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  5. 2008 Study Tour to South Korea

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FOCUS September 2008 Volume 53

2008 Study Tour to South Korea

Nobuki Fujimoto*

* Nobuki Fujimoto is a staff of HURIGHTS OSAKA.

HURIGHTS OSAKA organized a study tour to South Korea from 19 to 24 August 2008 to learn about the human rights situation of migrant women in that country and the initiatives of non- governmental organizations (NGOs) toward establishing multicultural co-existence in Korean society. The first HURIGHTS OSAKA study tour to South Korea was held in August 2007 with the same purpose, and included visits to government offices and NGOs in Seoul. For the 2008 study tour, the group visited two provinces and a city near Seoul.

As part of the tour program, the group participated in a symposium entitled "Asian Women and Family Change in the Era of Migration," organized by the Asian Center for Women's Study (Ewha Womans University) and in collaboration with HURIGHTS OSAKA and the Women's Study Center, Osaka Prefecture University.

Professor LEE Bae Yong, president of Ewha Womans University, gave the opening address at the symposium, while eight academics from Vietnam, the Philippines, China, Sri Lanka (all sending countries of migrant women), Korea and Japan (both receiving countries of migrant women) gave presentations on migrant women issues.

Ms. LEE Jae Kyung, Professor of Ewha Womans University and Ms. OISHI Nana, Associate Professor of International Christian University (Japan), gave the keynote addresses entitled "Love Goes to the Market?: The Meaning of Love and Intimacy in Migrant Marriage" and "Family Without Borders?: Asian Women in Migration and the Transformation of Family Lives" respectively.

The group went to a community in Ansan City, known as Borderless Village, which is considered to have the highest concentration of foreign migrants in South Korea. The group visited the Ansan Migrant Community Service Center, man- aged by the city government, and the Ansan Immigrant Center, a church-based NGO. The group learned from the two organizations about the involvement of local governments and many NGOs in the activities aimed at creating a society where ethnic and religious groups are able to live together in harmony.

The group also went to the provinces of Jeollanam-do and Jeollabuk-do to visit the Yeongkwang Women's Hot Line and Kunsan Women's Hot Line respectively, two of the twenty-six branches of Korea Women's Hot Line (KWHL). KWHL, as a women's rights activist group, tries to protect women from all kinds of violence, advance the women's social position as well as establish gender equality in the spheres of family, work, and society. Its program includes support for married migrant women and victims of domestic violence.

The staff members of the Kunsan Women's Hot Line brought the group to the ruins of former brothels where fires broke out in 2000 and 2002. The two fires killed nineteen women who were confined and forced to engage in prostitution by the brothel owners. The incidents ignited the anger of the women's groups and led to a lobby movement for the enactment of laws on sex trade. In 2004, the lobby led to the enactment of the Act on the Punishment for Intermediation in Sex Trade and Associated Acts, and the Act on the Prevention of Sex Trade and Protection of Victims Thereof.

For further information, please contact: HURIGHTS OSAKA, PiaNPO, 3F, 2-8-24 Chikko Minato-ku, Osaka 552-0021 Japan; ph (816) 6577-35-78; fax (816) 6577-35-83; e-mail:webmail [a];