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Anti-multiculturalism and the future direction of multicultural education in South Korea

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In 2006, the government of The Republic of Korea set out its plan to create a multicultural society in response to the low fertility and demographic changes. The context for the policy was a need to import labor for a rapidly expanding economy but the historical context was one in which cultural homogenization was a feature of the local political and social landscape. The new policy only challenged this historical construction in as much as it sought to integrate and assimilate immigrants into South Korean society. Nevertheless, even with such limited objectives, it has faced many problems. The first problem was that the policy was not accompanied by any anti-discrimination laws so discrimination against migrants remains legal and examples are provided throughout the paper. It also seems that different immigrant groups face different levels of discrimination with white immigrants being more acceptable to locals than people of color. Recently, there have been examples of immigrants becoming politicians and reaching the top of professions such as modeling. Yet, even these successes are still questioned by some, especially a growing anti-multicultural movement that is similar to many populist groups emerging in Europe. Multicultural education is limited in its objectives and by a lack of training for teachers. The paper concludes with a number of recommendations for making the current situation more consistent with efforts to recognize Korea’s new multiculturalism.

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Correspondence to Jinhee Kim.

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Kim, J., Jeon, H. Anti-multiculturalism and the future direction of multicultural education in South Korea. Curric Perspect 37, 181–189 (2017).

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