Korea prides itself of being homogeneous, although “progressive” researchers have been dismissing this claim.
Lee O-young, honorary chair professor of Ewha Academy for Advanced Studies and former culture minister, says Koreans have been a mixed people from the beginning and ethnocentrism could be dangerous to today’s multicultural society.
“We were originally a mix of marine people and equestrians because Korea is a peninsula. They coexisted and this is the power of Korea,” Lee told The Korea Times in an interview. “The perception of `ethnic’ actually didn’t exist for 19 centuries. However, under Japanese rule, we needed a strong national identity and started to stress that we are homogenous people. The division of the two Koreas has also driven us to emphasize we are analogous people.”
Source: Is Korea Homogeneous Country?
A few days ago, a reader sent me a link to an article pertaining to Korean singer Lee Hyo Ri clearing up rumors that she’s a Filipino illegal immigrant because of her darker skin. In an appearance-conscious society, having darker skin means one of two things: that of being non-Korean or coming from a provincial background. I’m pretty sure that Filipinos wouldn’t mind if Lee Hyo Ri really came from the Philippines. Having spent six years here, I wasn’t surprised at all that being different (or having a darker skin) would create such a rumor for the sexy singer.
Jeon Ji Hyun, the original “Sassy Girl”, has been rumored from time to time for the past years to be of Chinese descent. Her real family name is Wang and it’s said to be Chinese. I first heard this rumor about three years ago and it resurfaced once again a few weeks ago. Like the Filipinos, I bet the Chinese would love to adopt Jeon Ji Hyun as their own.