Saturday, 24 September 2011

South Korea abolishes itself


“Global Korea” poster. Has South Korea become the new posterboy for globalism?

East Asia has been an outlier in the developed world. Like Western Europe and North America, it is integrated into the global economy and enjoys a high standard of living. This is particularly so for the original five ‘tigers’: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore.

Yet East Asia has bucked the trend toward loss of nationhood. Its governments still see their role as one of perpetuating a specific ethnic identity and cultural tradition. This is in contrast to the view, dominant in the West, that countries should simply be administrative units and should interfere as little as possible in the free flow of capital, goods, and labor.

Recently, this outlier has lost one member. South Korea is falling into line with the globalist paradigm and has opened its borders to increasingly higher rates of immigration:

As of 2007, 1,066,291 registered foreigners were residing in South Korea. More than 400,000 migrant workers are now working in so-called 3-D [Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult] industries where South Koreans are reluctant to work. 110,362 immigrants entered in 2007 to marry South Korean husbands or wives and the cumulative number of international marriages increased to 364,000 during the 1990-2007 period. In 2005, 13% of all marriages in South Korea were interracial or interethnic marriages and the rate of international marriages was even higher in rural areas where about one-third of all marriages were interracial or interethnic. (Yoon et al., 2008)

When immigration began in the late 1980s, the aim was to ease labor shortages and offset a perilously low birth rate while maintaining the ethnic status quo. Diaspora Koreans would be repatriated from China and the former Soviet Union, and North Korean defectors would be welcomed. This aim was quietly set aside from the mid-1990s onward, as the zone of recruitment broadened to include the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and even countries as far afield as Nigeria (Kim, 2004). Today, South Korea is entering uncharted waters of demographic change:

[…] South Korean society has entered the first phase of multiethnic and multicultural society and the current process seems irreversible. If the current trend continues, the proportion of foreigners residing in South Korea will increase to 2.8% in 2010, 5% in 2020, and 9.2% in 2050 (Yoon et al., 2008)

The increase may actually be greater. On the one hand, the declining birth rate shows no signs of bottoming out. On the other, once immigrant communities become established, they tend to facilitate more immigration from their home countries, whether legal or illegal. It is worth noting that the above figures exclude illegal immigrants, who are estimated to form half the total intake (Moon, 2010).

Will this demographic change meet growing resistance from the public? Not in the near future. If anything, public opinion has been moving in the other direction. Between two surveys, taken in 2003 and 2007, the shift in opinion was remarkable:

For example, to the statement "It is impossible for people who don' t share South Korean traditions and customs fully to become South Korean", 55% of the respondents agreed while 23% disagreed in 2003, but in 2007 30.8% of the respondents agreed while 32.9% disagreed. (Yoon et al., 2008)

There has also been an increase in hostility to public meetings of “ people prejudiced against racial and ethnical groups.” In 2004, 29.6% of respondents felt such meetings “should definitely not be allowed.” By 2007, the figure had risen to 46.5% (Yoon et al., 2008).

Multiculturalism is thus becoming a core value, like filial piety of another age. By adhering to it, South Koreans earn respect not only from their friends and colleagues but also from themselves. This conformity seems to reflect a longstanding desire in Korean culture to comply with social norms.

Will there be resistance from the political elites? Again, not in the near future. Although multiculturalism is often identified with the Left, the new policy of “Global Korea” is actually being pushed by the Right, specifically the Grand National Party (GNP):

For the conservative government, South Korean nationalism and democracy is fundamentally tied to the doctrine of neo-liberalism. Neo-liberalism refers to the flow of economic migrant labour and mobile global capital. This global environment also requires government policies to attract foreign migrants and workers into South Korea’s economy and society.

Multiculturalism is a state-led response to these global changes. The policies of multiculturalism define the present and future economic, security and cultural national strength of South Korea. Critics suggest that, in fact, the GNP regards multiculturalism as an instrumental policy of increasing national state power in this global environment.
(Watson, 2010)

South Korea has entered what may be called ‘late’ or ‘mature’ capitalism. The business community has emancipated itself from the nation state and is now willing to enrich itself at the expense of its host society, notably by outsourcing employment to lower-wage countries and by “insourcing” lower-wage labor. To this end, its political spokesmen borrow leftwing discourse to create an artificial Left-Right consensus. As Watson (2010) goes on to argue:

The Right has effectively ‘‘stolen’’ the language of the Left (which has traditionally promoted multiculturalism) and colonised the language of multiculturalism with nationalism and security languages and concerns. For the Left, by ideologically separating multiculturalism from economic globalisation and its economic and political inequalities, multiculturalism becomes a quaint cosmopolitan smokescreen covering economic and political hardships.

One might add that the Right has likewise colonized the language of nationalism with multicultural concerns. The push is on to equate Korean nationality with residence on Korean soil. This concept of citizenship is now being taught in South Korean schools:

Mono-ethnicism was not officially removed from K-12 social studies and moral education textbooks until February, 2007. For example, social studies textbooks for sixth graders used to mention that “Korea consists of one ethnic group. We, Koreans, look similar and use the same language” (Mo, 2009). Citizenship education was grounded in this mono-ethnicism, and the national curriculum focused on enhancing democratic citizenship, including obedience to the law, rights as citizens, morality, and loyalty to the nation (Yang, 2007).

[…] The Korean government has acknowledged dramatic social changes in contemporary Korean society and has attempted to implement this view of contemporary Korean society in national curriculum standards. National curriculum standards have replaced mono-ethnicism with the notions of cultural diversity and multiculturalism.
(Moon, 2010)

In this, the South Korean government appears to have also acted under pressure from foreign organizations, notably the United Nations:

Mainstream Korean citizens used to believe that Korea consists of “one-blood, one-language, and one-culture.” The Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) in the United Nations (UN) has pointed out that the “pure-blooded” ideology and the notions of ethnic homogeneity have resulted in various forms of discrimination in Korea (Wagner, 2009). CERD has recommended recognizing the multi-ethnic character of contemporary Korean society and promoting understanding, tolerance, and friendship among the different ethnic and national groups in Korea. In education, CERD has recommended that the Korean government include human rights awareness programs in the official curriculum. A revised curriculum should describe a Korean society in which people from multiple ethnic and cultural backgrounds live together harmoniously (Hong, 2008; Wagner, 2009). (Moon, 2010)

Why South Korea?

Why is this shift to globalism stronger in South Korea than in other East Asian countries? The likeliest answer is the country’s special relationship with the United States.

This relationship goes far beyond the current stationing of U.S. troops along the demilitarized zone. When South Korea was freed from Japanese rule in 1945, the Americans were greeted as liberators—in contrast to Japan, where they were merely accepted as occupiers. Even today, there is a legacy of pro-American sentiment that has few parallels elsewhere in East Asia.

As liberators, the Americans were able to create a new political class from scratch. The Japanese had forced into exile much of the native leadership, and these émigrés were now brought home to form a government under U.S. auspices. One of them was the first president of South Korea, Syngman Rhee, a man who had spent most of his adult life in the United States. A similar situation existed in North Korea, where the new government was made up largely of émigrés from China and the Soviet Union.

To some degree, this situation still prevails. Political and economic leaders are often graduates of American universities, and they tend to see the U.S. as a model to be followed. Furthermore, this model cannot be easily criticized because such criticism may be seen as sympathy for the communist North.

References

Choi, J. (2010). Educating Citizens in a Multicultural Society: The Case of South Korea, The Social Studies, 101, 174–178.

Kim, W-B. (2004). Migration of foreign workers into South Korea: from periphery to semi-periphery in the global labor market, Asian Survey, 44, 316-335.

Moon, S. (2010). Multicultural and Global Citizenship in the Transnational Age: The Case of South Korea, International Journal of Multicultural Education, 12, 1-15.

Watson, I. (2010). Multiculturalism in South Korea: A Critical Assessment,
Journal of Contemporary Asia, 40, 337-346

Yoon, I-J.,Y-H. Song, Y-J. Bae. (2008). South Koreans' Attitudes toward Foreigners, Minorities and Multiculturalism, Paper prepared for presentation at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Boston, MA from August 1-4, 2008.

34 comments:

Beyond Anon said...

Heh, I bet the Chinese are more resistent!

PRCalDude said...

^You haven't read Frost's posts on all the sub-Saharan Africans moving to China and multiplying in droves.

Maybe the US really is the Great Satan.

pawikirogii said...

Koreans NEVER were one ethnic group, they have mixed their blood with the Chinese, Japanese, Mongolians and Indians, throughout the last 3000 years.

Study Korean history properly!

Harmonious Jim said...

North Korea, by contrast, has ditched communist propaganda for a kind of nationalism.

Anyone know of a good history of the spread of multiculturalist ideology around the world?

Kiwiguy said...

According to Ron Unz' recent article on demographic change tensions may be greater when it you have african populations involved? In this case it seems the changes are predominantly from south east asian populations that may be reasonably similar?

There's an interesting debate between the libertarian, free market/free movement of labour economist Bryan Caplan & Ph.D. student in Public Policy, Tino Sanandaji here

It seems to me that Sanandaji has the more realistic perspective of the two.

Kiwiguy said...

Peter,

For an example of the kind of thinking behind this, see this post on the AskaKorean blogspot

"Korea needs immigration to survive. That is true for any advanced industrialized country in which people have fewer and fewer children while living longer and longer. But it is particularly true for Korea because Korea's birthrate is declining so rapidly. Yet Korea's treatment of immigrants, particularly those from poorer countries, continues to be tone-deaf and sh1tty.

A recent survey showed that as of last year, 17.2% of school-age children born out of international marriages did not attend school. This is an astounding number for a country that has over 95% attendance rate for elementary, middle and high school.

Korean government does seem to realize the direness of the situation, as they increased the budget for assisting multicultural families by 52 times in the last four years."

There is some resistance to this in the comments by a Mr Kim:

"I'm not sure what you even mean by that comment. Is this the classic "two wrongs make a right" argument? Korea already suffers a low birth rate, so why don't we complicate her demographic woes by adding a whole new set of problems to the mix? Quality is better than quantity. Nepali immigrants to Korea are never going to become nuclear physicists or law profesors.

Aren't you forgetting about that giant nation to the north of S. Korea full of genetically identical people who speak the same language? No source of cheap labor up north, is there?

You know what might work? Keep women out of the workplace, cut down on illegal abortions, and put and end to no-fault divorce. Feminism leads to demographic disaster in every nation where it is implemented. You shouldn't possibly have the very people responsible for bringing new life into this world wasting their prime reproductive years chasing dead-end corporate jobs."

Mark said...

The birth rate in Korea has bottomed out: last year saw a significant increase in births. (Well, may have bottomed out, since one year isn't really a trend.)

I can't get too worked up over Korea being 10% non-Korean Asian in twenty years. Germany is less than 90% German, Russia is less than 90% Russian, and France is much less than 90% French, but I think these countries all have pretty strong senses of national identity.

Beyond Anon said...

PRCalDude said:

You haven't read Frost's posts on all the sub-Saharan Africans moving to China and multiplying in droves.

Maybe the US really is the Great Satan.


However, the PRC is not importing them and does not need them, they are coming of their own accord. I also know that the Chinese don't like to interbreed with them.

Grey said...

"Why is this shift to globalism stronger in South Korea than in other East Asian countries? The likeliest answer is the country’s special relationship with the United States."

Elite emulation of a hostile elite.

Tod said...

Replacement Migration’, or why everyone’s going to have to live in Korea: A Fable for Our Times from the United Nations the author is Professor in Demography at Oxford University.

"Some of the ‘necessary’ increases are merely large, others gigantic. To keep population constant to 2050 the European Union (population 377 million) is told that it will ‘need’ almost l million additional immigrants per year; 47 million by 2050. To maintain the working-age population will require 1.4 million per year, or 80 million by 2050. To keep the support ratio constant will require 1.3 million immigrants per year (almost half the population of Canada) or 701 million by 2050, by which time 75% of the EU population would be of post-1995 immigrant descent. For South Korea, the most exciting example, 94 million immigrants per year would be needed, almost twice its current population, adding up to 5.1 billion by 2050 (that is, 5/6ths of today’s world population). Even the United Nations decided that might be ‘extreme’."

PRCalDude said...

However, the PRC is not importing them and does not need them, they are coming of their own accord.

How are 70 IQ peoples making it past Chinese immigration authorities without help? How are they finding work, or are there massive welfare handouts in China like here?

I also know that the Chinese don't like to interbreed with them.

Does it matter? Californians mostly didn't breed with the Mexicans, yet we still went the way of the Rhodesian. The birthrate differential is ultimately what matters. Chinese people aren't having any children and SSAs still are, and now they're having them in China.

Grey said...

Completely off-topic but possibly related to some of your research.

Reading around the financial crisis i keep coming across commenst relating to the attractiveness of Christine Lagarde at the IMF which seems unusual given the grey hair

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/8788223/Christine-Lagarde-IMF-may-need-billions-in-extra-funding.html

However it made me wonder if very white hair could trick the brain and partly mimic the effect of blonde hair simply because of the lightness?

Peter Frost said...

Pawikirogii,

What is happening is not so much intermixture as the replacement of one population by another.

Kiwiguy,

The sources of immigration to South Korea are a moving target. At present, the main ones are Southeast Asia and South Asia. In another ten years, subSaharan Africa may be a major source.

It's difficult to say what will be lost irretrievably. There are a large number of mental traits with moderate to high heritabilities: IQ, time orientation, personality factors, pleasure deferment, etc. How much do these traits differ between Koreans and other human populations?

We don't fully know, and that's the tragedy. Irreversible decisions are being made with no real understanding of the long-term consequences. It's like hiring a high-school dropout to do brain surgery.

Mark,

That upward trend may be due to the growing immigrant population. In some rural areas of South Korea, almost half of the births are to foreign-born mothers.

In twenty years, South Korea will probably be much more than 10% non-Korean. The country is a demographic tinderbox because of its very low fertility. Things could change very quickly.

PRCalDude,

Officially, they come as traders on limited term visas. Then they stay.

Anonymous said...

The likeliest answer is the country’s special relationship with the United States.

South Korea also has one of the world's highest suicide rates and the highest among the OECD countries:

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-south-korea-suicide-20110909,0,6194913.story

I wonder if they're suffering a kind of parasitic castration as a result of their "special relationship with the US". The "special relationship" may be the conduit through which certain genes are applying "action at a distance" and causing the Koreans to express virulent parasite extended phenotypes.

Ben10 said...

"Irreversible decisions are being made with no real understanding of the long-term consequences. It's like hiring a high-school dropout to do brain surgery."

What's so funny with that? America is now hiring middle-school dropout to do brain surgery.

renatolfrocha said...

For how long can it be susteined in the west or even Africa if fertility keeps falling all over the world, even in Sub-saharan Africa?

hailtoyou said...

"In twenty years, South Korea will probably be much more than 10% non-Korean." --Peter Frost

It is fallacious to define 'Korean' as "having only 16 great-great grandparents born on the soil of the Korean Peninsula", as you seem to be doing, implicitly.

There is range of visual looks in South Korea, as it is, often overlapping with other Asian nations, including to an extent with SE-Asia. Adding in some Chinese, Vietnamese, etc. will not swamp the boat.

It's like worrying that Norway will "abolish itself" through Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, etc. immigration.

hailtoyou said...

By the way, I've heard that -- counting legal and illegal -- there are 1 million Chinese in South Korea alone.

And they are all-but a totally-invisible minority. As much as some would claim otherwise, they really can't tell the difference so well.

Anonymous said...

It depends on genetic distance, doesn't it?

What's the genetic distance between Koreans and these groups? Is it like intra-Northern European distance, or is it like Northern vs. Southern European distance, or like European Caucasian vs. non-European Caucasian distance? If it's like the latter two it would be a significant change, I would think.

Beyond Anon said...

hailtoyou said...

By the way, I've heard that -- counting legal and illegal -- there are 1 million Chinese in South Korea alone.

And they are all-but a totally-invisible minority. As much as some would claim otherwise, they really can't tell the difference so well.


In the same way that the Chinese can pass for Thais or Koreans, the Jews can pass for white.

Peter Frost said...

renatolfrocha,

Fertility rates are falling very slowly in Subsaharan Africa. African family structure, notably the relatively low level of child care provided by immediate parents, makes fertility decline less likely.

Hail to you,

When I say that South Korea will be "much more than 10% non-Korean" in twenty years, I'm not including people who are half-Korean. The population projections cited in my post didn't include offspring of international marriages.

It's also wrong to assume that all Asians are more or less the same. There are differences. Again, we are only starting to understand how much human populations differ from each other. The subject has long been taboo.

Normally, when we don't fully understand the consequences of a certain line of action, the best advice is to "go slow" or even wait until we know more.

Kiwiguy said...

Denmarks seems to have adopted relatively restrictive immigration policies although I understand the left wing parties were successful at their recent elections. The treatment of Helmuth Nyborg is interesting, note how one sided this article is. I've added some comments as M Schwartz. Nyborg accused of dishonesty

Tod said...

"The business community has emancipated itself from the nation state"

I see things slightly differently, South Korea is unique because of the threat which it faces from North Korea; the leadership of South Korea believe that North Korea might attack them.

Hence the Korean leadership (ie the Korean state) has been forced to abandon the concept of the Korean nation by a falling birthrate. States are machines for surviving in a anarchic world and that is the most likely motive for them taking drastic action which increases their military potential. It doesn't hurt that it is in accordance with US thinking on economic and egalitarian principles, but I don't think those things would be enough by themselves in Korea.

Look at France, which has a long history of being the country where political tendencies and social trends first arise. It faced a threat from Germany. Between 1800 and 1900 the population of France increased from 25 million to 41 million. In the same period Germany's population went from 25 million to 56 million.

I think the fall in relative power was what was behind the French state allowing massive immigration into France. I'll admit it's difficult to separate out the causative factors in the French case.

Alain DeBenoist: "France, as we know, starting with the 19th century, massively reached out to foreign immigrants. The immigrating population was already 800,000 in 1876, only to reach 1.2 million in 1911. French industry was the prime center of attraction for Italian and Belgian immigrants, followed by Polish, Spanish and Portuguese immigrants. {..] In 1931 there were 2.7 million foreigners in France, that is, 6.6 % of the total population. At that time France displayed the highest level of immigration in the world (515 persons on 100,000 inhabitants)"

I think the motive was fear that the low birthrate would make them vulnerable to attack. And indeed in 1940 Germany outnumbered the French in the call up class of 19 and 20 year olds by almost 2 to 1.

So the Korean elite don't have much choice, immigration or resign themselves to a loss of power relative to the North Koreans thereby greatly increasing the likelihood of a N. Korean attack.

.

Anonymous said...

States are machines for surviving

Survival machines for whose genes?

"An animal's behaviour tends to maximize the survival of the genes "for" that behaviour, whether or not those genes happen to be in the body of the particular animal performing it."

bgc said...

Of course nobody actually *wants* to do "Dirty, Dangerous, and Difficult" jobs - people do such jobs for money; and such jobs attract a wage premium for this reason.

(See Why Men Earn More - by Warren Farrell for numerous examples - e.g. prison guards, lumberjacks, oil rig workers - all paid more than the workers skill level would suggest. Plus jobs with unsocial hours - e.g. people who work eight hours more than the national weekly average earn about double the average salary.)

To say that immigrants do the jobs that natives 'do not want' to do *really* means that immigrants will do the jobs for *less money* than will natives - and that is all that the phrase means.

Tod said...

JimBo, In the cases of the state abandoning the nation it's survival of the state that is at issue. It's called realism and it is applicable to any situation where there is no higher authority In his 'The Tragedy of Great Power Politics', Professor Mearsheimer cites 'The Code of the Street' as an example of realism.

"Many of the forms that dissing can take might seem petty to middle-class people (maintaining eye contact for too long, for example), but to those invested in the street code, these actions become serious indications of the other person's intentions. Consequently, such people become very sensitive to advances and slights, which could well serve as warnings of imminent physical confrontation."
So appearing weak will make it likely that you will be attacked. Here is another example of realism from a guide to surviving in prison.
"9. Don’t become obese or you’ll be perceived as unhealthy and weak, to be preyed upon. In prison, more people work out than in any other society.

10. Learn prison slang. Beware of becoming a "torpedo" – usually a youngster manipulated to smash (beat up) someone so that the manipulator doesn’t get his hands dirty. Beware of someone doing an "okey-doke" on you – for example, an inmate lying to you about being called a punk, so that you will fight his enemy. Beware of becoming a "trick-bag" – being manipulated into saying something offensive to another, not realising that you were being insulting."


So even convicts are are quite aware of the danger of being manipulated into doing something against their own interests.

Mark said...

"That upward trend may be due to the growing immigrant population. In some rural areas of South Korea, almost half of the births are to foreign-born mothers."

You'd think this would be an easy thing to find out, but apparently the government statistical agency of Korea doesn't collect data on births to foreign-born mothers. Or at least, they don't make those statistics available on their english homepage.

Peter Frost said...

Tod,

I really don't think South Korea's leaders care much about their country's long-term future.

In Canada, when I talk with senior managers or businessmen of a certain age, I often hear them mention the "30 year rule." If a project won't pay off in thirty years, it's not worth investing in. You won't be around.

I suspect that South Korea's business elite likewise think in similar terms. And why not? They've borrowed everything else from us.

Ànyway, why should I care about what future generations will inherit if I have no special link with them? They're not my heirs.

People are selfish, and genetic selfishness is the main way whereby people have been motivated to work for the long-term interest (i.e., after they're dead and gone).

Anonymous said...

I don't think it's due to their military strategizing.

They don't really have much of a military strategy or policy independent of the US military.

In the late 70s they tried to make their military more independent of the US and tried to pursue a nuke program, but they were pressured and stopped by the US:

http://www.globalasia.org/V6N3_Fall_2011/Peter_Hayes&Chung-in_Moon.html?PHPSESSID=0e8f5dac3a4a9ca3ae670d05472182eb

Tod said...

I'll admit encouraging immigration is a long term strategy for increasing potential power (ie the size of the economy and population) and maybe not a motive.

A rethink: You're basically right but the military angle is important for why the Koreans pay so much attention to America. The special situation that South Korea is in (which you yourself have adumbrated) makes it likely that the correlation of forces in Korea has something to do with it. Else how explain why S. Korea and not Japan ?

The South requires the continued military support of the US to minimize the chance of a North Korean attack. The South Korean leadership are no doubt extremely concerned to have that continued military support made clear to the North Koreans at all times. Many people think that "Acheson's speech on January 12, 1950, before the National Press Club not mentioning the Korea Peninsula as part of the all-important "defense perimeter" of the United States made Pyongyang read the runes as very favourable for an invasion of the South.

So the South Koreans are no doubt willing to do whatever it takes to keep the United States happy. If the United States ambassador to South Korea was to openly make statements like the US ambassador to Finland did recently - "U.S. ambassador Bruce Oreck warns Finland of turning inwards [...] 'It is understandable, but one can not return to the past. Isolation from the rest of the world and the closure of borders would be a bad thing to Finland as well as for the world at large', Oreck said.[...]
According to Oreck, turning inward would hinder the spreading of on new ideas to Finland, and hinder trade."


That might well be seen in the North as a sign that the South's alliance with America is weakening and there is no telling what actions Pyongyang could take as a result.

So yes it is all down to the American influence.

William H James said...

Unification is the obvious solution to low birth rate. Improving the standard of living of the north koreans will generate a lot more korean children.

Anonymous said...

There have also been some Western activists and groups in Korea trying to liberalize it:

http://populargusts.blogspot.com/2011/10/constitutional-court-rules-on-vandom.html

The "Wagner" referenced in Peter Frost's original post above is an American law professor in Korea who has been promoting the liberalization of citizenship and immigration laws, including HIV testing of foreigners, restrictions on HIV positive foreigners from entering or immigrating, etc.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, South Korea is at least 1/3rd Christian now, it is a very worrying sign of unkoreanization. At the same time, Japan remains massively buddhist/shinto.

Gorbachev said...

Korea i 2/6 Christian and wholly Ameri-centric.

if there's a society on Earth more Americanized (Canada doesn't count, neither the UK, Australia or NZ - they all come from the same source anyway and they should be very similar), then I don't know of it.

Culturally, Korea is an American colony. Ideologically, it's almost wholly North America. its entire education system is fuelled by American identity.

it's just how it is.