The Center for Korean Studies spring 2012 Colloquium Series will begin Friday, January 27, with a presentation titled “North Korean Migrant Identity in Neoliberal South Korea” by Prof. Young-a Park of the University of Hawaii at Manoa Asian Studies Program. The colloquium will take place in the Center’s conference room beginning at 4:00 p.m.
Although the South Korean state provides automatic legal citizenship and resettlement funds for North Korean refugees based on the idea of “One Korea, One Nation,” the current public discourses on reunification and refugees reveal substantial weakening of this nationalist mindset. Reflecting this change in public sentiment, South Korean government and semigovernment agencies that support North Korean refugees show signs of changing their approach to assisting North Korean refugees. The aid agencies focus more on refugees’ personal development and self-responsibility and providing education and job training incentives than indiscriminately dispensing resettlement funds.
Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted between 2005 and 2010 with North Korean migrants in the city of Taegu, Prof. Park will explore migrants’ strategies in obtaining cultural membership in South Korea and the formation of their new transnational migrant identities in the face of a weakening nationalist narrative.
Park, who joined the Asian Studies Program faculty in 2011, is a graduate of Seoul National University and Harvard University, where she earned her Ph.D. in anthropology in 2006. She is the author of a forthcoming book from Stanford University Press, Unexpected Alliances: Post-authoritarian State, Independent Film Networks, and Film Industry in South Korea.
Center for Korean Studies colloquia are free and open to all. For further information, including information on access for the handicapped, telephone the Center at (808) 956‑7041.