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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs