Racism Is Everywhere, Even In Korea

And comes with the same social and political problems, too.

When Mr. Obama was campaigning for the Democratic nomination for President, voters were assured that only by electing a black President could America cleanse itself of centuries and centuries of racism.  Electing a black President didn't work as promised, of course, because accusations of racism are such handy weapons against political opponents.  If you can't beat their arguments, yell "Racists!" and they'll usually shut up.

That isn't working as well as it used to, fortunately, because liberals overdid it.  Instead of making political arguments, they yell "Racist!" at anyone who disagrees with Mr. Obama which, if the recent elections were honest, is close to half the country.  When Mr. Obama failed to deliver the promised end to accusations of racism, people decided that being called a racist wasn't so bad after all and what had been the liberal's ultimate weapon lost a lot of its power.

For all the "blame America first" arguments about the evils of racism, it turns out that discrimination - that is, a preference for people who are like you as opposed to people who aren't like you - is more or less inherent in human nature.  Those who accuse Americans of systematic racism ignore the fact that most multiracial, multicultural, or multi-religious societies get along less well than people do in the United States.

Rwandan Tutsis and Hutus slaughtered each other with gay abandon, Muslims burn cars and shoot at cops in France, England, the Netherlands, and pretty much anywhere else they may be found, Muslims and Hindus in India kill each other, Muslims slaughter Christians in Indonesia and Pakistan, there've been tribal wars in Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia, and Yemen for lo these many years, and so on.  America is not a multiracial paradise by any means, but it's not the Sudan either.

Shed a Tear for Korea

Having experienced a century and a half of pretty bad relationships between black and white and watched Hispanics add new fuel to the fire, Americans ought to empathize a bit with previously-uniform nations who are just starting down the path of multiracialism.  The New York Times reports that, having spent centuries being proud of their "ethnic homogeneity," the Koreans are experiencing the leading edge of racial conflict:

On the evening of July 10, Bonogit Hussain, a 29-year-old Indian man, and Hahn Ji-seon, a female Korean friend, were riding a bus near Seoul when a man in the back began hurling racial and sexist slurs at them.

... Once it was reported in the South Korean media, prosecutors sprang into action, charging the man they have identified only as a 31-year-old Mr. Park with contempt, the first time such charges had been applied to an alleged racist offense.  Spurred by the case, which is pending in court, rival political parties in Parliament have begun drafting legislation that for the first time would provide a detailed definition of discrimination by race and ethnicity and impose criminal penalties.

Korea has called itself the "Land of the Morning Calm" for centuries and has been ethnically homogeneous for all that time.  Having worked hard to sell their goods in the American market and thereby became wealthy, however, Korea has become attractive to immigrants from poorer countries just as the United States attracts the poor and the uneducated.

In just the past seven years, the number of foreign residents [in South Korea] has doubled, to 1.2 million, even as the country's population of 48.7 million is expected to drop sharply in coming decades because of its low birth rate.

As in America where Emmett Till was lynched in 1955 for whistling at a white woman, inter-racial dating and marriage are viewed with suspicion by Koreans:

"When I travel with my husband, we avoid buses and subways," said Jung Hye-sil, 42, who married a Pakistani man in 1994. "They glance at me as if I have done something incredible. There is a tendency here to control women and who they can date or marry, in the name of the nation."

As one would expect, the political and business elites who are able to isolate themselves from mass immigration's harmful effects are strongly promoting more immigration, tolerance, hate crime laws, affirmative action, special government programs, and all that sort of thing.  They're talking about outlawing such terms as "pure blood" and "mixed blood" and they want to engage the educational system in teaching a new concept of race to ordinary Koreans.

Ordinary Koreans are beginning to push back:

...a recent forum to discuss proposed legislation against racial discrimination turned into a shouting match when several critics who had networked through the Internet showed up. They charged that such a law would only encourage even more migrant workers to come to South Korea, pushing native workers out of jobs and creating crime-infested slums. They also said it was too difficult to define what was racially or culturally offensive.

"Our ethnic homogeneity is a blessing," said one of the critics, Lee Sung-bok, a bricklayer who said his job was threatened by migrant workers. "If they keep flooding in, who can guarantee our country won't be torn apart by ethnic war as in Sri Lanka?"

The bricklayer might as well have spoken of the United States instead of Sri Lanka.  Our racial conflicts haven't been as deadly as Sri Lanka's in the immediate past, but if you count our Civil War (which is only fair), we've had our share of violent ethnic conflict going back a long time.  This history of races not getting along well intensifies the anguish of lower-income people over illegal immigrants moving in and taking jobs while our elites seem to believe that the more immigrants, the better.

The Racial Baby Boom

Korean racism is going to get worse because of a baby boom out in the country.  The Times noted that Korea had a low birth rate.  This is entirely to be expected - the Economist reports that all over the world, the more education women have, the fewer babies they want.

Modern Korean education has been good enough that women not only don't want as many babies as their mothers did, they don't want to live on farms either.  So many women moved from farms to the Bright Lights of the Big Cities that it became hard for Korean farmers, who weren't as eager to leave farming, to find wives.

Farming is a reasonable way to make a living in Korea, but doing it without a wife is a bit of a bummer.  Desire for wives created a market demand, and lo and behold, the market came though!

Women from poorer parts of Asia such as Laos, Viet Nam, and the agricultural parts of China decided that being a farm wife in Korea offered far better prospects than being a farm wife at home.  Mail-order brides have been pouring into Korea, enriching marriage brokers.  This makes the wife shortage in the rest of Asia worse and may bring about an overall female surplus in Korean cities, but such is the law of unintended consequences.

Immigrant women, not being as well educated as the Koreans who decamped to the city, want the traditional number of children.  The Times reports on the baby boom due to immigrant women who want more children than native women want:

More surprising than the fact of this miniature baby-boom is its composition: children of mixed ethnic backgrounds, the offspring of Korean fathers and mothers from China, Vietnam and other parts of Asia. These families have suddenly become so numerous that the nurses say they have had to learn how to say "push" in four languages.

Korea has been somewhat more open to ethnic diversity than Japan, but centuries of "pure blood" thinking can't be denied:

If marriages to foreigners continue to increase at their current rate - they accounted for 11 percent of all marriages here last year - more than one in nine children could be of mixed background by 2020, demographic researchers say.

The trend is even more pronounced in rural areas, where most of these marriages take place. Among farming households, 49 percent of all children will be multicultural by 2020, according to the Agricultural Ministry.

Relatively few mixed-race children have reached school age yet, but strains are showing:

According to the Education Ministry, the dropout rate of mixed-background children from elementary school is 15.4 percent, 22 times the national average. Part of the problem, social experts say, is the mothers' lack of Korean-language skills, which prevents them from filling the expected social role of guiding children through the nation's high-pressure education system. [emphasis added - our public educational system, lousy as it is, doesn't have a racial gap that big!]

One of the Korean's major weapons in their battle to improve living standards by selling into the US market was a superb educational system.  Like the Japanese mothers of the previous generation, Korean mothers were expected to work hard to help their children learn in school; after all, the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.

This worked extremely well, but we see the unintended result: native Korean women are too well-educated to be happy farming and breeding, and mothers from other parts of Asia who are content with that lot don't know Korean well enough to help with their children's education as they're expected to.

The visible differences between full-blooded Koreans and half-Asians aren't nearly as obvious as the differences between American blacks and whites, of course, but if mothers of mixed-race children aren't able to help them in school, half-breeds really will be inferior to full-blooded Koreans.  Discrimination based on unreasoning prejudice is one thing; discrimination based on actual, verifiable inferiority is something else again.  We've seen how badly American blacks have been hurt by affirmative action, must the Koreans suffer through the same mistakes we've made?

Racism isn't unique to the United States, not by a long shot - and thanks to the current global shibboleth of enforced multiculturalism, it's only going to get worse.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for Scragged.com and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other Scragged.com articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments
Note to editor: "Empathize" not "Emphasize"
December 16, 2009 8:27 AM
The difference between a Chinese and a Korean may not be as obvious to us but I doubt to many Koreans would agree.

Fear of 'the other' goes back as far as recorded history. Eventually, when people can hate the Martians (humans living on Mars mind you, not little green men) we should be able to get past some of the ethnic troubles here on earth.
December 16, 2009 9:45 AM
"Racism isn't unique to the US..." This HAS to be the understatement of the year--nay, century, nay millenium.
In Africa, racism exists under the assumed name of Tribalism; I have personally witnessed mob-rule murder of people who happened to be members of different tribes.
India has possessed a systemic form of racism for 3,000 years. It's called the caste system and, even in this enlightened age, dies hard in many areas of this awakening giant. Communal violence (yes, another form of racism) takes hundreds of thousands of lives in cities in Indian cities.
Japan, too, has its untouchables who traditionally perform tasks no 'aryan' Japanese would do.
Indonesia and other Islamic countries routinely murder infidels and brag about it. In fact, slavery was abolished in Saudi Arabia only in 1985.
Oh come on! The whole world--and not just America--is a bloody cess pool of racial discrimination. Just because media doesn't cover it as professionally as it should doesn't mean it ain't a fact.
The only thing unique about racism in America is it willingness to speak out about it--from Harriet Beecher Stowe to US mainstream media (where hacks of CNNNCBSNBC make a good living searching for signs of racism--but only of the White variety--under every stone). On the other hand, the Jeremiah Wrights, Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons get free passes to peddle race politics to their heart's content.
Yes, the ability to talk openly about one's country's ills has gone too far in America. The most egregious example is the act of empty-headed tinsel town activists promoting hate-America campaigns in their movies. This idiocy has even spread to schools, where hollywooden activists are busy indoctrinating kids with the notion that America is bad, bad, bad and only they (as socialists who've gotten rich on capitalism) have the solution--a sorry example of doltish 'progressives' who've swallowed their own propaganda. But that's the subject of another topic.
December 16, 2009 12:07 PM
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