November 30, 2009 12:50
The Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Bucheon, Gyeonggi Province is looking for a new place to call home after getting into a dispute with city officials over a care center for children of multicultural families. The Pearl S. Buck Foundation in Korea is a globally recognized welfare institution established by the Nobel prize-winning author in 1964 to help multiracial children.
Bucheon is home to a large number of multicultural families, and the foundation had been trying to open a childcare center to help their children. But the city blocked the move, saying that the foundation is not allowed to operate a welfare facility on its own because it is registered only as an auxiliary institution for such facilities. And once the foundation went ahead and opened the center and began taking care of 25 children under its mission to provide care regardless of skin color, Bucheon city officials ordered it to shut down.
It is true that existing laws differentiate between "operators" of such facilities and "auxiliary" institutions. But a look at the 1,549 charities listed on the website of the Ministry for Health, Welfare and Family Affairs shows several auxiliary institutions actually operating their own facilities after consultation with regional government and getting approval to revise their articles of association. Even if the Pearl S. Buck Foundation made mistakes in procedures, it is narrow-minded of the city officials to order the facility to be closed by simply citing the law without trying to convince it to change its articles of association.
The foundation wants to move to Ansan, which is also home to a large number of migrant workers and multicultural families in Gyeonggi Province. And Ansan city has rolled up its sleeves to welcome it, saying it will be able cooperate with other charity centers for multiracial children in the city to provide better care.
The number of children born in multicultural families in Korea rose from 25,000 in 2006 to 58,000 in 2008. And children under six account for 57.1 percent of them. It is crucial for the country's future to teach these children the Korean language, lifestyle and culture. The bottom line of these laws is to benefit the public and promote their welfare. The incident clearly shows how great the gap is in the two cities' awareness of what is important in public service.
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