20% of foreigners in Korea feel prejudice

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20% of foreigners in Korea feel prejudice

One of out of every five foreigners in South Korea suffers discrimination, due mainly to their nationalities, government data showed Wednesday.

The data compiled by Statistics Korea showed that 21.2 percent of 1.3 million foreigners said they were discriminated against by South Koreans.

Among them, 60.9 percent said they were discriminated against on the basis their nationalities, while 25.7 percent said they faced discrimination on the grounds of their lack of Korean language proficiency.

The data showed 6.6 percent cited appearance and 2.6 percent pointed to occupation as the reasons behind the discrimination.

The statistics agency did not provide details on the nationalities of foreigners who they said were discriminated against.

As of May, there were 521,000 ethnic Koreans from China in South Korea, accounting for 40 percent of all foreign nationals.

By some accounts, two million ethnic Koreans live in mainland China, most of whom are descendants of Koreans who fled to China during Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.

Meanwhile, 23.1 percent of 52,000 foreigners who were naturalized as South Koreans said they were discriminated based on their nationality and lack of Korean language proficiency.

Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group, said discrimination against women, sexual minorities, racial and ethnic minorities, foreigners - especially refugees and migrant workers - and persons with HIV are all major human rights problems in South Korea.

“South Korean’s democracy will remain incomplete until the government acts to end discrimination and revokes laws that violate basic rights,” Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said in January in comments posted on the group’s website.

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