Thinking About How to Communicate With Immigrants

Thinking about how to communicate with immigrants

Kim Ki-don (Director of Policy Bureau)

Migrant workers are language-poor people in Korean society.
It’s frustrating because I can’t find the language I want to speak to Koreans.
At the same time, Koreans are frustrated that they cannot convey various meanings when talking to migrant workers.
So, when speaking with migrant workers, Koreans choose a language that is easy and understandable. It’s probably natural. It’s the only way to communicate.

More than 90 years ago, Franz Fanon pathologically analyzed the mental world of the colonial people and talked about the ontological desire given by the preoccupation of language. It was an analysis of what it meant for the colonial people who spoke ‘Creole’, one of the colonial dialects of French, to reach a position where they could speak standard French, but there is one thing that remains in his mind among the passages he talks about. . When the French met and talked to colonists, most of them used expressions and slurs that were used for young children. Fanon, who majored in psychoanalysis, pointed out that this was an attitude of trying to gain conscious superiority by treating the people of the colonies as children. Then, he points to the embarrassment of the French, which sometimes appears when a dark-skinned colonist speaks perfect standard French.
Although it may not be the same as the situation in France at the time, Fanon’s point of view keeps coming to mind when we see how we treat migrants and migrant workers around us.
Isn’t it necessary to ask if the psychological mechanism of the French is also being reflected in our attitude toward migrant workers and migrants who are not accustomed to Korean?

Not long ago, we hosted a media class for migrant workers and had a screening session. Video media education was an attempt to create a channel for migrant workers to tell their stories. The migrant workers who participated in the education produced their stories in their native language, not Korean. It’s about telling the story of yourself and your community in the language of your home country.
The migrant worker directors who made the video made the video with both Koreans and migrant workers in mind who will see the video. The parts that Koreans could not understand were composed of a universally accessible story, which was translated into Korean and English after creating dialogue and narration in the appropriate native language. Then, through the editing process, unnecessary parts were cut out and released to the audience. In this process, we can guess that there will definitely be meanings that have been dropped. Also, we can guess by deferring the mechanisms and difficulties that migrant workers go through when they talk to Koreans.
However, the directors of migrant workers say that they want to communicate with Koreans and migrants by making videos even though they know the difficulties of making videos. Wasn’t the reason at least not because of the idea that telling their story to an objectified audience is partly freed from the prejudice that exists when they have a direct conversation?

As such, the process of communication with migrant workers is not as easy as one might think. And the difficulty is even more experienced by migrant workers. Interfering with communication is in large part due to prejudices and misunderstandings from each other, and communication that is not in the right way further cements those prejudices and misunderstandings. I hope that we can think together about the right way of communicating to share our hearts and minds.

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