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Multiethnic Korea? Multiculturalism, Migration, and Peoplehood Diversity in Contemporary South Korea

From the publisher’s website:

By the late 1990s and early 2000s, South Korean government sponsorship of cultural globalization had valorized “multiculturalism” (tamunhwa), but did not dispel widespread discrimination and xenophobia against actual multiethnic and multicultural populations. This volume’s contributors employ the dual concepts of “multicultural” and “multiethnic” to make sense of an intriguing facet of recent and continuing South Korean social transformation.

The myth of monoethnic and monocultural Korea is tenacious. In the aftermath of Japanese colonialism, it found renewed strength in the Park Chung Hee era and in South Korean cultural nationalism of the 1980s. By the late 1990s and early 2000s, government sponsorship of cultural globalization valorized the idea of “multiculturalism” (tamunhwa), but did not dispel widespread discrimination and xenophobia against actual multiethnic and multicultural populations. The contributors to this volume employ the dual concepts of “multicultural” and “multiethnic” to make sense of an intriguing facet of the recent and continuing South Korean social transformation. This is the first English-language book of its kind to address multiculturalism in South Korea.


Nancy Abelmann is associate vice chancellor for research (Humanities and Arts) and the Harry E. Preble Professor of Anthropology, Asian American Studies, and East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She writes on family, class, gender, education, and migration with a focus on South Korea and Korean/Asian America.
Hae Yeon Choo is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Toronto. Her research centers on gender, migration, and citizenship. Intersectional analysis empirically informs her articles in Gender & Society and Sociological Theory.
Gayoung Chung is a doctorate student in the Department of Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her current research is on the activism of undocumented Korean American youths struggling to navigate their life within the intertwined tension of restricted citizenship and racial stereotype.
Sue-Je L. Gage is an assistant professor in anthropology at Ithaca College. Her specialization is the lives, histories, and experiences of “mixed” Koreans known as Korean “Amerasians” in South Korea and in the United States.
Sejung Ham is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Educational Policy Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her research focuses on the imaginaries of the “global citizen” at American universities in a global context.
EuyRyung Jun, an anthropologist, received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2011 and is now a collegiate assistant professor in the Division of Humanities and Social Sciences at Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH), South Korea. Her current research focuses on the emergence of the discourse of animal welfare and its broad implications in the governance of South Korea’s society.
Jin-Heon Jung is a research fellow and the Seoul Lab coordinator at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity in Göttingen, Germany. He works on Korean Christianity with a focus on North Korean migration in the context of Seoul and late–Cold War Northeast Asia.
Jiyeon Kang is assistant professor of Communication Studies and Korean Studies at the University of Iowa. Jiyeon’s research focuses on the civic use of the internet, globalization, and South Korean youth and politics.
Eleana Kim is an associate professor of Anthropology at University of California-Irvine. She is the author of Adopted Territory: Transnational Korean Adoptees and the Politics of Belonging, which won the James B. Palais Prize from the Association of Asian Studies and the Social Science book award from the Association of Asian American Studies, both in 2012.
Minjeong Kim is an assistant professor of sociology at San Diego State University. She studies global gender issues, international marriage migration, migrant families, Asian American studies, and the mass media, and her ongoing research focuses on the state-family dynamics in the process of immigrant incorporation.
Nadia Y. Kim is associate professor of sociology at Loyola Marymount University. Kim researches “race”/ethnicity/nation, gender/relationality, citizenship, immigration/transnationalism, community politics, Asian American studies, and Korean and Korean American studies.
Nora Hui-Jung Kim is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Mary Washington. Her research interests include international migration, multiculturalism, race and ethnicity, nationalism, citizenship, and East Asia.
Jack Jin Gary Lee is a doctoral candidate in sociology at UCSD, and his fields of interest are political sociology, the sociology of law, and global and transnational sociology. Lee’s research focuses on the social consequences of jurisdictional politics in relation to state formation.
Q-Ho Lee is a Ph.D candidate in anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research project is subjectivity formation of patients with chronic illness and the social dynamics of citizenship and biopolitics in Singapore.
John Lie teaches social theory at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications on South Korea include Han Unbound: The Political Economy of South Korea (Stanford university Press) and K-pop: Popular Music, Cultural Amnesia, and Economic Innovation in South Korea (University of California Press).
Timothy C. Lim is a professor of political science at California State University, Los Angeles. His most recent book is Politics in East Asia: Explaining Change and Continuity (Rienner, 2014).
John D. Skrentny is professor of sociology and co-director of the Center for Comparative Immigration Studies at the University of California-San Diego. His research presently focuses on the politics of immigration reform in the United States; immigration policy variations in East Asia and Europe; and the dynamics of employer demand for scientists and engineers.
Keiko Yamanaka lectures in the Department of Ethnic Studies and in International and Area Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Currently, she is interested in the social incorporation of marriage migrant women in rural Japan.


  1. Introduction: Multiethnic Korea | John Lie

Part I: An Emergent Multiethnic Multicultural Society?

  1. Late Migration, Discourse, and the Politics of Multiculturalism in South Korea: A Comparative Perspective | Timothy C. Lim
  2. Korea: Multiethnic or Multicultural? | Nora Hui-Jung Kim
  3. Tolerance, Tamunhwa, and the Creating of the New Citizens | EuyRyung Jun
  4. Makeshift Multiculturalism: The Transformation of Elementary School Teacher Training | Nancy Abelmann, Gayoung Chung, Sejung Ham, Jiyeon Kang, and Q-Ho Lee

Part II: Migrants and Others

  1. The Needs of Others: Revisiting the Nation in North Korean and Filipino Migrant Churches in South Korea | Hae Yeon Choo
  2. North Korean Migrants in South Korea: From Heroes to Burdens and First Unifiers | Jin-Heon Jung
  3. Beyond Motherlands and Mother Love: Locating Korean Adoptees in Global Korea | Eleana Kim
  4. Diverging Paths, Converging Ends: Japan’s and Korea’s Low-Skilled Immigration Policies, 1990–2010 | Keiko Yamanaka

Part III: Diversifying Korea

  1. Race-ing toward the Real South Korea: The Cases of Black-Korean Nationals and African Migrants | Nadia Y. Kim
  2. Almost Korean: Korean Amerasians in an Era of Multiculturalism | Sue-Je L. Gage
  3. Can the Union of Patriarchy and Multiculturalism Work? Family Dynamics in Filipina-Korean Rural Households | Minjeong Kim

Part IV: Coda

  1. Korean Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective | Jack Jin Gary Lee and John D. Skrentny

Entry on here.

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