Home > Migrants > Multicultural families to benefit from 2011 Foreign Policy Action Plan

Multicultural families to benefit from 2011 Foreign Policy Action Plan

Sangmin Lee

Starting this year, marriage migrants who have not yet attained Korean citizenship can also benefit from basic livelihood security programs in South Korea.

The Ministry of Justice announced the “2011 Foreign Policy Action Plan” through a state panel on policies for foreign residents, presided over by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik on January 14.

Through rapid globalization there has been an increase in migration of people all over the world. The effects of this phenonmen could be felt in Korea as interracial marriage has also increased. In the meeting, the government made a decision to provide marriage migrants that do not have Korean citizenship the same legal protection and welfare benefits as Korean nationals. The government will support underprivileged migrants living on minimum wage raising children of Korean nationality with the cost of living, housing benefits, education, childbirth, funeral costs and medical welfare. It was also decided by the government to expand “social care” for vulnerable groups of foreigners such as those with disabilities.

In addition, in order for interracial couples to maintain a healthy marriage, the government will mandate Koreans who are seeking marriage to foreigners complete a pre-marriage education program intended to deepen understanding of their foreign spouses’ culture.

The panel also allocated the budget for the “social integration” program designed to aid underprivileged migrants and helps their settlement, especially those struggling with various hardships caused by cultural and linguistic differences.

In conjunction with the multicultural policy, a government official pointed out that there is a will, but lacks a clear control tower to proceed on its own. Accordingly, there is criticism on the effectiveness of the administration’s policy in comparison to the increased budget earmarked for the area.

The program also implements a fingerprint verification system which will fully go into effect July 1, in order to stem the flow of the illegal entrants using forged passports and to collect identity information for criminal investigations. However, civil groups regard this implementation as controversial. Most countries in the world have not introduced this system, except the United States and Japan. Foreigners could possibly feel uncomfortable to be regarded as a potential criminal. Moreover, there has yet to define a standard in the case taking fingerprints are refused.

“The number of foreigners staying in Korea exceeded 1. 25 million as of 2010, accounting for 2.5 percent of the entire population,” Prime Minister Kim said in a statement, “Given that the number will keep increasing, we should set up comprehensive and systematic policies to deal with the increase.”

This new foreign policy shows a step forward in the treatment of foreigners who stay in Korea, but still have a long way to go in fully being an accepting multicultural nation.

Categories: Migrants
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