ROK Musings

Samsungs Latest Mobile Ad Reflects Changing Attitudes To Interracial Marriage

The latest commercial film from Samsung promoting their Galaxy S4 reflects a changing society in the Republic of Korea. Inter-racial marriage and relationships have gone on in Korea for a very long time, though the percentage over all has been relatively small. With the growth of foreigners in Korea (as small as it may be, in comparison to multicultural countries such as the US and England) it’s expanded even more.

The ad (ignore the grammatically incorrect sentence structures in English) features a girl riding a train and falling in love with a foreigner through the use of apps on their mobile phones. Awwww isn’t it so sweet?

There’s still an existence of anti interracial marriage and relationships from some sectors of Korean society, but Samsung’s ad reflects an increasing change of attitude.

As more and more young Koreans are sent overseas by the parents for education and as more Koreans travel abroad for work, the chances increase even more.

Statistics provided by KOSIS (Korean Statistical Information Service) show that over 60% of Koreans either slightly agree or strongly agree that its acceptable to marry a foreigner whilst the remaining percentage slightly disagree or strongly disagree. Personally, I was surprised the “agreed” section was even this high.

According to a 2011 Korea Times post “… interracial marriages numbered 34,235 cases last year, or 10.5 percent of total marriages in the country. The percentage was down slightly from 10.8 percent in 2009. Since 2000, the portion of interracial marriages in South Korea had been rising fast, but the number began to lose ground after peaking at 11.7 percent in 2006. The ratio declined to 10.9 percent in 2007 but increased to 11 percent in 2008 before dropping again a year later.”

The Ministry of Justice and the Immigration Department, reports there were 1,501,761 foreigners living in South Korea in June 2013. It’s a huge leap from the 678,687 residing here in 2003 and the first time this population has hit the 1.5 million mark.

Interestingly, the number of foreign spouses with Korean citizenship totaled 149,386. An increase from the 125,087 reported in 2009. Most imagine that men make up the majority of this field but a little over 87% of these are women.

Certainly South Korea has not yet hit a high enough level of population where tensions arise between locals and foreigners but it’s something that Korea will need to focus on in the near future if the foreign population continues to rise.

As the whole idea of marketing is to appeal to as many people as possible, yet still remain guided towards a target audience, the ad is a big social statement.  Considering the above statistics, it’s certainly a brave campaign and a reflection of positive change. We’ll be watching to see what the netizens of the R.O.K think of it.

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