Targeting diplomats to help make a multicultural Korea
The president of an organization for foreigners’ welfare has called on diplomats and other foreigners here to speak up on their bugbears about Korea. Shin Kwang-yul organizes diplomatic conferences on migrants’ welfare, publishes a newspaper promoting multicultural society and runs a migrant workers’ welfare center. But he said foreigners must be honest about the elements of Korean life they dislike to help the country to further develop. “The big mistake is that the people from America and other places have to speak truly to Koreans,” he said. “This is a growing country in the case of setting up multicultural society so there are so many ways in which we should get advice from people who come from developed societies.”
Shin regularly interviews ambassadors posted here for i-msn (International Multicultural Society Newspaper) in order to foster better understanding between their countries and Korea. The newspaper is printed and published online in Korean, English, Chinese and Vietnamese. “We are beginning a multicultural society now, but there are still many things to do in Korea,” he said. “Understanding each other can help have a better relationship between foreigners and Koreans.” He stressed that foreigners here should speak out diplomatically on issues they have when living or visiting the country ― on anything from a lack of trash cans in Seoul to the need for more multilingual interpreters. “You should advise us, but not many foreigners do this because they don’t want to hurt (Korean people’s) feelings. Even if we are being hurt by this advice we should accept it. We should ask foreigners and they should answer so we can grow our multicultural society.”
Shin, who runs Pu-pyong Community Welfare Center, said foreigners should respect Korean culture but also give constructive criticism about life in Korea. He also advised foreigners coming to Korea to work as English teachers or in other professions to respect and understand Korean ways of life to be appreciated by people here. The organizer of the International Conference on Foreigners Welfare and regular KBS radio guest said foreigners should be surveyed when taking departure flights from Korean airports in order to get their views on elements that could be improved in Korean life. And foreigners should give constructive criticism whether talking to Korean restaurant owners or government officers. “In Korea, people from countries like America, Australia and Canada come here mainly to teach English and enjoy work, then go back to their countries. They do not want to stay here because even though Korean people think that this country has grown, when they look at Korea our society still falls behind.” “If you say you like everything Korean people will think that everything is fantastic and won’t want to develop further. If Korea is to become a multicultural society in the future we have so many things to do. “A long time ago people came here for the first time they say everything is fantastic ― the food is fantastic even if they don’t like it. “Of course, all Korean people think that they like everything, so what do we do? Keep bringing the same food. “This way, diplomatic figures are saying that everything is nice, even if they don’t think that. So of course we are always going to keep bringing them this food. That kind of thing we have got to destroy.” Shin also hopes to bring people from African and other countries to come to Korea for free language and culture courses. He is approaching embassies to bring people from their countries to join the course. He is also seeking sponsors to help pay for participants’ flights to the country.