On May 11th, a great annual festival of migrants, called "2008 Migrants's Arirang" was held at Olympic Park. It was planned to encourage harmony between native-born Koreans and migrants. "2008 Migrants' Arirang" helped migrants to free themselves from everyday concerns and to experience a new pleasant life. I participated in the festival as a volunteer member of Arirang Dongdong, and I was assigned to work in the Joyful Ground With Kids to take care for kids in the playground at the festival, and I shared my time with kids who have different skin colors and languages. Among the kids, there was no discrimination or difference. The kids joined together, regardless of their origin. Through working and enjoying the festival, I considered the awkward positions of migrants in Korea. While returning home, a movie about migrants' human rights flitted through my mind.
Have you seen the movie If You Were Me (2003) which deals a question of human rights? It was produced by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. Never Ending Peace and Love (directed by Park Chan-wook), one of the six episodes in the movie, is about a distressing true story of a female migrant worker from Nepal, Chandra Kumari Gurung. In 1993, Chandra had a meal at a restaurant, but after having a meal, she realized that she had no money. The restaurant's owner called the police to take her away. Chandra who could not speak Korean was mistaken as an ill wayfarer, and was committed to a mental hospital for six years and four months. By showing the negligent attitudes of the authorities concerned and of unconcerned people, the film asks us whether or not Korean society has a cold heart. The poor conditions for migrant workers have not improved yet. Recently, in Korean society, there have been many international marriages. The Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs reported that Korean society is rapidly becoming a multicultural society; however, Korea seems to lack a willingness to adopt differencesㅡunderstanding other cultures and ethnic groups.
The playground where I worked had a structure made by multi-ethnic children. I thought that its shape was modeled on a morning glory vine which tenderly unites each blossom. Looking at the children's great work of cooperation, I sincerely hoped Korean society could change to be more like a pure morning glory vine. I hope the situation in Korea will be more generous, and hope migrants can ease the rigors of their lives.
From the volunteer work of the festival, I discovered migrants' candid mind of hoping harmony in a foreign country. The aim of the festival was attained. The festival played a bridging role for Korean society to move to a multicultural one, sharing migrants' culture, troubles, and even resistance. Next year's festival will be more exciting for both migrants and native Koreans. Next year, I will apply to be a volunteer again.
By Yoo Sun-kyung firstname.lastname@example.org (Editor of The S.H.)