News

    S. Korean School Caters to Children of Multicultural Families

    Students at the Seoul Dasom High School for Multicultural Children take Korean as a second language class, March 2012.
    Students at the Seoul Dasom High School for Multicultural Children take Korean as a second language class, March 2012.
    Jason Strother

    During the past decade, tens of thousands of South Korean men have married women from other countries, mostly in Southeast Asia.  There is concern now their children will have difficultly fitting into Korean society and the education system. So earlier this month, the government opened up a high school just for them.

    Classes began earlier this month at the Seoul Dasom High School for multi-cultural children. Dasom has 48 students who have grown up abroad and have one Korean parent or stepparent.

    Liang Man Ni, 18, moved with her Korean mother and Chinese father to Seoul from China in 2009. She said she likes the school a lot and has made friends with students from Japan, Hong Kong and Vietnam.

    Learning language and skills

    Dasom, which is an old Korean word for love, aims to teach these students the Korean language and also give them training for jobs in the tourism or multimedia industries.

    Kim Jee-hye teaches English at Dasom. She said the high school gives an introduction to life in Korea for many of the students here.

    "Our goal is to help them adjust themselves to Korean society. They have a lot of difficulties here, not only language difficulties, the difficulty that is based on their different cultural views. We want them to Koreanize in a way," said Kim.

    But the Dasom school is not just for students who were raised overseas. Administrators say children born into multicultural families in Korea might need to enroll here, too.

    Broadening educational net


    That is because many of these kids are not going to school at all. A recent survey found that up to 31 percent of children with a foreign parent stay home and do not learn Korean proficiently.

    Seoul National University sociologist Chung Chin-sung, who served on the government panel that created the school, said officials were worried these children will fall through the cracks of society when they get older.

    In 2010, children born to parents of mixed heritage counted for about five-percent of all births - about 20,000 out of 470,000 - in South Korea.  

    And Chung said most South Koreans are not ready for this demographic shift.

    "Korea is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world, and we do not have experience to live with other racial people," said Chung.

    Chung added that this lack of experience can produce discrimination and racism.  

    Overcoming cultural hurdles

    Many children of mixed marriages say their Korean classmates bully them. Some are teased because their mothers are from Southeast Asian countries that are less developed than South Korea.

    Chung said that prejudice is a major reason why these children have a hard time fitting into Korean society.

    "Children of these multi-cultural families have the experience to be isolated. Mostly their academic records are very low," said Chung.

    Chung said Dasom high school might provide these kids a last chance to learn Korean and not fall behind their piers at mainstream schools.  Some advocates worry, though, that segregating these children into their own school will do more harm than good.

    Potential negative effects

    Ahn Hyun-suk runs a counseling center for multicultural families and children in Seoul, and said the idea of an alternative school for these children can have many negative effects. It gives the image that these children are poor or bad students, yet receive free tuition from the government. This will only hurt their ability to be accepted in Korean society.

    Ahn said the best way to teach multi-cultural children is to integrate them in normal Korean schools.

    English teacher Kim acknowledged that this type of school is somewhat of an experiment.

    "We have to try various forms of education for students from multicultural families. Because we are getting more and more students from other countries, but our education system is not yet ready for them. And, we need to educate our Korean students to have more awareness in cultural diversity," said Kim.

    Kim said Dasom might soon be on the move. The school is expecting more students to enroll in the upcoming years and will need a bigger campus to accommodate them all.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Erin Kelly Lee
    April 05, 2012 10:48 AM
    The article mentions that children may be segregated in this kid of system however it does not touch on the fact that many of the other foreign children in Korea are attending "Foreigner" or "International " schools.

    by: Erin Kelly Lee
    April 05, 2012 10:45 AM
    to the previous commentor - Usually IN korea if a child is not in school - especially those that are from a multicultural family it is very possible for the parent not to be registered or to be an illegal resident of Korea. Therefore it is almost impossible to impose the idea of a parent being jailed for a child not in school, Also many students in this situation are not enrolled in school because the parents simply can not afford sending their child to a foreigner school.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroadi
    X
    May 02, 2016 1:36 PM
    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Displaced By War, Syrian Artist Finds Inspiration Abroad

    Saudi-born Syrian painter Mohammad Zaza is among the millions who fled their home for an uncertain future after Syria's civil war broke out. Since fleeing Syria, Zaza has lived in Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan and now Turkey where his latest exhibition, “Earth is Blue like an Orange,” opened in Istanbul. He spoke with VOA about how being displaced by the Syrian civil war has affected the country's artists.
    Video

    Video Ethiopia’s Drought Takes Toll on Children

    Ethiopia is dealing with its worst drought in decades, thanks to El Nino weather patterns. An estimated 10 million people urgently need food aid. Six million of them are children, whose development may be compromised without sufficient help, Marthe van der Wolf reports for VOA from the Metahara district.
    Video

    Video Little Havana - a Slice of Cuban Culture in Florida

    Hispanic culture permeates everything in Miami’s Little Havana area: elderly men playing dominoes as they discuss politics, cigar rollers deep at work, or Cuban exiles talking with presidential candidates at a Cuban coffee window. With the recent rapprochement between Cuba and United States, one can only expect stronger ties between South Florida and Cuba.
    Video

    Video California Republicans Weigh Presidential Choices Amid Protests

    Republican presidential candidates have been wooing local party leaders in California, a state that could be decisive in selecting the party's nominee for U.S. president. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports delegates to the California party convention have been evaluating choices, while front-runner Donald Trump drew hundreds of raucous protesters Friday.
    Video

    Video Kurdish Football Team Helps War-Torn City Cope

    With the conflict still raging across much of Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast, between the rebel PKK and the Turkish state, many Kurds are trying to escape the turmoil by focusing on the success of their football team Amedspor in Diyarbakir. The club is increasingly becoming a symbol for Kurds, not only in Diyarbakir but beyond. Dorian Jones reports from southeast Turkey.
    Video

    Video ‘The Lights of Africa’ - Through the Eyes of 54 Artists

    An exhibition bringing together the work of 54 African artists, one from each country, is touring the continent after debuting at COP21 in Paris. Called "Lumières d'Afrique," the show centers on access to electricity and, more figuratively, ideas that enlighten. Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, the exhibition's first stop.
    Video

    Video Pakistani School Helps Slum Kids

    Master Mohammad Ayub runs a makeshift school in a public park in Islamabad. Thousands of poor children have benefited from his services over the years, but, as VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem reports, roughly 25 million school-age youths don't get an education in Pakistan.
    Video

    Video Florida’s Weeki Wachee ‘Mermaids’ Make a Splash

    Since 1947, ‘mermaids’ have fascinated tourists at central Florida’s Weeki Wachee Springs State Park with their fluid movements and synchronized ballet. Performing underwater has its challenges, including cold temperatures and a steady current, as VOA’s Lin Yang and Joseph Mok report.
    Video

    Video Somali, African Union Forces Face Resurgent Al-Shabab

    The Islamic State terror group claimed its first attack in Somalia earlier this week, though the claim has not been verified by forces on the ground. Meanwhile, al-Shabab militants have stepped up their attacks as Somalia prepares for elections later this year. Henry Ridgwell reports there are growing frustrations among Somalia’s Western backers over the country’s slow progress in forming its own armed forces to establish security after 25 years of chaos.
    Video

    Video Documentary Tells Tale of Chernobyl Returnees

    Ukraine this week is marking the 30th anniversary of the world's worst nuclear accident, at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Soviet officials at first said little about the accident, but later evacuated a 2,600-square-kilometer "exclusion zone." Some people, though, came back. American directors Holly Morris and Anne Bogart created a documentary about this faithful and brave community. VOA's Tetiana Kharchenko reports from New York on "The Babushkas of Chernobyl." Carol Pearson narrates.
    Video

    Video Nigerians Feel Bite of Buhari Economic Policy

    Despite the global drop in the price of oil, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has refused to allow the country's currency to devalue, leading to a shortage of foreign exchange. Chris Stein reports from Lagos businessmen and consumers are feeling the impact as the country deals with a severe fuel shortage.
    Video

    Video  Return to the Wild

    There’s a growing trend in the United States to let old or underused golf courses revert back to nature. But as Erika Celeste reports from one parcel in Grafton, Ohio, converting 39 hectares of land back to green space is a lot more complicated than just not mowing the fairway.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora