By Jeongnam Kim
(Former Senior Presidential Secretary for Education·Culture·Society, World Korean News advisor)
How fresh it is to see/ a foreign in our country.
Black or white, or half black half white/ how fresh it is to see a different color, a different look.
A different eye, a different hair color/ the sound of foreign tongue/ a different physical, expression, and walk.
The foreigners are truly refreshing/ So happy I am for them.
It seems like they have a fresh air in their body/ I am happy somehow.
(Friendship closed/Ostracizing strangers/ I saw some people like that. I despise such a person.)
How fresh it is/ to see a foreigner in our country.
<"A Foreigner" by Jeong Hyeon-jong (1939- )>
A number of incidents broke out some time ago that provoked an intolerable racial discrimination by Koreans toward foreigners who had nothing to do with them. The ostracizing and xenophobia contained in the sweeping personal attacks and denunciation went beyond the level of our toleration. Are we blaming foreign immigrants when we are suffering from the employment rate going down and the social anxiety is up with the polarization getting worse patterned after Europe?
Committing a crime is wrong. However, the phenomenon under which people hate the racial group, not the individual who commits a crime is not desirable. We should prevent this phenomenon of xenophobia from the very beginning. According to the police headquarters, the number of violent crimes committed by the Korean people per 100,000 people in 2011 was 676 compared to only 120 committed by foreigners.
It is also known that the number of crimes committed by Koreans against foreigners is much more that the number of crimes committed by foreigners against Koreans. We need to work out on measures to prevent the crimes against foreigners very cautiously. For we'd better fasten the first button correctly.
First, we should apply the social security system to foreigners, too. The system should be more stringent for them. Second, it is necessary to establish a system under which the foreigners be protected from such damages as the delayed payment of wages, industrial disasters, fraud and physical assaults, in addition to the system for the protection of human rights.
Thirdly, the laws and systems related to foreigners should be realigned. For example, an unregistered woman would not dare to report a sexual assault she suffers because, if she is known as an unregistered foreigner, should be forcibly expelled from the country.
But it should be emphasized that a change of our concept for this issue is the most important. We would be better off if we get rid of our sense of discrimination for the skin color and the debased superior complex for the people who came from a poor country as soon as possible in the age of globalization. Shouldn't we allow us to hear people say that our country is xenophobic? We need to make our Republic a country where people live along together.