South Korea to enact laws prohibiting racial discrimination

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There are no anti-discrimination laws on the basis of race or nationality in South Korea. There is no legal recourse for victims of racial discrimination in South Korea, nor, for example, is there any bill that protects the LGBT community.  Ethnic Koreans make up about 96% of the population, making it one of the least diverse countries in the world.  However, as the need to employ foreign workers arises, and as foreign interest in South Korean fashion, cosmetics and cinema grows, it is inevitable that more and more people would want to explore opportunities in Korea. On a personal level, I have lived, studied and worked in South Korea for over two years and I have experienced racism myself, but my experiences are nothing when compared to that of many others, such as people from South East Asian countries, people of color, people who have some weight on their bodies and so on.  Despite the racist attitudes toward foreigners as well as the degrading and inhumane treatment of foreign migrant workers, racism is the norm here — not the exception. Many people have walked away from Korea telling their stories of shock and horror, and you can find their stories on Youtube, on personal blogs, and elsewhere online.  However, those stories would most likely come from English teachers, spouses of Koreans, or fans of k-drama or k-pop, but what we don’t hear are the stories of those migrant workers, undocumented migrants, refugees, and the victims of abuse, because for one reason or another they are neglected in the process. While no one can deny what the South Koreans have endured as a people, and what blood, sweat and tears they have shed to build this wonderful country, racial discrimination should not serve as an excuse for self-preservation in the 21st century. A quick search on the internet, and it reveals that nearly all non-Koreans living in Seoul have experienced discrimination based on their nationality, appearance, or level of education, according to a 2015 survey. We therefore demand that South Korea enact anti-discrimination laws to end rampant abuse of migrant agricultural workers, abuse and exploitation such as unfair dismissal, sexual assault of women migrant workers, racial profiling of Muslim persons, different treatment toward mixed or ‘half-caste’ persons, discrimination based on nationality, color, religion, including ‘no-foreigners allowed’ policy etc. The bottom line is: due to lack of anti-discrimination laws, and a way to teach against racism, some Koreans, in particular businesses can abuse, exploit and discriminate against the foreign workers in South Korea. It is racist, unfair, out of date, and MUST STOP.



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