Monday, March 10, 2014

Foreign Koreans in South Korea

When we are abroad, Koreans of the diaspora are seen as assets and opportunity for South Korea. When we return we're liabilities.

South Korea seems to be particularly disconnected from its role in creating the diaspora, and often discriminates against its "foreign" Korean population.

For example, 200,000 of us who live(d) in diaspora were mocked by Saturday Night Live  because of our poor Korean language skills and shallow understanding of Korean "culture." (Which is basically the one that ROK promotes abroad: taekwondo, kimchi, Korean Wave are the extent of Korean culture according to what it promotes overseas.) They of course take no responsibility after sending us out of the country to be adopted to raise hard currency after exploiting and coercing our mothers during the rapid industrialization Yushin period of 1961-1979 through their reproductive and industrial labor.

There's also the 100,000 military wives who are connected to over half of the 1.7 million Korean Americans as the community's immigration as sponsors. However, they're barely mentioned or still a whispered family story, even as the ROK sanctioned and promoted camptowns and keeps renewing the military agreements that keeps US forces in Korea. Their mixed race children are coming back to Korea as ethnic Koreans with foreign passports. Like with almost all populations of Koreans, some of those included in this group were also adopted.

What rights and protections are returning Koreans entitled to as humans and as Koreans? Chinese Koreans, Chosun-jok, are generally looked on warily as illegal workers. Refugees from DPRK are fascinating, but mostly exoticized. Koreans from the former Soviet Union, Koryo-saram, are barely acknowledged. How many Korean Americans are dismissed as Kyopos who don't understand really, Korea? Korean Japanese, the largest overseas Korean community is largely invisible here.
South Korea now has more ethnic Koreans with foreign passports residing in its country than ever before, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Justice.

The data reveals that the number of ethnic Koreans with non-Korean citizenship increased by 24 percent in 2013 as more than 233,000 such people have now found a home on the Korean peninsula. Among the 1.57 million foreigners residing legally in South Korea, 15 percent of them are of Korean descent, according to the Ministry of Justice.

The hike in numbers was driven largely by a steady influx of Korean Chinese immigrants due to the amendment of immigration laws in 2008, which gave Korean Chinese more benefits and rights.

Just four years ago, Korean Americans residing in Korea outnumbered other ethnic Koreans at approximately 31,700 compared to only about 4,800 Korean Chinese. But the Korean Chinese community is now by far larger than the other ethnic Korean segment, with a population of over 150,000.

In fact, a staggering two-thirds of ethnic Koreans residing in South Korea are Korean Chinese. Korean Americans now only make up 19 percent of the ethnic Korean population followed by Koreans from Canada, Australia, Uzbekistan and Russia.

More ethnic Korean immigrants have been relocating to their motherland at a significantly higher rate in recent years as there were only about 50,000 in the country only in 2009. The number rose to 83,825 in 2010, 135,020 in 2011 and 187,616 in 2012 before eclipsing the 200,000-mark for the first time ever.

No comments:

Post a Comment