[EDITORIALS]Fleeing Korea’s problemsStatistics from the Center for Immigration Studies in the United States show that about 172,000 South Koreans have immigrated to the United States since 2000. This number almost equals the total number of South Korean immigrants to the United States in the 1990s, which amounted to 183,000 in a span of ten years. Considering that it takes about three years to prepare for immigration, this shows that there was an upsurge of people who decided to emigrate after the financial crisis hit Korea in 1997.
If we include the number of people who have left South Korea for good and emigrated to countries other than the United States, the total number of emigrants from 2000 onward would be much greater. Those who sent their children for early study abroad programs are, in the long term, potential emigrants.
If we look at the enormous interest in emigration exhibitions and fairs, we can see there is a large number of people who are considering or preparing for emigration. On television shopping channels, emigration help programs are becoming hit products.
Why are these people leaving their home country for strange and distant lands? There are those who are leaving the hellish educational conditions of this country, those who cannot bear the deadly burden of private education expenses, those who cannot find a job in Korea and those who are leaving to find new opportunities for business. Another group of emigrants are those who can make a fair living here but are repulsed by the bickering in politics and the social injustice. They all have different reasons for leaving but to sum up, they are leaving because it has become difficult or distasteful to live in this country.
We cannot cling to them or blame them for leaving. Their exodus from South Korea is the result of the problems that Korean society has, and their exodus is not the reason for the problems. On the contrary, the increase in emigration is desirable in a way because it promotes internationalization and creates a worldwide network of Koreans.
What worries us is not the fact that emigration is on the rise but the problems in our society that make these people leave. The emigrants are trying to escape from the educational, economic, and political chaos that has gripped our nation.
These are problems that need to be solved by those who are staying here.