“Philippines Unsafe For Koreans” was a recent headline in the Korean
Times. The story went on to point out that 12 Koreans have been
murdered in the Philippines this year. It said the Koreans love to go
to the Philipppines to retire, to go to “school,” although one wonders
which subject is favored most among Korean high schol and university
students ostensibly learning English and other academic areas, to pay for “romance,” and to meet, for the first time, a new wife purchased on the internet.
Isn’t it reasonable to guess that Koreans in the Philippines also 1)
find “romance” of the non-paid variety in Manila, or Cebu or Bohol, and having found such
romance, also father children? Isn’t it possbile that some visitors
actually pay for romance? Isn’t it possbile that the local reaction
to this wave of love is not so positive?
It’s also an unproven rumor that rival Korean gangs hire Filipinos to create crimes and that the implication that some of these deaths may be deaths-by-hired-hands is another one of those hidden rumors that rarely come out, but there they were in the Korean Times. If this is true then the true story behind the murders may have nothing to do with one culture not liking another. It may simply be another case of one culture hiring another. In general the place that has the more money hires people form the countries that have less for the simple reason of saving money. (See Globalization and Free Trade Blogs, right here, and elsewhere).
But before we suggest anything without digging to find the facts,
let’s look at how Pinoy workers and wives fare in Korea. Here I know
a lot of facts, as the cultural similarities between the Philippines
and the USA are closer than Korea and the USA after working hours, and I’ve made a lot of friends here that are fun-loving Pinoy.
No names of course, but each and every one of these stories, except
the imported wife that is dead, came from the people themselves.
These stories are ALL about Filipinos’ experiences in Korea. First, why won’t Korean women marry men of lessser means, even if they come from lesser means? How many Korean women must, thusly, end up unmarried due to pickiness?
Story 1) a woman is stabbed to death 60+ times. Her baby receives 30
stab wounds and also dies. This was in Daecheon. The police never
suspected the Korean husband but blamed the murders on a “passing
drug addict.” The problem with this story, for me, is that there are
not many transcient drug addicts in Korea, no less Daecheon, and that
drug addicts need what? MONEY. So, there is a chance that if they
can’t rob or steal money from a potential victim, they will move on
and steal money from someone else. There is also a chance a drug
addict could kill someone for money. But 90 stab wounds? Even an
amateur detective might make a case that only someone ENRAGED at the
victims could stab them that many times.
Sheer speculation: but what if the Pinay wife had a hard time
learning Korean? What if she was talking to the child in Takalog all
the time? Or if she had a hard time with her husband’s mother?
The myth is that wives from China, Vietnam or the Philipines, who are
in Korea mostly to make a better life for their children, marry
farmers. I personally know a lady from China married to an artist, a PInay
lady married to a banker (ok he’s older) and a factory working mom who
married a 40+ year-old who had never worked a day in his life.
Story 2) A labor leader among Pinay factory working men in
Joellanamdo made everyone aware of a new rule effecting factory
workers form overseas. Previously the governments of the Philippines
and Korea had an agreement that a worker’s contribution into the pension system could be taken as a lump sum once the workers time (often limited to five years) was up in Korea. This can be an awful lot of money in Philippine terms, and helped workers start profitable businesses once they returned home. But this was taken away, and the money earned by workers now gets sent to the famously coirruipt Philippine government and they “promise” to pay to the workers when they turn 65. This small change hurt those who work theDDD jobs that Koreans don’t want to do. Many were counting on that
money. Many have been injured or killed working such jobs…but that
doesn’t always make the news in Korea.
So we have two stories about how Filipinos are treated in Korea. But
we should have more to get a better picture. I mean maybe the stories
from Korea have skewed Filipino’s opinions about Koreans. Koreans, in
my six year experience have been welcoming, non-judgmental, fun-loving
and hard working. But I am a professor, so maybe this has some
advantage the wives and workers from outside Korea who are not
educators don’t have.
Story 3) A Pinay wife has two children with a man who lives at home,
and due to a disease, does not work. He has found work since, perhaps
inspired by his wife. But before she was allowed to work outside the
house (it took years for the husband’s family to relaize her
university degree meant she could work at a Hagwan) she was not
allowed to leave the house even one step into fresh air except to go
grocery shopping with her mother in law. She was geographically
enslaved, worked hard at the family’s business, and raised two
children fully in Korean, as expected. She was also yelled at, had
furniture broken over her head and back, had a husband addicted to PC Games, and inattentive to his own children, and, and, and… she finally ended up in 60-70 hour factory work, on top of 100% of the work at home, while the
husband, who has had jobs on and off, remains aloof.
Story 4) A Pinay woman has three children with her Korean husband and
is beaten nearly to death. She never explained why, but the
photographs from the hospital were so freightening that her husband
never showed up in court for the divorce proceedings. But he was
never imprisoned either.
Story 5) A very young Pinay lady marries a man twice her age, but close to three times her age. They have two children. He is rich, and living in Seoul. Well, kind of living in Seoul. After a few years he disappears, and visits his own house about one or two days a month. Otherwise the mom has an allowance, and has her children, and, well, that’s one of the BEST stories of multi-cultural arranged, or purchased marriages I can find, when the wives are purchased from overseas.
We have to look closely at just how similar these cases are to
slavery. Let’s face it, then men PAID for these baby-producing wives,
and as such, might easily see them as property. And when property is
not living up to expectatoins, property could be mistrteated (note the
movie of the year “12 Years a Slave” for more examples).
Of course, I am repulsed by the agencies that display women on the
internet that can be bought as wives. But this is a result of a world
economy so out-of-kilter that extreme wealth and poverty rarely live
side-by-side anymore. A world in which, in Europe the rich are
downtown and the poor in the suburbs, and in the USA, the poor are
downtown and the rich are in the suburbs, and in Asia, the
mega-rich build towering condo buildings heading out Airport Road in
Beijing, while the poor huddle in Hwa Wei and sell antiques, but still
have midnight dances on the streets. I mean waltzes and all ages.
The financially disadvantaged DO KNOW HOW TO HAVE FUN, because they’ve
earned it, but when the rich take advantage of the poor, not just in
factories, but as wives…not just with farm subsidies that make it
impossible for South America or Africa to compete with agricultural
products, not just by having the IMF sink their economies to make the
world safe for American industrialists (by creating 50 to 70%
unemployment, and then moving factories in, and then passing free
trade agreements so the products are not taxed as they flow to
countries that can afford them, even with their 5000% mark-ups from
cost — see Nike sneakers built in Indonesia, please go see that in
process Michael Jordan as you promised you would for years). Yes go
Michael “$40 million a year in advertising endorsements” Jordan, or
not, just play golf and smile.
So I’m not blaming ANYONE for trying to make a better life for their
children, but when Koreans get murdered in the Pihlippines, we should
know what might be motivating such attacks, not just report about the
attacks to warn Koreans. Heck, many will retire, vacation and “find
romance” in the Philipines, due to how far the Won goes there, or Thailand and anywhere else in the world where impoverished victims of globalization turn to selling themselves. Oh it happens everywhere. Not to pick on Asia, the USA and Europe are replete with drug addicts, many of whom started in on drugs when no one would hire them.
My hometown, Gwangju, is literally chock full of romance come spring
time. Most is the normal boy-meets girl, they fall in love, they start
a relationship, and after graduating and starting careers, they get
The city is preparing for the Univisiade in which many university
students will come to Gwangju to participate in sports. It’s going to
be great. These visitors are not at all having to submit to harsh
jobs or harsh treatment to experience a great time in Gwangju.
But before we welcome them (are there enough rooms in town for all of
them to stay?) we should stop and welcome the many foreigners who are
already here. More opportunities for Koreans to befriend
Internaotinal residents should be set up. Once a year, in October,
there is an “International Day” but not enough Koreans build
friendships off of that day.
Since, reportedly, about 20% of all marriages in Korea in 2013 were
multi-cultural, it is high time more Koreans actually spend their free
time having fun and socializing with international residents. Since
Korea is becoming more and more muilti-cultural, it makes sense that
if Koreans are friends with their foreign neighbors, the society will
function better, and with less crime. If a Pinay or Vietnamese or
Chinese wife and her husband have a lot of Korean friends, then the
chances for abuse go down. Proof is in The Netherlands, which has a significant Morrocan populaiotn that has nevcer been assimilated. ANd has been causing problems, like the murder of Van Gogh’s Grand nephew, for decades now.
The Gwangju International Center offers all types of events, including
a Saturday talk at 3pm, a book Club, a Vietnamese class, Korean
language classes, and art gallery, a library and many chances for
Koreans to get to know how nice their ex-patriot neighbors are. Hope
to see you there soon. Saturday at 3pm is the best time for sure.
Many multicultural marriages happen when foreign educators marry Korean wives or husbands. These are wholly different, far less often end in divorce, and rarely have any abuse involved. This might be a foreign lady and Korean man (15%-20%) or a foreign man and a Korean lady. At least two of these around Gwangju found the couple moving to the westerners home country. In other cases, the westerner is able to enjoy the good life i Gwangju due to excellent pay and low rent. These couples may live in Gwangju the rest of their lives, and have famously formed an “F-1 Visa Club” that helps folks find extra work, has picnics and enjoys free time as “extended family time.”