Choi Hyun-mo (Director of the Center for Migrant Workers’ Human Rights in Korea)
Not long ago, I had dinner with the family of a migrant worker. The relationship with this family of twin sons and daughters comes when the father of the children, Mr. Islam, visited the Korean Migrant Workers’ Human Rights Center where I work a few years ago and asked for advice so that he could receive overdue pay at the place where he had worked. Since then, he has often met Mr. Islam and naturally became close friends with his family.
Muslims, who have been in Korea for 11 years, are more sincere and family-oriented than anyone else. Even at work, he is a great technician who can do the job of two or three Koreans. If Islam does not appear in factories, it plays such an important role that work is paralyzed, so the trust in Islam in the workplace is very high. A Muslim wife also worked in a small factory until a few years ago, but after the children enter school, she thinks that taking care of the children is a priority, so she quit her job and concentrated on housekeeping.
The two children, who are in third grade this year, are naughty and study very well. I’ve been learning Taekwondo since last year, and my skills are good enough to represent the gym I attend. These children, born in Korea, are natives who have never left Incheon, except to visit their parents’ homeland only once to visit their grandfathers and grandmothers.
During dinner, Islam and his wife were taking care of the children, so they could not even eat properly, and the children ran around the restaurant, playing pranks. Except for a slightly different skin color, they are a close-knit family that is no different from our normal family. The father is a good member of society, the mother is a frugal housewife, and the children are a happy family where they grow up healthy and smart. However, their happiness is a limited-time happiness that ends in February of next year. This is because Korean laws and systems only allow them to live in Korea until February of next year.
For the Muslim couple who devoted their youth to 11 years of living in Korea, working without a single word despite the difficult work that Koreans do not find, Korea is undeniably the second hometown. The humiliation and pain they have suffered from discrimination and jealousy in Korean society so far remain indelible scars in their hearts, but Korea is still a place where the lives of these couples remain intact. Needless to say, children born and raised in Korea. However, their hometown, Korea, does not allow them to live on a land they can comfortably lean on.
In Korea today, there are not a few families in the same situation as the Muslim family. According to last year’s statistics, about 20,000 children of migrant workers were living with their parents. These children were born with the label of illegal residence, and it is difficult to even attend school properly even when they reach school age. Until a year ago, the families of these migrant children were only treated as objects of crackdown and deportation by the government authorities. For this reason, it was not uncommon for children to be left unattended when their parents, migrant workers, were cracked down, and even small children were imprisoned in cold camps. The logic of discrimination and exclusion based on nationality contained in Korean laws and systems did not even care about the happiness of a healthy family and the future of innocent children.
As this situation became known and criticized by numerous domestic and international human rights organizations, the government reluctantly allowed the temporary stay of families with children attending elementary school until February 2008. In other words, only a few were given a period of preparation for departure for a certain period, so they were told to leave the country by then. There is still no consideration for the lives of migrant workers and their families.
The Muslim couple have a small dream. I want to raise my children properly by living in Korea until they grow up and become adults. It’s such a simple wish.
The 10th of next month is the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, when the United Nations declared equality and respect for human rights for all mankind. to be. Can’t Korea live with Mr. Islam’s family? It is sad to see the simple dream of migrant workers and their families living together because they are proud to say that they are the country that has appointed the UN secretary-general.