Categorizing Migrants: the Making of Multicultural Society in South Korea

Daisy Y. Kim
Tuesday, October 23, 2012 -
7:30pm to 9:00pm
Second floor Residents’ Lounge, Somerset Palace
7,000 won (non-member); free for members

Until very recently, nation-building in South Korea, whose existence assumes the permanent division of the peninsula following the Korean War, had been based on ethnic homogeneity. Migration trends in the past few decades have challenged the traditional roots of the Korean nation-state. In particular, the prevalence of international marriages between South Koreans and foreign spouses—multicultural families—has debunked the "myth" of ethnic homogeneity. In response to these trends, both state and society have employed the language of multiculturalism to incorporate certain groups of migrants (migrant spouses), while excluding others (migrant workers) through deliberately constructed images and portrayals of migrants in the mass media as well as through politico-ideological apparatuses. By seeing how public and private actors and institutions incorporate migrants in broader Korean society, this lecture explores ways of categorizing and labeling migrants and the consequences in the making of a multicultural society.

Daisy Kim is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. As a 2012 Fulbright Junior Researcher, she is currently conducting research on marriage migration and multiculturalism in Korea. She holds an MA in East Asian Studies from Stanford University and a BA in Political Economy from Georgetown University.

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