Many Koreans Still Intolerant of Foreigners

      March 15, 2016 12:40

      There will be more than 1 million people in multicultural families in Korea in 2020, but xenophobia and prejudices against mixed marriages remain high compared to advanced nations, according to a survey.

      The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family surveyed 4,000 adults and 3,640 teenagers between September and November last year, and the adults scored 53.95 out of a maximum 100 points in terms of tolerance of foreigners, and the teens a slightly more idealistic 67.63 points.

      This is a small improvement compared to 2011 but way behind Americans or Europeans, according to the global World Values Survey conducted from 2010 to 2014.

      In the survey, Korea ranked 51st out of 59 surveyed countries in terms of tolerance toward foreigners . Older and poorer Koreans tend to be more negative toward multiculturalism.

      Some 31.8 percent of the Koreans surveyed said they did not want to have a foreigner as a neighbor, 2.5 times more than respondents in the U.S. (13.7 percent) and Australia (10.6 percent) and almost 10 times more than in Sweden (3.5 percent).

      Some 60.4 percent of Koreans said jobs should go to their own kind first in times of economic difficulties, more than Americans (50.5 percent), Germans (41.5 percent) and Swedes (14.5 percent).

      The number of foreigners married to Koreans and their children rose 24 percent from 660,000 in 2011 to 820,000 last year.

      "We are quickly becoming a multicultural society, but public attitudes are not changing apace," a ministry official said. "We intend to continue educational programs aimed at spreading a deeper understanding of multiculturalism."

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