Embracing multiethnic kidsEarly last month, The New York Times ran an article about American football star Hines Ward meeting multiethnic kids from Korea.
Every year, the Korean branch of U.S.-based Pearl S. Buck International brings eight multiethnic kids living in Korea to the U.S. to watch Ward play in a game, receive gifts and spend time with the wide receiver.
The aim of this event is to instill a sense of pride in these boys and girls by having them meet Ward, the son of a Korean mother and an African-American father, as he comes from a similar background.
During this year’s meeting with the kids, Ward talked about the sometimes hypocritical attitude of Korean society toward multiethnic kids, saying that many people here view them as “mixed-breed” but treat him well because he is a star.
In Korea, there are already more than 100,000 multiethnic kids. As the country battles a low birthrate and all that encompasses, these kids are a precious asset. However, the situation for them in Korea has not improved over the years, as The New York Times article insinuates. The kids said that they are often made fun of for their skin color or language capabilities.
According to government data from last year, 69.6 percent of the multiethnic kids of high school age in Korea do not go to school.
If these kids are treated unfairly, they will likely live in the lower income bracket when they grow up. Korea will suffer from that as well.
Because international marriage in Korea only started to increase during the late 1990s, around 60 percent of multiethnic kids are still not old enough to attend school.
However, such youths aged 16 to 18 still total around 6,000. In about five to 10 years, these youths will be looking for jobs.
The education system must make stronger efforts to include these kids soon. Considering that most international households in Korea are not well off and one parent often does not speak Korean well, there needs to be more attention paid to providing multiethnic kids with after-school classes and home schooling.
In a JoongAng Ilbo article yesterday a little girl named Wu-jeong, who has a Filipino mother, said that being multiethnic is not strange but special, because she gets to know two cultures.
Our future depends on raising these kids so that they can become first-class global citizens.