North Koreans in South Korea and Beyond: Transnational Migration and Contested Nationhood

Authors

  • Jin Woong Kang Kyonggi University

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v17i2.703

Keywords:

residential mobility, internal migration, repeated migration, unobserved heterogeneity, life course, Switzerland

Abstract

This article examines the differentiated identities of North Koreans in South Korea and beyond in terms of transnational migration and contested nationhood. In the post-Cold War era, North Koreans in South Korea have been marginalised as a social minority, and comprise a subaltern group within South Korea, despite having South Korean citizenship. As a result, many North Korean refugees, including those who have already gained South Korean citizenship, have migrated to Western countries for a better life in terms of wealth and welfare. As active agents, they have pursued strategic lives in the host countries’ multicultural societies and Korean communities. Through complex transnational migration to South Korea and elsewhere, North Koreans have reformulated nationhood by contesting the idea of a “homogeneous nation” of Korea. This article focuses on how North Koreans have shaped their own Koreanness in the multicultural societies of the United States and the United Kingdom as well as in the hierarchical nationhood of South Korea. By doing so, it offers an alternative framework for looking at the multifarious identities of North Korean refugees globally.

Author Biography

Jin Woong Kang, Kyonggi University

Jin Woong Kang is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of North Korean Studies of the Graduate School of Politics & Policy at Kyonggi University. He received his PhD in Sociology from the University of Minnesota. He worked as a postdoctoral associate and lecturer in the Council on East Asian Studies and the Department of Sociology at Yale University. He also worked as an Associate Professor in the Research Institute of Korean Studies at Korea University. He is the author of North Korea, the Country of Juche: State Power and People’s Lives (Seoul: Spring of May).

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Published

2020-04-02

How to Cite

Kang, J. W. (2020). North Koreans in South Korea and Beyond: Transnational Migration and Contested Nationhood. Migration Letters, 17(2), 325-338. https://doi.org/10.33182/ml.v17i2.703