Southeast Asians feel discriminated in South Korea

So goes the title of the Korea Times article… here’s an excerpt:

Michel Catuira from the Philippines lives in Korea but experienced difficulty in finding a place to stay, as many Korean house owners didn’t want to rent to him, telling realtors that they only wanted Korean or Caucasian tenants.
“I went to rent a cheap, small studio with my friend in Seodaemun-gu, Seoul. The owner showed us a room and asked us who it was for,” Catuira said. “When I said me, he refused to rent the room. If it had been my Korean-American friend, he would have rented the room easily.”
Catuira, the president of the Migrant Trade Union, said discrimination here against people from Southeast Asia is everywhere, from taking a taxi to renting a house and landing a job.
This episode is part of discrimination many people from Southeast Asia commonly experience in Korea. Many living in Seoul face pointing, negligence and contemptuous language, a report released by the Seoul Development Institute, a unit of Seoul Metropolitan Government, noted.

The full article is here: Southeast Asians feel discriminated in South Korea
Your two cents?


  1. One only hopes this article puts a mirror up to Korean citizens and helps them reflect on their own behavior towards non-Koreans (no matter where they are from).

  2. Since I was 13 I met a lot of Koreans (there in the Philippines back then, and here in Canada); and I can say that only a select few do discriminate people of other races. Koreans, as far as my experience with them goes, are very friendly; especially if you show your appreciation of their culture. (In the Philippines, in fact, Korean students try their best to learn Filipino [Tagalog]. In my school community alone, I met at least four who almost fluently do.)
    Although, if this really is a problem in South Korea, then if they are really turning themselves into a country for foreigners, they still have a very long way to go.
    On the other hand, I will be narrowing down to just us Filipinos. Now Filipino people often notice, and comment on, other people who have a dark skin complexion. From there, the list goes on (to things I would rather not mention). Could it be that we Filipinos are in fact, even more discriminatory than Koreans?

  3. I think they’re being unfair to deprive a Filipino of a place to stay because here in the Philippines, Koreans are well accommodated. Some of them came here to study English And I know someone who teaches them.

  4. We also discriminate… we are just not very vocal about it.. but Pinoys hate dark skin, big nose and thick curly hair. When we see people who are dark skinned with big nose and thick curly hair, we don’t comment but in our dirty minds, we are actually looking down on them…
    Discrimination is everywhere. The best thing that we Pinoys should do is to do our best to look good, to be fashionable and to act with class. We have to remove POVERTY in our minds. Look at Singapore. People there looked ugly and dirty when they still had slums. Check photos online about Singapore in the 60s. Now, Singaporeans are comparable to Koreans, Japanese and Taiwanese in terms of appearance and style, generally.
    If we look respectable, if we smell good, if we have good enough fashion sense and if we act and talk with class, we can avoid discrimination.

  5. That’s too bad that the Korean landlord didn’t rent the room out to Mr. Catuira. It would be good to know what the reason was. Did the landlord want a large deposit and feel that Mr. Catuira won’t be able to afford it? Perhaps they rented to Southeast Asians in the past and had problems? But whatever the reason, since there are a lot of foreigners working and living in Korea, the Korean government should enact laws that protect these foreigners against discrimination. Or perhaps there are already laws in place and Mr. Catuira should file a complaint??? Here in the US, there are laws that protect renters and home buyers from discrimination.

  6. This reminds me of what the teacher told Kim Pil-suk (fat IU) sa Dream High (Episode 8):
    “Looks are like your strength, in this world there are no ugly people…only lazy ones.”
    I think the message here is that it’s not mainly about discrimination but it’s just how this world works…respect is earned, not given freely. If we just work harder both as an individual & as a nation (and not be lazy & make excuses that we were born ‘not presentable’) to give other nations a reason to respect us, then we won’t have difficulties being accepted.
    While they say Korea has still a lot of work to do with foreign relations, i think we Filipinos have even lots of work to do on that department.
    I have to agree with Dream High…sadly the ‘we are poor’ or ‘i am ugly’ has been a negative traditional Filipino excuse that holds us back from progressing.
    Let’s all work hard, fighting ^^!

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