Filipina Runs for Seat in S. Korea Parliament

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A Filipina is running for a seat in the South Korean Parliament. If elected on April 11, she will become the country’s first Filipina and naturalized Korean citizen to be a member of the parliament.

Jasmine Lee, 35, is the head of Global Resource Center, a TV host and a part-time actress. Originally from Davao City, Philippines, Lee married Korean Dong-ho Lee and became a naturalized Korean. Lee is representing the Saenuri Party and is one of 46 candidates for a representative seat.

Philippines Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the Filipino community in South Korea and Filipinos around the world are supporting Fil-Korean in her bid to win.

“We are all very proud that a full-blooded Filipino is being given the opportunity to be a member of the Korean Parliament,” Binay told South Korean media, according to ABS-CBN. “It shows that Korea is prepared to extend the opportunity to become a public servant even to those who were not born here.”

However, Lee is already facing obstacles. South Korea has a reputation for discriminating against migrant workers and other foreigners.

According to ABS-CBN and Korean media outlets, several groups opposed to multiculturalism have launched a negative campaign attack on Lee, questioning her educational background and other qualifications. In 2009, the New York Times (citing local news media and rights advocates) wrote “incidents of xenophobia [in the country] are on the rise.”

Despite the attacks, Lee said she is still determined to run and represent South Korea if elected . Lee, who is representing the Saenuri Party, is one of 46 candidates for a representative seat.