Skin color remains big barrier

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Campus Life, Media Archive, Politics/Public Policy, Social Science on 2014-02-02 22:16Z by Steven

Skin color remains big barrier

The Korea Times

Park Si-soo

Min Kyung-joon (alias) is a “good boy” in many aspects.

The freshman at a middle school in Ansan, Gyeonggi Province, has been acknowledged by his teachers for his outstanding academic achievement and affable personality. Min is also very actively engaged in sports, which explains why he is one of the top players of an intramural soccer club.

Notwithstanding his good standing, he still has a hard time associating with his classmates, mainly because of his “exotic” appearance. The 15-year-old’s father is Pakistani and his mother a Korean native.

“That’s a huge disadvantage in making new friends among young children,” said Kim Young-im, a counselor who has interviewed numerous biracial children, including Min, in Ansan, home to one of the country’s largest population of low income immigrants.

“Children tend to get along with those who share similarity in looks and other visible characteristics. But he is different (from others) in many ways.”

For that reason, Kim added, it’s a common trend in the industrial town to see “exotic-looking” teenagers hanging out together, isolating themselves from their peers of Korean parentage.

“This is a problem that is very difficult to address,” the counselor said. “The government and school authorities have tried hard to solve this with various kinds of measures. But I think many of these programs turned out to be in vain.”

The number of biracial students like Min in Korea is estimated at 55,780 as of last year, representing 0.86 percent of the 6.53 million students enrolled in primary and secondary schools nationwide. The figure is expected to steadily increase to reach five percent by 2020, according to the education ministry…

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