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Seoul vows to eradicate discrimination against multicultural families

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By Lee Hyo-jin

The government will establish a legal basis to ban hate speech related to race, country or culture, in a bid to eradicate discrimination against multicultural families, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, Friday.

"Multicultural families in Korea are experiencing a serious level of discrimination and isolation in daily life," Vice Minister of Gender Equality and Family Kim Kyung-sun said at a briefing held at the Seoul Government Complex.

"We plan to establish legal grounds to eliminate discrimination and social prejudice formed through hateful expressions related to race, country or culture, by making a revision to the Multicultural Family Support Act."

The same day, the ministry, in cooperation with related authorities such as the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, announced a set of measures to build an inclusive society for biracial families.

The comprehensive measures are aimed at improving acceptance by guaranteeing people with multicultural background equal access to social activities and welfare services without blind spots.

A monitoring group will soon be launched to watch for discriminative expressions in publications and educational materials issued by central and local governments.

In order to resolve the educational gap and ensure equal education opportunities for multicultural children, consultation sessions and information on career development will be provided through the multicultural information platform Danuri.

The ministry also plans to distribute additional Korean language education programs so that multicultural children do not suffer from communication difficulties during remote classes.

Cha Yoon-gyung, former president of the Korean Association for Multicultural Education, welcomed the expanded supportive measures for multicultural students, while expressing concerns that state policies lack plans on how to educate Koreans on multiculturalism.

"The policies should be more focused on ways to improve Korean citizens' perspective and understanding on multiculturalism in order to eliminate cultural-based discrimination," Cha told The Korea Times.

"Providing civil servants and students at school with only several hours of education on cultural diversity will not raise their multicultural awareness. The government should give stronger messages on zero-tolerance towards discrimination by legislating an anti-discrimination law."

The measures also include prohibiting international marriage ads that violate human rights of marriage migrants, as migrant women's rights groups have been pointing out that the contents, aimed mostly at Korean men looking for brides from Southeast Asian countries, were found to contain discriminatory and misogynic expressions.

Starting next year, international marriage brokers will be banned from including the face, height and weight of the brides in the ads, and will take mandatory education programs on gender awareness and human rights, following the revision to the Act on Marriage Brokerage Agencies.

The government will increase job opportunities for marriage migrants to use their bilingual talents by expanding the number of interpreters at multicultural family support centers, and will constantly provide them with job opportunities in local companies.

The comprehensive measures come as, despite the increasing number of multicultural families in the country, social acceptance towards them stays relatively low, according to data from the ministry.

As of last year, the number of multicultural household members reached 1.06 million, which accounts for 2.1 percent of the total population, and the number of multicultural births marked 17,939, or 5.9 percent of the total births.

Lee Hyo-jin


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