After Francois Hollande took office as the French President, Fleur Pellerin, who is a minister of in charge of small and medium businesses, innovation and the digital economy, received attention for being the female minister. Fleur Pellerin was born in Korea and adopted by a French family right after she was born. KTV, which is a channel operated by the Korean government, highlighted and introduced her as being of the same heritage and blood with Korean. Are you proud of her because she has Korean pure blood? Even though she is of Korean origin, she has French nationality and not Korean nationality. I think that the Korean press focuses too much on her ‘blood’ and ‘heritage.’
The Korean government emphasized Korea as a homogenous nation and most Koreans have believed that they have pure blood. We can further understand this belief in ‘pure blood’ through 2009 study of the Walter H. Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, which is an institution of Stanford University. It shows about 70 percent of Koreans are biased towards ‘blood’ being the most important criteria in the concept of the Korean race. Even 93 percent of Koreans think that the Korean ethnic group has pure blood.
However, the idea that Koreans have pure blood should be abolished during Korea’s current globalization stage because the number of multicultural families in Korean society is increasing. In addition, the concept of a racially homogenous nation may cause discrimination against foreigners. Actually, the number of international marriages is 34,235 in 2010. Foreigners who have married Koreans are trying to adapt to Korean society but they feel a sense of detachment because of Korean’s discrimination. If we are unable to overcome this biased view, Korea will face huge social problems because the number of foreigners and children of multicultural families in Korea is increasing. The UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination also pointed out that Korea has to overcome the fixed idea that parentage is so significant.
Ahead of the Fleur Pellerin’s case, the Korean media focused on reporting the person who is in high places though she has not a Korean nationality. On the other hand, we look foreigners with unwelcome attention even though they have Korean nationalities. The narrow view that Korean can be accepted by only the ‘blood’ criteria should be improved. Why am I Korean? Of course, I have a Korean blood, Korean nationality and I am under the protection of Korea’s legal system. However, the reason why I fundamentally feel I am Korean is that I grew up learning Korean culture. There is a common thing that members in multicultural families are sharing Korean culture in same place. Therefore, we need to embrace these families for sharing our culture, rather than exclude them because of their parentage. By broadening our concept on Korean and understanding the diversity, we are able to foster advanced civility.