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Skin Color Crayons Promote Discrimination (08-01-2002)

  • 2002-12-04
  • 2696

NHRC recommends the Korean Agency for the Technology and Standards to revise the Korean Industrial Standard (08-01-2002)

 

On 1 August, the NHRC recommended to the Administrator at the Korean Agency for Technology and Standards (KATS) to revise the Korean Industrial Standard, which has been defining a certain color as "skin color", since such a definition violates Article 11 of the Constitution of Korea. On 26 November 2001, 4 foreigners and the Reverend Hae-Song Kim, of the Seong-Nam House for Foreign Workers, filed a petition to the NHRC against KATS and three other crayon manufacturing companies.

 

The labeling of a certain color as "skin color" began when, in 1967, KATS translated a Japanese word used for the same color, and adopted the terminology for the Korean Industrial Standard. The petitioners, in turn, argued that such a practice discriminates those whose skin colors are not the same as East Asians, and that companies use the phrase since they had been recommended to do so by the Korean Industrial Standard. 

 

The NHRC maintains that although the terminology may be appropriate for those with East-Asian origins, the terminology violates the right of equality of other races as guaranteed by Article 11 of the Constitution of Korea. The NHRC also argues that in the age of globalization, where exchanges between nations and ethnic groups are increasing, the terminology is not only arcane, but also spreads misconceptions of race and skin color. Adoption of the terminology is also against the purpose of the Industrial Standard Law, [is this the same as the Korean Industrial Standard?] which aims to contribute to the national economy.

 

However, the NHRC has dismissed the charges against the three crayon manufacturing companies, since the companies have only been following the standard as provided by the KATS, and hence, the sale of their products does not by itself constitute a discriminatory act.

In the mean time, the Stationary Union, where the three companies are members, has reported to the NHRC that, "in Japan, companies can freely choose the name of the color. Thus, since the year 2000, the Japanese companies have been labeling "skin color" as "light orange." If KATS changes its standard, we are more than wiling to follow."

 

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