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The Directions of Korean Church for Migrant Workers' Social Welfare from the Viewpoint of Old Testament

Yoo,YoonJong 1 Malsuk Suk 2

1평택대학교
2나사렛대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

As Thomas Friedman pointed out, we are living in the flat world, so movement of people and materials became easy. Accordingly migrant workers from other countries where labor price is cheaper than that of Korea have come into Korea since 1987. Now more than one million of migrant workers are living in Korea. However, the worldwide economic crisis in 2008 influenced seriously Korean economy too. A lot of non- regular workers, daily workers, and migrant workers are under danger of dismissal. The protection and care for migrant workers as well as nonregular workers and daily workers are necessary. This paper pursues what Korean church should do for migrant workers by what biblical ground (Old Testament) and by what kind of social welfare policy. This paper analyzes and compares present status of migrant workers, biblical status of migrant workers, and then presents what Korean church should do by the topics of human rights, legal status, economic trouble, social problem, quality of life, and so on. The human rights of present migrant workers in Korea is not fully protected. Employers regard them not as a human being, but as a working machine. In addition, Korean society sees migrant workers as an object of control, oppression, exclusion. About 21% of migrant workers in Korea are staying illegally. These workers are objects of discrimination, because they are in danger of being banished if their illegal status are revealed. Economically, the most common appeals are overdue wages. A lot of cases of overdue wages are misused by employers for not moving to other companies where higher salary is offered. In addition, about 30% of migrant workers had experienced of violence from employers. Migrant workers also suffer from different language, food, culture, and so on. In the Old Testament, there are four terms for designating foreigners. Among them, the most similar terminology for migrant worker is ger. The Old Testament always emphasizes protection and care for ger. In the Covenant law which is considered as old as tribal period, the protection and care for ger is crucial. Ger in the Covenant law refers to not only foreign workers, but also even Israelites who left their tribes and under protection of other tribes. In Deuteronomic law which was enacted during the monarchic period, the protection and care for ger is more emphasized than in the Covenant law. The law presents a lot of economic means to help them. Ger in the Deuteronmic law is considered not as an Israelite, but as a non-Israelite migrant worker. The Holiness Code enacted during the post-exilic period include ger in Israel community, and if they are circumcised, they can join in the Passover meal. The legal status for ger is fully guaranteed during the post-exilic period. The legal and social status of ger during the post-exilic period was no difference at all with Israelites if ger accepts Yahweh. The irony is that the social, economic, and political condition was most troubled. The Old Testament suggests that the protection and care for ger is beyond economic, social, and political condition. It is a timeless truth that people of God should keep. The Old Testament provides a lot of means to help ger economically. First it is recommended that people should leave some ears of grains, grape and olives during harvest for ger and other poor people. Second, a tithe of three years is collected for ger and other poor people. As economy decreases, the role of Korean church increases. It would be a good chance for Korean church to recover negative images imprinted in Korean society. The necessity of intervention of Korean church to migrant workers as well as other socially weak people becomes more urgent. First, Korean church should provide the value for migrant workers' human right. The universality of human right goes regardless of race, social position, and riches. The Bible teaches us to take care of migrant workers like a family member. Thus Korean church should raise the issue of migrant workers' human right. Second, Korean church should support for movement of increasing legal status of migrant workers. It is time for migrant workers to get a permanent residency in Korea. Third, Korean church should provide specific project for helping migrant workers such as economic benefits, professional counseling, giving shelters, teaching Korean, and so on. The protection and care for migrant workers is not a secondary role of Korean church after saving souls. The Bible teaches us that it is the primary role as important as saving souls. In conclusion, It is noted that it is a kairotic time for Korean church to intervene urgently to migrant workers' social welfare in Korea.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.