Sunday, June 9, 2013

Organizations to Support Mixed Race Koreans

Mixed race Koreans are a marginalized population.  Korean society has always been obsessed with the idea of racial purity.  Accordingly, it can be quite difficult to be biracial in South Korea.  Life can be especially hard for biracial Koreans with African ancestry, as darker skin is negatively associated with poverty and farm labor.  To address this issue, several organizations have been created to support the growing biracial Korean population.

During the early 1960s, American novelist Pearl S. Buck visited Korea to write The Living Reed.  Buck coined the term “Amerasian”, referring to Korean children fathered by American servicemen during the Korean War.  In 1965, she established the Opportunity Center and Orphanage in Bucheon City (formerly Sosa), South Korea to serve Amerasian ChildrenOffices were subsequently opened in Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam.  In the United States, she founded a child sponsorship organization, Pearl S. Buck Foundation (now called Pearl S. Buck International), to address poverty and discrimination faced by children in Asian countries.  She endeavored greatly to raise the awareness of children in Korea who are ethnically mixed and undergo hardships because of the circumstances of their birth and their lives.  Throughout her lifetime, Buck dedicated her energy and resources in order to combat the injustice of social discrimination and prejudice suffered by mixed race children.

MACK (맥) was founded as the Mission for Amerasian Children of Korea in September 1995 in Chicago, IL.  The organization is dedicated to a better understanding of children born to dual cultural parentage and the cultural barrier affecting them, their families, and their communities in Korea and throughout the world, as well as to heighten compassion and understanding by all towards the plight of Amerasians.  In order to meet the needs of a new and growing generation of multiethnic Koreans both abroad and in South Korea, MACK now stands for the Movement for the Advancement of Cultural-diversity of Koreans.

In 2006, American football player Hines Ward created the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation.  The foundation is dedicated to helping mixed race children like himself in South Korea, where they have suffered discrimination.  His Helping Hands U.S. Foundation focuses on improving literacy among children and will provide programs and services to better equip them for achieving and handling success in life.  Abroad, his Helping Hands Korea Foundation (formed as a tribute to his mother, Kim Young-hee) has targeted biracial discrimination, especially as it occurs among the children of Korea.  Ward has spoken out against South Korea’s discriminatory practices and pledged his time and allegiance to the biracial children there.  He plans to continue to help make life easier for the mixed race kids in South Korea.  "I will make the struggle to end biracial discrimination my chief cause, for which I will devote my time and resources, both in the United States and Korea," said Ward.  Ward is known in Korea as the Ambassador for biracial children and hopes to make this his legacy both at home and abroad.

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