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Korean adults less accepting of multiculturalism: survey

April 18, 2019 - 17:51 By Park Ju-young
The level of acceptance toward immigrants among Korean adults has decreased slightly compared with 2015, although the reverse is true for middle and high school students, a government survey showed Thursday.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Welfare on Thursday released the results of research on acceptance of multiculturalism conducted by the Korean Women’s Development Institute from April 2018 to March 2019.

The research is conducted every three years as part of the government’s efforts to come up with effective policies. The latest survey involved 4,000 adults between 19 and 74 years old, as well as 4,225 students attending middle schools and high schools nationwide.

Acceptance of other cultures was measured by looking at eight categories, including prejudice toward immigrants, willingness to mingle with immigrants and discrimination based on country of origin.


The survey showed that students are more accepting of multiculturalism, with an average score of 71.22 points out of 100 as compared with adults with 52.8 points. In 2015, the corresponding figures were 67.63 for students and 53.96 for adults.

Among the eight categories, the widest gap between students and adults was seen in their “willingness to mingle with immigrants,” with students and adults recording 78.49 and 42.48 points, respectively.

When asked about their relationships with immigrants, the level of acceptance of other cultures among adults who answered that they had immigrant family members, relatives, friends or neighbors decreased from 41.2 percent in 2015 to 32.4 percent. Students who answered yes to the same question increased in proportion to the total, from 34.7 percent to 41.1 percent.

Among respondents with immigrant colleagues or friends, the percentage of adults who answered that they had experienced conflicts or quarreled with immigrants decreased significantly, from 7 percent in 2015 to 1.6 percent in 2018, while students who answered the same way increased in proportion to the total from 5.5 percent in 2015 to 8.8 percent in 2018.

The proportion of students who have had conflicts or quarrels with immigrants seems to have increased, as students tend to have more chances to socialize with immigrants compared with adults, the Gender Ministry said.

The research also showed that the percentage of students who attended educational sessions on multiculturalism in the past year increased from 25.7 percent to 32.4 percent, but the percentage of adults who had done so decreased from 5.5 percent to 4.6 percent.

Kim Yui-sun from the Korean Women’s Development Institute said students have more opportunities to attend such sessions compared with adults, as many schools and school textbooks provide information on multiculturalism, while adults rarely have similar opportunities.

The acceptance level of multiculturalism was higher among people who took educational sessions compared with those who did not.

Meanwhile, fewer adults expressed a positive view of ethnic homogeneity. The percentage of respondents who answered that “accepting people of many different races would harm the country’s solidarity” dropped from 37.7 percent in 2015 to 34.9 percent in 2018. The percentage who answered that “maintaining a single-race nation is something to be proud of” decreased from 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent.

“Students were revealed to have a relatively higher level of multicultural acceptance compared with adults, as they have more opportunities to interact with other students from various backgrounds in an environment where the increase of immigrants has become an everyday occurrence,” Kim said.

Gender Equality and Family Minister Jin Sun-mee said the ministry would reflect the results of the survey in government policy and would make efforts to increase public acceptance of multiculturalism.

By Park Ju-young (