Multicultural broadcasting

Ethnic language broadcasts will help foreigners in Korea adapt easier and will familiarize Koreans with other cultures, writes 'The Korea Herald'

The Korea Herald
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Special radio broadcasting goes on air next month for multicultural residents in Korea, whose number has surpassed 1.2 million and is rapidly growing. A non-profit foundation is airing an example of what public media can do to promote harmony in an increasingly diversifying society -- one that once took pride in its ethnic homogeneity.

From Sept. 1, Digital Skynet Radio operated by the Woongjin Foundation will broadcast programs in Chinese, Vietnamese, Tagalog, Arabic, Russian, Mongolian and Japanese in four digital and satellite radio channels and the foundation's internet website 24 hours a day. Programs consist mainly of traditional and popular music of the countries using these languages, but include tips for living in Korea and guides to Korean culture, traditions, customs and language.

Individual advice for listeners who call in will offer help to those experiencing similar problems as mothers in multicultural homes, migrant workers and international students at universities. Easing the sense of isolation away from home among the "minority" people, the new broadcaster seeks to serve as information centers for the ethnic groups.

The influx of people from Asian and African countries for marriage, work and study has increased conspicuously and it is a worthy enterprise to provide help for those people who are becoming an integral part of Korean society. Implanting a sense of self-respect and pride in their national identity is necessary for the foreign residents' easier adaptation to this country.

Problems are already exposed in ethnically mixed homes where divorce rate is higher than average and many children fail to go to school. It will be great encouragement for the young brides from faraway places to listen to the music they enjoyed at home and have somebody who entertains their questions in their own language. In the long run, the ethnic language broadcasts will familiarize Koreans with foreign cultures and help the nation in the process of globalization.

Support from government authorities is in order to offer the foreign residents an easy access to radio broadcasts, especially in rural areas. Securing talented disc jockeys and news readers may not be easy here and this is deemed an area where official help is much needed.