Overseas Koreans

- Overview Created for CAN-U Monthly Study July 27, 2007

Overseas Koreans?
• Overseas Koreans Foundation (in Korea) published an interesting(?) article on “Visions for Korean Diaspora.” • OKF (yes, a governmental agency) seems to be a bit to the right and very nationalistic. (no wonder there!)

Overseas Koreans?
• According to the article, emigration of Koreans has been only for 140 years (it started since 1860) and to 150 countries. This emigration has been categorized to 6 periods and the characteristics of emigration have been distinctive according to the periods and to different countries.

Overseas Koreans?
• So, I thought, “wouldn’t it be interesting to skim through what our dear sk government has categorized and where we are and where Coreans in Japan are according to that category?” (and see if they are right?)

1st Period – China and Russia
• The first period starts from 1860 and ends in 1919. Mainly Coreans (or Chosun people) migrated to Примо́рский край, ( 프리모르스 키 크라이 :Primorski Krais) of Russia and 延 邊 ( 연변 :Yanbian) of China. • This migration is mainly for farmers, however, this is also a refugee migration under the Japanese colonization.

1st Period – China and Russia
• In this period, the migrants are well-known for their supports for the freedom/independence movements. However, also, this farmers are well-known to distribute rice-farming to the northern regions they settled. • [Obviously, they forgot to mention emigration of 7,000 people to the U.S. which were between 1903-1905!]

2nd Period – Japan
• The 2nd period is between 1919 to 1945, when most Chosun people migrated to Japan. • After 3.1 Independence movement many left to Japan and worked as laborers. After 3.1 movements, Japanese repression increased to the point that initially most farmers lost their lands and became urban migrants in Chosun. These migrants also went to Japan to temporarily looking for work and better working conditions.

2nd Period – Japan
• Also, after 1937, forceful conscription of laborers and soldiers occurred. These conscripted laborers worked at construction sites and mines in Japan and later 200,000 comfort women also belongs to this migrant category. • In Japan, 2,000,000 Coreans were in Japan at the time of liberation in 1945, and 2/3 returned back to Korea while 1/3 remained and becomes presently known Jae-il dongpo (Zainichi Koreans).

3rd Period – Respite
• The 3rd period is between 1945-1965. This
is a lull period for migration. Only women married to Americans, overseas adoptees, and foreign students left Korea and the numbers are only a few hundred. • Now, this is a lie. How so? Think of all the adoptees left Korea during this period on records reach about a few tens of thousands.

3rd Period – Respite
• Okay, let’s think about Adoptees for a minute. • Adoption in 1950s was mostly for the biracial children. When it became a social issue (meaning the stigma and discrimination became known), the government suggested overseas adoption as a solution and 70% of 2,887 who were adopted “out” during 1955∼59 were these biracial children. This ratio went down to 10% in 1970s and at the present time the adoption of biracial children is almost none.

Overseas Adoptees – Overseas Koreans?
• According to the Public Health and Welfare Ministry, overseas adoption started in 1953 with 4 children. • It became a full-scale operation when Syngman Rhee signed a law in 1954 called “Orphan Adoption Special Measure,” which allowed overseas adoption without agencies. • Harry Holt, who is the founder of Holt Children’s Services, Inc., adopted 8 children at the same time in 1955 and that contributed to the increasing number of non-governmental adoption agencies in Korea.

Overseas Adoptees – Overseas Koreans?
• In 1980s, annually about 7,000∼8,000 children (about 20 per day) were adopted overseas. • This increasing trend was stalled after both international and domestic criticism of being an “Orphan Exporting Country” around 1988 Seoul Olympics and decreased to annual number of 2,000. • Recently, due to the economic hardship, it went up to 2,300∼2,400 children annually.

Overseas Adoptees – Not Overseas Koreans?
• Adoption has a history of 50 years in Korea and has changed according to different international situations. In 1950s the U.S. temporarily allowed children to be adopted without being seeing, according to the Immigrant/Refugee Protection law. In 1957, a news reports that Korean children 243 in three charter airplane arrived into the U.S. at the same time. • At the beginning, 80∼90% children went to the U.S. Later, France and Norway also started to adopt and only 50% ~ 60% of children went to the U.S.

Overseas Adoptees – Not Overseas Koreans?
• However, when it became known that adoptees in European countries suffer overt racial discriminations, the trend stopped and adoption to the multi-racial society (the U.S.A., hah!) has increased back since 1980s. • It has been estimated that about 200,000 overseas adoptees exist in the world (2004 estimation).

Overseas Adoptees
• So, now you see why I think the 3rd period is NOT a respite, no matter what the article states. I hope you’d agree with me. • The remaining question is, though, what do we do with this bit of information? How do we approach these 200,000 adoptees, whose majority lives in the U.S., in the world?

4th Period – to the “Western”
• According to the article, the most important period is the 4th period starting in 1965 ending in 1975. • In 1965, Korea-Japan normalized their foreign relation, which allowed a new wave of immigrants and foreign students to enter the country. In addition, it is 1965 when the U.S.A. amended its immigration law to allow 20,000 quota of new immigrants.

4th Period – to the “Western”
• Around this time, emigration to countries to Latin America also started. Emigration of mine workers and nurses to Germany started around this period. • The 4th period is distinguished in that the target countries were with the western white-predominant culture. Accordingly, different from other emigrations in previous periods, a lot of migrants in this period were faced with “culture shock” to the white culture. • So? The article does not elaborate after that statement.

5th Period
• The 5th period starts in 1975. • About 50,000 technicians and workers who were staying in Vietnam (during the Vietnam War) did not return back to Korea and went around south-east Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand, as far as to the Middle East. • Therefore, this period is also different from any other period, most migrants had some capitals to start their own small businesses, such as travel agencies, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc., targeting Korean tourists.
• This is also a bit vague. I am not so sure if they really targeted only Korean tourists.

The 6th Period
• The 6th period starts after 1998 IMF Crisis. The characteristics of this period would be that a great number of people left aimlessly for all possible countries, such as the U.S., the South East Asian countries, Australia, New Zealand and Mongolia to the north and South Afrian Republic to the south. [of course, the most came to the U.S.] • There is no concentration of businesses either. According to the local conditions, migrants seek any jobs available. • [In 2004, when there was a general amnesty for illegal residents, about 180,000 Koreans were reported to be benefited.]

Conditions of Overseas Koreans – the U.S.A.
• Most 1st generation have worked hard and stabilized themselves in the society and working on “Korean national” industries in the U.S., for example, a beauty supply industry, groceries, and laundromat industry. • Especially, beauty supply industry for blacks are Korean-developed and exclusively owned industry in the U.S.

Conditions of Overseas Koreans – Japan
• In Japan Korean national industries are known to be Pachinko, restaurants, and shoe industries. • In case of Pachinko, Koreans occupy about 80% of the establishments and annually traded money in Pachinko industries are almost the same as those of 5 biggest car businesses in Japan. • There is no mention of Koreans in Russia in this article.

Conditions of Overseas Koreans – South America
• Koreans dominate apparel industry in Brazil and Argentina and the wholesale businesses of women apparel industry are monopolized by Koreans, surpassing Jewish and Arab competitions. [Koreans in other countries are missing.]

Conditions of Overseas Koreans – China
• Before Chinese Reform, Koreans were known to be highly educated among other 55 ethnic minorities (no thanks to South Korea, it was very independent achievement for Coreans in China.). • However, as industrialization spreads out in China, conditions of Chosun-jok (Coreans) are deteriorating and Coreans in China are migrating to other countries as well as to South Korea.

The End… The author says
• 6,700,000 overseas Koreans are living in 150 different countries. 70,000,000 Koreans in Korea and these 6.7 million overseas Koreans should unite and prepare the era where nationality becomes the only base for survival. • In order to unite all Koreans in the world, there may be an economical cooperation such as trades, however, the most important would be a national education. • National education is need to unite all overseas Koreans, first, and secondly to promote Korean national identity among the next generations of overseas Koreans. • [What do you think he means by “korean national identity?]