London Korean Links

Covering things Korean in London and beyond since 2006

LSE lecture: Is the multicultural state a doomed project in South Korea?

The cynics will say that multiculturalism in South Korea consists of teaching foreigners how to make kimchi. The upcoming talk at SOAS will examine the matter in a bit more depth.

Constructing the Multicultural States in South Korea & Japan: Chimera or Reality

LSESU Korean Society Annual Lecture Series
31 January 2015, 14:00–16:00
Room 7.02, Clement House, LSE, 99 Aldwych, WC2B 4JF. (Map below)

LSESU flyer

Is the multicultural state a doomed project in South Korea and Japan or can multiculturalism thrive in what have been two of the world’s most “homogenous” nation-state?

In the eyes of many observers, the answer is clear: multiculturalism in both countries is doomed. Their reasoning is equally clear, namely, to the extent that multiculturalism exists, it is little more than a state-dominated effort to efficiently control and manage increasing ethnic diversity, primarily to serve the ‘developmental’ needs of the country. It is not, nor will it ever be, a policy of inclusion leading to the development of a genuine multicultural state—that is, a state in which the rights of minority or subordinated ethnic groups are meaningfully incorporated into the institutions of the state, and in which those groups, especially immigrants, can acquirecitizenship or basic rights as permanent residents (among other factors).

Professor Timothy Lim’s argument, which applies a constructivist approach, challenges the ‘conventional wisdom.’ He argues in part that the mere emergence of a multicultural discourse, even in a very constrained form, is itself an important, albeit not all-important change. It is important because it has introduced a new cultural logic into both societies, one that problematizes the still-dominant—but no longer exclusive—discourse built around racial and ethnic purity. At the same time, his analysis recognises the importance of agency and of particular institutional and socio-political contexts.

Timothy Lim is a professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Hawaii, Manoa, and his MA in international affairs from Columbia University. His past research focused on comparative political economy, transnational worker migration, and human smuggling and trafficking. His more recent research focuses on the issue of multiculturalism in East Asia. Dr. Lim is also keenly interested writing accessible books for undergraduate and graduate students, and has published three textbooks: Doing Comparative Politics: An Introduction to Approaches and Issues (Rienner 2010), Politics in East Asia: Explaining Change and Continuity (Rienner 2014), and International Political Economy: An Introduction to Approaches, Regimes, and Issues (published as an open source book by the Saylor Foundation).


This lecture is going to last around an hour and we will have a Q&A session after the lecture.


(Click on map for a larger version. Clement House is bottom right)
LSE venues - click on map for a larger version

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.