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Racial attitudes and medical tourism

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According to a recent article in the New York Times regarding prevailing racial attitudes in South Korea, citizens there routinely refer privately to Americans as "bastards."

The same derision is afforded the Japanese and Chinese, both of whom have invaded and ruled Korea in the past, as well as to immigrants from other Asian countries.


Ethnic homogeneity is higher valued in South Korea. Even Korean-Americans may be considered insufficiently Korean to be afforded due respect or scolded for speaking English.

The article quotes Seol Dong-hoon, a sociologist at Chonbuk National University, who notes that a "mix of envy and loathing of the West, especially of white Americans" is widespread and expressed in day-to-day activities.

Discrimination on the basis of ethnicity is not illegal in South Korea, although legislation has been recently drafted to impose penalties for some offenses.

Also referenced is a 2008 survey noting that 42% of South Korean respondents have never spoken with a foreigner.

Of course, no country is devoid of nationalistic bias or racial discrimnation, but the article may be disturbing to some potential medical tourists planning to travel to distinctly different cultures and expecting to be greeted with open arms.

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