Seoul’s plans will assist expatriates

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Seoul’s plans will assist expatriates

The Seoul city government yesterday unveiled a set of plans aimed at helping expatriates in Seoul fight discrimination and mistreatment and better cooperate with locals in dealing with residential issues.

Under the plan, the city will hire translators who specialize in law in order to support foreigners who are engaged in lawsuits due to discrimination based on race. Along with these officials, the city plans to hire expatriates fluent in Korean to have them provide more general translation services at hospitals and district offices.

One can register for the translation service at the Seoul Global Center in Jongno, central Seoul.

In February, the Seoul Metropolitan Government set up a team in charge of promoting human rights for foreign residents and now plans to use the resources from that division to come up with human rights support services exclusively for expatriates. Officials will also establish four free shelters across the city where foreigners who are jobless or have family disputes can stay. The city has yet to announce a specific time frame or locations for these shelters.

The city will also allow foreign residents from different countries to select representatives to form an expatriate council from 2015. The representatives will regularly discuss neighborhood issues and inform the city government of the results of those meetings.

Seoul said in the statement that the content of those discussions will be reflected in its policies. The new initiative is intended to more actively include foreign residents in community and town meetings. Despite the fact that the number of foreigners living in Seoul has surpassed 390,000 and has continued to increase, expatriates are usually excluded or not informed of town meetings. In addition, a large cultural institute that promotes the cultures of countries outside the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) will open by 2018. Only a handful of relatively wealthy countries can afford to open cultural centers in foreign countries.

In Seoul, there are 13 cultural centers. The municipal government did not announce the specific list of countries that will be included in the integrated cultural center but stressed that they will be non-OECD members.

“The focus here is diversity,” said Cho Hyun-ok, head of Seoul’s women and family policy division. “We tried to reflect diverse ethnic groups and aim to serve all foreign residents through a wide range of programs and policies.”

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]


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