[KS] multiracialism/some random statistics

johnfrankl at yahoo.com johnfrankl at yahoo.com
Sat Apr 29 20:37:40 EDT 2006

This is all very interesting. 
  Yesterday I was listening to a news program on the radio detailing the objections of the Viet Namese government to the commodification of Viet Namese women by South Korean marriage brokers. Perhaps coincidentally, yesterday I also saw my first banner advertising Cambodian brides. The banners advertising Viet Namese women can be seen in many places around Seoul. I would imagine they are even more prevalent in the provinces, but that is only conjecture. Both banners advertise the women as ch'OnyO, which different readers may interpret in different ways.

Balazs Szalontai <aoverl at yahoo.co.uk> wrote:
    Dear Stephen,
  thank you so much for this highly informative reply! Are there any statistical data available about the composition of recent mixed marriages? Two issues seem particularly interesting, at least for me:
  1) How many mixed marriages involve persons outside the East/South-east Asian cultural circle? The case of Hines Ward notwithstanding, the cases of which I read in Seoul in 2004-2005 mostly involved persons from Vietnam, the Philippines and other Asian countries. Americans are another main potential source. But what about persons who are neither East/South-east Asian nor American? That is, are there are perceptible biases in the patterns of mixed marriages? Korean prejudices against Africans are certainly strong, and I wonder how widespread Japanese-Korean marriages are.
  2) How many cases involve Korean women and non-Korean men? In countries where prejudices against mixed marriages are strong (e.g., in the Central Asian states), it is often considered more acceptable to marry a female foreigner than a male one. This is because of the combination of racial and gender hierarchy. If the foreigner is female, she will supposedly play a subordinated role in the relationship and thus the situation is relatively acceptable from a nationalist/xenophobic viewpoint, but if it is the other way round, then a female member of the community is considered taken (some may say, stolen) by a foreigner.   


  The issue of mixed marriages and mixed-race offspring, as you're probably aware, has recently been given a great deal of attention in S. Korea as a result of Hines Ward winning the MVP in the latest Super Bowl. Ward was born to an African-American GI father and Korean mother, and the Korean press had a field day with this (for an English piece see, e.g.,
  http://english.chosun.com/w21data/html/news/200501/200501260022.html). It also called forth the requisite hand wringing over the treatment that mixed children in Korea have received over the years. Such pieces might be a good place to start for some of the information you are looking for.

  More interesting to me are the recent spate of articles and stats that have come out concurrently on int'l marriages in Korea, such as, http://news.media.daum.net/society/affair/200604/03/joins/v12245774.html,
  which reports that an astonishing 40% (82 of 205) of marriages in Boeun County in Chungcheongbuk-do in 2005 were international.  According to the piece 18.2% of marriages in Seoul itself last year were international as well.  As the article notes, the concept of the danilminjok is in for a radical challenge.  I include some other pieces that have dealt with this issue below. My apologies, though, as I read these a few weeks ago and when I just went to recheck them they were unavailable. Here they are, in case this is a temporary server problem (I don't know how long joins.com leaves things up):


  While I'm here, I'd also like to toss out some other very intriguing stats that have come my way in the last month or so in the hope of generating discussion similar to our very interesting conversation on the current disciplinary makeup of AAS. One colleague in the US just reported to me that in his two upper division courses in Korean culture and religion (at a large research university, with a fairly even male/female ratio), he has the following numbers: 54 students total,  52 female 2 male (3 non Koreans total, 1 male 1 female) in one; and 46 students total in the other: 44 female 2 male (1 non Korean, male).  Although I suspect many of us are used to unbalanced ratios in our classes, this is extraordinary.

  Conversely, in our first-year Korean course at my university here in Wellington, New Zealand we have 41 students, of whom 31 are Chinese (all from the PRC, as far as I'm aware), with no one of Korean descent present (gender ratio: 28 F/ 13 M). In case you're wondering, Koreans actually make up the 3rd largest Asian ethnic group in NZ with some 35,000 out of a population of 4 million (almost 1%), but immigration from Korea only took off in 1991 and language maintenance in the community has been high. Our course numbers seem to be a direct reflection of the hallyu phenomenon and large int'l student populations. I'm curious if Korean language programs elsewhere are seeing different demography over the last, say, 3-4 years.

  Cheers, Stephen





  Dear Aidan,     [snip]  

  It would be good if some colleagues provided us with information about the situation in South Korea from 1945 to the 1990s, since I heard several concrete examples about strong prejudices against mixed marriages, which I have no reason to doubt.     Best,  Balazs 

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