AAS Annual Meeting

Interarea/Border-Crossing Session 393

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Session 393: Migration I

Acceptance or refusal: the dilemma of foreign labor policy in South Korea
Chi-nien Wang, Independent Scholar, Taiwan (R.O.C.)

The international integration and interaction activities at all levels led by globalization indicate that the state, namely the core actor of global system, is eager to accelerate the national economic development and growth by means of globalization and consequently has to face the side effect of any kind caused by globalization. Cross-border movement of labor has been recently regarded as one of the main characters of globalization. The movement of labor among newly industrialized areas can be considered as the response to the fusion of globalization and local economy entities. Nevertheless, different from the capital, the labor is segmented apparently based on its technical content by the immigration countries. High-tech workers are extremely welcome because of their professional skill and knowledge. The scarcity of highly skilled numerous countries are facing can be settled with assimilation of high-tech workers. Being the essential labor resource, high-tech workers not only push the economic development forward, but also drive the substantial effect of technology diffusion. Consequently it leads to the preferential policies issued one by one by innumerable countries to attract high-tech professionals. On the contrary, the stricter and more discreet restrictions are applied to the cross-border movement of non-tech labor in order to prevent eroding the local social and economic resources. In view of the above, this article attempts first to explain how South Korea reacts upon the issues of brain drain and labor scarcity while accelerating the economic growth and industry development from the institutional point of view. Besides, this article will also examine the degree of acceptance of the Korean society that strongly emphasizes its homogeneous culture and pure nation identity versus foreign labor and how its regard to the latter influences its policies. Keywords: cross-border movement; labor policy; high-tech workers

That Is Not a Multicultural Issue: Seeking Justice for (Im)Migrants in South Korea
Hee-Kang Kim, Korea University, South Korea

Since the government allowed the influx of migrant laborers from South Asian countries in the 1990s, (im)migrant population has dramatically increased in South Korea. For example, Russian workers have joined in entertainment and sex industries; Korean-Chinese laborers have worked as housekeepers and care workers; and Vietnamese girls as immigrant brides have married to Korean men in local provinces. Given this situation, the multiculturalism discourse has been drawn significant attention by the Korean academics and public, considering it to be a proper remedy for dealing with various problems arising from the influx of (im)migration. The primary purpose of this paper is to revisit critically the multiculturalism discourse in South Korea. In particular, I focus on governmental policies and programs developed under the rubric of multiculturalism. In the paper, I argue that the crux of the (im)migrant issue is close to socio-economic justice rather than multiculturalism. I argue that many multicultural policies and programs apparently designed and implemented to endorse multicultural values not only problematically conceptualize the point of the (im)migrant issue, but also reflect or even reinforce unequal institutional structures that (im)migrants suffer from. The paper comprises three parts. First, it reviews the multiculturalism debate in the West and explores why the multiculturalism frame of the West is inadequate for addressing the (im)migrant issue in South Korea. Second, it analyzes multicultural policies and programs of South Korea and shows how such a multicultural accommodation operates to reproduce inequality of (im)migrants. Lastly, it approaches the (im)migrant issue from a socio-economic justice perspective.

NGO Activies supporting migrants and its meaning for civil society in Korea
Jungmee Hwang, Independent Scholar, South Korea

Increasing transnational migration across Asian countries raises new issues and challenges such as ethnic conflict, human rights abuse, labor market imbalance, and uneven development of global and regional economy. In this article, I'd like to emphasize the meaning of civil society and role of social movement organizations in the era of migration, with particularly focus on Korean case. Not only government but also civil organizations are taking important part in introducing new policies which includes the idea of social integration of immigrants and providing practical social services for them. Strong influence and extended committment of civil organizations in this area can be explained with several reasons: historical legacy of Korean democratization movement, relative inability of migrant people to represent themselves due to disadvantaged position and immature ethnic community, policy incentives and financial support from government. Using in-depth interview data with leaders and activist of those civil organizations, I'd like to analyze three points: first, the process and motive to participate in supporting activity for migrants both in personal and organizational level; second, their values and attitudes toward ethnic diversity, democracy and nationalism ; third, future prospect for their activity both in personal and organizational level, including international network with other Asian countries. This case study suggests the probability of extended redefinition of civil society across national boundary, the idea of transnational civil society from below in Asian region.

The Changing Face of Filipinas in Korea
Jessica Kizer, University of California, Irvine, USA

In the last decade, South Korea has experienced a wave of South East Asian women migrating after meeting and marrying Korean men. Signs along the southern parts of Korea are seen asking Korean men, “Do you want to marry a Vietnamese woman?” While there has been an increasing number of Vietnamese women, Filipinas have become more visible in the transformation of family and marriage in Korea. This study examines Filipinas married to Korean men in South Korea, who maintain blogs to chronicle their lives living in Korea. These women have been blogging their experiences anywhere from 2-8 years. Unlike the common perception of only poor, uneducated women marrying Korean men through a marriage broker, these college-educated women fall in love through serendipitous meetings with Korean men. They use the Internet as a tool to maintain ties to the Philippines and to create community with others in the Filipino diaspora. They also serve as a resource to others by providing information about the immigration process and share their experiences of being Filipino in Korea. The presence of these Filipinas indicate the changing race relations in Korean and the increasing diversity of couples and families.

Globalization and Divided Lives: Korean Families in Seoul and Los Angeles
Edward Park, Loyola Marymount University, USA

In the past two decades, a new group has emerged in the South Korean migration flow. This new group is a result of an increasingly flexible system of U.S. migration rules that seek to admit individuals on a temporary basis: their ability to enter and live in the country is derived from their status as employees of American or South Korean transnational companies. Under a dizzying array of visa programs, these workers have varying terms and durations of stay that range from several months to several years. For South Koreans, the entry of temporary workers and dependents in the past decade has been dramatically high—far surpassing the number of traditional immigrants that enter the U.S. as new permanent residents. While these new South Koreans enter the U.S. explicitly under temporary status, their lives begin to take on permanence in myriads of ways. The complexities of human life—having children, gaining and losing languages, building intimate personal ties, participating in community life—often render the term “temporary” hollow. Yet, within immigration rules, temporary status is very real and pushes these migrants into predicaments that often result in dividing families across the Pacific. Through case studies of individual families, this paper examines the process of migration, the terms of their temporary lives, and the decision making behind the choices of who and what stays or returns once their legal status expires. Los Angele and Seoul—two cities that are at the center of South Korea-U.S. globalization serves as two places where this new story of migration unfolds.