Since the outbreak of COVID-19, a number of cases of racism against Koreans in other countries have been reported. According to a news interview, Kang Hyong-sik, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Overseas Safety Management Planning Division, stated that by May 1, about 18 crimes related to racism against Koreans were reported in the United States, Britain, Australia, and Germany. Furthermore, he said that he expects the actual number of racist incidents to be significantly higher than 18.
In one of the reported cases of racism, a Korean woman in her 20’s, was assaulted by six Australian teenagers in the Australian city of Bundaberg on March 22nd. The Australian teenagers who assaulted her said that she had brought COVID-19 to Australia.
There was also the case on April 29th in Los Angeles where a white man threw a glass bottle at a Korean woman, cursed, and then ran away.
Korea is now known around the world as one of the most exemplary countries in dealing with COVID-19. Despite this, Korean people still fell victim to racist attacks. Kang Hyung-sik said, “I suspect that the reason why foreigners are being racist is not because of nationality but rather the appearance of the people”. He added that foreigners have been engaging in racism against people who look Asian because the Coronavirus first occurred in China.
The Seowon News interviewed Kwak Ji-myeong, a Seowon University student, on how she felt about the racism against Koreans and Asians in general during the COVID-19 outbreak. She replied that it was heartbreaking that Koreans as well as Asians seem to be misunderstood and discriminated against. She added that she thinks a world with no racism is hard to expect, but that a shift in perception is necessary.
The Seowon News also asked Professor Cho Hyung-sook of the English Education Department, who studied English for other Language Speakers (ESOL) and Culture, what people who have experienced racism should do if they experience a case of racial discrimination. She said, “Unfortunately, it is not easy to logically persuade people who currently resort to racist arguments against Asians in connection with COVID-19. Therefore, if you are in an overseas racist situation, you should contact the Consulate or Embassy which is in charge of protecting overseas residents for advice," and she added, "It is better to present evidence of photos or videos to the local police and report them in writing rather than verbally".
Racism, however, can be resolved little by little only when the perpetrator changes his or her perception and develops an inclusive attitude. Racists around the world need to change their perception of race rather than us needing to prevent racism.