By winning a racial-abuse case, an Assamese research professor at Seoul’s SungKongHoe University has forced South Korea to consider introducing two laws that will make discrimination a crime.
Offenders could face two years in prison or a maximum fine of 10 million won (about Rs 4 lakh) in a country that never had laws on racial abuse.
Since Bonojit Hussain, 28, came to Korea in 2007, Hussain’s research on “Racism and Hegemony in Asia” at the university exposed him to facets of racism till then unheard of in the continent.
But Hussain has experienced discrimination at close quarters as a student of History at Delhi University.
“Part of my research touches upon racism in the Indian society. It grew out of my experience in Delhi University where fellow students from Northeast India were subjected to abuse and sometimes violence,” he told Hindustan Times in an e-mail interview.
Fighting injustice perhaps runs in Hussain’s blood; he is the son of Haider Hussain, the Guwahati-based firebrand editor of the mass circulated Assamese daily Asomiya Pratidin.
After a bus passenger, Chang-Woo Park, abused Hussain and taunted his companion about dating a black man, he complained to the police and to Korea’s national human-rights panel.
“Chang-Woo apologised to me during the court hearing,” he said. “But my goal was not so much to punish him as to bring the issue to the public forum.”