The Ewha Voice extends its sincere gratitude to all the applicants who submitted essays for the 24th Ewha Voice English Essay Contest co-hosted with Ewha Womans University. This year? topics for the essay contest were ?pinions on international marriages that are increasing between women from developing countries and Korean men,?and ?hat Korea will be like in 20 years.?The first place was given to Oh Da-eun. Moon Jae-won and Yang Jie-seon were awarded Joint Second Prizes. We truly congratulate the winners and look forward to our next essay contest.
-By Oh Da-eun
(International Studies, 2)
A Dead Zone: Problems of International Marriage in Korea
Two years ago, Ddadda threw herself to her death from an apartment balcony. She found herself unable to cope with on-going beatings from her Korean husband. Her tragedy momentarily gained attention of the public, but with the spotlight gone, few remember now. This incident is tragic in two ways: for one, that it is not exceptional, and also that not much has changed over the last two years.
According to the Korean National Statistical Office, 10% of marriages that take place now in this country are international marriages. Most of the ?mported wives?are from Asian countries, and a third of them are subjected to domestic violence. In a nation where most people are monolingual, these foreign women don? have many places to turn to when feeling helpless. There are two aspects of the problems they face: a cultural gap and a lack of social institution.
To begin with, the difference of culture is a huge barrier for the foreign wife, her husband, and her family. Yonhap news reports that an overwhelming 83% of the wives said that their greatest difficulties to adapt to were communication barriers and cultural problems.
For the foreign women, who come to Korea as grown-ups, it is not easy to learn Korean, much less the countless cultural symbols attached to each gesture and facial expressions in Korea. They are fortunate if they learn enough for their every-day, immediate communicational needs. Proficiency close to that of a native is rarely achieved. This is an ominous harbinger for a happy home, and also worrisome for the offspring, who will be hugely influenced by their mother as children. A language specialist said such a disadvantage between the ages of two and four (the most crucial time for language development) is almost impossible to make up, regardless of the models cihldren will be presented with afterwards.
Many Korean husbands wanted foreign wives in the hope that they would serve their Korean parents well. However, this expectation often results in disappointment. The biggest chunk of the foreign wives are from the Philippines (some 41%), which has a culture close to that of the West, a result of decades of colonization by the United States. The deference they are required to pay to the elderly, especially a wife to a mother-in-law, is often incomprehensible to them. This often arouses hostility in homes. The language barrier clearly exacerbates every problem. The high rate of domestic violence, while nothing justifies it, also comes from the fact that husbands feel increasing frustration since there is no channel for communication.
Next, there exists a lack of social institutions to integrate and protect the foreign wives. The Roh government has declared that two of its priorities will be eliminating discrimination based on gender and protecting the rights of migrants. However, how can this be done for people not registered with the government? According to national law, foreigners who hold residence in Korea for two years while being married to a Korean person are entitled to citizenship, but only half of the foreign women who are eligible have received it. ?D? Note,?a non-fiction program on MBC, stated that, even though it is not written in law, the husband is required to accompany his wife and guarantee her identity for her to receive citizenship. Many husbands refuse to do this for many reasons: to use it as a leverage to their wives; because of fear of abandonment (citizenship may enable her to earn money on her own); because of belief that living together is enough contact with Korea for her. The insistence of the government that husbands come along is a precaution to prevent registration by illegal migrants, but it is resulting in the subordination of the foreign wives to their husbands, putting them into a dead zone where they cannot be seen or heard.
The ethnic riots in France should awaken us to think about this new, fast growing minority population. Only last year, there was a 38 percent increase of international marriages. Grassroots movements from churches and organizations, such as the Korea Women? Hotline, have been budding to raise awareness and provide shelter; these should spread. But we also need the intervention of the government. Translation services, language education, and reliable protection of foreign wives from brutality are measures that could enhance the situation.
At the end of the day, we have to remember that these women are not just alien faces among us. They have become family members of this country, and mothers to our children.
◆2nd Place (Joint)◆
Health Industries for An Aged Society
-By Moon Jae-won (International Studies, 2)
As a result of the lowest birth rate ever in the history of the nation, Korea officially shows a decreasing trend in population.?his means less of the newly born, young generation, and a growing ratio of older, retired, senior citizens.?orea will be a post-aged society in the next 20 years, due to the low birth rate and longer life span.?he demographics of the work force will change in the future, encompassing seniors in more economic activities.?ore nuclear families will mean more seniors living alone. Thus, the need for health-related products and services will increase significantly and the industries targeted toward senior citizens will grow.
Korea is on the fast track to becoming one of the world? most aged societies. The National Statistical Office released predictions that by 2018, Korea will reach the aged society mark where senior citizens aged over 65 years will make up over 14 percent of the total population.?lso, Korea will enter a post-aged society phase.?ith further increases in the number of senior citizens in the next 20 years, senior citizen related industries will prosper.?ccording to a study published by Samsung Economic Research Institute, Korea? future ?ilver business?market is estimated to be worth at 2.7 trillion won in 2005 and 4.1 trillion won in 2010.?In the pharmaceutical business, drugs that treat blood pressure and other heart related diseases and symptoms, diabetes and diabetes prevention will be some of the most profitable areas. Also, supplements such as vitamins and all sorts of healthy foods with enhanced nutrients will be profitable.?edical services can be categorized into the in-home and the out-of-home medical treatment.?mong in-home services, long term recuperation and medical treatment are expected to be greatly needed, thereby creating jobs in fields for in-home nurses.?lso, there is the possibility of pursuing hospice care at home. Out-of-home services will include hospitals for the elderly, silver homes, and day care centers.?afety equipment includes items for the convenience of the elderly or the disabled in public places and homes.
As senior citizens seek not only human treatment in homes but also successful aging with a heightened quality of life, such industries that promote mental and physical health and wellness are rising stars in the health industry for the elderly. Based on the current direction the population of Korea is taking on, industries related to health targeted toward the growing population of senior citizens will thrive in the next twenty years.
The Present Condition and Assign-ment of Migrant Women in Korea
-By Yang Jie-seon (Liberal Arts, 1)
These days, women from developing countries migrate to Korea as ?oreign brides?with the hope of achieving a ?orean Dream.?The National Statistical Office of Korea says that the rate of international marriages has increased to 10% in Korea. However, due to lack of linguistic and cultural familiarity, these women are often isolated in the household, currently suffering from patriarchical attitudes of Korean husbands, confinement, or being driven out to work in the sex industry. Moreover, to acquire Korean citizenship, a migrant woman must live two years in Korea and receive her husband? approval. If disapproved, the migrant woman becomes an illegal sojourner who must be deported. In my perspective, the three most important solutions to this violation of human rights are as follows.
The first solution is providing education for married couples before or after entry to Korea. Having grown up in different cultures, a couple may face difficulties. For instance, Filipinos prefer natural parturition and Chinese men usually cook, etc. Unfortunately, Korea is a somewhat patriarchical society; hence women should be accustomed to Korea to some extent. Therefore, it will be an opportunity for both members of the couple to understand behavior arousing from cultural differences.
Another solution is granting permanent residence visas to migrant women who want to live in Korea. Migrant women are exposed to violations of their human rights including class discrimination based on the developmental status of their native countries, racial discrimination based on the color of their skin, and gender discrimination. Legal action must be implemented by the government.
The best solution, then, is providing social programs which integrate immigrant women into Korean society. A recent survey conducted by the Women Migrants Human Rights Center shows that 31.9% of migrant women said that daily communication is the biggest problem. In this respect, students who are eager to improve the rights of migrant women can start by volunteering as teachers in the Women Migrants Human Rights Center.
There is a saying ?f you educate men you educate individuals, but if you educate women you educate a nation.?Empowering migrant women, who are the mothers of future Koreans, the wives of Korean men, and who are Koreans themselves will result in providing better education and financial status to the next generation. Our concern and interest in helping migrant women are vital factors for a bright future.