North Koreans in South Korea and Beyond: Transnational Migration and Contested Nationhood
Keywords:residential mobility, internal migration, repeated migration, unobserved heterogeneity, life course, Switzerland
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.
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