Being cool about international love
When children grow up to become old enough to get married, parents often think about the possibility of their children marrying a foreigner, especially when they live abroad. The possibility is turning into reality for some families. A few days ago, my son, who is in college, informed me that his girlfriend, a foreigner whom he met through online chatting, was visiting Korea soon. As he is in college and has served his military duty, he is a grown-up. Being a cool father, I should have told him, “It does not matter where your girlfriend comes from, it’s all up to you and I support your choice. I appreciate that you let me know in advance.” However, I just could not help asking where she’s from, what she does and what her parents are like. It is not easy to be a cool father.
MBC TV aired “Shocking Report: Relationships with Foreigners” on May 28, and foreign residents in Korea and interracial couples were stirred. The episode included comments like, “The qualification of the foreigners residing in Korea has become a social issue.” It also had provocative captions: “Physical contacts are made easily” and “The couple is headed somewhere.” The report interviewed a pregnant woman whose foreign boyfriend left upon learning about pregnancy, a woman who lent 3 million won ($2,550) but never got the money back and someone who was diagnosed with HIV.
“Shocking Report” was truly shocking because it did not follow the most basic rules of reporting. The episode was more than uncomfortable. It was far from the truth.
In opposition to its message, protestors have started a Facebook group under the slogan, “Please stop xenophobia and gender discrimination,” and 8,473 people have joined the cause as of Wednesday. A protest was staged in front of the broadcasting station on Sunday, and an “International Couples and Friends Picnic” is to be held at Yeouido Park on June 17.
Still, there are posts on the Internet that support the program. Some criticize Korean women who favor foreigners, especially Caucasian men. But the truth is there are good and bad people of every ethnicity and nationality.
In addition, a romantic relationship between a man and a woman is private business. All adults have the right to sexual autonomy - though it carries responsibilities. Whether you are dating a foreigner or a Korean, you have to be careful about getting pregnant or contracting HIV. Also, your partner can always defraud you regardless of nationality.
It is so obvious that these problems are not related to nationality or race that the MBC program must have been purely motivated by xenophobia. Whether you want to be cool or not when it comes to international relationships, keep this in mind: We are all human and love has no barriers.
The author is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
by Noh Jae-hyun