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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs