Vietnamese officials, scholars and representatives of Vietnamese brides in the Republic of Korea (RoK) took part in an international workshop on the current status and future direction of the RoK’s multicultural society in Seoul on May 16.

Organised by the ASEAN-Korea Centre, the RoK Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and Newspaper Seoul Shinmun, the event, themed “Shedding light on the role and contribution of ASEAN”, drew the participation of more than 130 delegates, including experts on multiculturalism from the RoK and ASEAN member countries.

In his opening speech, Secretary General of the ASEAN-Korea Centre Chung Hae Moon said that the workshop covers the three topics of ‘Main Issues of Korean Multicultural Society’, ‘ASEAN Migration and Its Implications on Multiculturalism in Korea’ and ‘Direction for Korean Multicultural Policy and Role of the ASEAN-Korea Centre’.

Through the workshop, the ASEAN-Korea Centre aims to portray the RoK’s transition to a multicultural society, examine the status quo and significance of immigrants from ASEAN countries - an important populace shaping the RoK’s multicultural society, he said.

According to Chung, with the population of immigrants from ASEAN now emerging as an important constituent of the Korean society, the workshop is expected to explore the past, present and future of the RoK’s multicultural society and thereby shed light on the role and contribution of immigrants from ASEAN member countries in the country’s development towards a multicultural society.

Addressing the workshop, Vietnamese Ambassador to the RoK Tran Trong Toan said the RoK has been increasingly becoming a multicultural society which is home to over 1.4 million people from different foreign nations and cultures, including ASEAN countries.

“They have been accepted and generously supported by the RoK Government and people. In turn they have been doing their utmost to contribute to the socio-economic development of the RoK and building it into a more advanced, harmonious and happy country,” he noted.

According to Dr. Nguyen Thi Hong Xoan, Dean of the Vietnam National University’s Faculty of Sociology, Vietnam is one of the countries having the largest number of women with Korean husbands in the region.

Her speech focused on cultural similarities and differences between Vietnam and the RoK, thus helping the two countries’ managers and policy markers have measures to minimise problems arising during the daily life of Vietnamese brides in RoK.

As a Vietnamese bride in the RoK, Luu Thi My Ha, deputy head of the Association of Vietnamese People in the RoK, emphasised the significance of the workshop, especially in the context that the RoK is becoming a multicultural society in which Vietnamese are in a majority.

She expressed her hope that experts provide valuable suggestions so that the RoK will have more practical policies to support multicultural families in general and Vietnamese-Korean families in particular.

According the RoK Ministry of Security and Public Administration and General Statistics Office, marriage immigrants and naturalized citizens to the RoK in 2012 amounted to 270,000 (a twofold increase from 140,000 in 2008), of which ASEAN nationalities accounted for approximately 70,000.

The number of children from multicultural families last year totalled 170,000 (a threefold increase from 58,000 in 2008), of which children from parents with ASEAN nationalities accounted for 65,000 or approximately 50 percent of births from multicultural families who were given by women from ASEAN countries.-VNA