Interethnic Marriage - History of Ethnoracial Admixture and Attitudes Towards Miscegenation - Asia - Korea

Korea

Inter-ethnic marriage in Korea dates back to the arrival of Muslims in Korea during the Middle Ages, when Persian and Turkic navigators, traders and slaves settled in Korea and married local Korean people. Some assimilation into Buddhism and Shamanism eventually took place, owing to Korea's geographical isolation from the Muslim world.

There are several Korean clans that are descended from such intermarriages. For example, the Deoksu Jang clan, claiming some 30,000 Korean members, view Jang Sunnyong, a Central Asian who married a Korean female, as their ancestor. Another clan, Gyeongju Seol, claiming at least 2,000 members in Korea, view a Central Asian (probably an Uyghur) named Seol Son as their ancestor.

There are even cases of Korean kings marrying princesses from abroad. For example, the Korean text Samguk Yusa about the Gaya kingdom (it was absorbed by the kingdom of Silla later), indicate that in 48 AD, King Kim Suro of Gaya (the progenitor of the Gimhae Kim clan) took a princess (Princess Heo) from the "Ayuta nation" (which is the Korean name for the city of Ayodhya in North India) as his bride and queen. Princess Heo belonged to the Mishra royal family of Ayodhya. According to the Samguk Yusa, the princess had a dream about a heavenly fair handsome king from a far away land who was awaiting heaven's anointed ride. After Princess Heo had the dream, she asked her parents, the king and queen of Ayodhya, for permission to set out and seek the foreign prince, which the king and queen urged with the belief that god orchestrated the whole fate. That king was no other than King Kim Suro of the Korean Gaya kingdom.

6,423 Korean women married US military personnel as war brides during and immediately after the Korean War. The average number of Korean women marrying US military personnel each year was about 1,500 per year in the 1960s and 2,300 per year in the 1970s. Since the beginning of the Korean War in 1950, nearly 100,000 Korean women have immigrated to the United States as the wives of American soldiers. Based on extensive oral interviews and archival research, Beyond the Shadow of the Camptowns tells the stories of these women, from their presumed association with U.S. military camptowns and prostitution to their struggles within the intercultural families they create in the United States.

International marriages now make up 13% of all marriages in South Korea. Most of these marriages are unions between a Korean male and a foreign female usually from China, Japan, Vietnam, the Philippines, United States, Mongolia, Thailand, and Russia. On the other hand, Korean females have married foreign males from Japan, China, the United States, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Philippines, and Nepal. Between 1990 and 2005, there have been 159,942 Korean males and 80,813 Korean females married to foreigners.

South Korea is among the world's most ethnically homogeneous nations. Koreans have traditionally valued an unmixed blood as the most important feature of Korean identity. The term "Kosian", referring to someone who has a Korean father and a non-Korean mother, is considered offensive by some who prefer to identify themselves or their children as Korean. Moreover, the Korean office of Amnesty International has claimed that the word "Kosian" represents racial discrimination. Kosian children, like those of other mixed-race backgrounds in Korea, often face discrimination. There are an estimated 35,000 mixed-raced South Koreans, most of them half Caucasian, according to the Pearl Buck Foundation. Discrimination is far worse against those who have African American fathers.

Read more about this topic:  Interethnic Marriage, History of Ethnoracial Admixture and Attitudes Towards Miscegenation, Asia

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