A screen capture from a post on the Deoksugung website that has since been deleted (Chin Jung-kwon’s Facebook)
Children’s Day in Korea is a day that all kids look forward to, but it may not carry the same meaning for foreign children in Korea, according to the Cultural Heritage Administration’s understanding of Children’s Day.
The CHA’s recent online announcement posted on the Deoksugung website that appeared to say that foreign children are excluded from free admission to palaces on Children’s Day sparked public outrage after it was brought to light in a social media post by the well-known political commentator Chin Jung-kwon.
The announcement had said that seven royal tombs and palaces would offer free or partially free admission to the public on Childrens’ Day on May 5, the presidential inauguration day on May 10 and throughout the annual Palace Culture festival period, from May 10-22.
For Children’s Day, the announcement had said, “free admission for up to two accompanying guardians of children.”
In smaller letters, it said: “Children up to 12 years old. Foreign children excluded.”
The post was deleted Wednesday morning.
“The Cultural Heritage Administration is of the position Children’s Day is a day for Korean children.” a deputy director at the CHA told The Korea Herald when asked to explain the announcement. “So the fee policy for foreign children remains the same as on regular days.”
The official said that foreign children under the age of 6 are given free admission on Children’s Day, the same as on other days.
At Deoksugung, foreigners aged 7 to 18 are charged 500 won while those aged 19 to 64 are charged 1,000 won on regular days.
Koreans aged 24 and under are admitted for free on regular days while those aged 25-64 are charged 1,000 won. Those aged 65 and older are given free admission, regardless of nationality.
“The only difference is whether the accompanying guardians have to pay or not,” the CHA official said, explaining that up to two guardians with Korean children under the age of 12 can enter free of charge.
“We are planning to repost the announcement after revising the sentences that may cause misunderstanding that foreign children and their guardians are not allowed admission,” the CHA official said.
While the official concluded that the controversy arose from a misunderstanding of the online post, public criticism is directed elsewhere, pointing out that the admission policy is clearly discriminating against children of different nationalities.
“Firstly, I do not see the reason foreign children are excluded,” said a social media post. “I also cannot imagine how all the sites are going to determine who are foreign children. It might likely end up judging kids by their appearance.”
By Kim Hae-yeon (firstname.lastname@example.org