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South Korea: Municipalities Intensify Support for Multicultural Families

      In recent years, internationally-married couples are on the sharp increase in South Korea. As of the end of the year 2005, Seoul has the largest number of such couples: 14,808 cases. The proportion of such marriages to the total cases of marriages is the highest in Jeollanam-do, located in the southwest, where nearly twenty percent of marriages are of an international nature. In general, marriages with women from other Asian countries are more likely to happen in underpopulated rural and coastal areas. It has been pointed out that many wives and children in such "multicultural families" are in distress. While civil society organizations have already provided counseling and other forms of support to them in different areas, various municipalities are intensifying support to multicultural families.
      One example is the Chungcheongnam-do provincial government, which has decided to set up two Support Centers for Immigrant Families in the fiscal year 2006, initiating comprehensive support programs to help immigrant families to integrate into communities in a safe environment, including assistance in learning the Korean language and culture as well as counseling for education of children and family concerns. In Chungcheongnam-do, there are 1,514 women who are married to local men as of the end of the year 2005: 589 Chinese, 347 Vietnamese, 255 Filipino and 144 Japanese. Nearly seventy percent of them reside in rural and coastal villages.
      On 13 April, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea announced its priority issues for surveys and researches on human rights conditions for the year 2006. The survey and research on human rights conditions of children of "immigrant families" was identified as such. It is an urgent challenge for South Korea, as is the case for Japan, to create an inclusive society for people with a diversity of cultures.

· Press release by the authorities in the Chungcheongnam-do provincial government(Korean)
· The National Human Rights Commission of Korea(Korean)