Tuesday, July 10, 2012

[Opinion] Is Korea Too Culturally Full to Accommodate Other Cultures?

By Professor Kim (53), Department of Politics and Public Administration, Korea International University

Korean culture is sweeping the world because it has already filled Korea to bursting point. How can Korea accommodate other cultures?

We are living in an era of globalization and it is right, at first glance, that Korea should be open-minded about the deluge of foreigners flooding our country. It's not that Korea can not be a 'multicultural' society in principle, but what if there is just no room in the spa?

If a sauna is full, you wouldn't let more people in because it would be dangerous - especially if they had darker skins than Koreans that made them difficult to see in all that steam. So if Korea is like a spa - and our country is well-known around the world as the relaxing Land of the Morning Calm - why do we keep letting more foreigners in and creating problems for them? Perhaps we should recognize that we are being selfish and this is unfair to these temporary foreign 'guests'.

So while we have been conditioned to accept the vague term 'multicultural' as positive, it is well known from biology that different cultures often attack one another. So perhaps a better term for 'multiculturalism' would be multiethnic social conflict, and we should be asking if we want to create a multiethnic social conflict society?

One should look at the unfortunate experience of lesser nations around the world. Decades ago countries such as the United States, England, Germany and France brought in foreign workers and created multiethnic social conflict. Look at where these so-called nations are now - with nobody there racially identifying with their countries any more. Not even the French want to be French these days, although because they are French they will never admit it.

Even this foreign multiculturalism, whose fallout zone initially seems a safe distance from Korea, holds great dangers for our country, because instead of staying in their own countries people from around the world are spending all their time watching K-pop and dreaming of coming to Korea even though no group ever sang a song called "We love foreigners, please come to our country and take our future girlfriends and daughters."

'Multiculturalism' though is rightly fiercely attacked by netizens on the Internet, who have seen this great Korean invention gradually swamped by foreigners as the technology has been badly copied in other countries. Of course, it is unfortunate that some people should launch attacks on foreigners and we should not condone such 'race hate' if that's what it is. But is it really accurate to use the overly-aggressive terminology of 'race hate', or is it better to more accurately describe it as 'race awareness'?

Liberals would have us believe that there is is something intrinsically wrong with race awareness, but surely it is ridiculous for a person not to be aware of their race. What do these liberals suggest? That we stop looking at ourselves in mirrors?

It is not the fault of the Korean people that this country has become too culturally full, and we should not be ashamed of it - but instead proud of our cultural exceptionalism in the world. We should also be thankful though that so many other countries are culturally empty enough to accommodate the overflow of Korean culture or 'hallyu' as we make them call it. The hallyu process must be allowed to continue as planned but we must also protect ourselves from the cultural backwash of foreigners listening to K-pop, watching K-dramas and eating K-food and thinking that it means they can just come here uninvited, which is really quite rude of them.

Every day, helpless Korean men in the countryside are being forced into marrying foreign brides from poorer countries in Asia so that their money can be stolen and their hearts broken. Foreign workers are coming here and breaking into dirty and dangerous factories and doing jobs nobody asked them to do even though many owners try not to pay them. Meanwhile this country has to bother itself with so-called-human rights laws to protect these foreigners when clearly it is Korean people who need protecting from an invasion.

If foreigners and foreign cultures come to Korea even though they were never invited, what aspects of Korean culture will need to be thrown out into the street like trash to accommodate them? K-pop? Your children's respect for you? Your medical treatment? Your grandmother?

We have already seen the damage done by the English Wave in Korea and the terrible tsunami wave in Japan last year. Waves are dangerous, and a number of people in Korea have been killed by flooding in recent years. Of course, no-one is blaming these foreigners for the floods; but this current lack of evidence highlights the way in which the National Police Agency has found its investigative resources and ability to function stretched in recent years as the number of foreigners has multiplied.

It seems - given current trends - that the breakdown of law and order in Korea is inevitable unless the cancerous idea of a multicultural society is reasonably questioned. We need to be wise enough to implement a balanced foreign policy that minimizes social conflict by keeping these dangerous foreigners out.

Korea does not have to become a multicultural, multiethnic social conflict society, and the policy choices being made which move us closer to disaster by the day are not inevitable.

Disclaimer: The views presented in this column are the writer's own, and do not necessarily reflect those of The Dokdo Times, although they do because otherwise we wouldn't print them.

Related Links
[기고] 다문화 사회, 필연이 아니라 선택이다
Multicultural Schools Are a Problem Waiting to Happen
Shock as 'Multicultural Society' Leads to More 'Non-Korean Behavior'
Naturalized Korean decries refusal of entry to sauna

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