Biracial Children Accepted, Shunned by Classmates

January 26th, 2009 · Education and ESL, Foreigners, Surveys and Studies · 10 comments

A recent survey of Korean students to find out whether they accept their peers with a foreign parent found a mixed bag of results: few would refuse to entertain the possibility of being friends with them, and apparently none would outright refuse to see them as Koreans, but many still have trouble feeling close to them overall.

A study has found that five in ten elementary and middle school students think they can be friends with the children of multicultural families.

That finding is from a five-month survey of 1,725 elementary and middle school students in 23 schools in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do conducted by a governmental organization for teenagers (청소년희망재단) at the request of the Ministry of Health and Welfare (보건복지가족부). The students were asked about their feelings on their multicultural peers.

According to the study, 52.9% answered they could be friends with children from multicultural families.

9.3% said they could never be friends with such a child, and 37.7% were uncertain.

Of the reasons given for being unable to be friends, 40.4% answered “because of trouble communicating if they can’t speak Korean,” 33.5% answered “because I would be exhausted by nervous feelings about it,” and 32.3% answered, “because they have different thoughts and lifestyles from me.”

Other reasons included “their appearance and skin color are different,” (24.2%), “I would be embarrassed to be their friend,” (15.5%), and “I would worry about being ostracized,” (16.8%).

41.4% answered “yes” when asked if they consider children from multicultural families to be Koreans, and the remaining 58.6% were uncertain whether they could be seen as Koreans or foreigners.

The study found that girls, middle school students, and those with direct experiences with “multiculturalism” were more likely than boys, elementary students, and those without such experience, to shun children from multicultural families.

Also, the study asked the students to rate their feelings of mental distance from such children on a 5-point scale. The average response was 3.03, indicating a slight aversion.

Asked to use the same scale to rate their aversion to marrying a multicultural child the average response was 3.7, and 2.69 when asked if they would eat together with them.

The Korea Herald’s report puts a somewhat less-positive spin on the survey.


  • When will Koreans admit they are anything but a pure race? How can you have a country as small as Korea geographically with such a diversity of looks? Some Koreans are very light skinned and tall. I have met others who you could put in the Philippines and not know the difference. Of course, they would never buy this. All of them are “100% Ko-ree-an!”

    Tex · January 26th, 2009 at 2:24 PM

  • I think it’s more the mindset that’s homogenous, Tex. They all tend to think the same way, and one of the things that they all seem to think is that they are racially homogenous. So it’s not so much a case of they won’t admit, but that they can’t admit!

    Scotty · January 26th, 2009 at 4:30 PM

  • ‘Biracial’ an absurd word for an absurd worldview

    jay · January 27th, 2009 at 12:44 AM

  • Koreans teach their kids racism in school (the whole pure blood bullshit) so what do people expect.

    JohnT · January 28th, 2009 at 1:49 AM

  • You can’t even be a hyphenated person in Korea. This of course excludes gyopos.

    JohnT · January 28th, 2009 at 1:54 AM

  • [quote]The study found that girls, middle school students, and those with direct experiences with “multiculturalism” were more likely than boys, elementary students, and those without such experience, to shun children from multicultural families.[/quote]

    Korean children with direct experience with multiculturalism are more likely to shun children from multicultural families?

    That’s counterintuitive.

    Ed Provencher · January 28th, 2009 at 10:36 AM

  • I think it’s fairly ethnocentric of us to assume that these attitudes and behaviors towards so called “biracial” children are completely unacceptable or highly unexpected. By western standards they are unjust and I do not agree with them, however, North America is culturally diverse and has been considered a melting pot for decades.
    When you take a look at Korea, one can see the social and industrial changes that have occurred since the end of Japanese Occupation and the Korean War. Nonetheless, it is evident that there is a huge cultural lag that has put Korea’s mindset far behind ours. We can’t impose our thoughts and opinions on this homogenous society. They need time for their ideologies to catch up with their extremely speedy industrialization. It is not wonder why their citizens’ views are inherently biased and discriminatory…they have never been exposed to the heterogeneity of diverse societies. Let’s get serious, our countries still discriminate based on race, gender and sexual orientation. We’re not entirely equal!
    We have no right to judge. I only hope to see the impartial influences of the West pervade the old ideologies of Korea.
    Korea’s ignorance is the product of truly not knowing, not being aware of, not being exposed to and not understanding other culture.
    Everytime I get frustrated with the day to day in Korea and judge something I just don’t understand I tend to feel a bit ignorant for not empathizing a little more and attempting to understand more clearly.

    Steph · February 2nd, 2009 at 10:27 PM

  • For the “marrying a Korean” people…

    Biracial Children Accepted, Shunned by Classmates.

    A survey shows that most Korean children are willing to be friends with mixed-race Koreans (provided they look and act like completely average Koreans) and are on the average only slightly averse to m…

    Clever Turtles · February 5th, 2009 at 4:27 PM

  • Leave Korea as it is.

    An Oriental · March 22nd, 2009 at 12:52 AM

  • I tend to agree with what STEPH said, although not whole-heartedly.

    I am a Korean-American so I can tell you that Korea is not the easiest country for biracial kids. As STEPH mentioned, it’s only been 50 or so years that Koreans had to deal with biracial kids and foreigners and so forth. Koreans are rather direct! They will say what they mean to your face. So sometimes it hurts.

    But I can tell you that in Korean, there is no KKK or tree hanging or Lynchings going on and they will never be. America and Europe on the other hand, had to deal with other races for hundreds years and what do we have in our society? Racial issues, everyday! I guarantee you that in very short time, Koreans will be embracing these biracial kids as their own. School text books have already removed the phrase about Koreans being homogeneous society. So Koreans are more progresive in many ways.

    Kkwon · July 17th, 2009 at 2:51 AM

Write a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.