Pre-service Teachers’ Awareness and Attitudes on South Korea’s Increasing Cultural and Ethnic Diversity and the Role of Multicultural Education in K-12 Schools

Sunnie Lee Watson, Gilbert C. Park, Hong-soo Lee


As the number of multicultural students in South Korean schools continues to grow, activists and educators argue that South Korean schools are not meeting the needs of both multicultural and mono-cultural students and advocate for multicultural education. While educational literature looks at the meaning of multicultural education and how it can be implemented in the South Korean context, relatively little attention has been given to pre-service teachers’ understanding of cultural diversity and multicultural education. This paper explores how South Korean pre-service teachers understand the increasing ethnic and cultural diversity in South Korean society and multicultural education in South Korean schools. The responses suggest that multicultural education for pre-service teachers should facilitate a critical examination of South Korean identity as a political construct. Furthermore it should empower them to actively define multicultural education in their own contexts as a way to politically engage multiculturalism in and out of school.

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