Friday, November 28, 2008

a tough time for immigrants

The Washington Post has a report on how the current economic crisis is "spreading pain" across the capital region, especially to close-knit immigrant communities such as Ethiopians, Central Americans, and Koreans. 

Korean business owners are reaching out to oégugin (외국인, non-Koreans, a term that often gets mistranslated as "foreigner," though Korean nationals in other countries are the "foreigners," right?) in order to expand their customer base in tough times:
There are signs that Korean business owners who once catered almost exclusively to their tightknit community are also trying to branch out. Sang K. Lee, owner of Spa World, a Korean-style luxury bathhouse in Centreville, said he has been trying to make up for a recent decline in Korean customers by advertising in publications that serve immigrants from countries such as Russia and Turkey that also have a tradition of using bathhouses.
The article also talks about some hagwon (학원, extracurricular academies that augment classroom learning, especially when it comes to test preparation) closing down. Frankly, I see that as a positive development, especially for the kyopo kids whose parents think that the few extra points they might gain on their SATs are worth their childhood. (Note to parents: If your kids just read a good selection of modern and classical English literature, they will do quite well.)

Having gone through the 1997-98 Asian economic crisis, I see so many similarities between how people then and now are dealing with the fallout. Expect to see lots of stories like this for the foreseeable future. 

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