Multicultural Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy in South Korea

  • John D Palmer Colgate University
Keywords: children of immigrants, South Korea, race and ethnicity, social justice, immigration, multicultural education


South Korea has witnessed a major demographic shift as more children of immigrants are entering the schools. Over the course of four months, I visited six elementary schools, graduate schools of education, and conducted interviews with teachers, principals, and district administrators to gain an understanding how multicultural theory, policy and practice were being implemented. I used of four heuristic devices to analyze the implementation of multicultural policy and curriculum at the elementary school level: 1) Serving the needs of children of immigrants, 2) Celebrating cultural differences, 3) Creating multicultural schools, and 4) Striving for a socially just society. The findings indicate that the current policy and practice has led to a deficit thinking model towards children of immigrants and therefore teachers and administrators need critical multicultural theory and praxis based upon a social justice platform. I do not want to be too critical of multicultural education in South Korea as I keep in mind issues of policy transfer, borrowing and lending; however, I believe that the research can have a positive impact upon multicultural education in Korea as well as in other countries that are also witnessing a rapid rise in immigrants and ethnic minorities.

How to Cite
Palmer, J. (2020). Multicultural Theory, Practice, and Pedagogy in South Korea. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 10(1), 5-22. Retrieved from