What does ‘Pearl S. Buck Inter-national’ do specifically? ‘Pearl S. Buck International’ is the representative NGO for children who are shunned by society.
So, we are active in protecting children’s human rights, independent of religious and political affiliation. ‘Pearl S. Buck International, Korea’ supports bi-racial and multiracial children suffering from inhospitality and contempt from society, encouraging them to live in this society not as outsiders but as Koreans. Specifically, we support them with educational expenses, counseling services, summer camps and vocational training.
How many bi-racial and multi-racial people are there in the country now exactly?
I do not know exactly. In order to know the exact number, the government would need to do a national survey. It is hard for a private organization like us to determine the number. Broadly speaking, there are about 15,000 people, including Kosian - the children of Asian illegal workers and Koreans.
What other difficulties besides people’s prejudice or discrimination in society do these people experi-ence?
The most fundamental problem is prejudice and discrimination in society. As well, above all, their skin color or appearance divides them from other Koreans. Also, most of them live with their single mother, so they undergo economic difficulties. It is hard for them to get a stable job.
Is there any method to help them within the current Korean system? Nothing. Only private organi-zations like us help them. The government almost completely looks away. So, there are many of them who drop out of school and their unemployment rate is very high because the government does not help them at all.
Therefore, they need vocational education to get a stable job and programs to study for certificates of qualification such as for becoming a cook or a beauty artist. The government should support these programs.
How about the situation in other countries for bi-racial and multi-racial people, in terms of insti-tutional services and public attitudes?
For example, there is the case of our neighbor, Japan. The U.S. troops were stationed only in Okinawa. There have been no reports of such people dropping out of school or experiencing high unemployment rate like there is in Korea.
The Japanese government has itself helped these people by establishing alternative schools, and so on. In Germany, since ‘the Germany-U.S. agreement’ (like the SOFA - Status of Forces Agree-ment) was signed, the two countries have financially supported these children until they are 18 years old, each government covering 50% of their educational and similar expenses.
And, in Philippines where the GDP is not high enough for the government to be able to help them directly help them from national funds.
In conclusion, what would you like to say?
Though Korea is a member of many international human rights organizations, in fact, the govern-ment does not do enough with regard to human rights issues. This is a result of Korea’s development just in quantity within a short time, and we Koreans do not recognize a variety of birth situations, so our racially homogeneous character is still very strong.
In addition, Korea is no longer in a position to be an international aid beneficiary, so that it is harder than before to find support from international organi-zations. However, the government must fulfill its responsibilities.
In order for bi-racial and multiracial people to live here, prejudice and discrimination should be gotten rid of. And we need a change in mind-set by people and by the govern-ment.