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UN panel faults Korean emphasis on homogeneity

Discrimination against foreigners found widespread

Aug 20,2007
The Korean government must recognize the multi-ethnic character of contemporary Korean society, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination urged in a statement Saturday after reviewing reports from the Korean government regarding racial discrimination in Korea.
The international organization was “concerned that the emphasis placed on the ethnic homogeneity of Korea might represent an obstacle to the promotion of understanding, tolerance and friendship among the different ethnic and national groups living on its territory.”
The committee said societal discrimination against foreigners, including migrant workers and children born from inter-ethnic unions is widespread in Korea. It is concerned that terms like “pure blood” and “mixed-blood,” and the idea of racial superiority that it might entail, continue to be used in Korean society. The committee urged the Korean government to take appropriate measures to recognize the multi-ethnic character of contemporary Korean society through such fields as teaching, education, culture and information. It remained concerned that migrant workers face severe discriminatory treatment and abuse here.
The committee welcomed the Korean government’s adoption of a National Action Plan for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights and of the Act on the Treatment of Foreigners in Korea. It also welcomed the establishment of the Interpretation Support Center for Foreign Migrant Workers. The Educational Support Plan for Children from Multicultural Families was also welcomed.
Although not directly related to foreigner issues, the committee also recognized the Korean government’s efforts to combat prostitution, including the adoption of the Act on the Punishment of Procuring Prostitution and associated legal measures.
The committee is an independent panel composed of 18 experts that monitors the implementation of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination by 173 signatory countries, including Korea.


By Lee Eun-ju JoongAng Ilbo [yhwang@joongang.co.kr]



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