[EDITORIALS]Ugly Koreans re-emerge

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[EDITORIALS]Ugly Koreans re-emerge

It is a shame and a true embarrassment. The head of the Shanghai branch of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency has reported that some Korean households there have been abusing housekeepers and, in the worst cases, treating them as near-slaves. Koreans representing our country are said to be making their helpers eat old, stale food kept in the refrigerator too long and going so far as to physically abuse their servants "because they weren't doing the job right." At this rate, can Chinese consider Koreans as decent human beings?

The abuse rendered by the Koreans stationed abroad is not limited to China. In the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia, the dark side of goings-on in Korean households has been an open secret among Korean expatriates. The conduct of "ugly Koreans" in the former Soviet bloc in the early 1990s was also a source of local controversy, but it was not reported back here.

Obviously very little has changed in the behavior of those representing us overseas in the last 10 years.

Because of the little bit of economic prosperity we have come to possess, more than a few Koreans have been prone to belittle those who are less fortunate; that is a dark legacy of the growth we have achieved at breakneck speed. Our conscience concerning very basic human rights is at an ominously poor level even within Korea, as we witnessed in protests by foreign workers. Theirs was a voice of desperate outrage, displayed in the sign that read, "Please don't hit us," as they looked to the National Human Rights Commission for help. We need to get back our sense of decency towards the weak and minorities and start by teaching our children correctly. The consequence of failing to do so will come back to haunt us.

Abuse of Chinese helpers in Shanghai has the potential, as pointed out by the top trade official there, to develop into a trade dispute. We urge the government agencies responsible for overseeing the activities of Korean citizens abroad to take steps to improve the situation. There should be mandatory classes for people departing for developing countries. Required reading on their destination country and society should also be considered.
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