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(LEAD) Seoul vows greater role in supporting multicultural families hit by COVID-19

All News 18:00 September 16, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with survey results in paras 10-12)

SEOUL, Sept. 16 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's government will play a greater role in helping multicultural households overcome various difficulties caused by the coronavirus outbreak, a Cabinet minister said at a forum on multiculturalism Wednesday.

Minister of Gender Equality and Family Lee Jung-ok made the promise in her address delivered at the 2020 Multiculturalism Forum hosted by Yonhap News Agency, the nation's key newswire, at its headquarters in central Seoul.

Participants in the 2020 Multiculturalism Forum, including Minister of Gender Equality and Family Lee Jung-ok (7th from L) and Yonhap News Agency President Cho Sung-boo (5th from L), pose for the camera at Yonhap's headquarters in Seoul on Sept. 16, 2020. (Yonhap)

"As the COVID-19 outbreak has been prolonged, more changes will be required in all areas of society ranging from health and education to the economy as a whole. As the government body in charge of multicultural family policies, the gender equality and family ministry will play a pivotal role in supporting them with meticulous care," Lee said.

Cho Sung-boo, president and CEO of Yonhap News, said he wishes this year's forum will review the actual status of the multicultural family support programs and explore specific ways to improve them.

"This forum will also set the stage for discussions on difficulties faced by multicultural households, particularly amid the coronavirus crisis, and ways to overcome them," Cho said.

Yonhap News has hosted the multiculturalism forum since 2013 to better support the nation's multicultural household policies.

Unlike the previous forums, this year's conference was held with a minimum number of participants attending as part of efforts to comply with the government's social distancing guidelines.

The 2020 Multiculturalism Forum is under way at Yonhap News Agency's headquarters in Seoul on Sept. 16, 2020, with a minimum number of participants on hand due to the coronavirus outbreak. (Yonhap)

Only 20 scholars, experts and government officials were invited to attend the forum in person amid the absence of ordinary audience members.

Instead, the forum was broadcast live at its official website (www.yna.co.kr/2020-site/multicultural).

According to a survey released by the Korea Institute for Healthy Family at the forum, 74.2 percent of multicultural households have experienced economic difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic.

In the poll of 1,000 members of multicultural families aged 18 years and older, conducted from July 9-16, 80.2 percent of women and 64 percent of men felt stress from deterioration in household finances.

It also found 88.9 percent of pollees in their 20s suffered economic hardships from the coronavirus outbreak, compared with 81.1 percent of people in their 30s and 78.3 percent of people in their 40s.

During the forum, 10 people from multicultural families received scholarships of 1 million won (US$851) per person offered by Yonhap and two other multicultural household support organizations.


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