A Philippine-born naturalized Korean who became a ruling Saenuri Party lawmaker has become the target of racist-tinged attacks on the Internet.
Rumors started last week that Jasmine Lee's campaign pledges include free medical care for illegal aliens, tuition assistance for foreign students studying in Korea, airfare support by the government when foreign brides of Korean spouses visit their home countries and when their parents come to visit Korea and preferential treatment for children of multicultural families in admission to schools here.
One poster claimed it would cost W2.23 trillion (US$1=W1,134) over the next four years to fund these programs.
In reality party list candidates like Lee make no personal campaign pledges, and Lee has never made any of these promises to voters.
The rumors appear to be targeting the Saenuri Party rather than at Lee personally, since posters spreading these false rumors about Lee have also been alleging vote rigging by the party.
Lee declined to be interviewed. "She felt that responding to each allegation could end up aggravating the situation and instead decided to let voters find out the truth by observing her activities as a lawmaker," said one Saenuri Party official.
Lee became a Korean citizen in 1998 after marrying a Korean seaman who had visited the Philippines. Her husband drowned in an accident two years ago and Lee has been living with her parents-in-law and seven other family members of her late husband ever since.
She formed a volunteer group to support migrant women who married Korean men and also worked at Seoul City Hall assisting other women like her, becoming the first foreign worker for the city government. Lee had a small part in a movie called "Punch" about multicultural families in Korea.
At present, there are around 210,000 foreign women who came to Korea after marrying Korean men and around 150,000 children from such marriages.