A new column about Korea from me, this time about the liberal democracy in the south dealing with the 500-odd refugees from Yemen:
South Korea is Going Crazy over a Handful of Refugees [Foreign Policy]It is easy to be disappointed at this response coming from a liberal administration, one that was born out of the heroic months-long protests that resulted in the impeachment and removal of the deeply corrupt and authoritarian President Park Geun-hye. Yet polling reveals the dispiriting reason why the Moon administration is at least partially pandering to anti-refugee sentiments: The issue potentially poses the greatest threat to the administration’s stability yet, as it strikes at the foundation of its support, namely young voters, women, and the middle class.
In a recent survey, conducted by Hankook Research, 56 percent of those surveyed opposed admitting the Yemeni refugees, while only 24 percent supported letting them in. But women objected more strongly than men (61 percent to 51 percent), respondents in their 20s (70 percent) and 30s (66 percent) objected the most among all age groups, and middle-income households (62 percent) expressed the strongest objections against admitting the refugees.
There have been persistent claims that South Korean democracy has been able to survive because of its ethnic homogeneity, closing off a potential major fault line. I used to give no credence to those claims, but the recent turn of events is a score one for those claims.