The 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Torch shed light on Migrant Heroes in Korea
Republic of Korea - IOM in the Republic of Korea (ROK) joined the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Torch Relay on 14 January 2018. As the second participant of the day, Miah Park, IOM ROK Head of Office, invited four migrant heroes to participate in the relay with her. The Olympic Torch Relay started in the historic site of Seoul, Gwanghwamun Gate Plaza, and went through major streets in Seoul last Sunday.
“The theme of the PyeongChang Olympic Torch Relay is let everyone shine. Through our engagement, I hope it will be an opportunity to shed light on every migrant in the society,” Park said. She also highlighted the Olympic values especially equality and respect to promote social inclusion and partnership.
Four migrants’ different migration stories received much attention from the Korean media. Knyaw Paw, a 14 years old Myanmar refugee from Thailand, came to Korea with her family of seven through the government’s refugee resettlement programme, supported by IOM. Truong Thi Bich Nga, a Vietnamese marriage migrant, mother of four children, participated in IOM Disaster Preparedness Training for Migrants in 2017.
“I decided to take part in this meaningful event because my children encouraged me to participate. I am very proud to represent around 150,000 marriage migrant women in Korea. I wish this event will inspire other migrants to stand up for diverse social engagement,” Truong added. While taking care of her young children, she also helps elderly people in the local soup kitchen.
Dhurba Shrestha Kumar from Nepal is a forkcrane driver in a livestock farm, and Fafa Sene, a Senegalese student, is studying development studies. It is estimated that there are over 2 million migrants in the country, and their contributions in different areas of the Korean society are increasingly being recognized.
Migrants’ contributions will also be seen in the Olympic games. Most countries have team members with diverse migration backgrounds. For Korea, 19 athletes with migration backgrounds will participate as members of the Korean national team. Compared to the 2014 Sochi Olympic, the number of migrant athletes representing Korea has increased by ten folds.
This will be Korea’s second Olympic Games and its first Winter Game. The PyeongChang Winter Olympic will be held from February 9 to 25. Total 93 nations will participate in the upcoming international event.