[Letters] Hard questions about race
Why aren’t Indians allowed to teach English in Korea? I’m not saying that Indians are not qualified to teach English in Korea. Indians are taught no other languages than English in school and are just as capable of teaching English as anyone else.
Some Indians hold advanced degrees in English literature or linguistics and know the secrets of language education and language acquisition. So why wouldn’t they be able to teach English in Korea?
Suppose the Korean government did allow Indians to hold E-2 visas. Unlike people from rich countries who come to Korea for adventure and fun, Indians, Filipinos or people from other developing countries would see Korea as the land of economic opportunity.
While people from Canada or Australia spend a few years in Korea repaying their college debts, such people know that when they go back to their country they will find jobs that pay better than 1.8 million won per month. Not Indians.
This means that Indians will try their best to settle in Korea. Indeed, even doctors and lawyers don’t make as much as 1.8 million won in India. This means that for Indians, teaching English in Korea would be better than pursuing advanced degrees in their country.
I see nothing wrong with that either. After all, why wouldn’t Indians, Filipinos or people from the Caribbean be allowed to pursue the “Korean dream”? The problem lies in their eventual children.
If Indians were allowed to teach English in Korea, they would settle long enough to raise families in Korea. They would not be able to afford international schools for their children. Their children would attend Korea schools, and as foreign children, they would be picked on in schools.
I know “picking on the foreign kid” is a bad thing, but it is a widespread practice around the world, even in the United States. Wasn’t President Obama himself picked on in school for being a black kid?
The problem also lies in Indian children’s ability to integrate the Korea job market. Myself, despite fluent knowledge of Korean and 8 other languages, and holding an MA from a Korean university, was unable to find a job in Korea.
Most Korean recruiters would not hire Korean-educated Indians who are no different from other Koreans. That would lead to riots and social unrest among second-generation Indian and Filipino immigrants in Korea.
Add to that the fact that Koreans would not choose to live among foreign populations. I remember while searching for an apartment with my Korean fiancee, a real estate agent had recommended that we not buy an apartment certain areas because “too many Chinese and Filipino immigrants live there.” This would mean that Indian and Filipino ghettos would emerge. When you’ve got immigrants who are isolated from the rest of society, can’t find jobs and can’t fit in the local society, social unrest is inevitable.
I was born and raised in New York City but am not eligible for Korean citizenship. Despite being a native English speaker, I am not considered as such by the Korean government. I may add that I have a degree in modern languages. Still, I would never feel angered by the fact that the Korean government would never issue me an E-2 visa.
I admire the Korean government’s immigration policy which places social cohesion above all things. The Korean government knows that with issues regarding economically disadvantaged Korean children and biracial children, it can not afford to take care of immigrant children.
One big question still exists regarding Korean immigration. It is that of a generation of foreign students from developing countries who have no intention to leave Korea after they complete their studies.
Akli Hadid, a former student in Korea now living in Algeria