Korean Qawwali TAAL

Korean Qawwali TAAL

The sad story of a Korea-born Bangladeshi child

[Reportage] The sad story of a Korea-born Bangladeshi child

Posted on : Jun.2,2013 08:21 KST Modified on : Jun.3,2013 10:04 KST

Mahia, 8, gets ready to fly to Bangladesh from Incheon International Airport with her Mom and younger brother, May 8. (all photos by Kim Jeong-hyo, staff photographer)

8-year-old Mahia spent her whole life in Korea, but is forced to leave due to lack of documents

By Lee Jung-gook, staff reporter Tears welled up in eight-year-old Mahia’s eyes. “Oh, I don’t know,” she said, dropping her head, when asked to say something to her classmates for the last time before going to Bangladesh for good. Mahia doesn’t look Korean; she looks South Asian, but her home country is Korea. She was born in an obstetric hospital Seoul in 2005 to Phillip, 34, and Aliye, 29, both migrant workers from Bangladesh. The South Korean government does not grant citizenship to the children of foreign nationals residing in South Korea, even if they are born here, so Mahia never got valid Korean citizenship. Since her birth was never registered in Bangladesh, Mahia is not a citizen of any country.

Mahia waves goodbye to her father as she passes through security at Incheon International Airport, May 8.

Having lived in Korea for eight years, Mahia is a typical Korean girl. Though she may not look Korean, Mahia is Korean down to her soul. She seemed reluctant to leave the country she was born in. “I don’t want to go,” she kept repeating. She rarely eats the Bangladeshi food her parents cook for her. She hardly speaks any Bengali. Her favorite food is kimchi. “I like spicy food with hot peppers,” Mahia says. That is why half of what her parents are bringing to Bangladesh is Korean food such as red-pepper sauce, seaweed and bulgogi sauce. “Her dad, who will remain in Korea, will have to regularly send Korean books and food to for Mahia,” Aliye said.

Mahia and her parents at their home in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, the day before she left South Korea for Bangladesh (May 7).

Mahia is a second grader at the Nokchon branch of Maseok Elementary School, with the help of Namyangju Service Center for Migrant Workers. Mahia’s friends in the school of just over 20 students consider her a Korean girl and were sad to have to say goodbye to her. “I’ll email often,” Mahia said, smiling. She had never considered herself Bangladeshi before. “I don’t know Bangladesh. I don’t want to leave my Korean friends. I like Korea as it is. I want to continue my studies here.” A Korean volunteer at the migrant workers center said, “Mahia is suffering an identity crisis because society labels her as a foreigner.” There are a number of obstacles ahead of Mahia. In order for her to receive post-elementary education for undocumented migrants, she has to rely on the good will of the school’s principal. The South Korean government frequently deports undocumented foreign workers in crackdowns. Worried about her dark future and concerns over national identity and education, Mahia’s parents could not but decide to send her to Bangladesh. Mahia boarded a plane to Bangladesh on May 8 with her mother and younger sister.

Mahia, her mom and friend pack boxes at their home in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province on May 7 before leaving for Bangladesh.

Busy preparing for the departure the next day, their faces were full of worries. Phillip, who now has to stay alone in Korea to earn money for his children, beat his chest in grief during the whole interview. “I feel heavy with worries—it’s too painful,” Phillip said. “Koreans born in the US become American - how is our daughter not Korean?” A father’s outcry resonated in the 10㎡ one-room basement unit which was covered with mold from accumulated moisture. Mahia’s house is located in the innermost part of Maseog Furniture Complex in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province. The basement wall of Mahia’s house, whose monthly rent is 200,000 won (US$180), whose walls are covered with mold. Mahia’s house we visited a day before their departure was even more messy with all the packing for moving. Around 2000, when Aliye and Phillip came to Korea on three-month tourist visas, they soon became illegal aliens. Harsh crackdown in Maseok Furniture Complex was always a great threat to them. They could not do anything but watch their friends and colleagues being deported back to their countries. Mahia’s birth was a beam of hope to them in a grim situation. She motivated them to work harder. Aliye quit her job in a furniture factory to raise her daughter. Ionpi, her second daughter, was born last year. The 1.5 million won (US$1,350) Phillip earns painting in a furniture factory is their only income.

Mahia and Ionpi, her younger sister.

Reality swooped in on the happy family. Mahia was rejected by the Korean government when she applied to stay in the country because her parents were undocumented migrants. They weren’t able to even get a resident’s permit for Mahia. She also doesn’t have documents for Bangladesh, her parent’s home country. Out of fear of being caught residing in the country illegally, Mahia’s parents never registered her birth with the Bangladeshi Embassy in Seoul. Mahia has all eight years of her life with no documents. Mahia is an amiable and smart girl who has a lot of friends at school and get good grades. When asked what she likes the most, Mahia said with her eyes shining, “Studying—particularly math.” Her Korean pronunciation was even better than her parents’. Mahia is good at piano as well. She completed the Bayer basic course and recently started learning Czerny. “We didn’t buy the music because I have to go to Bangladesh,” Aliye said as she sighed. “I’m not sure whether they teach piano in Bangladesh.” Mahia’s passion toward studying surprises even her parents. She never missed any of her classes at school, and literally lives with her books on weekends. “There was one case when she refused to stay with her sick mother because she had to go to school,” Phillip said, looking at his daughter. “I guess that shows how passionate she is about studying.” Mahia’s health is another worry for her parents. When she was born, she got pneumonia and had to stay in an incubator for more than a week. Her mother says that because of its hot weather, Bangladesh has far more incidents of skin diseases and pneumonia. “A migrant worker family I know returned to Korea after getting sick in Bangladesh,” Aliye said. “I am worried that Mahia might get sick.” Worried about Mahia’s adaptation to a totally new environment, her parents decided to send her to an English school in Bangladesh. The tuition is more than triple the regular local schools. The fee is stifling to Aliye. “It is difficult for women to earn money in Bangladesh,” Phillip said, dropping his head. “Sending money I earn here in Korea seems to be the only way…”

Mahia‘s family.

Phillip and Aliye are hoping Mahia will have a successful career as a diplomat with her skill in Korean as well as the English they now expect her to learn. Their zeal for education was not so different from that of Korean parents. The only difference is that unlike Korean parents who send their kids to developed countries for education, Phillip and Aliye have to send their daughter to a poor country like Bangladesh. They cautiously implied disappointment in Korea. Phillip said that there used to be many migrant workers when he first moved to Maseog Complex. But with the crackdown, there are fewer than twenty remaining, and there is no interaction among them now because they avoid each other. “It doesn’t matter if they deport us, but our child has to be protected no matter what,” Aliye added. “What has the kid done? I dearly wish the law will have been changed by the time I come back from Bangladesh five years from now.” South Korea ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in 1991. Article 7 of the UNCRC states that every child should be registered immediately after birth, and has the right to a legal name and nationality from birth. However, in Korea, despite having ratified the UNCRC, a survey on the conditions of undocumented migrant children still hasn’t been conducted. “Agencies estimate that there are approximately 4,000 undocumented children in the country, but there are no official statistics,” Lee Young, the Secretary General of Namyangju Service Center for Migrant Workers said. “It is shocking how Korea, even though it ratified the UNCRC, is so ignorant about these people.” The Ministry of Justice, which is in charge of these matters, added that it is impossible to identify the actual conditions of these people, since they are undocumented migrants. When asked what her dream is, Mahia said brightly, “I want to be a doctor—a pediatrician who cures sick children.” When we talked on the phone with Phillip, he said, “Mahia cried a lot, saying she doesn’t want to go…” Sick at heart, he couldn’t finish his sentence. Names of sources in this article have been changed to protect their privacy Translated by Song Moo-bin, Hankyoreh English intern Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]


My Name is Chi-hyun Kim, a peace activist(ngo ‘NANUM MUNHWA’) in South Korea.
We had a press conference in front of U.S.A embassy.
We cried “We are Bradley Manning!” “Free for Bradley!”
The reason why I support him is no special.
Just, I am human live <with> people, nature and world. 

My Name is Chi-hyun Kim, a peace activist(ngo ‘NANUM MUNHWA’) in South Korea.

We had a press conference in front of U.S.A embassy.

We cried “We are Bradley Manning!” “Free for Bradley!”

The reason why I support him is no special.

Just, I am human live <with> people, nature and world. 



Oh, Steven. You will finally come to Korea!….

Wow, Morrissey is coming to Seoul.



Oh, Steven. You will finally come to Korea!….

Wow, Morrissey is coming to Seoul.

(Source: evenbirdsrenouncetheworld)

Korea: Art and artistic relations with Europe/Poland (Warsaw, 25-27 Oct 12)

From: Hee Sook Lee-Niinioja <leeheesook@hotmail.com>
Date: Jan 10, 2012
Subject: CFP: Korea: Art and artistic relations with Europe/Poland 
(Warsaw, 25-27 Oct 12)

The State Museum of Ethnology, ul. Kredytowa 1, Warsaw, Poland, October 
25 - 27, 2012
Deadline: Apr 30, 2012

Ul. Warecka 4/6 – 10, 00-040 Warszawa, Poland, www.sztukaorientu.pl

In collaboration with
The Korean Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Warsaw 
The Section of Oriental Art, Faculty of Fine Arts, Nicolaus Copernicus 
University (www.zhsn.umk.pl)
The Asia and Pacific Museum (www.muzeumazji.pl)
The State Museum of Ethnology (www.ethnomuseum.pl)

invites you to the international conference

Dear Colleagues,

The Conference offers an ideal opportunity for scholars from the 
European Union, South  Korea, the countries of  Asia as well as other 
parts of the world to meet and exchange ideas and results of their 
research on Korean art. Poland has a long-standing tradition of 
research in Asian studies. Some institutions in Poland have been 
involved in stimulating academic interest in Korean culture and art, 
such as the Faculty of Oriental Studies of the University of Warsaw, 
and the Institute of Study and Restoration of Artistic Works, Faculty 
of Fine Arts of the Nicolaus Copernicus University in Torun as well as 
the Asia and Pacific Museum in Warsaw and the State Museum of Ethnology 
on Warsaw. Interest in the culture of this region has been growing 
among art historians, art restorers, museologists, orientalists, 
ethnologists, theatre, dance, music and film scholars.

The proposed main thematic domains of the conference are:
1.  Genesis of Korean art and their artistic relation with China; 
influences of Confucianism and Taoism;  
2.  Buddhist art and culture of Korea and its influences on medieval 
art  of Japan; Korean artists in Nara; 
3.  Korean ceramic and applied art;
4. Art of royal court of Korea: architecture of royal palaces and 
gardens in Seoul, Office of Paintings, “literati” paintings, portrait 
paintings, art of books and print;
5. Art connected to the Silhak reform movement in late Joseon Dynasty 
between the late 17th and early 19th centuries; realistic tendencies in 
paintings and print;
6. Korean art and culture in the international context between China 
and Japan; Korean motifs in Japanese art; reception of European art 
between the late 19th and early 20th centuries;
7. Korean art under the Japanese occupation; architecture in the 
European styles in Seoul and Busan, Christian architecture and art;
8. Korean art after the liberation:  Korean war in art;  art relation 
with European and American art; avant-garde art  (Nam Jun Paik);  
9. Korean ceremonial performances and theatre: its connections with 
10. Contemporary Korean art and visual culture;
11. Korean art in the museum collections in Europe;
12. Polish-Korean art relations.

We welcome participants in two categories:
(1) Speakers who present their papers, 
(2) General audience who participate without presenting a paper.

As a rule, each speaker will be given 30 minutes; the paper (20 min) 
will be followed by a discussion (10 min). There will be sufficient 
time for unrestricted discussion and personal contact during the 
conference as well.
The registration forms including short abstracts will be expected by 
April 30, 2012. They should be sent to:  warszawa@sztukaorientu.pl
For the form go to 
The organizers plan to publish the contributions in a separate 
conference volume.

The language of the conference is English.

50 Euro. No conference fee for Ph.D. students

The Conference will take place in  Warsaw, the capital city of Poland
The organizers are trying to secure sufficient financial resources to 
meet the costs of accommodation and board for all the participants 
presenting their papers. We will inform you about the final results of 
our efforts in this regard as soon as possible.
You are most cordially welcome!

Prof. Dr. Jerzy Malinowski, President of the Polish Institute of World 
Art Studies, Nicolaus Copernicus University,Torun – chairman of the 
conference (jmalin@poczta.onet.pl); 
Dr. Ewa Rynarzewska, Korean Studies, Faculty of Oriental Studies, 
University of Warsaw (ewa.rynarzewska@gmail.com);
Dr. Joanna Wasilewska, Vice-President of the Polish Institute of World 
Art Studies, Deputy Director of the Asia and Pacific Museum, Warsaw 

Reference / Quellennachweis:
CFP: Korea: Art and artistic relations with Europe/Poland (Warsaw, 
25-27 Oct 12). In: H-ArtHist, Jan 10, 2012. 

남한이 상상하는 북한 North Korea, imagined by South Koreans

우리와 가장 가깝지만, 가장 먼 나라 북한

남한사람이 상상하는 북한은 어떤 모습일까요?

신기가 있는 건지 이 워크샵은 4개월전에 스케쥴을 잡았는데

최근 김위원장이 작고했네요

리슨투더시티는 2010년 부터 이 워크샵을 두 차례 진행했습니다.

아트 선재 센터 라운지 오셔서

북한을 상상하는 드로잉을 하시고 (그림을 못그리시는 분 더욱 환영)

에이포 반 장-한 장 정도 글을 써주세요 결과물은 책자로 만들어집니다.

워크샵- 선착순 12명

신청: 010 4297 8652
Listen to the City has been holding ‘North Korea,imagined by South Koreans’ workshop since 2010

to record understanding of South Koreans about North Korea. Information about North Korea is extremely

limited to South Koreans. Therefore the images that S. Korean participants made usually vague and negative.

We scheduled this workshop last October. Of-course we didn’t expect that Mr. Kim would pass away around this time.

What a coincidence. The workshop begins at 4 pm 7th of January 2012 at Artsonje Centerlounge.

Participants need to be a South Korean

The result will be printed as booklets.

more info, apply: parkeunseon@gmail.com

This workshop is a part of City Within the City exhibition,

Artsonje Center, Seoul November 12, 2011- January 15, 2012

more info, apply: parkeunseon@gmail.com

Kazakh film commemorates Korean deportations 60 years ago

Zheruik poster

Kazakh film week in London features “Zheruik” – a film dedicated to 60 years since the mass Korean deportation there. http://t.co/QP1jnW8Y