The core of multiculturalism is cultural diversity

Interviewee: Park Kyong Ju

Lee Suel-Bee (Reporter of Monthly Art Magazine)

In 2005, Salad TV (formerly Migrant Workers Broadcasting Station), an independent media Internet multicultural broadcasting station, was established and has been pursuing cultural diversity through communication that transcends cultural boundaries between immigrants and residents. Please tell us about your recent activities.

Salad TV has been temporarily closed since 2011, and in 2009, it founded Salad, a theater company in which migrants act as actors for the migrant community and cultural diversity performances. Currently, I am focusing on cultural and artistic activities. I am directly in charge of the phenomena and problems that arise from migrant workers and international marriages, from writing to directing. Since last year, it has been publishing a newspaper called ‘Salad Boom’ in Korean, English, and multilingual. The contents are expanding from theatrical performance news to articles on cultural diversity written by Salad migrant members themselves. The salad was selected as a preliminary social enterprise in 2012, and this year, it is preparing for certification as a social enterprise in earnest by switching from a culture and arts organization to Salad Co., Ltd.

Recently, it seems that ‘multiculturalism’ has become a trend. The concept of multiculturalism currently used in Korea is biased. What do you think?

First of all, I think the increased interest in ‘multiculturalism’ is a positive phenomenon. It is also important that there are many related contents. The problem is that no matter what policy comes out, it takes time for social perception to change. It is less now, but in the early days, there were many event-related projects. There is criticism that ‘pouring water into a bottomless pot’, but I believe that more social investment needs to be made for the next 20 years.

Currently, the word “multicultural” is used incorrectly, but the core of multiculturalism is cultural diversity, and this does not depend on nationality. There are many issues related to this, such as minority issues and the economically underprivileged, but now the focus is too much on international marriage and family issues. As a result, it is mainly dealt with in China and Vietnam, which are the main countries of origin of women entering the country through international marriage, and the current multicultural image has many commercialized aspects. In addition, interest in the issue of migrant workers, which has been an issue for the past 10 years, has recently decreased significantly.

What is the focus of the company’s activities?

If the migrant worker broadcasting station focused on restoring the independent voice of migrant workers through cultural activities related to their lives, Salad Theater Company focused on creating cultural and artistic jobs for migrants and fostering cultural and artistic experts. Some of them originally did art, and some started art after coming to Korea.

Members of the troupe work 20 to 40 hours a week, and they are officially paid and social insurance is provided. During the probationary period, training and appearance fees are paid. Salad is running a salad artist business, and I sign a contract with an excellent person among the formal members. Salad support them so that they can direct or act as creators on their own. It is difficult to guarantee that they will be active as artists even 10 years from now, but I think the important thing is to change people’s perceptions through such examples. While running the theater company for more than 5 years, we met more than 20,000 audiences in our performances. At the time of its establishment, it started as a free performance, but now most of them are performing for a fee.

In addition to art activities, there is also a migrant performing arts academy, but the fine art field is not included yet. Performances generate profits, so immingrnts can create opportunities for job hunting after completing the academy.

Foreign artists residing in Korea are mainly concentrated in Western countries. In the case of Asian artists, it seems that there are many difficulties in living in Korea.

It seems to be difficult to find other artists who participate in short-term residency programs in Korea. This is probably because the cost of living is high and it is especially difficult to obtain an artist visa. Currently, domestic universities are attracting many international students due to financial problems, and I heard that the Korea National University of Arts has an Asian scholarship program in the field of art. However, as far as I know, it is very rare to live in Korea and work as an artist after graduation. Even if we attract talented people, in reality, there is no foundation for them to work in Korea.

In 2012, members of the Japanese rock band Gopchang Hotpot’, who are active in Korea, signed an exclusive contract with Salad and received an artist visa, which became a social issue. Please explain what is the problem with the artist visa system in Korea.

The artist visa (E-6), also known as the performing arts visa, is not easy to obtain. In Korea, mainly those in the performing arts are entering the country with this visa. Russian dancers and African performance troupes fall under this category. When applying for a visa, you must submit a contract with a performance hall and video data that can prove your experience in the same activity in your home country. The Korea Media Rating Board is in charge of examining their qualifications for obtaining a visa. This is the performance visa that became a trap for migrant art workers in the past. Foreigners were exposed defenselessly to human rights violations such as human trafficking, prostitution, overdue wages, and violence, which became a major social problem.

If there is no contract with the venue, you must sign a management contract with a domestic agency, receive a recommendation letter from the Minister of Culture through the agency, and apply for a visa at the Immigration Office. It is said that about 20 people receive employment recommendations from the Minister of Culture each year, which shows how difficult it is to obtain a visa.

To work in Korea, there must be a clear contractual relationship and the employer must guarantee the identity of the worker. The artist is a freelance job. However, it seems unlikely that a foreign worker will receive an artist visa because Korea’s Immigration Control Act requires a business contract with an employer to apply for a visa. As in developed countries, if the relevant system is changed so that artists can apply for a visa by proving documents of art activity, recommendations from experts in related fields such as gallery representatives, curators, professors, and projects, etc., if the proposal is made in Korea, more migrant artists will be You will be able to work in Korea. In particular, international students who are already engaged in art activities in their hometowns can play an important role in increasing the diversity of the domestic art market if they receive an artist visa and find a job after studying in Korea. As immigrant artists who received the trademark ‘Made in Korea’.

Are there any difficulties in running the Salad troupe?

Currently, the troupe is operating stably. It seems to be starting to settle down to some extent as the theater company enters its sixth year of existence. As an artist, salad is my art project that pursues novelty and variety. I’m doing my best to make these artistic experiments sustainable, but the reality is that I have to face new challenges every year to live. However, Salad’s experimentation on the boundaries between art and society and art and life will continue as long as there are migrants who keep knocking on the door of the troupe wanting to engage in artistic activities. (ⒸMonthly Art Magazine, February 2014)

Link to the original text

Link to the original text