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Thursday, August 26, 2021

The Miracle Korea Needs

378 Afghans airlifted from Kabul joined Korea yesterday. After landing in Incheon Airport, the usual covid tests, and a night in Gimpo, they were moved this morning to Jincheon and the National Human Resources Development Institute, where they will spend their quarantine.

This 'Operation Miracle' echoes the 'Ship of Miracles' of 1950 that saved 14,000 people from Hungnam, packed in the SS Meredith Victory as North Korean armies closed in.

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"This is not the #SSMeredithVictory leaving #Hungnam but a US freight plane leaving #Kabul. We don't know which talents will emerge from this #ShipofMiracles, we only know that it will not return to save more lives." (@theSeoulVillage - 20210817 - twitter.com/theseoulvillage/status/1427391731461328926)

These 'special contributors' to South Korea, who already proved their skills and value*, come with their families and kids - 180 including a few newborns! A significant community to build upon.

After the Yemen refugee PR disaster, Korea must prove that it can properly welcome migrants from countries in turmoil. Jincheon-gun authorities showed the right example by displaying welcome banners in Afghan, English, and Korean. 

Of course, full success will require profound changes in mindsets across a nation where minorities of color tend to experience racism, and where Islamophobia keeps spreading, fueled by fearmongers and people who wrongly claim to represent a religion founded around a symbol of inclusion and tolerance who happened to be a brown-skinned Jewish Palestinian refugee.

I'm hopeful, because Korea has already spectacularly improved against certain prejudices by being more exposed to diversity and multiculturalism**, and because these newcomers come not only in numbers, but also with experience. This is the perfect occasion for the nation to show positive progress, and genuine cultural leadership.

This cultural evolution is the miracle Korea needs. So everybody, a warm welcome to our brothers and sisters from Afghanistan!


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* "Afghan evacuees in S. Korea arrive at temporary shelter in Jincheon" (Yonhap News 20210827)

** including through the experiences of its own diaspora.

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