Racial Discrimination in South Korea: Korean Academics Offer Proposals for a Solution, but What if the Solution is Inherent to the Korean Constitution?


  • Peter D. Klein Gyeongsang National University (Chiram Campus), Dongjin-ro 33, Jinju-si, 52725, South Korea


Anti-globalization, Korean racism, Korean pureblood superiority, Multi-cultural Korea, Anti-discrimination


Korea has been a homogenous culture for over five thousand years.  Although it has faced incursions and occupations, it has always repelled those advances and maintained racial, linguistic, and cultural purity with surprising resoluteness.  However, Korea's modernization and economic expansion required alliances and policies that introduced multicultural forces into its once pure society, creating sizable racial minorities for the first time in history.  The government's shift from authoritarian rule to liberal democracy has given voice to these minorities.  These groups are demanding admittance to an exclusive society, along with equal and humane treatment. The people and government of Korea are now faced with the dilemma of dispensing with the exclusive dominance of their age-old, ‘pure’ culture to accommodate different ethnicities and practices.  This paper will discuss the problems and potential solutions, including one that may already exist untapped in the Korean constitution.


Confucius, The Analects, T. Crofts, Ed., New York: Dover Publications, 1995.

M. Lee, "Mixed race peoples in the Korean national imaginary and family.," Korean Studies, vol. 32, pp. 56-85, 2008.

M. Seth, A History of Korea from Antiquity to the Present, Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2011.

"Number of foreign residents in Korea tops 2.5 million," Yonhap News, 17 February 2020.

J. Kim, "State, Civil Society and International Norms: expanding the political and labor rights of foreigners in South Korea," Asian and Pacific Migration Journal, vol. 14, no. 4, pp. 383-418, 2005.

E. Y. J. Chung, Korean Confucianism: Tradition and modernity, Seongnam-si: The Academy of Korean Studies Press, 2015.

I. Lee, "Korean Perception(s) of Equality and Equal Protection," Boston College International and Comparative Law Review, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 53-84, 2008.

J. Yum, "The impact of Confucianism on interpersonal relationships and communication patterns in East Asia.," Communication Monographs, vol. 55, pp. 374-388, 1988.

W.-T. Kirn, "Korean Politics: Setting and political culture," in Understanding Korean Politics: An introduction, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2001, pp. 18-40.

K. Moon, "Korea should face its demographic crisis head on," 18 June 2015. [Online]. Available: http://www.brookings.edu/blogs/up-front/posts/2015/06/18-korea-faces-demographic-crisis-moon. [Accessed 26 February 2022].

Federal Research Division Library of Congress, South Korea: a country study, A. M. Savade and W. Shaw, Eds., Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1992.

N. Kim, "Multicultural challenges in Korea: the current stage and a prospect.," International Migration, vol. 52, no. 2, pp. 100-121, 2014.

Staff-writer, "UN Concern at 'Ethnocentric' Korea," The Chosunilbo, 20 August 2007.

Editor, "Anti-discrimination law: legislative setback shows lagging human rights situation," The Korea Times, 22 April 2013.

J. Power, "How far should anti-discrimination law go?," The Korea Herald, 29 April 2013.

M. Ruteere, "UN expert on racism urges the Republic of Korea to adopt a comprehensive anti-discrimination law," 9 October 2014. [Online]. Available: https://www.ohchr.org/en/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=15147&LangID=E.

J. Kim, "Interactions between Buddhism and Confucianism in Medieval Korea," in Korean Religions in Relation: Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, A. K. Min, Ed., Albany, State University of New York, 2016, pp. 33-64.

I. Lee, "The Law and Culture of the Apology in Korean Dispute Settlement (With Japan and the United Stated in Mind)," Michigan Journal of International Law, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 1-53, 2005.

G. Hofstede, G. J. Hofstede and M. Minkov, Cultures and Organizations. Software of the Mind. Intercultural Cooperation and Its Importance for Survival, New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010.

G. Hofstede and M. H. Bond, "Hofstede's Culture Dimensions: An Independent Validation Using Rokeach's Value Survey," Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology, vol. 15, no. 417, pp. 417-433, 1984.

M.-H. Lee, Confucianism: Its roots and global significance, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2017.

P. C. Hahm, "Religion and Law in Korea," Kroeber Anthropological Society Papers, vol. 41, pp. 8-53, 1969.

"Constitution of the Republic of Korea," [Online]. Available: https://korea.assembly.go.kr:447/res/low_01_read.jsp. [Accessed 26 February 2022].

S. H. Kil and C.-i. Moon, "Introduction: Understanding Korean Politics," in Understanding Korean Politics: An introduction, S. H. Kil and C. Moon, Eds., Albany, State University of New York, 2001, pp. 11-17.

"International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination," 4 January 1969. [Online]. Available: https://ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx. [Accessed 26 February 2022].

P. C. Hahm, "The decision process in Korea," in Comparative judicial behavior; cross-cultural studies of political decision-making in the East and West, New York, Oxford University Press, 1969, pp. 19-20.




How to Cite

Peter D. Klein. (2022). Racial Discrimination in South Korea: Korean Academics Offer Proposals for a Solution, but What if the Solution is Inherent to the Korean Constitution?. American Academic Scientific Research Journal for Engineering, Technology, and Sciences, 86(1), 174–191. Retrieved from https://asrjetsjournal.org/index.php/American_Scientific_Journal/article/view/7524