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Canceled: Talk: North Korean Migrants in South Korea: "Multicultural" or "Global" Citizens?

In the past, the notion of a common Korean ethnicity shaped how North Korean migrants in South Korea understood themselves, and in turn were viewed and assisted by the South Korean government and its resettlement regime. However, new frameworks of belonging have emerged that focus on molding the North Korean migrant population into “multicultural” or “global” citizens of South Korea. These are two competing, locally inflected idioms of “flexible citizenship” that are meant to capture North Korean migrants’ border crossing experiences and transnational aspirations­­­­. Based on 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork, conducted between 2009 and 2017, Dr. Park will explore the development of these new narratives of belonging. The “multicultural” framework emerged to categorize North Korean migrants and non-ethnic Korean migrants together for provisions and services, whereas the “global” framework values the ability of upwardly mobile North Korean migrants to navigate transnational environments extending beyond South Korea. Dr. Park investigates the process by which the “global citizenry” framework has overpowered the “multicultural” framework because the former provided North Korean migrants with a narrative that granted more economic opportunities and enhanced their role in the envisioned future of a unified Korea. Her presentation will bring into sharp relief the key role of the government and its migrant resettlement regime in shaping these new narratives. It also shows the ways in which the “global citizenry” narrative has become intertwined with a new kind of nationalist trope rather than replacing the old ethnic nationalist narrative.

Young-a Park obtained her B.A. and M.A. from Seoul National University and Ph.D. from Harvard University in Social Anthropology. She is Associate Professor in the Asian Studies Program at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her research and teaching interests cover issues of post-authoritarian politics, film industry, social movements, globalization, and migration in South Korea. Her book Unexpected Alliances: Independent Filmmakers, the State, and the Film Industry in Postauthoritarian South Korea was published in 2015 by Stanford University Press. She is working on a new book on North Korean defectors’ strategies in obtaining cultural membership in the context of emergent neoliberal aid policies in South Korea. 

Friday, April 17 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

Will C. Hogg Building (WCH), 4.118 Meyerson Conference Room
120 INNER CAMPUS DR, Austin, Texas 78712

Event Type

Academics, Arts & Humanities, World & Culture


All Departments

Target Audience

Students, Faculty






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