Discrimination of foreigners in Korea is nothing new, but recently it has been getting a lot of attention because of the current Minyeodeului Suda Scandal. This scandal has caused at least one K-blogger to start an online petition to protest KBS’s racism.
Well now the Korea Times has an article about foreigners being denied access to swimming pools and saunas:
Connie Arnold, a middle-aged English teacher at Pochon CHA University in Songu-ri, began having hip pain earlier this year and went to see a doctor. He identified it as muscle strain and swimming was prescribed.
Arnold knew of only one pool in town, but when she went there she was told, “No Foreigners Allowed.â€™â€™â€™ She asked a Korean co-worker to call for her and explain that she had to swim for health reasons.
“I explained about you (doctorâ€™s order) but they said no,â€™â€™ the co-worker wrote in a follow up e-mail. “Foreigner(s) cannot use the pool.â€™â€™
None of this is really surprising to me because foreigners have long been treated like second class citizens in Korea. However, the ones that have it by far the worst are the people who come from third world countries to work in Korea’s manuafacturing businesses. Korea’s Confucian thinking puts these labors way at the bottom of the class structure. That is the real reason why foreigners are denied access to swimming pools, saunas, and even internet cafes:
Arnold said that besides the swimming pool and sauna, she has been refused entry to PC bangs in Songu-ri because she is a foreigner.
A reporter asking to use a computer at the Joy PC Bang in Songu-ri was told foreigners were not allowed to use the service.
I have never been denied access to an internet cafe or even a sauna, but the denial of GI’s to bars and restaurants is quite common, but also keep in mind the denial of Koreans and other foreigners to American only bars happens as well, which I don’t agree with. This is done the ville areas outside of some of the US military installations. The bars are owned by Koreans and just goes to show that they are willing to discriminate against other Koreans in order to make a buck.
There is plenty of discrimination in Korea, but I really think it has been getting better in recent years and the netizen outrage to the KBS show is encouraging, however it is going to take a whole lot more Hines Wards out there to end discrimination in Korea any time soon.
UPDATE: The Marmot’s Hole now has a posting on this article as well worth checking out.