Mixed-race Koreans urge identity rethink

Mixed-race Koreans urge identity rethink

The Korea Herald

Kirsty Taylor

Things have come a long way since the 1970s when mixed-race Koreans here were spat upon and beaten up for being different.

The kids of that time, whose fathers were often foreign soldiers who first came here during the Korean War, used to find it hard to walk down the street for fear of discrimination.

These days, the Korean government and charities are investing heavily in programs to support multicultural families and overt discrimination against Amerasians is rare.

But African-American Korean Yang Chan-wook, who goes by his Korean name here rather than his western name of Gregory Diggs, said that small daily occurrences remind him that this society does not yet fully accept him.

“In the 1970s these kids could not go to school, but even now, mixed-race Koreans going into public schools have a pretty high dropout rate,” he said.

“Sometimes when I am on the bus people will look at me and if they think that I am not Korean they will not sit next to me or they will move when I sit down. This kind of thing is still existent. Also, it can be difficult to get people to stop speaking English with me. Even if I have been speaking in Korean with them for 20 minutes they will still try to speak in English as if they thought I could not understand…

…After living with this prejudice, Yang started the M.A.C.K. Foundation (Movement for the Advancement of the Cultural diversity of Koreans) upon returning in 2003, basing it on a similar mission started in Chicago in 1995…

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