Korean Companies Enter the National Discussion of Racial Diversity on the Peninsula


South Korea is a country coming to grips with the concept of racial diversity. In terms of ethnic makeup, it is the second least diverse place in the world –with North Korea ranking just ahead and Japan in a not so distant third.

So insignificant are non-Korean ethnicities that the central government in Seoul has yet to pass anti-discrimination laws to protect an individual based on race –and efforts to do so are still met with resistance from a citizenry that has been raised on ethnic nationalism since the country’s founding following the Korean war.

As bleak as this all sounds, and while the rest of the world also wrestles with its own racial issues and resistance to globalization (racially motivated crimes jumped a reported 42% during the Brexit debate), South Korea is making inroads towards addressing its transition to becoming a more diverse nation.


 

One of the frontlines of transition is the increasing frequency of marriages between Koreans and non-Koreans —a large number of which are arrangements where the couples barely know each other, don’t speak each other’s language and know little, if anything, of the other’s culture.

International Marriages Korea Commercial - Branding in Asia

According to the Korea Herald, Korean-Korean couples stay married for an average of 14.3 years compared to an average of 6.4 years among mixed couples. Even more telling is that half of divorced Korean husbands claim their foreign wives ran away from home, according to a 2012 government report.

It is amid this difficult social reality that the following new short film from LG Plus for their (albeit oddly named) “HomeBoy” product is deeply resonating with the Korean public.


 

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The touching, three-minute spot, which looks at the difficulties an Indonesian mother and housewife goes through trying to adapt to the language and the life in Korea, has already racked up 3.2 million views since it’s release just a week ago.

Check it out.

An interesting side note to this is that the product being pitched is actually a pairing of two traditional enemies: LG and Samsung.

The “Homeboy” is a re-branded Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 that plugs into U+’s services, which features TV channels, music, video, ebook and educational software such as language instruction.

As is the goal of corporate social responsibility campaigns around the globe, LG is hoping consumers will be emotionally touched and say “I do” to purchasing the “Homeboy”.

It certainly brought a tear to our eye.

Targeting Indonesians?

Also of interest is the choice of an Indonesian wife in the film –this considering that Vietnam and China rank substantially higher for the origin of international brides in Korea.

Is LG playing the smart money by making an ad that appeals to the fourth most populous country in the world?

That makes a tremendous amount of sense and, if intentional, a nice move by LG.

Bobby McGill

Bobby McGill

Bobby is the founder and publisher of Branding in Asia.

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