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Those Who Can Become “Foreign Koreans” Globalisation, Transnational Marriages and Shifting Nationalist Discourse in South Korea Sohoon Lee 1 This paper postulates that South Korea’s multicultural rhetoric is written in neoliberal terms and is part of the state’s new nationbuilding discourse. Following the Asian Financial Crisis of 1997, South Korean nationalism has been reshaped to impose neoliberal ideals on its citizens. Similarly, foreign populations such as marriage migrants have been objectified into specific roles needed in the national economy. The government has used their economic role as means to justify their presence in society while at the same time limiting their political and civil rights. The current paradigm deliberately marks the “foreignness” of biracial populations to emphasise their market value—and therefore their justified stay—in Korea. This paper starts with a theoretical discussion for South Korean state nationalism and reviews globalisation-inspired changes in light of nationalist discourse. Then the paper draws on field notes, participant observation data, interviews, documentary analysis and case study to review Korea’s “multicultural” policies and argue that the selective acceptance of migrants and their social hierarchy are codified in legal structure. [Article copies available for a fee from The Transformative Studies Institute. E-mail address: email@example.com Website: http://www.transformativestudies.org ©2012 by The Transformative Studies Institute. All rights reserved.] KEYWORDS: Nationalism, Neoliberal Welfarism, Neo-Pluralism, Marriage Migration.
Sohoon Lee has completed her Master’s degree in political science at the University of Toronto. She has since worked at various rights groups in Thailand and South Korea including Asia Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) and Migrants’ Trade Union. She currently studies Human Rights and Democratisation at the University of Sydney. Address correspondence to: Ms. Sohoon Lee, University of Sydney, SSPS, RC Mills Room 140, Sydney, NSW, 2006, Australia; tel: +614 2682 2823; fax: +612 9036 9380; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. 1937-0229 ©2012 Transformative Studies Institute 1
the question of national identity seems to have simply become. reside abroad…. but at the same time. however. racial. 87). members of multiethnic communities (Lee H. 2008. 2008. Anderson. we must accept that national.e. that “forging a national essence is the business of nationalists. 1994. the crossborder population brought by the force of globalisation is considered as a threat to their homogenous society by some while. at the same time. diasporas) as well as foreign nationals living within the state’s territory of jurisdiction. What creates a sense of national identity in individuals? The question of one’s national identity is becoming harder to answer with various changes occurring with globalisation. cultural and religious pluralism is the fundamental principle of globalization… We must bear in mind that some five million Koreans. This is particularly the case for South Korea. for some at least: on what basis do I identify myself? How do individuals living in nation states do it? Many describe nationalism as political rhetoric by the state (Brueilly. With the greater exchange of culture and the influx of transnational migration from one country to another and often with conflicts between one’s legal and cultural identities. the problem of globalisation poses a unique challenge to the state especially in East Asia where people generally regard ethnicity as having an important role in creating one’s national identity. In this light. 1993. and incoming foreign migrants now challenge the “traditional” concept of a national identity. the exclusiveness of the society against foreigners is criticised by others. p.-K. p. The outburst of globalisation. when the state-imposed nationalism conflicts with the individual’s envisioning of his or her own national identity. Even though they are also descendants of our forefather Tan-gun [Dan’gun]. That of nationalism’s historians and theorists is to identify the historical and social parameters within which such forging became at once possible and necessary” (Desai. they are also citizens of different nations.Sohoon Lee INTRODUCTION: GLOBALISATION AND NATIONALISM We take pride in the fact that we are a single nation inheriting the same blood from the same ancestors. In 2 . regardless of its verifiability. The state may find it problematic. a country where the belief of “homogenous Korean people”. 1991). asserting that it is a modern invention by the nationalist elites. The control of the territorial boundaries is being contested as the state needs to care for its nationals living in the territory outside its control (i. Desai. or 7 percent of our entire race. . In this regard. has been celebrated since the start of the modern era. 397). the development of foreign diasporas.
accessed in April 2009 3 Press Release from Ministry of Justice.000.korea. June 25. Vietnam. homogenous society” (Lim.com/site/data/html_dir/2010/07/16/2010071600994.5 Demographics in South Korea. the numbers of marriage migrants were more than 110.254 out of 48 million population). one out of five children may be from such a “multicultural family”. 19). More surprising is the projection that by 2020. the most perplexing aspect is the dramatic increase in the number of transnational marriages between Korean citizens and foreigners who are mostly from China. July 16. in 2008.000. cited by Choi.chosun. http://english. who claim that the government lacked a fundamental framework and philosophy of multiculturalism and.asp?code=L03. the South Korean government has recently delivered many new policies under the name of “multiculturalism”. 2010. “Ministry of Justice to open Hearing on Strategies for Multicultural Social integration” (Bŏpmubu. the policies are void in principle and random in practice. are quickly shaping up to be what a South Korean government never had to deal with before: multi-ethnic and multicultural. treatment. however.net/Korea/Kor_loca. “1 out of 5 children are “children of multicultural family by 2020” (2020 nyŏn ŏrini 5myŏngjung 1myŏng “damunhwa gajŏng janyŏ”). once described as a “tightly-knit.Theory In Action 2007.234 in 2001 to 38.000 in 1990. ‘damunhwa sahoi tonghab guchuk bang’an’ gongchŏng hoi gaechoi). 2008. Data from the Korea Culture and Information Service online.2 newspapers were flooded with self-reflective reports examining the reality. when the number of foreigners living in Korea first passed the one million point. 2006). 4 “Mail-order bride’s murder is a symptom of a larger problem. Two percent may not sound significant to some. Obtained on Korea Policy Portal (www.” Chosun Ilbo. scholars and journalists.kr). and one out of every three couples living in rural areas consists of a Korean man and a foreign wife. Hangyoreh Newspaper. and inclusivity of foreigners in South Korean society. 2008. http://www. 3 2 . have been the subject of criticisms from many activists.korea.html 5 Data from Gui-Soon Jung as presented on Open World Women’s Rights Conference. thus. November 26.3 In 2009. Amidst the influx of foreigners. The inefficiency and the insufficiency of these policies. comprising approximately 10 percent of the foreign population residing in Korea. p. To address these changes in a global era. Sang-Won.5 times over that of 2001 (the number increased from 15. marking 2 percent of the population (1.4 The occurrence of transnational marriages in 2007 increased by 2. 2002.. but the number is a twenty-fold increase from 49.491 in 2007). and the Philippines (Seol et al. According to the Ministry of Justice. transnational marriages accounted for 10 percent of all marriages.
First. Neoliberalism has replaced the developmental state model. however. In the contemporary South Korean government. but rather to approach the shaping of multicultural policies as another discourse of cultural politics. the major task for the South Korean government was economic development. Society evolves—changes take place every day. the theoretical framework for discussing South Korean nationalism will be laid out. and a study of the rise of a new nationalist discourse by the state and its relationship to globalisation. My argument will be three-fold. most particularly with regards to governance ideology. causing a major reshaping. I argue that the normative aspect of multiculturalism—such as pluralism. and universalism—was never in the interests of the government from the start. for much of the late 20th Century. The last section reveals politicization of cultures in a thorough review of neoliberalism and the state’s new nationalist discourse of “cultivating global talents”. assigning different and unique tasks for the government to solve.Sohoon Lee It is not my purpose. This point is further demonstrated by case studies which portray migrants’ struggle to find acceptance into society. an analysis of the interplay between globalisation and nationalism. many major issues relate to globalisation. 4 . Rather. however. Since the IMF intervention. In the past. rebuilding of the nation from the Japanese annexation and the subsequent Korean War. The second section critically analyses laws on migrants to argue that the selective acceptance of migrants and their social hierarchy are codified in legal structure. to criticise the government this way. every moment. It will consist of the following: a critical review of the shifting nationalist discourse employed by the state. This paper looks at the parallel between the paradigm shifts in the government and state-driven nationalism through the case study of the government’s “multicultural” (damunhwa) policies and transnational marriages. This paper aims to provide a systematic review of nationalist discourses carried out by the South Korean government. argue that the government’s advocacy of multiculturalism is an example of cultural politics for social mobilisation. and in so doing. cross-culturalism. Its ideas on citizenship and nationalism likewise have undergone a similar process following the reshaping of the government. What is called a developmental state prevailed from the 1960s to the early 1990s until the financial crisis. it was only the pragmatic aspect of creating and maintaining a multicultural society that the government sought to utilise in its new nation-building discourse.
The cultivation of the citizenry has been hegemonic and this hegemonic culture has been adaptive to societal changes. motivation. The ideologies of the elites were shaped by and shifted across various theoretical natures over time: from anti-colonialism to authoritarianisminspired nationalism. Many developmental states in Asia employed nationalism as an important political tool for winning support and mobilising the citizens for the government’s agenda. First. as well as their effects on altered governmentality and the new rise of Korean nationalism. Three characteristics that represent South Korean nationalism before the Asian financial crisis of 1997 will be explored here. interventionist state. development was a goal. democracy. Cho analyses Korean nationalism as being “a moral imperative or a norm which every Korean must follow and adhere to” (2008. In so doing. and globalisation. p. the institutional mechanisms of Neoliberalism. I aim to highlight the following: emphasis on pragmatism within the South Korean government’s new advocacy for multiculturalism. after liberation from the Japanese in 1945 and especially during the Park Jung Hee regime in the 1960s until the Asian economic crisis of 1997. The state was at the centre of identifying Korea. Through cultivation of a specific political personhood. pragmatism. nationalism was imposed by the state and hereto remained hegemonic. which was characterised by a strong. The political ideology of the elites was reproduced in the school curricula and spread consensually throughout the nation. and Korean-ness. imposing different values at different times. and driving force of nationalism.Theory In Action This paper ultimately aims to review the government’s new multicultural policies in light of shifting discourses of nationalism. 85). Korean people. and South Korea was no exception (Woo-Cumings. 1999). the South Korean state has sought to create an effect similar to Gellner’s high culture oriented nationalism (1983). THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK: NATIONALIST DISCOURSE AND GLOBALISATION Review of Nationalist Discourse: Developmental Nationalism At the centre of the so-called Asian economic miracles stood what is widely categorised as the developmental state. Yim (2003) elaborates on the way in which cultural policies and cultural identity are closely interlinked. Citizens unanimously agreed to and followed the state’s 5 . Secondly. and the market powers. 1. The South Korean state. was an exemplary developmental state.
Owing much influence to the nationalist movement during the colonial period as well as the Korean War. developmental nationalism mobilised the citizens and often demanded their sacrifice for the sake of the nation’s. a need for homogenous nationalism has led the state to create a myth about and emphasise the benefits of being ethnically homogenous. future well-being. understanding their economy as the marker of their culture and culture as the unique driving force of the economy (Sakhar 2008. people synchronised their economic performance with their national identity. and mobilisation for nationalist interests as well as unity in execution were understood as a form of moral conduct. Achievements in economic development became the modern legacy on which developmental nationalism stood. like Japan. cited in Desai 2008). South Koreans talked proudly of what they call “the miracle of Han River. Bloodline 6 . economic development was a dominant goal that had to be achieved at the expense of other social sacrifices. according to her). Desai (2008) argues that both cultural politics and political economy must be considered when examining nationalism. her conceptualisation of nationalism shifting in the scale with the political economy on one end and cultural politics on the other is still very much applicable to and useful for studying South Korean nationalism. In Japan.. appears too polarised to be used for the scope of this argument. Dan’gun.” which described the dramatic change of a country once devastated by a civil war but now standing alongside other advanced nations in the OECD. the first civilian president to be elected (Woo-Cumings. Her dichotomy of developmental nationalism and cultural nationalism. led to a belief in the superiority of a homogenous Hanminjok (Han nationality). The belief in a common “biological” ancestor. and thereby ultimately their own. 1999). in Desai’s study. homogenous ethnicity was very much celebrated and became the ground on which Koreans felt a shared sense of belonging. a belief that Korea is a nation of single. Nevertheless. Economic development was often the sole legitimisation rhetoric employed by the military and/or authoritarian regimes from the 60s to the inauguration of Kim Young Sam. In South Korea. 1994). who is believed to have founded Old Chosŏn five thousand years ago. in my opinion. In this manner. Nationalism.Sohoon Lee single-minded call for economic development. as well as their unity in achieving that miracle (Lee H. Finally. Desai’s concept of developmental nationalism focuses on the development of political economy at the expense of the inhered culture (with the exception of Japan and Thailand.-K. is a product of the relationship and tension between those two.
Alford (1999) and S. Kyung-Koo Han’s (2007) examination of naturalisation practices in the Goryŏ and Chosŏn (dynasties preceding modern Korea) demonstrates that foreigners’ naturalisation practices were quite common during these dynasties.-K. One survey by Korean Broadcasting Station (KBS) and Hallym University in 1999 showed that 68. Furthermore.. Gi-Wook Shin (2006). Kim (2000) focus on the failed drive of segyehwa (globalisation) by the Kim Young Sam government. people of nation) was as late as in 1904 during the RussoJapanese War (Han K.Theory In Action was considered important. many studies have been done to demonstrate that the belief of an ethnically homogenous Korea is in fact a modern construction. Koreanists have also debated the effect of globalisation on nationalism. as a counter action against the Japanese advocacy of naisen ittai (“Korea and Japan are one and the same”). 2007). thereby calling them “imagined communities”. Shin (2006) points out that the idea of ethnic homogeneity was first developed during the Japanese colonial rule. Anderson (1991) believes that nation-states are modern constructions. 7 . 2006). It is thus important to note the socio-political context in which the myth of homogeneity was constructed. specifically whether state-driven nationalism can survive the inevitable phenomenon of globalisation. A similar survey by Shin in 2000 showed 93 percent of respondents believing in the shared bloodline (cited in Shin. The South Korean government’s multicultural policies today are quite different from the segyehwa drive by the Kim Young Sam government in many aspects. Both call the seeming interplay of globalisation and nationalism a paradox and an allusion. on the other hand. Recently. Globalisation and Nationalism: Friend or Foe? Several schools of thought attempt to provide account for the contested relationship between globalisation and the state. which preceded the Asian financial crisis that struck South Korea in 1997.9 percent exhibited brotherhood regardless of residence or ideology if they share the same Korean ancestry (Shin. 2006).2 percent of the respondents in South Korea considered blood the most important factor that defines the Korean nation and 74. that it is a collective fantasy. as most considered themselves pure-blood (sunhyŏl) and distinguished themselves from the mixed-blood (honhyŏl). but their studies still provide an interesting insight into the initial state reaction to globalisation. the very first use of the word minjok (nationality.. reminding us of the falsity of phrases such as “descendents of Dan’gun” or “pure blood”.
Schmid asserts that “Nationalism… resorted to a form of globalisation as a way of salvaging the nation” (p. and even segregating one’s ethnic identity from the national identity. but at the same time it also complicates the meaning of culture by distinguishing. legitimise. His analysis focuses on the interplay between the domestic and the international players. Neoliberalism. Andre Schmid (2002) argues that the very emergence of nationalism during 1895 and 1910 was in fact Korea’s first globalising discourse. perhaps the greater danger is in the existence of debate itself. This is to say that Korean nationalism has its roots in redefining the nation when coming to terms with its global position in a new global order. the state actively interprets globalisation and turns it into a national discourse. and intensify the need to define and protect one’s ethnic culture. an individual experiences globalisation through the lens of his/her nation-state. differentiating. As identified by Schmid. Shin opposes the belief that globalisation weakens the state and argues that globalisation intensifies the need to define and protect one’s culture. 24). 8 . in turn. and/or a tool for its own agendas. This is a conspicuous conclusion as it assumes the very relationship that has come to be contested by globalisation. The concept of nationalism that Shin employs. namely that external forces of globalisation may raise. individual Koreans had to sacrifice their personal benefits to the national interest. Schmid’s perspective conceptualises globalisation and nationalism in a causal overlap. Neoliberal Policy-making and South Korean Society For decades. This is the specific scope of globalisation this paper examines—the internal challenges from within society from the cross-border population who bring challenges to traditional synchronised concepts of ethnic and national identity. driving force. The debate after all assumes that the two are different entities that can either collaborate or conflict. however. In discussing the plausibility of the interplay.Sohoon Lee claims that globalisation strengthens national identity. the government was supposed to act as patron or guardian. portraying the global environment and external factors which forced the reshaping and reproduction of the knowledge about Korea in the way it was established during the early years of modernisation. The authority and power allowed in the sovereign state grant a possibility for it to use globalisation as a motive. under developmental nationalism. assumes synchronisation of the ethno-cultural and national identities. The truth is that in the era of the nation-state system in which we live.
Theory In Action However. A new kind of nationalism was needed. 90) Cho (2008) argues that the Financial Crisis has caused a reconstruction of Korea’s nationalist ideals. p. developmental nationalism. personal ideologies.. This new idea of nationalism was tailored to suit the interests of the post-crisis policy-making elites. only on the condition that they benefit the nation-state. with neoliberalism penetrating 9 . Lim and Jang (2006) state that the neoliberal consensus brought a substantial effect on social reform in post-crisis South Korea. the reconstructed nationalism places an emphasis on three types of qualities: 1) selfgoverning. and 3) demonstrating responsibility to the individual’s family and the nationstate. and family affairs. This is a shift from the previous developmental nationalism which focused on a collective goal of development by calling people into the nation’s common fate. however. The government fully immersed itself into the business of labelling. and working together to achieve the goal. the rhetoric by the Kim Dae Jung government has led to a troublesome conceptual miscoupling of the market and democratic values. one that could promote the roles of individuals who were responsible for their own well-being. market-driven economy. Lim and Jang (2006) point to a presumptuous conceptual link made between neoliberalism and democracy as the second civilian President Kim Dae Jung stressed the market economy and democracy as two wheels of a wagon. a direction received in contrast to the economic policies performed by his authoritarian predecessors. According to him. provides an important breakthrough for scholars studying South Korean neoliberalism. As a result. It is a transformative point where dynamics of the developmental state. globalisation. with respect to workplaces. and new ideologies the “rescue” of the crisis. This is the basis on which the transformation in nationalism identified by Cho (2008) occurred. (Cho Y. 2008. but such contributions can now be individualistic and diversified. over which a neoliberal consensus has dominated. 2) being successful in global competition. moral conduct. such a relationship could not be sustained when people witness the incompetence and powerlessness of the government in the face of the IMF. The Asian Financial Crisis. The old rhetoric was a detailed dogmatic manual for becoming a good citizen. which hit Korea during the regime of Korea’s first elected civilian president after long years of authoritarianism. past ideologies have become the “cause” of the crisis. The new nationalism still focuses on the citizen’s contributions to the state. and the “new” bureaucracy converge.
H-M. 2009). especially those escaping from poverty and unemployment-struck hometowns. however. cultural nationalism.Sohoon Lee the democratic values established by the decades-long fight by democratic movements. The Korean government saw an opportunity in the increased mobility of populations. deeper and cheaper than ever before” (Kim S. faster. 18). 2009). the state’s aid for the poor and the needy is not determined on the basis of the urgency of their needs. 2006. as well as on the returns the state governance expects to redeem (Song. the South Korean government introduced extensive social measures under the name of multiculturalism. 2. globalisation is a “processes of stretching and intensifying worldwide interconnectedness in all aspects of human relations and transactions allowed individuals” that allows for individuals “to reach around the world farther. Lim and Jang claim that democracy was “hijacked” by neoliberalism. As Kim articulates. In Desai’s (2008) conceptualisation of nationalism. market-driven forces. To address changes in demographics. The government saw foreign brides as easy targets for their policy-making and a solution to the aging society. and fledging rural populations (Kim. 2006. Transnational marriages have been actively promoted by the state after introduction of the Healthy Family Law in 2006. declining birth rate. 2007). These so-called multicultural policies. have been the subject of criticisms particularly among civil activists and scholars. 2009). but instead on the degree of their potentials to be “deserving”.08 in 2005. both explains and justifies economic inequalities produced by neoliberal. when the country’s birth rate dropped to 1. p. Welfare recipients are prioritised according to market demands and value in a manner deemed most economical and productive to the state (Song. Accordingly. that neoliberalism was disguised and misrepresented by government to the public as “democratic” based on market principles. Neoliberalism also became a dominant ideology for South Korea’s welfarism. Criticisms centre on the point that the government lacks the 10 . 2000. which was built on the miscoupling of democratic and neoliberal values (Song. Recruiting “New Koreans”: Those Who Have Been Selected to Be Korean Citizens Transnational marriages and multi-ethnic families One of globalisation’s unique creations is the intertwining of world affairs. which has succeeded developmental nationalism..
Han (2007) criticises the government for a lack of interest in constructively transforming society to become more multicultural. These scholars are quite correct in pointing out that the South Korean government’s promotion of multiculturalism is merely cultural politics rather than the pursuit of some humanitarian ideals. and civil consciousness in regards to the concept of citizenship. sex ratio imbalances. if not the only. 229). telling you what you are. 2000). Social insecurity. but instead using the name “multiculturalism” as political rhetoric. the job market affected by the influx of foreign cheap labour. the state has always invested in the construction and advocacy of your culture. and the increase of illegal immigrants are typical issues that many contemporary governments in a global era have to deal with. It seems absurd to criticise the Korean government for desiring to produce Korean families—what else would they desire? The assumption is that the multicultural policies are to be built on a philosophy of multiculturalism or some humanitarian ideals. Choe (2007) urges promotion of cultural diversity in ideology. There have always been cultural politics wearing a mask of normative or moral ideals. telling students how they should identify themselves (Lee Y. but instead the concept of multicultural families has been appropriated in order for the government to solve domestic social problems such as declining populations.Theory In Action essence of multiculturalism and the policies promote assimilation into Korean culture rather than harmony and the recognition of multiple ethnicities.. In other words. and the early modernisation process in South Korea was a process of constructing a national identity. 2003). My approach to Korean multiculturalism is on a par with the understandings of cultural politics (and its history) of which the main. principle. Hyun-Mee Kim (2007) claims that the South Korean government pays little attention to a pluralistic understanding of the migrant women’s home culture. The state initiative to construct cultural identity through cultural policies started as early as the First Republic (Yim. is that the rhetoric of cultural politics is nothing new in the history of modern Korea. where the modern education advocated a normative identity. and the rising divorce rates. every government places the interests of its citizens first. Kim (2007) criticises the government for grounding multicultural policies on a “mono-cultural imagination” (p. the government is very cautious not to utilise the term “multiculturalism” (damunhwajuyi) 11 . motive serves social mobilisation for the state interests. My opinion. focusing only on assimilating the migrant women into Korean culture and reproducing Korean families. After all. As a matter of fact. however.
This trend is also expected to continue. In rural areas with farms and fisheries. which is increasing the number of foreign labor. In this section. By approaching multicultural policies through neoliberalism. However word game-like it may seem. Value of Foreign Nationals in Legal Language Damunhwa is embedded in cultural politics.Sohoon Lee despite the abundance of the term multicultural/multi-culture (damunhwa). Therefore. it’s imperative that we entice high-quality workforce to increase Korea’s competitive power. as to what the politics entail and what it signifies in the government’s committed advocacy for a “multicultural Korea”. Basic Laws on Treatment of Foreign Residents were initiated in September 2006 and enacted in 2007.9%. we can clearly evaluate the state’s envisioning of the new “model citizens” and project what the state ultimately aims to achieve. Not only would this increase the number of labor force. I argue that damunhwa is just one façade of Korea’s neoliberal discourse for making a “global society”. but it will help ensure such a multiethnic family to function as 6 This point was first explicitly pointed out to me during a personal interview with DongHoon Seol.08 children. 2009. while the number of the elderly is steadily increasing. the background of the Law is stated as below: The birth rate in Korea is among some of the lowest in the world (1. in August. In addition. though.6% of all marriages as of 2005. In a press release by the government. Equally important is helping soon-to-be Korean nationals (such as the spouses of Korean nationals) to quickly adapt to our society. the percentage sharply increases to a staggering 35. in order to survive in this age of international competition. 12 .7% of all total marriages in the year 2000. Then the question still remains. as of the end of 2005). but to the new nation-building project.6 The term damunhwa (multicultural) and all the components in it do not by themselves bear a meaningful connection to the concept of multiculturalism. This means that the number of economically active people is at its all-time low. a professor who serves in various government advisory committees. to 13. the number of international marriages has increased from 3. it is always multicultural policies and never multiculturalist policies.
are neglected as a category. Assumptions that gender-specific marriage migrants will produce Korean families reflect the patriarchal nature of family structures and Korean society. The rhetoric of having a flexible border and accepting desired foreign populations are rationalised as necessary actions in order to survive in the globalisation-dominated world. who constitute the majority of foreigners in Korea. which would decrease the social welfare costs and social dilemma. describes the Laws as a two-foreigner strategy. the emphasis is an overlap. Jong-Hoon Jung.hikorea.pt?bbsGbCd=BS10&bbsSeq=4&ntccttS eq=7&langCd=EN 8 The Laws hereafter refer to the three mentioned laws: Basic Laws on Treatment of Foreign Residents (legislated in May 2007). 7 This statement highlights two dimensions: (1) concerns for a declining workforce. are gendered.kr/pt/NtcCotnDetailR_en.Theory In Action a family. permanent residents (Article 13). actively reaching out to overseas Koreans and female marriage migrants. A public interest lawyer. Considering that Korea has no immigration law and the only existent non-Korean permanent residents are marriage migrants (and a small number of refugees). 9 Jong-Hoon Jung (2009). the major target is the marriage migrants and their children. however. Nationality Law (last amendment in May 2010). and survival in international competition legitimise the need to accept foreign populations. accepting foreigners has become a new part of the globalising discourse. based on an ethno-centric nationalist integration and exclusion. They protect other general foreign residents in Korea and migrant workers. 8 The Laws protect legal residents of Korea. 9 The Laws seek to incorporate and recruit resources and the highly educated. The Laws.go. and Refugees (Article 14). 13 . and specifically marriage migrants and their children (Article 12). It is a form of silent treatment—the term migrant worker does not appear once in the Basic Law on Treatment of Foreign Residents. The Laws are also class-based. In contrast with the previous likes of nationalism (Schmid 2002). and Immigration Control Act (last amendment in December 2008). The temporary stay of the blue7 Source: Hi Korea e-Government for Foreigners http://www. labour market. The statement confirms that a need for controlling the foreign populations was “agreed” among the political elites. The Nationality Law (with its repeated revisions) and the Immigration Control Act show a similar stance. and (2) it is clear that when they say “foreign residents”.
This aspect protrudes vividly in the recent amendment of the Nationality Law in May 2010. culture. As the document reads. multiple citizenship. A right to stay is conditioned upon their commitment to marriage and citizenship is only granted to those who have stayed in a marriage for a minimum of two years or those who have given birth to Korean children.11 The legal structure which cannot grant a maximum five year stay to blue collar migrant workers gives away (not only a right to stay. considering the irrelevance of the topic. The law reveals the expected role the marriage migrants are to play in Korea: to stay in a marriage with a Korean or to bear Korean citizens. the role of marriage migrants is also clearly codified in the legal structure. but also) unconditional citizenships to the highly educated. receive differential treatment. nor sought to rectify the dilemmas of biracial individuals. a phrase was added to allow a special naturalisation of the “outstanding talents” (specifically in areas of science. multiple citizenship. who are deemed to benefit South Korea as a country. The area that receives the most spotlights in the recent amendment is the introduction of. albeit limited. Regardless of novelty. In this regard. such a legal framework explicitly expresses a preference for the West. Source from the website of the Ministry of Government Legislation: http://www.Sohoon Lee collar migrant workers is re-emphasised in the government’s reiteration of “legal residents” over its chapters. The amendment neither addressed issues of neglected minority groups such as the long-suppressed Chinese-Koreans (hwakyo). and sports) without having to satisfy the general naturalisation requirements such as a minimum stay or family ties. The Nationality Law reflects the state’s imagination of who can be a Korean citizen. however. the fact that the special naturalization for foreign “talents” (a new addition to Article 7) was created (not revised) is conspicuously interesting. The Laws explicitly demonstrate the preference for some individuals over others for their specific roles in society.go. economy. the multiple citizenship in Korea comes with extensive criteria for eligibility and their specified codes of conduct afterwards. In the amendment.kr/법령/국적법 11 In light of the reason for amendment.10 the reason for amendment was to allow limited multiple citizenship to suit the “global trends” and national interests. At the same time. Considering the “global class structure”. The foreign “talents”. the highly educated in some sectors.law. these individuals have unconditional tickets to becoming Korean citizens. are again exceptions to the complexity of criteria and eligibility. 14 10 .
korea. Its policy directions are: 1) enhancement of national competitiveness through openness. As stated already. the state had already come up with measures and plans to best educate and utilise the marriage migrants and their children in rural areas. 2008. a Foreigner Policy Committee was formed under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Han Seung-Soo to produce Basic Plans on Treatment of Resident Foreigners and the first five-year plan. Agriculture. It was established under the motto of “The World’s First-class Nation with Foreigners” that has three basic policy directions and four policy objectives. from the very start of the phenomenon. 3) orderly immigration administration. the government saw foreign women as an easy way out of the aging society. On almost all the published working papers from the government. Obtained on Korea Policy Portal. Obtained on policy portal: www. and Fishery. enhancing “national competitiveness” is the leading initiative in policies regarding the treatment of foreigners. December 17. The Ministry for Food. 2) development of a mature multicultural society where human rights are respected. and Fishery has already come up with a plan to nurture children of multicultural families into agricultural workers. “Half of rural population under 19 will be comprised of multicultural generation by 2020” (2020 nyŏn. In their agenda and summary of tasks in 2008. and 4) protection of foreigners’ human rights. to prevent a declining rural population and agricultural industries.Theory In Action The wave of foreign brides. Forestry.kr 15 12 . it is clear.kr 13 Press Release from the Ministry of Justice.korea. with the start of the Lee Myung Bak Administration. In December 2008. 2) quality social integration. 19semiman nonga’ingu’ěi jŏlbani damunhua janyŏro gusŏong). 2009. The four policy objectives are: 1) enhancement of national competitiveness through active openness. has been inseparable from the need of the market. as shown in the From the Press Release from the Ministry for Food. Their presence was justified within a neoliberal understanding. hwakjŏng). www. Agriculture. and 3) establishment of a social order according to the laws and principles. Following the influx of marriage migration.12 Cho (2008) argues that economic success in global competition has emerged as the new ideals of a citizen.13 In 2008. Forestry. that a person’s economic and pragmatic role in the nation’s market decides the “worthiness” as a citizen to the nation state. “The First Basic Plans on Foreigner Policy: Reviewed and Ratified” (Je 1cha oigugin jŏngchaek gibbon gyehoek shimyi. the Presidential Council on National Competitiveness (PCNC) was established with its ultimate goal of economic growth through enhancement of national competitiveness in a global market. April 9.
“Policy Supporting Multicultural Education” (Damunhwa Gajŏng gyoyuk bodojaryo). 14 Children from these multicultural families are increasingly linked with such expressions as “global talents” (gûlobŏl injae) and numerous newspaper articles report on their potentials and abilities to understand the cultures and languages of two countries. The evidence above demonstrates that multicultural policies were initiated by two markers of neoliberal ideals: desirability by the domestic market and competitiveness in a global market. which speaks to the neoliberal South Korean government. Accessible on Korea Policy Portal (www. Figure 1 Courtesy of PCNC. In other words. p. 14 Also See Press Release from the Office of the Prime Minister. November 28. and Women Affairs. that their ultimate goal is economic growth.Sohoon Lee diagram. multicultural families possess potentials that are highly valued by the South Korean government’s neoliberal standards. the South Korean government has started to develop education programs customised to nurture multicultural children and their talents14 (Ministry of Health. 2009. These abilities have been drawing more attention with an increase in trade and industrial relations between South Korea and other Asian countries in the region.korea. even though social security was considered to be a tool for such (PCNC. 2009). their multicultural background is reinterpreted in a language of pragmatism. and these were instantly rewarded with policy making upon recognition of their pragmatism. 2009). from 2008 National Competitiveness Report. Welfare. In summary.kr) 16 . As a result of the recognition of their pragmatic potentials.
albeit within the vagueness of a definition of “global talent”. multilingualism. labelled. For marriage migrants. a model to which every child aspires. Likewise. 3. the role that the biracial children are to play in society has been. the term gulobôl inje also appears frequently in nationality laws in areas of naturalisation. Being an export-oriented economy. are to be nurtured and developed in order for the making of a global Korea. I seek to argue that foreign cultures within “multicultural” individuals take form as their development as “global talents”. their foreign cultures. citizenry is shaped. Accordingly. The acceptance into and legitimacy of their stay in Korea was conditioned upon the roles they play and contributions they make to society. and commodified in the process of following the imagination shaped and constructed by the state as well as 17 . Becoming a global talent accordingly gains them political acceptance and inclusion into Korean society. Then I will demonstrate how the state-led imagination has led to the political inclusion of some minorities and yet the exclusion of others. and which every parent aspires to raise. such a role was that of becoming and/or producing labour force while causing minimal damage to a “homogenous” society. their cultures are imagined. As mentioned already. referring to a group of people welcomed and readily accepted. having travelled abroad. perhaps it is not an oddity to see a society-wide eagerness to learn English and be in the loop of global trends. The general feverish learning of English. The next chapter elaborates this aspect. COMMODIFICATION OF CULTURES AND THE STATE Expressions such as cultivating “gûlobôl inje” (global talents) or “gulobôl maindû”(global minds) have become regular appearances in almost any public paper in schools. the Korean state has made deliberate efforts to specify the eligibility for citizenship of foreign nationals based on a neoliberal understanding of the soon-to-be Koreans’ contribution to Korean society. familiarity with other cultures—all are good qualities that all in all contribute to making an individual a gulobol inje. What does this trend mean to individuals of foreign origin? In this section. collectively constructed. As a result.Theory In Action To summarise. and independently developed. one’s acceptance and integration into society is dependent upon the level at which the foreign culture is extracted. I delineate the relationship between the state’s interests and political inclusion of some groups and the exclusion of other groups. and through the preferential/differential treatment of those who fit into the state’s rhetoric. therefore. and is being. modified.
If we accept that economic benefits generated by some groups often legitimise their stay (even enfranchisement) in the host country. then. partially accepted. the changes have urged the Asian American identity to exempt history and to be confined to the recent multiculturalism rhetoric. socially. legal institutions are agents that “reproduce the capitalist relations of production as racialised gendered relations and are therefore symptomatic and determining of the relations of production themselves” (p. In viewing this link. To Lowe. and economically excluded from American society. To Lowe. what. assuming. homogenous nationhood formation. 22. and collective memories from the wars in Asia. and “domesticates” them. and often demanding cultural conformity. Asian Americans have been disenfranchised. Imagining Foreign Cultures In Immigrant Acts. and politically. Lowe states that legal institutions materialise the contradiction between the state’s economic and political imperatives through legal exclusion. imposing. As Lowe states. (p. Rather. and restricted enfranchisements of Asian immigrants.Sohoon Lee the market interests. Subsequently. Situated in contradictory relationships between economic imperatives. legitimises the limit to enfranchisement or 18 . their culture and “foreignness” have been imagined and shaped. Yet the project of imagining the nation as homogenous requires the orientalist construction of cultures and geographies from which Asian immigrants come as fundamentally “foreign” origins antipathetic to the modern American society that “discovers”. “welcomes”. and individual identity is codified in laws. and embodied in a series of immigrant acts since the mid-nineteenth century. disenfranchisement. greater inclusion of immigrants as shown in the changes in recent Immigrant Acts is far away from a civil rights success. one can notice a perplexing pattern between political inclusion and the nation’s economic benefits. Lowe (1996) focuses on contradictions in the imagination of Asian Americans. 5) The state’s pursuit of the nation’s economic interests and civil rights interest work as push and pull factors for immigration. Lowe (1996) portrays a troublesome link between the state’s pursuit of its economic interests and the dynamics of enfranchisement/disenfranchisement. italics hers). constituted by cultural politics.
Han (2008) elaborates on the race and gender-specific labour clustering in Korea.Theory In Action disenfranchisement? In Lowe’s account. certain feminine and Confucian values of the patriarchal society have been assumed. the individuals’ culture. 19 . Han says that Korea has an exceptionally low number of black female populations and he explains that it is because there is hardly an industry that can take advantage of black females. the job market in Korea for foreigners specifies race and gender. and immigrant groups racialised and gendered. English teaching positions are easily given to White. the transnational capitalist paradigm. and other Asian men in manufacturing and general labour. rather than skills. foreigners sell their “foreign culture” in Korea—and one’s culture is racialised and gendered. Lowe argues that linkages between Asian Americans and women in their home countries work in the favour of. Ultimately. as a result. However. Josonjok (ethnic Korean Chinese) females work in restaurants. In other words. the cultures of their ethnicity and gender are codified into a unified set of descriptions to become their skills. During the process. in order to justify such limits in legal structures. what is the drive that causes immigrant groups to be racialised and gendered? In the case of Korea. Foreign cultures have been appropriated and “categories” of cultures have been constructed based on stereotypes. North American individuals. like nation-state capitalism and colonial capitalism beforehand. despite their experiences and/or abilities. it is the foreign cultures that are intently imagined by the state and propagated to the public. Namely. it is the market and economic interests that control what aspects of cultures are accepted and what types are not. according to what the market requires. social customs. marriage migrants come from a variety of backgrounds. Russian females work in the entertainment/ hospitality sectors. but are harder for Black Africans or even for Asian Americans. In Critical Multiculturalism. the state. many from Socialist-inspired influences (such as China and Vietnam) without having experienced such expectations for women. Or. their cultures have been appropriated into a unified identity of marriage migrants. Migrant brides from Southeast Asia work in farms along with their Korean husbands. Lowe’s argument touches upon an important question in immigration studies. As their justified roles in Korean society are as mothers and caregivers of Korean families. In essence. continues to create contradictions. and identity are reified and essentialised. it is the prolonged drive for national economic growth that creates the site of contradiction. if they are not intentionally constructed by. For marriage migrants.
There was one condition though. Although she hesitated at the condition. Marriage migrants are immediately associated with their povertystricken hometowns. a foreign wife is often depicted as a pious daughter-in-law taking care of elderly in-laws and working selflessly on the farm and in rice paddies. The reason was that the organisation was looking for someone who was leading a happy family despite financial difficulties. A divorced woman with her children being raised by her ex-husband did not quite fit the media profile. and perhaps this rings a bell of reminiscence of Korea’s own poverty-stricken past. which is tainted with problems of the marriage brokerage and high divorce rates. women who do not conform to expectations are neglected. lack of infrastructure and education and The story is taken from Suk. The author is the President of the Association for Migrant Workers’ Human Rights. The backwardness of the home cultures of the marriage migrants— run-down homes. working diligently on farms and serving their families fervently. that she had to consent to having her story broadcasted in the media. Suk Wonjung tells a story of a Mongolian woman who was in urgent need of medical attention for a surgery after having divorced. 20 15 . she was in no place to refuse such an offer. an ideal Confucian wife (yolnyo).15 The woman was having difficulty making her daily living due to her medical conditions when she found a social welfare organisation that was looking to sponsor a medical surgery of a migrant woman. Some even take care of their disabled husbands. This of course distorts the reality.Sohoon Lee Their presence in society was legitimised by exhibiting imagined traits of being a good mother and a wife. In Love in Asia. “Multi-culture and Social Hierarchy” (Damunhwa wa sahoe gyecheng) Rainbow Newsletter v4 2009. neither is the traditional costumes they put on in “multicultural understanding classes”. On the flip side of such imagined figures. usually accompanied by interviews with neighbours emphasising she is a wife with whom no Korean woman can compete. Indeed. This is perhaps where the fundamental paradox of Korean “multiculturalism” originates. dutifully accomplishing their caretaker roles while struggling against the harsh realities of life. Wonjung. this is not a true representation of marriage migrant cultures. Watching the media portray marriage migrants is meant to remind the viewers of Korean women in the 60s. she prepared the document but only to receive rejection from the organisation. Published by the Rainbow Youth Centre. dysfunctional families. State media such as the Korea Broadcasting System (KBS) reinforced such imaginative projections by producing shows like Love in Asia.
Theory In Action more— has not only brought them to Korea. Through these two stories I aim to reveal the assumption of “foreignness” in biracial children and question the meaning of cultural empowerment advocated by the government as well as the NGOs. Ward was two when his parents divorced and moved to live with his Korean mother As mentioned already. but justifies their stay in Korea. he was elevated to the level of a national hero. Similarly. where the bride escapes the poverty and the groom escapes loneliness. It creates a delusion of a win-win situation. Born of an American soldier and a Korean mother. such as North Korean escapees and returned overseas Koreans. 4. whose number is regrettably negligible). because not only was he the MVP of a Super Bowl-winning team. I postulate that the process of cultural empowerment entails cultivating a particular kind of foreignness deemed acceptable to the state. the backdrop is certain imagination of poor and uneducated women who deserve protection. There are other migrants of Korean ethnicity. but also he was revisiting the country where he was born. STORIES OF DAMUNHWA INDIVIDUALS In viewing the culture of foreign migrants in South Korea. and the foreignness of the individuals grants acceptance into South Korean society. the marriage migrants are the only non-Korean immigrant groups in South Korea (with the exception of refugees. In this sense. the backwardness of home cultures simultaneously incorporates and marginalises the marriage migrants. an observer must pay attention to how the migrants are presented as well as who present them. I present two cases of biracial children: one a story of the NFL player Hines Ward and the other a case study of a Tagalog Language Class in which I was part of as a staff member. The state does not deviate from this route when treating biracial children born of a foreign parent. 21 16 . Ward moved to the United States when he was one year old. The Koreanness of Hines Ward When NFL player Hines Ward visited South Korea in 2006.16 The culture and identity of marriage migrants have been constructed such that they agree with the state rhetoric. in the government “multicultural” programmes that are designed to promote understanding of other cultures. while the state makes a great effort to specify (and perhaps limit) the role the migrants ought to play in society.
Kyunghyang Ilbo. babies. mostly American troops) and the increasing number of Kosians (typically with one parent from a different Asian country). Although openly used in some schools and charity organizations. 56).18 His return was spotlighted by the Korean media. Ward was received by the South Korean political elites with open arms.19 His visit was described by Mary Lee as “The Hines Ward symptom and national overcoming” (2009. Although Ward Young-hee Lee (photo courtesy of AP) has not lived in Korea. Koreans were quick to make the ethnic link. “You came back a hero. Amerisian populations.20 Biracial populations are subject to harassment in Korea. in particular. and called derogative names for their “impurity” Figure 2 Hines Ward and his mother with the Americans. Widely perceived as G. he advocated social change. exhibiting a sense of not being fully Korean. p. January 23.I. openly sharing his own experiences of discrimination growing up in the United States. ibid 19 Jet. most notably by Asian mothers who complain that the term is marginalising.17 When he was named MVP in 2006. some even calling Ward a “Black Korean”. 20 The meaning of “Kosian” is de facto refers to the multicultural children described in the introduction. President Roh Moo-Hyun remarked.Sohoon Lee who worked multiple shifts to support him when he was in grade two. His initial visit was welcomed by President Roh Moo Hyun and Kim. have been subject to discrimination ever since the end of the Korean War. 18 17 22 . April 24. 51. 2006. where they are called by derogative names such as “twigi” or “honhyol” (mixed blood). the term Kosian is regarded as politically incorrect and derogatory by some. p. 2006. their mothers were demonized and despised. who was said to be “propagating Korean spirit in the United States”. Hines used his fame to raise awareness for the biracial population in Korea of which two notable groups include the following: Amerisians (born of Korean mothers and American fathers. children growing up in South Korea can have big dreams by watching Hines Ward”.
Quoted in Branch.21 as well as Lee Myung-Bak who presented Ward with Seoul’s Honorary Citizen Certificate during Ward’s visit in 2006 when Lee was then the Mayor of Seoul. S is a group home that houses biracial children or children of foreign origins and their foreign mothers. P . and so did biracial children invited by Ward to come to the U. “They liked someone because he is famous…If you are not famous.24) On the press report released by one of the organisers. an alternative education social enterprise (hereafter Company Y). 2009. This case study seeks to critically analyse the contextual circumstances in which this program was initiated and produced as well as its social significance and effect. “Ward Helps Biracial Youths on Journey toward Acceptance”. they are very cold. A large proportion of women there have come to Korea through the Unification Card. November 9. The Foreign Policy. rather than the program itself. So I was happy. It is produced and executed by a collaboration of four organisations: a local NGO (hereafter Organisation R). 2009. Organisation R works in collaboration with Company Y to develop an education curriculum/manual which they aim to distribute to nation-wide multicultural communities. however.Theory In Action Prime Minister Han Myung-Sook. it was also referred to as “The Mother’s Language Learned through Music”. The program is funded by the Ministry of Sports. and Tourism and Korea Arts and the Culture Education Service. One student said. Culture. I was part of this project as a voluntary staff member at the Student Policy Research and Development Team within the organisation. The name of organisations will remain anonymous 24 This is a direct translation of what it is often referred to as in Korean. reports that Ward noticed an underlying hypocrisy. 22 21 23 .S. (The program will hereafter be referred to as the Bilingualism Class. Students (mostly aged seven to eleven) come from two community centres. but also bitter. and two community centres (here after Community Centre S and Community Centre H). New York Times.23 The official title of the program is “Annyonghaseyo? Kumustaka? Bilingual Empowerment Program through Cultural Arts”.D1. John. One newspaper article. November 17. Ijung ono gyosil. 23 The project commenced in May 2010 and is scheduled to run till November 2010.”22 Case Study: Bilingualism Class I worked on a project that creates a curriculum for teaching Tagalog as a second language to a group of children as a staff member at a local NGO located in Seoul which supports migrant youths.
eight children who are ethnic Koreans come from there to learn “the language of their friends’ mothers”. support programs for North Korean and multicultural youths form an interesting parallel.php?kind=know_center&page=&idx=6 511 26 To repeat. many of the organisation’s support programs for multicultural youths recruit both multicultural children and non-migrant Korean children. http://www. a Social Integration Institute where North Korean refugees first go after entering South Korea. Although they are separate divisions with separate lines of action procedures. H is a local community centre for children in a predominantly working class community. most of whom are biracial of Filipino and Korean origin. R is well known for its programs for North Korean refugees and its involvement in Hanawon. but there are some of other origins.26 forming two separate streams. Social integration and empowerment constitute a major part of their actions. such as those whose parent(s) is (are) foreign. Since one of R’s main goals is social integration. The South Korean government’s outsourcing of its welfare work and transformation of NGOs into “quasi-governmental” organisations are well described in Song (2006.or. such as Thai and Chinese. such as the Central Office for Multicultural Family Support Centers.rainbowyouth. R distinguishes itself from the regional/community centres which have a pool of children in the district and often use programs developed by other organisations. 24 25 . 2009).Sohoon Lee Church but have divorced and left the church. seeking to Press release by the Rainbow Youth Center. The organisation first started its support programs for North Korean refugees and later included multicultural children. and one often benchmarks the programs from the other division. as well as from the government-commissioned R&D organisations. R is unique in that it specialises in supporting youths of migrant backgrounds. working under the commission of the Ministry of Welfare. S sends 13 students.25 The Organisation R is a not-for-profit organisation founded by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in 2006 to support youths with migrant backgrounds. “multicultural children” here refers to children of foreign origins. it sustains a structural independence by maintaining its own board of directors and developing its own unique programs. in support of both North Korean and multicultural youths. Although the organisation receives most of its financial support from the government.kr/news/know_view. The programs developed are distributed to nation-wide regional centers for multicultural children.
developing.kr/news/know_view. In addition. R says the class is designed to help multicultural children become global talents. In a nation-wide drive to become global talents. however. The Bilingualism Class likewise recruited children of both groups for the same reason. universities have special admissions for multilingual candidates and government scholarships are given out for students to study abroad under the title. Nonetheless. familiarity with other cultures. There are different expectations of learning outcomes for each group. 2008). and such empowerment is believed to come from familiarity with their mothers’ cultures. however. as multilingualism is a crucial criterion. Through developing both of one’s cultures. To recruit global talents. “cultivation of global talents”. Cultivating global talents is the normative aim for almost all the multicultural policies and programs having to do with biracial individuals. especially other languages. and this aspect was an important underlying rationale in the government funding they have been granted. In reality. http://www. developing one’s foreign culture is often a tool for earning social acceptance and recognition.Theory In Action educate and raise multicultural awareness in both groups. are “empowered” by embracing. is an asset essential for global leaders. An underlying belief is that exposure to both cultures of one’s origin is a cultural right that biracial individuals are entitled to (Kim. an individual may truly be empowered. H-M.27 For children of the Community Centre S (children whose parent(s) are foreign). that the exposure to their mothers’ cultures is generally limited under usual circumstances. Rainbow Youth Center. pragmatic development of foreign cultures is expected. the presence of the inherent foreignness in the biracial population is assumed in essentialism. and cultivating their foreignness. The class is an “empowerment” initiative for the children of S. R seeks to help them achieve social integration and healthy identity formations. Press Release: Mother’s Language Learned Through Music and Games. For children of the Community Centre H (children whose parents are Korean).or. and application of the “global” abilities in the (job) market is praised. This is also selfreflection of the reality of foreign mothers in Korea and their inferiority in the power structure.php?kind=know_center&page=&idx=6 511 25 27 .rainbowyouth. The biracial children (even those born and raised in South Korea). the expectation is that they will have a greater ability to accept and tolerate other cultures by learning the language of their friends’ mothers. The phenomena creates pressures to commodify one’s “foreign cultures” into marketable values.
The result is appropriation of the true meaning of empowerment and repetitive use of an empty cliché. there was a tragic murder case of a Vietnamese bride by her Korean husband eight days after her arrival in Korea. their motive was politicised in the global talents rhetoric by which the hierarchy is wilfully maintained.”28 The President’s speech pleads to the general public to accept and tolerate marriage migrants and biracial children.kr/news/view. This is caused by the ambiguity of the term “global talents” and its politicised significance. The acceptance. and they are the basis on which our national competitiveness advances. Recently. President Lee Myung-Bak released a speech which recognised the problems of brokerage services and called Koreans to display greater tolerance of multicultural families. which creates another dilemma. The Korean man had a record of mental illness. incorporate and support multicultural populations (which include only marriage migrants and biracial children) have remained in economic realms. Responding to this tragic event. Consequently. which had not been revealed to the bride. namely how to understand such organisations. This is further complicated by the fact that many NGOs are financially dependent on state funding and funding is usually given out to proposals that satisfy a detailed set of criteria and Translation mine. The motives of the state to invite. This is to say that there exists a discrepancy between one’s normative entitlement of cultural rights and commodification of one’s foreignness in reality. This is comparable to the way the state justified the presence of marriage migrants.Sohoon Lee As argued already. normative ideals of multiculturalism rarely exist in the government’s neoliberal policies. Koreans who have command of both fathers’ and mothers’ languages and understand both cultures will become competent global talents. however. The script can be viewed on: http://www. and this conditional structure only confirms the existing hierarchy. which relied on their (reproductive) potentials to increase Korean populations. and this illness is believed to have caused the murder.asiae. the couple met through a brokerage service and married in Vietnam. and doing so justifies the society’s tolerance. Many organisations continue to use this term as a goal when developing support programs for biracial children.co. is conditional. “cultivation of global talents”.htm?idxno=2010072515193580500 26 28 . He said: “Marriage migrants and multicultural families will diversify our culture in the long run. Their cultures are to be developed to contribute to national competitiveness. The dilemma is how to utilise the term “global talents” after recognising its political nature.
The Filipina women from the beginning requested that a co-teacher conduct the class in collaboration with her as she had never taught before and she was too shy to teach alone. “Global talents” is hardly the only form of “empowerment” rhetoric in disguise. Two are responsible for making music and songs and they play the instruments when singing songs. and the problem of redundancy and inefficiency of staffing would be averted by the presence of a single trained Tagalog teacher. The situations at the Bilingualism Class. The process of “social empowerment” of marriage migrants begs a question on what empowerment is. and those pressures often require conformity to suit a limited set of opportunities. The other two make lesson plans and help the Filipina woman teach as co-teachers. are quite interestingly different. In the name of “social empowerment” under “multicultural” policies. She explained it is partly because the organisation the Filipina woman was involved with believed that the teaching experience would empower her. a remoulding of individuals to fit the “appropriate” forms of state-endorsed empowerment. or perhaps a Korean teacher who is familiar with the Tagalog Language. This sadly reflects the ironic reality: there is only one way for marriage migrants to be “empowered”. There exist certain pressures to “empower” marriage migrants. However. and she replied “Even when we do not necessarily agree. such conformity often confirms hierarchy. which by definition deviates from the true meaning of empowerment. Empowerment is more than occupational training or securing a stable income. we sometimes employ the language that the government will understand for funding”. she was given the position from her affiliation with one of the organisations. what happens is a “personality change”. and there are four Korean teaching assistants. One would usually expect a language class to be taught by a professional native speaker.Theory In Action demands from the government. however. but that utilisation should take a specific shape. In the case of 27 . The class has one native Filipino speaker as teacher. Similar rhetoric exists for marriage migrants. I had to ask one of the administrators why they would not just look for a professional Tagalog teacher. Did she want to teach? I do not know. and that entails not only utilisation of their foreign culture. Lowe argues that the economic motives of inviting immigrants and homogenous nationhood building conflict to create contradictions which result in the political disenfranchisement of immigrants. none of whom speak Tagalog. I pointed out this discrepancy explicitly to one of the staff at R.
and society was explored as a backdrop to understanding multicultural policies and transnational families. The value of multicultural families. but rather sets up specific conditions for acceptance. multicultural families. Such demarcation tells society and the world that in Korea. state. I approached the shifting set of policies on multiculturalism through the concept of Neoliberal governmentality. was determined by their competitiveness in a global market and the needed role in the domestic 28 . as well as neoliberalism. CONCLUSION I have examined institutional mechanisms and policies that the South Korean government has employed since the late 1990s in order to deal with transnational marriages. characteristics of multicultural families were reinterpreted and objectified in a language that promotes economic growth and market development. I showed that the government’s advocacy of multiculturalism has few normative aspects but an abundance of pragmatic interests. Under the neoliberal South Korean government. I also reviewed the characteristics of developmental nationalism. Throughout the essay I argued that in the case of South Korea. conditions which have been imagined and constructed. but this does not generate acceptance. which is an establishment and an exercise of the power of the government driven by market forces and pragmatism. and nationalism. a series of changes in government policies on multiculturalism reflect a new governmentality in order to accommodate the changing dynamics of citizenship and also to continue to maintain control over the citizens. which prevailed from the 1960s to the financial crisis of 1997. and the growing complexities of national identities. policy-making.Sohoon Lee Korea. a migrant is not afraid to be different because he/she can utilise the differences. I challenged the verifiability of the belief in a “homogenous nation” which the majority of Koreans are basing their national identity upon. as well as ethnic nationalism. Then the complexity of relationships between globalisation. Throughout the paper. in the name of social empowerment and a promise of job opportunities. in the government’s perspective. demarcation of foreignness is proactively done and if anything is considered a good thing. The treatment of multicultural families makes a useful case study of the government as these policies demonstrate the way in which the government understands multiculturalism. Furthermore. On ethnic nationalism. marriage migrants and the biracial populations are marked as foreign.
(1991). Desai. Therefore. Han. (2007). Korea Journal. The national crisis and de/reconstructing nationalism in South Korea during the IMF intervention. Rescuing History from the Nation. Nations and Nationalism.doi. 123-146. Think no Evil: Korean values in the age of globalization. Competitiveness. Anderson. R.-S. Manchester: Manchester University Press. (2007). P. NY. Ernest. Han. education privileges. and welfare benefits. Critical Multiculturalism (bipanjok damunhwa juyi).1080/14649370701789666 Choe. (2009). Prasenjit (1997). (2008).org/10. (1993). Cornell University Press. Structural Racism Hidden and Disclosed (Enpyedoigo bonbhabdoinen jedojok injongjuyi).-S. USA: Cornell University Press. the value of multicultural individuals comes from his or her “multicultural nature” being defined—and only defined—in economic terms. Seoul.org/10. G. REFERENCES Alford. Dongnyok. http://dx. Vol.3 .4 . H.47:No.1080/01436590801931413 Duara. Num 1. (2007). Globalization and National Identity: Shintobul-i.46:No.Theory In Action market. Vol.-H. In Damunhwa Sahoeui Yihae (Understanding Multicultural Society) edited by APCEIU. (2008). (1999). In incorporating multicultural populations.29:No. Ithaca. Vol. it is not the case that “multiculturalism” replaced “ethnocentric nationalism”. Cho. B. 82-96. 32-63.48:No. Cho. (2007). the state’s economic motive is single-handedly made clear. In the way a Korean citizen must prove to the state his or her value in a neoliberal sense. 41. F.doi. Han. Korea Journal. and nationalism reshaped its discourse accordingly. South Korea.-S.15:1 . manifested in normative expectations for its citizens. Vol. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. G. 2008 National Competitiveness Report. Multicultural Korea: Celebration or Challenge of Multiethnic Shift in Contemporary Korea? Korea Journal. 2009 Nov-Dec. Vol. K. University of Chicago. Third World Quarterly. (2009). C. Y. It is rather that a drive to become global has overshadowed a pride in maintaining a pure-blood society. http://dx. 8-31. Saram. 29 . 17-35. Brueilly. Introduction: Nationalism and their understandings in historical perspective. The archeology of the ethnically homogenous nation-state and multiculturalism in Korea. a case of cultural representation of economic nationalism. London: Verso. Jung. Journal of International and Area Studies. 397-428. Their perceived values were immediately reciprocated with the government’s law and policy revision that allowed for legal recognition. J. (2008). South Korean Society and Multicultural Citizenship. Vol.4 .-K. Vol 9. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. (1983). C. H.4 . Nationalism and the State. Gellner. J. Such a motive has become part of South Korea’s hegemonic nationalism.
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ISBN: 9780691131054 Greg Beach Journal of the Transformative Studies Institute . PM Press. $19. Transnational Marriages and Shifting Nationalist Discourse in South Korea Sohoon Lee 31 A Paradox of Street Survival: Street Masteries Influencing Runaways’ Motivations to Maintain Street Life Todd William Greene 58 Educational Attainment in a High Performing School District: The Relative Significance of Class Enrique S. Pp. Pumar and Adam Sitsis 73 Globalizing the social movements? Labour and the World Social Forum Timothy Kerswell 93 The Cartel Model and Motions for the Agenda: Israel as a Case Study (2003-2009) Akirav Osnat 117 Book Review: Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex edited by Anthony J. $31. Princeton University Press.Volume 5 Number 3 July 2012 Theory In Action IN THIS ISSUE 1 Those Who Can Become “Foreign Koreans”: Globalisation. Pp. 176.). Nocella.95 (Hardcover). 2010. Steven Best. 2009. Jackson 120 Book Review: Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective by Judith Suissa. AK Press. ISBN: 9781904589987 Raphael D. 2010. 378. 590. ISBN: 9781604861143 Laini Szostkowski 134 Book Review: Making Cities Work: Prospects and Policies for Urban America by Robert Inman (ed. Peter McLaren.95 (Paperback). Pp. $24.95 (Paperback).
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CUNY-Bronx Editorial Board Mihaela Albu William Armaline John Asimakopoulos Steve Best Marc Bousquet Eric Buck Graham Cassano Vanny Chang Jay Corwin Abraham DeLeon Corey Dolgon Luis Fernandez Victoria Fontan Ben Frymer Carol Gigliotti Richard Gilman-Opalsky Rodica Grigore Richard Van Heertum Dave Hill Joy James Patrrice Jones Paul Jonker Nathan Jun Caroline Kaltefleiter Ruth Kinna Michael Loadenthal Elsa Karen Márquez-Aponte Peter McLaren Mechthild Nagel Jesus Lopez Pelaez Michael Parenti Emma Pérez Clayton Pierce Christian A. University of Connecticut Book Review Editors Eric Buck. Sociatecture Eva-Maria Swidler. CUNY-Bronx Editor Ali Shehzad Zaidi. London Peter McLaren. Villanova University Founding Editor John Asimakopoulos. Middlesex University. Stonehill College Dave Hill. Schlaerth Deric Shannon Jeffrey Shantz Stephen Sheehi Kyung Ja (Sindy) Shin Stevphen Shukaitis Eva-Maria Swidler Caroline Tauxe Bill Templer Sviatoslav Voloshin Ali Shehzad Zaidi .I. Los Angeles Deric Shannon.Editor-in-Chief John Asimakopoulos. SUNY-Canton Associate Editors Corey Dolgon. University of California.
95 (Paperback). 590. 2010. Princeton University Press. Transnational Marriages and Shifting Nationalist Discourse in South Korea Sohoon Lee A Paradox of Street Survival: Street Masteries Influencing Runaways’ Motivations to Maintain Street Life Todd William Greene Educational Attainment in a High Performing School District: The Relative Significance of Class Enrique S. $24. 2010. Nocella. 2009. 176. ISBN: 9781604861143 Laini Szostkowski Book Review: Making Cities Work: Prospects and Policies for Urban America by Robert Inman (ed.95 (Paperback). AK Press.CONTENTS Vol. Pumar and Adam Sitsis Globalizing the social movements? Labour and the World Social Forum Timothy Kerswell The Cartel Model and Motions for the Agenda: Israel as a Case Study (2003-2009) Akirav Osnat Book Review: Academic Repression: Reflections from the Academic Industrial Complex edited by Anthony J. Pp. Steven Best. ISBN: 9780691131054 Greg Beach 31 58 73 93 117 120 134 . Jackson Book Review: Anarchism and Education: A Philosophical Perspective by Judith Suissa. No. $31. 3 1 July 2012 Those Who Can Become “Foreign Koreans”: Globalisation. $19. PM Press. Pp. ISBN: 9781904589987 Raphael D.95 (Hardcover). 378. Pp. 5.). Peter McLaren.
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