▲ From left to right: Chung Dal-ho, Steve McKinney, Lee Sunhwa, Marsha Bogolin, Beverly von Zielonka, Han Hyo-keun, Harold Dale, Jr., Dean Brown. Photo courtesyJeju Special Self-Governing Province
Jeju Special Self-Governing Province’s Foreign Advisory Committee (FAC - Chairperson Chung Dal-ho) held a special session at the Jeju Forum 2013 on May 30 to gather community voices to discuss policy direction toward a Free International City.
The open session saw Room 6D packed as Jeju residents came to see the select panel of immigration experts debate immigration policy alongside local teachers and business people. English teacher Harold Dale, Jr., also on the panel, said there must be continued engagement between local government and the international community.
“We can’t measure success until we see actions - that is the real gauge,” said Dale. “After putting on all this fanfare...you’d like to believe they will [follow up on the discussion],” he added.
FAC member, Marsha Bogolin, Chair of Adapting to Jeju Society - and Chair for the session - was upbeat about Jeju’s current direction. Asked whether she believed communication was improving between provincial government and international residents, she said:
“At least there’s a place to bring our voices, views, and skills. Personally, being on FAC, I’ve met more people...keen to improve the connection between the Jeju people and international residents,” she said.
The turnout was among the best for any of the side sessions at the Forum, as English teachers were encouraged by their schools to attend. One such teacher, Taylor Scaggs, felt that more events need to be open to ensure true engagement.
“I feel like maybe if they opened it up for more people [and had] more open forums [it] could possibly influence policy…there should definitely be more open discussion about this between all of us and the government.”
This was a perspective shared by others, particularly with regards to the representativeness of both the panel and the FAC members. FAC member and guesthouse owner, Dean Brown, felt local policy was not targeting the right demographic.
“It is geared towards the wealthier, Western population [but] what are they doing to engage the [migrant workers and international spouses] on this kind of level? Are they encouraging the Bangladeshi factory workers to [stay and invest] in Jeju? I don’t think so,” he said.
The session proceedings
For the panelists’ presentations, Han Hyo-keun, deputy director of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Migration Research and Training Center (MRTC), was first up to outline Korea’s 2nd Basic Plan for Immigration Policy. Han outlined the policy’s five core themes.
Openness - Supporting economic stimulus and attracting human resources
Integration - Social integration that respects shared Korean values;
Human rights - Preventing discrimination and respecting cultural diversity;
National security - The realization of a safe society for all Korean citizens and foreigners;
Cooperation - Promoting co-prosperity with the international community.
The welcoming society that Han’s policy was seeking to create is something that The Seoul Global Center, run by Steve McKinney, is building. The center was established in 2008 with support from Seoul Metropolitan Government and supports Seoul’s 523,000 international residents and McKinney outlined its model to the audience.
43 percent of Seoul’s foreign residents are migrant workers and the center provides language and orientation training alongside supporting 14 business start-ups with multilingual consultations and office space: “people come to us when they don’t know where else to go,” says McKinney. Jeju’s FAC has closely examined the Global Center’s success.
Next to speak was Lee Sun-hwa, a Jeju councilor vocal for Jeju’s international community. She highlighted that in real numbers the foreign population doubled between 2008 and 2012 to 10,406 and it was key that the increase was met by policy changes.
Lee suggested an improved 10-year settlement policy, a Global Center for Jeju, employment of international residents at the provincial government level, and expansion of the current FAC to represent a wider cross-section of society.
Following Lee, Harold Dale, Jr, an English teacher expressed some international residents’ frustrations, particularly the language barrier. Dale said that more should be done to provide Korean language education to residents and improve public relations and information provision, particularly related to health.
Dean Brown also felt that communication was a hindrance in settling more comfortably on the island. The “Big Mart” closure days could be better communicated, for example, as could signage and transportation information.
“Culture shock” is a concept difficult to understand unless experienced, and Beverly von Zielonka reminded the audience that although “you never get a second chance to make a first impression,” culture shock is felt most keenly in the second phase of resettlement. It was crucial, said von Zielonka, for all community members to provide help in the “adjustment process” as newcomers seek the familiar in the inherently unfamiliar.
Questions from the audience followed. Audience members felt that policy was likely to be ineffective when what was needed was deep-rooted cultural change. Kendra Pugh, a longtime Jeju expat, felt that acceptance of difference should start in the schools, where instead a culture of conformity is inculcated in Korean students.
While no immediate policy solutions were agreed upon, attendees concurred that the session was a step in the right direction in giving foreign residents a voice on Jeju. Many also agreed that this is not where the engagement should end.
Host: Jeju Special Self-Governing Province Foreign Advisory Committee (FAC)
May 30 17:20-1840, Room 6D
Jeju Forum for Peace and Prosperity 2013
- Moderator: Marsha Bogolin, FAC member
- Panelists: Han Hyo-keun, deputy director of International Organization for Migration (IOM) Migration Research and Training Center (MRTC)
Steven McKinney, Seoul Global Center head
Lee Sun-hwa, Jeju councillor
Dean Brown, FAC member and local business owner
Harold Dale, English teacher
Beverly von Zielonka, head of senior and middle schools at Branksome Hall Asia.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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