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May I call you North Korean ? : negotiating differences and imagining the nation in South Korea

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Title: May I call you North Korean ? : negotiating differences and imagining the nation in South Korea
Authors: Lee, Hyeon Ju
Keywords: North Korean
Issue Date: Aug 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012]
Abstract: In this dissertation, I attempt to draw out how Koreans contest "imagined" homogeneity and negotiate cultural heterogeneity that are highlighted in the t'albukja (North Korean refugees) settlement process in South Korea. Since the 1990s, more than 20,000 displaced settled in South Korea. Upon admission, t'albukja are granted with citizenship and receive governmental and nongovernmental supports in forms of finance and human network for successful chogung (social integration). Despite the support system, t'albukja are considered to struggle with chogung, and numerous social and legal terms mark them as a separate category of South Korean citizens. I questioned the significance of a storng emphasis put on social integration of this group in imagining Korean nation. Over sixty years of systemic-, ideological-, and cultural separation has created a gulf between these two groups of Koreans that t'albukja require intensive retraining to become citizens of South Korea. The existing nationalist discourses of the homogeneous ethnic nation no longer satisfy as a measure to define South Korean citizens. Then, how do Koreans negotiate their differences as members of the "imagined nation" of South Korea? Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in the western part of Seoul from September 2007 until December 2008, I obtained interviews and firsthand accounts from an alternative school, a neighbor in the neighborhood, and participant-observed at university meetings which enhanced my understanding about t'albukja struggle to gain full citizenship status. Interviews with various South Korean service providers revealed a pervasive perspective on t'albukja as the marginalized. In addition, a literature review on North Korean refugees in South Korea since the Korean War times to shed a light on understanding about delicate status of t'albukja in the nation in historical spectrum. T'albukja, particularly the youg and the educated, assume the role of leadership in educating South Koreans about the ways of North Koreans in the ways South Koreans can understand. Such efforts should be understood as a result of contestation they face in society. Contested within the discourse of anticommunist ideology as non-belonging members, t'albukja construct their identity as legitimate citizens through actively participating in producing a discourse of unification.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections:Anthropology Ph.D Dissertations
Ph.D. - Anthropology

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