Earlier this month, Al Jazeera’s reported on a new law in South Korea, which requires foreign spouses to speak basic Korean and Korean spouses to have a minimum income.
As I said in an earlier post on multiculturalism in Korea, the government is currently endorsing a specific brand of multiculturalism, in which foreigners are taught to conform to local cultural norms. It seems Korea has adopted what Professor of Sociology Shin Gi-wook calls a “nationalist appropriation of globalization”, in which the country has taken on certain global cultural trends while actively retaining a nationalism premised on cultural purity and sovereignty.
Many of the government programs addressing the increase in multicultural families attempt to preserve this supposed cultural sovereignty. In the clip, Al Jazeera also take a look at the government’s two year adjustment program for foreign Asian wives, which teaches them “to meet the expectations of husbands and in-laws”.
You may notice that there are no Caucasian women in that particular centre. At this point, white foreigners seem to be granted the privilege to retain a certain amount of their respective cultures. This new law may place more expectation on white spouses of Korean citizens. For more on white privilege in Korea, see these posts by The Unlikely Expat and Sarah Shaw of Mapping Words.