Grant Projects: Activities
International Conference on Multicultural Asia (Asian Neighbors Program)
update：June 5, 2013
National Assembly, where the opening session was held
From May 26th to 29th 2013, international conference “Asia Multicultural Conference: Paving the Future of Multicultural Asia” was held at Seoul, Republic of Korea. The conference was organized by Global Together, The Charity Fund for Migrant Youth, Multicultural Committee of National Assembly, Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and Dong-A Ilbo. It was co-funded by the Korea Foundation and the Toyota Foundation 2012 Asian Neighbors Program special purpose grant “Prospects for the Future”. (D12-N-0158 Project Representative: Dr. Lee Myung-Ken)
Since the 1990s, Korea is receiving a large number of foreigners, including marriage migrants (mainly foreign women who are married to Korean men). Korean government calls them as “Multicultural Families” and supports them through laws such as Multicultural Families Support Act, and services including the operation of Multicultural Family Support Centers. Still there are reported cases of foreign women suffering from prejudice, discrimination, and isolation.
A multicultural support center in Seoul
This conference was held to share the experience and challenges from different Asian societies and to find a way forward. Participants from Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, etc. joined the discussion.
The conference started by the keynote speech by MP Jasmine Lee, the first Filipino-Korean legislator in Korean National Assembly. 3 days of discussion followed to share the situation and issues in the life of international migrants in Korea, Japan and other countries. Participants also had a chance to visit a Multicultural Family Support Center in Seoul.
Participants – center front is MP Jasmine Lee
Many participants shared the view that there are no “superior” culture and “inferior” culture, and that while migrants learn the language and culture of the destination country, the society of receiving country should also make an effort to understand the cultures of migrants. A vision was shared by a participant that only by respecting both cultures, migrants and their children can be a link of two countries and contribute to both.
Sight of Seoul
Korea used to identify itself as a homogeneous country, but now it is almost becoming a social consensus that they will be a “multicultural society”, no matter the change in administrations. On the other hand, Korea proactively advances into other Asian countries. What we can see here is their strategy to “live in Asia”, which gave me a great insight from this trip.
(Ken Aoo, International Grant Group)