Panel 11 (Kim, Ahn)

Sustainability and Migration in and out of Korea

Panel organizers

Dr. Jihye Kim (University of Central Lancashire)
Prof. Yonson Ahn (Goethe University Frankfurt)



Panel abstract

Since the 1990s, significant changes have taken place both inside and outside South Korea concerning im/migration, diversity and multiculturalism. In the past, seeking improved economic opportunities, Korean emigrants chose North America or Europe for their destination. However, in the last three decades, motivation has diversified and Korean emigration has extended to many countries in the Global South. At the same time, after 30 years of rapid economic development from the 1960s to 1990s, Korea has transformed itself from an emigrant-sending to an immigrant-receiving country. The country has expended remarkable efforts to become a multi-cultural nation, contrary to the widely held perception of Korea as an ethnically homogeneous nation. We need new tools to fully comprehend and analyse the complex issues and challenges surrounding migration in and out of Korea beyond the economic-driven movement.

The concept of sustainability surpasses the natural environment; it extends into cultural, social, economic and political resources and contexts and encompasses economic development, social equality, political changes and many other social dimensions. As this concept offers great insights to address and reshape major economic, social and environmental issues and challenges, this panel will use the concept of sustainability to approach migration in order to understand and interpret the trends and topics regarding Korean emigration abroad as well as immigrant communities within Korea. In addition, the concept of sustainability will provide tools and approaches to explore new issues and topics around migration in and out of Korea that are neither typical cases of economic-driven migration nor theoretically developed studies in migration, such as lifestyle or tourism-related mobility. Furthermore, the interdisciplinary framework of sustainability will help discuss the topics within a broad range of disciplines at diverse social levels. Of particular topical relevance are the issues relating to social reproduction in light of the current low birth-rate and declining labour force in South Korea. This panel will present works primarily produced by scholars at the outset of their academic career, such as PhD students and Post-doc researchers, to enhance the sustainability of the research process around this topic in the Korean Studies academic community. Our goal is for these scholars to go beyond existing concepts and traditional ways of approaching issues and challenges related to migration and mobility and to come up with new ideas and answers, linking with and adapting to the concept of sustainability as a new tool to explore and interpret these topics.

Paper submission

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