A multi-ethnic society is already here

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A multi-ethnic society is already here

The author is a cultural team reporter at the JoongAng Ilbo.

Recently, the Royal National Theater in London proposed a new standard for recruiting actors. It will select actors and actresses who speak with non-native English accents. The change means that actors who are not native to Britain can also be a part of the famous theater. The reasoning is that filling the stage only with actors who speak in British English cannot represent the British society properly.

Britain has a long history of mixed ethnicity. In addition to those who originally lived on British Isles, Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Normans alternately came in and ruled the country. Therefore, it is hard to say that Britain is made of one single ethnicity.

The ethnic diversity in the U.K. was enhanced further in the age of imperialism. Various people from colonies around the world came to and settled in Britain. Still, a large number of immigrants continue moving in. The barista at a cafe I frequented while I lived in London was from Italy, and my barber was from Morocco.

It is not hard to find workers wearing hijab at large stores. One day, I spotted an Englishman asking questions to an employee at a museum in Leicester. The employee explained to the Englishman about Richard III in English with a strong Spanish accent. It made me realize what a multi-ethnic society is really like.

What about Korea? A number of migrant workers from other Asian countries live in cities outside of Seoul. We can find signs on the streets written in various Asian languages, including Russian. Children who grew up in multicultural families are joining the military these days.

Some say that immigration should be expanded further to prepare for a serious population decline in Korea. It is time to prepare for the transition to a multicultural country, as the number of people not native to the Korean Peninsula are bound to increase no matter what. We must pay special attention to the attempt of the British National Theater.
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