some uncertain circumstances under which the Saenuri Party suddenly pulled her out of its proportional list in the 2010 local elections due to conflicting remarks on the conservative party’s decision.
Lee claims that she voluntarily withdrew her nomination as she felt she was not ready to assume such a big role as a councilor at that time.
“I was hesitant to take the overwhelming task at that time,” she said. “I did not have the opportunity to explain that I gave up the position on my own because no one asked me why I was removed from the candidate list at that time.”