Do I have to speak only Korean in Korea?
Obijo (2nd year marriage immigrant woman)
Good morning? I am from Qingdao, China. It has been about two years since I came to Korea. In 2005, I met my husband, who was in China for work at the time, and we got married in 2008. When I first came to Korea two years ago, there were a lot of difficulties because it didn’t make sense to me, the prices were high, it was difficult to find the way, and the food wasn’t right. So, first of all, I studied Korean and writing diligently. I am still learning.
I am currently receiving instructor training at the Korea Migrant Workers Human Rights Center to become a multicultural instructor in China. While receiving education, I have two thoughts: the desire to go to school and meet the children and whether or not I can do well. However, I think it will be an opportunity for me to learn together as I share my experiences as a migrant with my children and have time to think about it and also introduce Chinese culture.
I am writing this because I want to share with you what I experienced a while ago. Not long ago, I went to a company that assembles mobile phones, and I only worked for a few days before quitting. Because of the words of a certain man. One day, while having lunch at lunchtime, I was talking in Chinese with a Chinese person at the company, when suddenly the uncle looked up with a firm expression and said, “This is Korean land. Speak Korean!” I said it as if I was commanding it. I’ve been ignored in Korea before, but this time I was really surprised and angry when I heard that you shouldn’t speak Chinese with Chinese people. So I said, “Do you speak Chinese when you go to China? If you go to France, do you speak French? What’s wrong with Chinese people speaking Chinese with each other?” The man said nothing.
I talked about this upset feeling in front of me, but my feelings did not go away for a while. ‘Why don’t Koreans only think about what is valuable to them and protect what other people have? Have I ever thought that way?’ I thought about it. And again, I thought to myself, ‘If Americans speak English with each other, can they scold me the same way you did to me?’ It’s frustrating why people keep telling us to work hard on cultural differences. If we worked together, we would overcome it much faster.
What did you guys think of my experiences? Since this is Korean territory, do foreigners have to speak only Korean? It’s not. It really hurts and upsets me when I say this to migrants who are struggling to adjust to Korea after leaving their hometown. If you are sick, you can go to the hospital and get it fixed. But if you’re sick, you can’t get treatment at the hospital. There are migrants who are married like me, but there are also many migrant workers in Korea who work in 3D industries that Koreans hate to work, right? It also made me think that these people might have a harder time than me.
I hope that everyone who reads this article will be as warm as a spring day. Now, we are not only Korean citizens, but we are also global citizens. Therefore, I hope that we will also have the global citizenship necessary to live together in peace.