Police hires a step forwardFor the first time, immigrants from Southeast Asian countries who married to Koreans and have bicultural families have become Korean police officers. They are Annabel from the Philippines and Jujigang from Indonesia. Both completed 24 weeks of training at the National Central Police Academy and were appointed police patrol officers Friday. They speak both their native languages and Korean and are familiar with both their native and adopted cultures, making them prime candidates as police officers in this globalizing nation. That’s why the police academy selected them. It’s a welcome step toward an open society and away from inveterate closed-mindedness. Last year, one out of 10 Korean marriages was an international couple. Among male farmers, 40 percent are married to foreign women.
But because a personal and social consciousness commensurate to this reality did not form, there are many negative side effects. Whereas the general rate of divorce is falling in Korea, the divorce rate between Korean men and foreign wives jumped tenfold in five years.
More foreign wives are leaving their homes, unable to endure conflict with their husbands. Lawsuits to nullify marriages have risen almost four times.
Although language barriers and cultural misunderstandings are cited as reasons for the discord, a more basic reason is the lack of acknowledgement that foreign wives are equal partners. If Korean men view their wives as women they have bought from poor countries, then the marriage is not likely to be happy. Also, the education of children cannot properly take place. We sincerely hope that the conflict prevention education being provided to Korean men wishing to marry foreign wives by the Ministry of Gender Equality since the middle of this month will be successful. There must be a change in social understanding as well. The rising number of multicultural families is an inevitable development. We must get rid of discriminatory views on foreign partners and children and accept them as real neighbors and friends. Depending on how we accept the foreign-born among us, we will either increase social conflict and insecurity or become a developed, international society. It all depends on how we accept and integrate foreigners. We hope the appointment of Annabel and Jujigang will set a good example for the future.