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Hate Crimes and Prejudice in the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • By Park Hyun-jong, reporter
  • 승인 2021.04.05 08:46
  • 호수 288
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▲An Asian American girl holding a sign reads: No Hate in NYC in New York city, U.S.(Source : Pixabay)

The COVID-19 virus was first identified in Wuhan, China as “Wuhan pneumonia”. Unlike the case of MERS (Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome) and Japanese Encephalitis, WHO named the virus COVID-19 so as not to associate it with a particular region, to avoid unnecessary prejudice against those regions and the people who live there. The pandemic caused by the COVID-19 virus has affected people’s lives and economies around the world, fueling rage towards China as the origin of the virus. In the United States, hate crime rates against Asians have risen by nearly 800% during the COVID-19 pandemic, proving that there has been an increase of racist anti-Asian hate. Before the pandemic, hate crimes against Asians were often committed by white supremacists against people of color. However, crimes specifically targeting Asians did not make up a large percentage of the hate crimes. In addition, the average annual income of Asian-Americans is $86,000, while White-Americans earn $65,000 on average annually. Asians from East-Asian countries such as Korea, China, and Japan tended to have positive stereotypes and a high standard of living among U.S. citizens as Asian-Americans from East-Asian countries are the demographic with the highest income, and the lowest in crime rates. Asian communities formed by ethnic Chinese were powerful, and greatly influenced Western countries politically and economically.

The hatred of China was stimulated at the start of the pandemic and people are still continuing to discriminate against many Asians, as many westerners cannot distinguish between Asians from different countries. Here are some disturbing examples of anti-Asian hate crimes. Last year, Son Heung-min, a Korean football player on a British football team, coughed during a game. People then mocked him saying, “Son is spreading the Asian virus.” Assaults on elderly Asian people have also been happening more and more frequently. In Miami, a video of a black woman chasing a Korean woman and squirting hand sanitizer on her went viral after being posted on Facebook. Even worse, in Georgia, a state in the U.S., a white man opened fire in massage shops in the town. Eight people were killed, four of them were Korean-Americans. Currently, hate crimes in the U.S have decreased overall, while the crime rate against Asians has increased significantly. This means that Koreans and Asians of other nationalities are being targeted as victims of these hate crimes. As a result, the Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a warning about hate crimes against Asians living abroad. This rise of anti-Asian racism meant that Asians in America, Europe, and Australia are not only exposed to the negative effects caused by the COVID-19 pandemic itself, but also have their safety and well-being taken away from them because of ignorant hatred.

As it is clear to see, Koreans abroad have to worry more and more about racist crimes. As such, even in Korea, which is developing into a multicultural society, the attitudes and impressions toward foreigners with other nationalities and races needs to be addressed. In fact, 70% of foreigners living in Korea answered that they have experienced some kind of racism or prejudice. Efforts to stop hatred and discrimination against people from foreign countries is required. It is necessary to raise awareness of the blind spots of racism against Asians by voicing opposition to racism and crime. People all over the world need to work together to overcome the global crisis of COVID-19 without condemnation of certain groups.

By Park Hyun-jong, reporter  tommyhil4444@gmail.com

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