[Letter to the editor]Racial labor discrimination unjustA lot of Koreans think it’s natural that Korean companies can pay Southeast Asian employees low wages and infringe upon their human rights. It is true that we employ Southeast Asian laborers for hard and difficult tasks which Korean laborers do not want.
Also, Korean companies can reduce labor costs and increase profits by employing Southeast Asian laborers for dangerous and difficult jobs.
Therefore, most Korean employers take it for granted that they can give lower pay and harder tasks to non-Koreans.
I think it is wrong that we usually have racial prejudices toward Southeast Asian laborers.
Many Korean employers say that Southeast Asian laborers can earn more money here more quickly than in their own countries.
When laborers ask employers for necessities, they say, “You are greedy for worldly riches because you are from a poor country.” When they slow down at work, the employers say, “You are so lazy. That’s why your country is so poor and undeveloped.”
An industrial trainee from Myanmar described being troubled by his experience.
“I experienced a lot of things which I could not understand. When I came to Korea, at first I thought if I work hard, I can earn a lot of money and people will be kind to me. However, Korean employers give me lower pay than Korean employees, even though I work harder than them.
“A number of things did not make sense to me; it is quite commonplace to see racial prejudice from Korean people. In particular, it is disturbing that Korean people have different attitudes toward [Caucasians] and Southeast Asians.” For companies, the pursuit of profit and efficiency of labor are very important to sustain their enterprise.
However, I think they should be heavily penalized for poor or unfair treatment of Southeast Asian laborers.
Lee Hyun-Ju, a senior at Hanyoung Foreign Language High school