• Hayoung PARK | Communication Assistant, IOM Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea - Min Seolhwa, who has been in the Republic of Korea (ROK) for 15 years, was born in Uzbekistan and migrated after getting married to her Korean husband. Ahead of her arrival in the country, she was concerned about the prejudice and negative perceptions toward multicultural families, as well as being isolated from the community for being a foreigner. Now, however, she is volunteering at an organization under the local government and feels proud as a member of the society. 

Throughout her journey from Uzbekistan to ROK, language has been a hurdle. “I can’t say I have completely overcome the difficulties in language. Despite my diligent efforts, there are some moments that keep me worried, like ‘what if I give others a difficult time for not being able to articulate myself clearly, especially since Koreans work fast?’” She said continuous participation in workplace capacity-building programmmes at her work has proven to be a beacon of support for her. “Also, communicating with my colleagues is helpful to make work go smoothly. They have helped me a lot to find solutions whenever I face difficulties in my work.” 

© Min Seolhwa

Before getting her current job, Seolhwa sought guidance from the local government-run Multicultural Family Support Center. With the assistance of the centre, she received counseling on career paths and educational opportunities. This not only equipped her with insights into labour markets in ROK but also instilled in her educational programmes related to her job. 

© Min Seolhwa

As she began working, Seolhwa's daily life also became more independent. “Now I can find or fill out the necessary documents at the Administrative Welfare Center on my own. She can now handle more administrative tasks independently than before. Her work has also helped her deal with issues such as depression and lack of self-confidence. “I gained independence and my perspective on myself has changed a lot.”

Waves of change also occurred within the family. Unlike before, when I had to take care of housework and childcare alone, I now handle household chores together with my family. “As a mother, I think showing her that she is working towards her personal goals and working hard to achieve her goals will have a positive impact on the children as well.”

© Min Seolhwa

Handling diverse tasks at the Volunteer Center, such as volunteer management, financial oversight and communication, Seolhwa feels no regret about the decision she made 15 years ago. "I believe women should be treated equally in all aspects of life, not just as mothers but as active participants in politics, society and the economy. This is why contributing to society as a social worker is a precious experience to me," she addressed. “From myself to other migrant women: it may be difficult now, but the one step forward we take today will make us shine brightly tomorrow. If there is anything you are dreaming of, don’t hesitate to give it a try.”

Looking forward, Seolhwa is committed to helping vulnerable communities. By furthering her studies on social welfare, her dream is to contribute to the protection of women's rights, the enhancement of their capabilities, and fostering a societal shift in the overall perceptions towards women. 

This story was written by Hayoung PARK, Communication Assistant, IOM Republic of Korea,

SDG 5 - Gender Equality
SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities